CW Travel Guide: A Weekend in GatlinburgBy Will Baggett | 01/29/2016 10:44pm
Spring semester has begun and the colder weather has settled in, so there’s no better time to visit the mountains. This time of year, students are stressed about their classes and sometimes just need a break. The Smoky Mountains are a beautiful destination to take a group of friends and relax by the fire, or even embrace the winter weather. Gatlinburg, TN is a destination where you can do both. It’s a winter wonderland closer to home than you would think, at a little under 5 hours away by car.
In Gatlinburg, there is a new attraction called “America’s Escape Game,” where you are assigned a mission to accomplish in an attempt to escape a certain situation. This attraction first began in Orlando, FL, but has made its way to Gatlinburg. At “America’s Escape Game,” you can pick between 4 unique rooms to try and escape from. There is “Pandemic,” “The Lost Tomb of Monthu,” “Crisis at 1600,” and the final, and hardest room to escape from is “The Caretaker.” Each room involves trying to find a way out to complete an already active story. In “Crisis at 1600”, you are tasked with securing the White House from an attack, all while trying to stop a missile strike simultaneously. Each game costs $35 to book, or $39 for the Caretaker, and can be booked online in advance. Check out americasescapegame.com to view availability and book a room for your vacation.
Ripley’s Believe or Not! attractions have become popular attractions all across the country for their absurd subjects and unique designs, and there are many different Ripley’s attractions located in Gatlinburg. However, the biggest attraction of the Ripley’s franchises in Gatlinburg is the “Aquarium of the Smokies.” The aquarium is home to thousands of exotic sea creatures, plus it features an underwater tunnel and its very own Penguin Playhouse. The “Aquarium of the Smokies” is comprised of 9 unique exhibits, from the exotic Coral Reef exhibit to the menacing Shark Lagoon exhibit. Tickets are available online at ripleyaquariums.com/Gatlinburg at $25.99. Plus, if you plan to go to any of the other Ripley’s exhibits, you can purchase a combo ticket for $39.97 and go to the aquarium and two more Ripley’s attractions! Other Ripley’s attractions include: the Haunted Adventure, the Odditorium, and the Moving Theater.
If you would like to experience one final thrill before burying your face in your textbook for the next 4 months, Gatlinburg is also a great place to ski and snowboard. Gatlinburg is home to its very own ski area: The Ober Gatlinburg. The Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park is home to 9 different ski runs and is one of the few ski areas located in the Southeast United States, so it is a wonderful place to try winter sports for the first time, or even keep up your pre-existing talents! Ober Gatlinburg offers equipment rentals for any beginner skiers. 1 full session on the slopes all day costs $65 each on weekends and holidays. The following pieces of necessary equipment are also available for rental daily: skis at $25, snowboard at $30, a helmet at $6, and a jacket and pants at $12 each.
At the end of the day, however, we students need time to quickly catch our breath and relax before diving headfirst into spring semester. What better way to do that than to sit in a nice, warm cabin, sitting by a campfire playing Cards Against Humanity with a few of our friends? Gatlinburg is home to dozens of cabin rentals, ranging from small cabins for those on a budget, or larger, luxurious cabins for those who want to treat themselves to some hot chocolate and a hot tub. Check out gatlinburg.com/lodging to discover the multitude of choices and find the right cabin to spend your last free time until spring break! In addition to cabins, Gatlinburg also has many options of B&Bs, lodges, campgrounds, and hotels.
Before the semester gets in full swing, make sure you spend your last free days as National Champions in style.