One of the reasons I enjoy living in Tennessee is its mild climate year-round. However, the change in weather can cause me to reconsider many of the outdoor activities I enjoy. Luckily, there are East Tennessee attractions that help pump up the adrenaline in not-so-favorable weather.
If you are near Chattanooga, drive toward the Tennessee Aquarium on Broad Street and gaze upward. Outdoor enthusiasts are literally climbing the outer walls of High Point Climbing and Fitness. These are America's first outdoor backlit climbing walls, providing everyone an uncommon view of downtown.
On the inside of this transformed movie theater are multiple climbing experiences that range from beginner to advance. The depth of the climbing pit is massive and the two boulders will challenge the strength of the athlete while fascinating people, like me, who just wants to watch. Additionally, there are classes scheduled to give you the tools to reach new heights.
Lantern Tours at Ruby Falls in Chattanooga: Tennessee is a field of limestone caves and Ruby Falls in Chattanooga is the nation's largest and deepest waterfall open to the public. Regardless of the weather, the temperature is always a pleasant 56 degrees, rain or shine, winter or summer.
The Ruby Falls experience is a guided walking tour of a cave that is 1,120 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain. Past all of the amazing mineral formations of stalactites and stalagmites is the "grand prize"; the view of a 145-foot underground waterfall.
The lights will go out Friday evenings starting Feb. 6. Selected walking tour participants will carry hand-held electric lanterns. The guide will lead the way with a fueled inspector's lantern, sharing stories about the cave's geology and folklore. The waterfall is illuminated by a lantern hoisted to the top with a pulley system. Just one more way to enjoy a waterfall named after Ruby, the wife of Leo Lambert who discovered the underground wonder in 1928.
Skiing or Ice Skating at Ober Gatlinburg: Tennessee's only ski resort is at the gateway of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg. The experience begins with a breathtaking 2.1-mile tram ride up to the Ski Resort and Amusement Park. This is one of America's largest tramways and it departs regularly from downtown Gatlinburg.
Arrive at Ober Gatlinburg and get ready for outdoor and indoor fun. The attraction has recently undergone a multi-million dollar renovation, including new snow machines and a new slope named "Yeti's Run," which in the Native American language means "big foot." In winter there are 10 slopes for skiing, a popular snowtubing park, and ski school.
Ober Gatlinburg is a year-round experience thanks to an indoor ice-skating rink, which is the centerpiece of Ober Gatlinburg's mall. An indoor carousel, arcade, shops and a restaurant with an amazing view of outdoor activity on one side and a view of downtown below can also be found indoors. Wildlife Encounter with bears, river otters, bobcats, the nocturnal house, birds of prey and more can be found outside.
Wilderness at the Smokies Waterpark Resort and Family Adventure Center in Sevierville: Tennessee has the mountains, but "where's the beach?" Some would say it is inside the Wild Water Dome at Wilderness at the Smokies Waterpark Resort and Family Adventure Center, Tennessee's largest waterpark resort. Guests staying at this luxurious vacation destination can tan, rain or shine, in this indoor water park. There are activities for all ages, including racing down numerous water slides, swimming in the wave pool, getting soaked at Washout Mountain or bodysurfing on the Smokies Surf Rider. There are nearly a dozen water activities outside once summer hits.
For those in your party who prefer a dryer experience, Adventure Forest will keep the youngest to oldest entertained and engaged in adventure. Activities include a 3-story ropes course, a 23-foot tall rock climbing wall, miniature bowling, miniature golf and more. Adventure Forest provides unlimited admission with All Day and All Stay passes.