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.
Most people associate flying with the sound of whirring engines, intercoms buzzing, and even propellers sputtering into a spin. Wonders of Flight at WonderWorks, however, removes all audible distractions—its helium-filled balloon rises above the trees with nary a hum or vibration. The effect, says the website, is akin to "being on a flying balcony."
A maximum of 30 people can stand on the balloon's circular gondola as it ascends up to 400 feet in the air. After takeoff, passengers are treated to a sprawling view of the Smoky Mountains, as well as a bird's-eye perspective of the upside-down WonderWorks attraction. These 5- to 10-minute flights run throughout the day, permitting riders to snap photos of the scenery as the blue-and-green balloon levitates from its grounded tether. Wonders of Flight also hosts 30-minute wedding experiences, which afford couples ample time to say "I do," and toss a bouquet into a mob of jetpack-wearing bridesmaids.
Built in 1786, James White's Fort affords glimpses into the frontier lifestyles of America's forefathers while providing education on Knoxville founder and the fort's creator, James White. Each year, more than 10,000 visitors explore the residence, which was restored and opened to the public in 1970. Six cabins and a stockade wall surround the main two-story log house, where guests can experience hands-on interpretations of life as a pioneer by cooking on an open hearth or spinning retro cell-phone-charger cords on an antique loom. Special events held throughout the year keep a continuous line of visitors waltzing across the land of Tennessee's first capital, including an annual celebration of Cherokee heritage.
The Blount Mansion Ghosts and Ghouls tour bridges the gap between past and present by taking visitors on a spine-tingling tour of Knoxville's spookiest historical sites. Leaders donning their most elaborate guises will take visitors through the ectoplasm-soaked streets of downtown Knoxville, regaling them with terrifying anecdotes of bloody and supernatural events in the actual places where they once occurred. Past excursions have included stops at the Gay Street Bridge, where criminals were hanged for horrendous crimes such as murder, robbery, and having shifty eyes. Perhaps the most horrendous intrigue is a recounting of the legend of the Wampus cat —an ancient folkloric creature that causes insanity and drags victims to its underground cave beneath the city, where they're forced to drink with the decidedly less frightening ghost of Andrew Jackson and declare their undying hatred of the Whig party.
Knoxville Food Tours' squadron of knowledgeable guides pilots pedestrians through downtown Knoxville's eclectic cache of local eateries, introducing locals and visitors alike to a smattering of tasty cuisine during tours that have garnered press from outlets such as the Knoxville News Sentinel. Each 2.5-hour to 3-hour walking tour leads participants to a rotating lineup of local haunts, where they'll enjoy drinks and sample local fare such as pastries, pizza, sushi, vegetarian cuisine, and produce from nearby farmers. At each stop on the excursion, chefs and restaurateurs proffer friendly, insightful culinary conversation to bolster the enlightening nuggets of historical information dispensed by the well-informed guides or their sentient atlases.
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.