FIND BIG FUN FOR LITTLE ONES IN SEVIERVILLE, TENNESSEE
Wildwood Grove opens near Dolly Parton’s hometown in the Great Smoky Mountains, where options for family fun abound
Driving along the highway you may have spotted new billboards shared by Visit Sevierville and Dollywood’s Wildwood Grove. Sometimes, good ideas come in pairs. The chance to let loose in Dolly Parton’s hometown and check out Dollywood’s expansion are two great reasons to plan a getaway to Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains this season.
Dollywood’s largest addition in the park’s history, Wildwood Grove, opens May 10, 2019. The $37 million new area was designed specifically for families to enjoy together. When the project was announced, Dolly Parton explained, “This area is going to give families a place to explore, play and imagine together—but more importantly—it’s a place where they can spend more time together.”
Wildwood Grove boasts 11 thrilling new experiences, including six unique rides: The Dragonflier, a suspended roller coaster that mimics the flight of a dragonfly; Black Bear Trail, a mechanical bear trek; Sycamore Swing, which imitates leaves falling from a giant tree; Treetop Tower, where giant acorns soar 40 feet into the air; Mad Mockingbird, a spin around a tall tree; and Frogs and Fireflies, a hopping race around a lily pad.
There’s also a 4,000-square-foot indoor area, Hidden Hollow, with a climbing structure, slides, and a toddler area. In Wildwood Creek pop jets and splashing pools offer an inviting way to cool down. There’s also new live entertainment, new dining options, new open spaces, and new shaded areas, among other surprises. At the center of Wildwood Grove sits The Wildwood Tree, adorned with thousands of leaves and hundreds of butterflies that flutter during the day and glow in a kaleidoscope of color after dark.
After enjoying Dollywood’s Wildwood Grove in Pigeon Forge, come to Dolly Parton’s hometown of Sevierville right next door. Sevierville bursts with options for family-friendly fun that will delight even your youngest family member. Here are just a few ideas…
Meet more than 600 creatures from cute to creepy at the Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo. These animals represent more than 130 species. Among the exotic birds, bugs, reptiles, mammals and amphibians are a northern blue-tongued skink, African crested porcupine, and golden headed lion tamarins—some of the smallest and rarest monkeys on earth!
Jump, bounce and flip at Sevier Air Trampoline & Ninja Warrior Park. The area’s largest park of its kind boasts 60 trampolines, an obstacle course inspired by the popular “Ninja Warrior” TV show, plus a three-story net system specifically designed for youngsters age two to ten—the first of its kind. There are also two tumble tracks for gymnastics, a rope swing, and a jousting area above a foam pit, and more.
Find adventure underground at Forbidden Caverns, which is home to the largest known wall of rare cave onyx in the nation. Guided tours pass spectacular formations, towering natural chimneys, grottos and a stream.
Climb the half-mile trail to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the tallest point in Tennessee, the highest point along the Appalachian Trail, and the third-highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. The observation tower on the summit of Clingmans Dome offers spectacular 360-degree views of the Smokies and beyond; on clear days you can see up to 100 miles in any direction!
Explore Adventureworks Climb-Zip-Swing, a two-acre, double-decker course packed with more than 55 elements including dangling bridges, swinging vines, hanging nets, zip-lines, tight ropes, and more on two levels. Easier challenges are 14- to 22-feet above the ground while second-tier excitement is 28- to 50-feet high. All ages welcome; a little zipper course is specifically aimed at youngsters age four to seven.
Watch a Tennessee Smokies Baseball game together. The Double-A Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs plays at Smokies Stadium, which has been dubbed “America's Friendliest Ballpark.” Inspired by Wrigley Field yet smaller in scale, the Stadium has seats close to the action and a wide concourse that loops around the field. On-field games take place between each half inning. During select home games kids age 12 and younger can run to try to catch the chicken mascot, Clucky.
Soar up to 1,200-feet up in the sky with Scenic Helicopter Tours for an eagle’s eye view of the Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding sights. On this unforgettable aerial tour you’ll see some breathtaking sights. Scenic Helicopter Tours has flown FAA- and National Park Service-approved flights over The Smokies since 1972. Daily tour options range from eight to 100 miles and are suitable for all ages.
Stay at Wilderness at the Smokies and you’ll get cozy accommodations plus access to Tennessee’s largest indoor waterpark as well as two seasonal outdoor waterparks—all exclusive to overnight guests (admission is included in room rates). With a total of 17 waterslides, nine pools, a lazy river, and multiple water rides and attractions, guests of all ages and heights will find multiple ways to splash, slide and surf. Among the options is a 55-foot drop into a swirling funnel, the region’s only body-surfing simulator, and a vortex with a near-vertical trap-door release. An indoor adventure forest offers additional challenges with the option of staying dry.
Before heading back home be sure to stop by the Sevier County Courthouse for the quintessential Sevierville experience: Snap a selfie with the bronze statue of Dolly Parton that sits on the courthouse lawn. A tribute to the superstar by her hometown community, the six-and-a-half-foot tall sculpture was crafted by nationally-known local artist Jim Gray and depicts Dolly fresh faced with a loose ponytail, sitting barefoot on a mountain boulder with her guitar. Since it was unveiled 30 years ago, the statue has attracted millions of visitors from all over the world.