7 Best Museums in The Smokies

1. Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies

Spend your day exploring the oceans of the world! You and your family can see creatures of the deep up close and personal as you explore the aquarium. Exhibits cover all types of amazing sea creatures in the Tropical Rainforest, the Ocean Realm, the Coral Reef, and the Gallery of the Seas.

Marvel at 12 foot sharks and giant sea turtles as you glide through the underwater tunnel on a magic carpet at Shark’s Lagoon. Ripley’s was also voted one of the best places in the world to see penguins by USA Today! Enjoy an up-close-and-personal view of all the Ripley’s penguins at Penguin Playhouse! During the summer months, you can also check out their amazing Mermaid Show! USA Today recently created a poll for the Best10 Aquariums in North America, and we are excited to announce that Ripley’s Aquarium of Smokies landed in 2nd! With ever-changing exhibits and visitor- aquatic life interaction, Ripley’s always has a piece of our hearts and keeps us coming back every year for new exhibits to see!


2. Titanic Museum Attraction 

You can’t get closer to understanding and experiencing the story of the Titanic than at the TITANIC MUSEUM IN PIGEON FORGE. This museum is a complete interactive experience, from the staff in authentic uniforms from the early 1900s, to the ticket from the real-life passenger you receive at the start of your journey!

Exhibits within the Titanic change each year to focus on a spectacular aspect of the passengers and ship itself. Each exhibit of the museum has an interactive element that helps you fully understand the experiences of Titanic. The museum regularly hosts special events, like during March, where they especially focus on the story of the Irish passengers of the ship. At the Titanic, you’ll find one-of-a-kind exclusive artifacts, such as the violin of William Hartley. William Hartley was the musician who famously played as the Titanic went down. There’s always something new to discover at the Titanic!


3. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! 

The RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT ODDITORIUM has reopened after 9 months of updates and restoring. It’s packed even more new artifacts, galleries, and interactive exhibits! You’ll find yourself deep in the jungle, a human sized kaleidoscope, and maybe even a jail cell.

Be sure to take your grand tour through the new exhibits and travel through 12,500 square feet, 3 floors, 16 themed galleries, and over 500 exhibits and artifacts!

A few of the new exhibits pay a special tribute to Gatlinburg itself. The exterior of the building will showcase trees growing from the ground and holding up the building. This symbolizes the city growing and rebuilding after the 2016 wildfires. The exterior will also showcase lights which symbolize the annual synchronous fireflies! How cool!? 

As you walk through the entrance you’re greeted by a few fascinating creatures! You’ll see the largest preserved two trunk elephant head and a full sized preserved albino giraffe! Ripley’s Believe It Or Not also displays several animals with some “extra” traits such as the two- headed calf, eight- legged buffalo, and much more! All exhibits and sculptures are illusions that are man made, historical artifacts, and preserved life!

Another new exhibit to check out is the space gallery! Interact with an anti gravity simulator where you have 30 seconds to complete a few simple actions. Every exhibit is great for whole family, too!


4. Alcatraz East Crime Museum

A newer museum to Pigeon Forge, ALCATRAZ EAST CRIME MUSEUM, opened in the Fall of 2016. Since then, it’s been described as “a must see for CSI fans” and garnered a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor! Located at the entrance to The Island, this 24,000 sq. ft. behemoth is designed like a 19th century prison and inspired by the famous Alcatraz of San Francisco. Inside you’ll be able to explore more than 20 different exhibit areas covering five major themes: 1) History of American Crime, 2) Consequences of Crime, 3) Crime Scene Investigation, 4) Crime Fighting, and 5) Pop Culture.

Families who transverse the museum are in for an amazing adventure through American crime. There are lots of interactive exhibits that let you feel like you’re a part of history. The museum is also host to several exclusive artifacts, including the cars of John Dillinger, Al Capone, and even the white Bronco OJ Simpson used to evade police! The newest exhibit reveals real life artifacts from Ted Bundy. You won’t leave this museum without learning something new, and there’s something for the entire family to enjoy!


5. WonderWorks

One of the most recognizable landmarks of the Parkway is the upside-down house that is WONDERWORKS. This museum is one of the most family- friendly, educational, and fun-filled attractions in the Smokies. When you go through the facility, you’ll have the chance to explore more than 100 hands-on exhibits. Topics of the exhibits have a wide range, from natural disasters to space exploration to the science of bubbles! Each exhibit does an amazing job of integrating you into the experience; you won’t be able to leave without learning something new.

In addition to the numerous exhibits, you and the family will have so much to do when you visit WonderWorks. Thrill-seekers should challenge themselves on the largest indoor ropes course inside, or see if they can make it all the way around on the 360 Bike. Make sure to add WonderWorks to your Pigeon Forge bucket list; you don’t want to miss out on this unique museum!


6. Hollywood Wax MuseumHollywood Wax Museum Pigeon Forge

Enjoy 4 attractions in one at The Hollywood Wax Museum!

Once you see the giant Ape you’ll know you’ve arrived at Hollywood Wax Museum Hollywood Wax Museum! If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing a star or being a star, a visit to the Museum will put you face-to-face to your favorite stars! Get up close and personal with the stars for fun photo ops, walk the red carpet, sing with pop stars, and witness horror villains. Get to know the stars better through posted facts about their charities and side businesses, pets, pet peeves, and more.

Castle of Chaos: Feel the excitement of a whole new reality! Just grab your 3D glasses, pick up your laser blaster, and choose from two thrilling adventures where you’ll shoot for the highest score. You’re surrounded at every turn by howls, screeches, crashes, rushing water, and so much more that makes you feel like you’re really inside the game. Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors: There once was a kingdom called Savannah with a reigning Princess named Hannah. She’s now trapped in a maze of mirrors and her parents King Oscar and Queen Emmy believe you can save her! Make your way through 288 potential turns among hundreds of mirrored walls and archways and find out if you’re The Chosen One.

Outbreak-Dread the Undead: This thrill-a-second haunted walk-through is scary fun that blurs the lines between fiction and reality. You’ll find yourself in a biotech lab at a time when a gone-wrong experiment has turned test subjects into throngs of the undead. The challenge? Rid the world of Alpha Strain, the gene-altering substance that turns humans into zombies, or, at least make it out alive!


7. Bush’s Visitor Center

This amazing museum brings visitors fun interactive exhibits that tell the fascinating history of Bush’s Baked Beans. At Bush’s Visitor Center you can see the journey of the company from the very beginning, grab a photo with Duke, see how much you weigh in beans, and so much more! Take a walk through a giant can of Bush’s Baked Beans, showing the bean’s journey from beginning to end. Have your picture made with Duke and learn about the original canning process in 1908. After you’re done checking out the museum, head over to the Old-Fashioned General Store, where you can grab plenty of assorted candies and Jay and Duke memorabilia. You and your family are guaranteed to love this museum,  and admission is 100% free!

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