Those in search of more mind-bending attractions should hit the road and travel about ten miles to Gatlinburg, home of several museums, including Ripley's Believe it or Not! 800 Parkway, Gatlinburg, (tel. 865/436-5096; www.ripleys.com/gat.htm). This is one of several dozen Ripley's museums across the country, but this location contains five attractions, including Ripley's Davy Crockett Mini-Golf, Ripley's Moving Theater, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and Ripley's Haunted Adventure. The mainstay -- Ripley's Believe it or Not! -- features thousands of unusual artifacts and items, including a working robot made from recycled car parts and a genuine (so they say) vampire killing kit. Ripley's Haunted Adventure, a dark and creepy haunted house located on the site of a former casket business the company purchased in 1999. Kids under six are not permitted. For more sedate fun, the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, open daily, contains special exhibits on coral reefs, a shark lagoon, a tropical rain forest and a special section called "Touch-a-Ray-Bay" which brings visitors up close and person to stingrays. The Guinness World of Records Museum, 631 Parkway, Gatlinburg (tel.865/436-9100) is also a little out of the ordinary. Open since 1978, it is the oldest Guinness museum still in operation. There are ten galleries with over 1200 exhibits, including Houdini's water torture chamber (in the museum's circus gallery, naturally), and the Batmobile from the 1960s television series. Open daily.
If you're traveling during winter months and interested in skiing, or you've exhausted all roller coaster options thus far, a short drive lands you in Ober Gatlinburg, 1001 Parkway, Gatlinburg (tel. 865/436-5423; www.obergatlinburg.com), a ski resort, shopping mall and amusement park. The skiing portion features eight trials of varying degrees of difficulty and the largest aerial tramway in America, which departs from downtown Gatlinburg and takes you directly to the resort. The year-round, indoor ice skating rink is located in the onsite mall. An arcade, miniature golf course, and go kart run are included in the amusement park section -- bungee jumping, water rides, a shooting range and Velcro wall jumping are also available. There are two mall sections -- one near the downtown tramway and another at the ski resort, with fudge and candy stores, camera shops, a food court, and a black bear museum and habitat show. There's even an old-time photo stand, where you can dress up in pioneer and other period garb for some sepia-toned souvenir shots.