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.
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.
On re-created sets complete with lights and sound, Hollywood Star Cars Museum unveils a collection of iconic autos from movies and television, including many built and modified by famed four-wheeled star-maker George Barris. Law-flaunting jaywalkers freeze at the sight of the 1966 Batmobile, a $250,000 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura concept car reimagined into a crime-fighting super machine complete with a foreboding front modified to look like the black winged animal. Famous 1969 heartthrob Herbie the Love Bug also makes the scene with sidekick Little Herbie, while the famed DeLorean from Back to the Future hangs out with a futuristic motorcycle from the far-off year 2015. Meanwhile, a Corvette Grand Sport driven by Vin Diesel in the 2011 film Fast Five inspires mouth-simulated explosions and improvised catchphrases.
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.
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.
Sprawling across 160+ acres of verdant grounds, Circle G Ranch curates a herd of more than 700+ exotic animals, allowing visitors to cruise down a 3-mile path to get close to the curious creatures. Zebras, emus, deer, and alpaca trot up to vehicles for handfuls of delicious feed, and guided safari-truck and camelback tours impart nuggets of information on the park's wildlife. After treks, visitor head to the petting zoo to visit a rotating gang of cuddly animals, such as baby lambs, goats, and parrots, along with an African crested porcupine and a family of sulcata tortoises.