With in-store samples and a massive online inventory of crafting patterns, fabric, and supplies, MMIJA quenches any quilting or sewing thirst with a wide variety of high quality products. The large selection of fabrics and prints is fit for any ambitious project, such as a vintage-style dress, a snazzy pillowcase, or a luxury duplex blanket fort. Sew a patch over tiny scuffed knees with bumblebee fabric from Melly & Me ($9.99 per yard), or amp up your kickball team’s patriotism with jerseys festooned from Old Glory navy striped cotton ($8.99 per yard). A hefty supply of patterns is on hand for fashioning handmade gifts or punching up home decoration. With a variety of sewing and embroidery kits ($20–$78.95) crafters can knit a fashionable tracksuit or expertly fend off swarms of killer quilting bees.
Packard’s Games and Movies fuels friendly competition and hours of virtual entertainment with an eclectic abundance of gently used media. Gamers can fire up current consoles with a collection of used games, such as Halo 3 ($9.99) and Fable II ($7.99), which carry the ghosts of past triumphs to challenge their new owners. Those yearning for pixels of the past can dive into a rich selection of retro games ($2.99+) for vintage systems including Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Guide virtual superheroes as they jump across flames and elude persistent tax collectors with controllers for the Playstation 2 ($9.99+), Super Nintendo ($9.99+) or the Nintendo 64 ($12.99–$19.99). Stacks of previewed DVDs ($4.99) and Blu-rays ($8.99+) provide ample fodder for future movie nights. Each store has a slightly different selection, so call ahead for specific inquiries or simply browse through the cartridge- and disc-packed aisles in person.
At Pigeon Forge Gem Mine, kids get a chance to see what mining for gems was like in the 1800s, when North Carolina miners would divert a stream to search for gems. Visitors sift through a bucket of sand and pull out stones to be examined by the assayer, who determines whether the stone is a ruby, sapphire, or just an unpopped popcorn kernel. At the lapidary, the gem is cut and polished so a jeweler can mount it on a ring or pendant.
The rocks come from all over the world?although staff might playfully claim that they're harvested from the Little Pigeon River by seven tiny, whistling miners. While waiting for their jewelry, visitors can browse the general store or check out the specimens in the free rock and fossil museum.
Jim and Jeanette Greiner have been helping people escape the concrete ecosystems of everyday life since 1971. That's the year that they founded Wildwater, and as its name suggests, it started as a rafting outfitter that led groups down the rushing waters of the Chattooga River. Today, Wildwater's trained guides still navigate a number of rivers?the Ocoee, Nantahala, and Pigeon, in addition to the Chattanooga?but they've expanded their reach to the land as well. The company offers canopy tours with a combination of ziplines and elevated bridges, inviting guests to take a thrilling trip through the treetops. If clients prefer to stay within a few feet of the ground, they can opt for jeep tours that explore paths beyond the main roads.
Since Wildwater's team values the beauty of the natural environment, they embrace eco-friendly practices intended to help protect the areas they explore. Each of the company's locations strives to minimize its impact by using solar-powered water heaters for the showers, composting leftover food, and painting all of the outdoor equipment with chlorophyll.
Nestled in the mountains of East Tennessee, Hillside Winery presses and ferments its catalog of Italian-style and sparkling wines on site, often using fruit sourced from local farms. A rustic tasting room puts visitors in relaxation mode, while they sip sangiovese, pinot grigio, and Asti-style spumante from complimentary tasting glasses or prepare to engage the gift shop’s stuffed bear in staring contests. Behind the scenes, guests can see the polished, stainless-steel drums that press the grapes and store the wines, and observe as each bottle is capped, not corked. Butterflies captured by nature photographer Patricia Ferguson grace Hillside’s wine labels, adding a delicate note to each wine’s flavor profile.
Ripley’s has enthralled audiences for more than nine decades with its dedication to revealing odd and unexplainable rarities from around the globe. But it all began with one man: Robert Ripley, a wildly successful and eccentric character who rose to fame during the first half of the 20th century. After selling his first cartoon to Life magazine at age 14, he set out on a quick-paced career of drawing sports cartoons for the New York Globe. During a slow day at the office, he sketched nine unusual sporting events and finished his work with a title: “Believe It or Not!” It became immensely popular, allowing Ripley to travel the world in search of more bizarre stories to put into his comic strips. While visiting relatively unknown areas in locales such as India, China, and the inside of his neighbor’s chimney, he picked up a slew of unbelievable souvenirs that later became fixtures in several of Ripley’s museums, or as they’re affectionately called today, Odditoriums. Ripley’s now encompasses publications, attractions, a television show, and a blog, all of which carry Ripley’s tradition of reporting on the world’s curiosities.