If you could rewind the clock as far as you like, what would you like to see? Would you try to meet your great-great-grandfather, who bravely fought in the Civil War? Maybe you’d return to your favorite era of movie history to see those classic moments for the first time again on the big screen. Perhaps your quirky obsession with crime shows would guide you back to the days before advanced technology, when serial killers could more easily get away with murder. Let your unique interests take the wheel of your DeLorean! Become a time tourist at these historical shows and museums in Pigeon Forge and beyond!
Visit the Museums in Pigeon Forge & Beyond
The exploration of history has never been easier or more nostalgic than in the Smokies. The remarkable museums in Pigeon Forge and surrounding areas provide an unforgettable opportunity to dive deep into a genre of interest and admire relics from years gone by. For those with an affinity for crime shows, aviation technology, or the golden age of Hollywood, these museums present a past worth time-traveling to see!
In downtown Pigeon Forge, Alcatraz East is a fascinating look at America’s history of crime and punishment from the 1700s to present day. Delve into over 100 interactive exhibits on everything from forensic science and crime scene investigation to the significant changes in U.S. penal law throughout history. As you peruse artifacts like criminals’ vehicles, weapons, and prisoners’ personal effects, you’ll learn about notorious cases from Bonnie and Clyde to OJ Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein.
A quick drive south takes you to Gatlinburg, where the Hollywood Star Cars Museum could impress any movie buff! The museum houses a collection of famous vehicles from film and television across the eras. See Hollywood’s most iconic cars from movies like The Dukes of Hazzard, Transformers, and Ghostbusters. Take a selfie with the Batmobile from Batman Returns or the DeLorean from Back to the Future! Each vehicle has a plaque with interesting tidbits about their production or filming process. The more you learn, the more you can appreciate each car’s impact on pop culture throughout time!
If you head north on the Parkway instead, you’ll soon arrive in Sevierville, home to the Tennessee Museum of Aviation. It showcases an entire hangar of aircrafts, from vintage WWII fighter jets to modern jet trainers from the Vietnam War. Imagine what it must have been like to pilot the North American T-28B Trojan aerobatics and counter-insurgency craft or the groundbreaking 1902 Wright Glider! Aviation enthusiasts will also love learning about military history through artifacts like old uniforms, model engines, and even a Field Communion Kit for a Christian Communion. Don’t forget to hang out and see if you can catch a vintage aircraft flight demonstration!
Watch History Come to Life on a Pigeon Forge Stage
Nothing adds more humanity and richness to your time-traveling excursion than seeing history come to life. This Pigeon Forge theater in particular immerses you in the world of the past through realistic portrayals of character, setting, and story.
Just a five-minute drive from the Buttonwillow Civil War Theater is the Red Skelton Tribute Theater, which offers special insight into the unique comedic style of days gone by. Born in Indiana in 1913, Red Skelton was one of America’s most beloved comedians and entertainers for seven decades. After gaining a start in showbiz as a circus clown and vaudeville performer, he appeared on television and radio from 1937 to 1971, most famously on The Red Skelton Show. Nowadays, his legacy lives on in Pigeon Forge where Red Skelton impersonator Brian Hoffman recreates some of his classic comedy routines and iconic characters. Baby boomers who remember the best decades for comedy in America can’t miss this show!
Book Your Stay at a Historic Venue
Don’t just relegate your wormhole dives to daytime adventures at the theaters and museums in Pigeon Forge. As a bonus, let your downtime occupy the realm of the past, too, when you stay at the Historic Gatlinburg Inn. Built in 1937, this exceptional hotel played a powerful role in the local history as the town’s first chamber of commerce, newspaper, bank, and even a dentist office. It has since hosted countless prominent figures, from filmmakers and songwriters to presidents and artists.
Did you know that Tennessee’s beloved fight song, “Rocky Top,” was originally written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in Room 388 of the Historic Gatlinburg Inn? As a result, the Inn is now listed as a destination on the Tennessee Music Pathways. Make sure to spot the original hand-written sheet music (pictured above) on display in the hallway!
You never knew that time travel was possible, and that’s because you haven’t yet visited the Great Smoky Mountains! From crime scenes to cars, the tragedies of war to the comedy of life, the theaters and museums in Pigeon Forge are sure to delight the history buff in your midst. After all, there’s no better way to pique your interests than with firsthand experience and primary sources.
When you’re ready to come back to the future, you’ll find plenty more educational attractions, family-friendly dinner theaters, and fun things to do in Pigeon Forge awaiting you. (Just remember not to leave without getting your parents back together and preventing your own disappearance!)
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