Anakeesta is a Cherokee word that stands for “high ground”. Located right off the main street in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is the entrance into Anakeesta. It’s easy to get to from anywhere in Gatlinburg, and for us, it was short 20 minute drive from Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, in Pigeon Forge. Check out our review of Dollywood’s resort here. In this post, we’ll give our review of day spent at Anakeesta. This mountaintop experience is nestled among 70 acres and contains new attractions in Gatlinburg. There are so many things to do at Anakeesta! From taking in the amazing views of the Smoky Mountains, to a 15 minute chondola ride, to thrilling adventures, to great food, and just relaxing throughout the adorable Firefly Village. There will be something to do for everyone at every age here at Anakeesta Gatlinburg.
Breathtaking Views of the Smoky Mountains
Like a lot of other folks, I did my research on where to get the best views of the Smoky Mountains before heading to Gatlinburg. Since Anakeesta is fairly new, opened for the first time in September of 2017, I was intrigued to see this new attraction in Gatlinburg. There’s a reason why I didn’t save the best for last in this post. To be honest, if you don’t even care about the other things I’ll be going over, surely you care about scoring THE best views of the Smoky Mountains, right? I mean, 11 million folks visited the Smokies last year, so you know they’re looking for the best views of these Tennessee mountains. Well, here’s what I’ll tell ya, the way Anakeesta is situated on that mountaintop, you will indeed find the best sunset views of the Smoky Mountains. The best. Below is my daughter taking in the waves of mountains and soaking in the sun. Which reminds me…bring sunscreen! Even in when it’s cold. We both ended up with slight sunburns.
If you have been snowboarding or skiing before, then you have ridden a gondola, right? But what is a chondola? Well, it’s pretty much a gondola and a chair lift in one. Seriously. They offer these bright red, six-person, closed-in gondolas and four-person open-air chair lifts. Both are included in the basic admission price. To be honest, I think the closed-in gondolas are only beneficial in the cooler weather. If it were warmer when we visited, I would have chosen to ride in the open air chairs. The closed in gondola doesn’t have AC, so I can see it getting rather warm in there during the late spring and summer months. The best part about your admission ticket is that you can come and go all day long as often as you like. We have ridden another company’s chair lift in Gatlinburg, and they only offered a ‘one ride during the day and one at night’ option. The fact that you can literally just ride the chondola all day if you want, it awesome by itself!
Anakeesta’s Things To Do
This section here, things to do in Anakeesta, will be for those looking for a little adventure. Let’s start off with what we were able to do while visiting, the Tree Canopy Walk. This is INCLUDED in your admission price, and again, it’s unlimited. I absolutely love this area! I mean, I loved feeling like I was walking amongst the trees, rather than under them. We were here while the trees had no leaves, so I can’t imagine how beautiful this must be in the summer and fall. Well, I googled it, and if you really want to take in the color changing leaves of the Smoky Mountains, well…you need to visit Anakeesta’s Tree Canopy Walk. You almost feel like you’re in a tree house. Two other activities you can pay an additional fee for are the Dueling Zip Lines and the Rail Runner coaster (google a video of this). The dueling zip lines look cool, because you go side-by-side with who you’re with vs one at a time. The mountain coaster was closed while we were there, or we would’ve totally done that! There are many things to do in Anakeesta, including a park with a playground for the little ones and a gem mining station. Who is already excited to travel to Anakeesta?!
Anakeesta’s Restaurants and Shops
Alright, if you’re anything like us, food is important wherever you’re visiting! Anakeesta Smokehouse is a good place to grab a tasty bite to eat or a cold beer. We opted for the BBQ cheese fries, and y’all! We talk about these often since we’ve been home, so if you’re there, have some for us, please! It was cold while we were there, so ice cream from Pearl’s Pie Shop just couldn’t happen, but I imagine this place will be packed in the summer! The other Anakeesta restaurant that we didn’t eat at, but wish we had, was Cliff Top Grill and Bar. If I had to guess, I’d say that this restaurant has THE best view of the Smoky Mountains. I imagine it’s incredibly romanic to enjoy a meal together from the patio, or a drink from The Bar at the Top of the World. The shops are located in the cutest fairytale village stores, and they carry items from jewelry to coffee mugs. They’re a great place to pick up your Smoky Mountain souvenir.
Relax at Anakeesta
When I said that there was something to do for everyone in the family, I meant it. For the folks who don’t care to participate in the more adventurous activities at Anakeesta, there are ways you can just relax and take in the scenery. It’s a wonderful place for people watching, as well as taking in the breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains. Right in the middle of Firefly Village, they have this great fire pit. This is the place to be to relax and listen to music. If you’re looking for a quiet area, head over to Vista Gardens. Here you’ll come across the water feature and so many plants, flowers, and trees. This is the one area where I wished it was spring or summer when I visited. There wasn’t a lot in bloom, but I imagine it’s covered in colors in the warmer months. Oh! Anakeesta incorporated history into the village too. They put together the Memorial Fire Walk which tells the story of the historic Gatlinburg fire, but also all the good that came from it.
Overview of Anakeesta Gatlinburg
This wraps up our review of Anakeesta. Bottom line, this should be your top thing to do in Gatlinburg Tennessee! My only complaint is that I visited in the colder months. Not that it wasn’t amazing and beautiful, but I just wish I could see everything in full bloom. Especially, all the trees that surround Anakeesta. So, when you book your tickets, make sure you enjoy your chondola ride up and down the mountaintop. Have fun experiencing the canopy walk, the newest Gatlinburg zip lines, and the mountain coaster. Eat those BBQ cheese fries for us, and enjoy the absolute best view of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park while relaxing in the many sitting areas situated around Anakeesta mountain.