by Lillian Lynch
Fall Break is coming up for the students of Volunteer State Community College Oct. 10 and 11, giving them a five-day weekend. A vacation can be taken in this time, but where to go is the question.
One attraction is the local amusement park Dollywood in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There are more than 40 rides and attractions here alone according to dollywood.com.
They include the Lightning Rod, which is the world’s fastest wooden coaster, the Smoky Mountain River Rampage, where a group sits in a circle and rushes down rapids, the Barnstormer, a roller coaster based on 1920’s stunt pilots, the Wild Eagle, the world’s first winged coaster, the Dizzy Disk, where passengers sit facing outward for a ride that glides back and forth while simultaneously spinning in circles, kids’ rides, and much more.
There is currently a fall break promotion going on and three-day tickets are $33 a day, compared to one-day tickets at $65 for adults, $52 for children and $60 for seniors. The park is a little less than a three and a half hour drive away.
A less-known local attraction is the Lost Sea Adventure in Sweetwater, Tennessee. Visitors explore caves with a guided tour in a round trip of three-fourths of a mile.
At the bottom of the cave, 140 ft. under the surface according to thelostsea.com, is America’s largest underground lake. Here visitors board a glass-bottom boat and take a trip around the body of water.
Tickets are $19.95 per adult and $10.95 per child but children under 4 are free.
Another attraction in Gatlinburg is the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. The aquarium is made of two levels, the upper level and the lower level.
The upper level has four different sections. They are the Tropical Rainforest, the Ocean Realm, Shark Lagoon and Touch a Ray Bay.
The Tropical Rainforest features piranhas and poisonous dart frogs. The Ocean Realm features the spotted garden eel and flounder.
Shark Lagoon, as its name suggests, features the sand-tiger shark and the nurse shark. Touch a Ray Bay is a shallow lagoon where guests can reach out and touch rays as they glide by, according to ripleyaquariums.com/gatlinburg. Educators stand by for safety and to answer questions.
The Coral Reef features clownfish, butterflyfish and regal blue tang. The Discovery Center features pufferfish and horseshoe crabs.
The Gallery of the seas focuses on octopi, cuttlefish, and jellyfish. Stingray Bay consists of multiple species of stingrays.
The Penguin Playhouse includes tunnels that go through the penguins’ habitat where visitors can get nose-to-beak with the penguins.
There is also an opportunity to get an original art piece by a penguin. They are given paper and paint with their feet. It is $30 or $45 depending on the size.
Tickets to the Aquarium are $29.99 at the gate or $25.99 online per adult and $15.99 at the gate or $13.99 online per child.
Ripley’s is just a three and a half hour drive away.
A five-day weekend can go a long way.
by Lillian Lynch