Since 1979, generations of the Elvis-enthusiastic Moon family have been filling the Elvis Museum walls with memorabilia of the immortal ruler of rock 'n' roll. Guests can reminisce over the last limousine he owned and the Honeymoon Cadillac, marveling over their sleek exteriors and trying to get a whiff of the king's lingering peanut-butter-scented air freshener. Visitors appraise the original TCB ring of his personal jewelry collection and gawk at a selection of artifacts from his last tour, including personal jackets, a guitar, and a grooming kit. Restless whippersnappers can break from scavenging pay phones for discarded nickels and scavenge exhibits for answers in an Elvis trivia hunt, complete with lanyard and postcard prizes. After their wistful museum wanderings, guests cart home Elvis apparel, accessories, and collectables from the gift shop.
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.
Tucked away in the Smoky Mountains, Rainforest Adventures Zoo nurtures a diverse family of more than 120 tropical and temperate species, many born in captivity. Brilliantly hued macaws and finches share space with eccentric guests such as lemurs, hissing cockroaches, and reclusive business mogul Howard Hughes. Elsewhere, guests get up close with a cuddly collective of mammals such as a giant porcupine, African servals, and coatimundi, as well as cold-blooded crocodiles, lizards, and snakes.
In addition to spelunking expeditions, Greater Outdoor Adventures’ guides run whitewater-rafting and hiking excursions in the Smokey Mountains area. The instructors are well trained, safety conscious, and capable of handling any diplomatic emergencies that may arise during encounters with the mole people.
Celebrating five years under the current owners, Frame It to a T boasts a staff experience in a multitude of aesthetically driven fields—from visual art to interior design—but they specialize in conservation framing. The specialists expertly match jerseys, diplomas, photos, and artwork with acid-free mats and eye-catching frames. Ultraviolet-filter glass prevents sunlight from bleaching artwork or keepsakes, ensuring that prized childhood toys age as imperceptibly as a Twinkie. Those who do not already have artwork they wish to frame can peruse the shop’s selection of art and prints.
The days of dragons, princesses, and magic wands are revived at MagiQuest, an interactive medieval quest experience for all ages. The course takes visitors through a live-action game that creeps through dungeons, a village, and a fairy forest as players encounter myriad characters, sneak through secret doors, defeat a goblin king, and return jewels to the princess. The fun doesn’t stop when the game ends, as MagiQuest also has an on-site black light mini golf course, a laser spy challenge, and a mirror maze.