SkyFly is a newer attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN that has already won awards for its unique and amazing experience. We’ve got all the details on how to see it.
I really had no idea what SkyFly: Soar America was going to be like when we walked into the building, which is right near the big Great Smoky Mountain Sky Wheel on the Island at Pigeon Forge.
The decor looked like what I’d expect the workshop of some old scientist who was studying time travel may look like with gadgets and goggles. I was intrigued for sure and definitely wanted to try out whatever the ride entailed.
About SkyFly: Soar America
SkyFly: Soar America won the “Best New Attraction” award in 2021 by USA Today Readers’ Choice. They only opened in July 2021 so the award was quite the accomplishment. SkyFly was manufactured and designed by Dynamic Attractions, which also designed and made the super popular Disney Soarin’ attractions all over the world.
Once you purchase your tickets, you enter into a room where you’ll learn about explorer Peter Wilder and his daughter Hannah as they try to get ready their steampunk airship for takeoff. We were the only ones in line for about ten minutes and watched the video of the two characters for a bit to try to imagine what in the world was about to happen. A few other guests joined the line and soon we were taken into the Tram room.
Our guide instructed us where to stand and off we went. Actually, we didn’t go anywhere but the screens on the top of the tram certainly looked like we were moving as we virtually sped through the countryside and came to a stop where the airship supposedly resides.
We exited and got in line to enter the next room, which held the massive, 50-foot spherical screen. I didn’t know that yet though. While waiting, we got some safety instructions from Mr. Wilder and his daughter, which were quite the characters. They seemed a little unprepared for this journey, which was all part of the fun.
Then we were off and entered the ride. And that’s where it got exciting.
Soaring Over America
Once we got situated into our seats, buckles buckled and checked, and bags underneath our seats, it was time to get flying.
As soon as the show started, our seats moved straight up and our feet were dangling in the air, ready to fly. The screen looks like we are going through some big tube and then we’re off high in the sky above Chimney Rock (I was so excited to see such a familiar spot) soaring like the peregrine falcons. It was such a cool sensation.
Next, we took flight along the Blue Ridge Parkway, over the geyser in Yellowstone, glaciers in Alaska, and above the massive Grand Canyon.
SkyFly: Soar America
We flew over Niagara Falls and even got sprayed with real water and felt the wind. Then it was on to the Grand Tetons, over the beauty of Hawaii, through the Sequoia National Forest, and of course, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We flew low over the flat waters of the Everglades and up high to get a glimpse of the presidents carved into Mt. Rushmore.
It was so cool and you really do feel like you’re flying. The seats move around as you fly so the experience is totally immersive.
The movie is six minutes long but I could have done it at least a couple more times, which you can actually do for a greatly reduced price once you’re done with the first ride.
How in the world did this movie get made? That’s what I kept thinking. SkyFly says that they used drones and helicopters to film it and that there is nothing else like it in the world.
Experiencing SkyFly for Yourself
SkyFly: Soar America is located on the Island at Pigeon Forge and is open Sunday – Thursday from 10 am – 9 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10 am – 10 pm.
Our total time at SkyFly was around 30 minutes but if you have to wait in line, it could be longer. SkyFly says to allow 30-60 minutes once you enter the queue.
Guests must be 40″ to ride and guests between 40” and 55” must be accompanied by an adult. Guests taller than 76″ are not permitted on the ride. If you have a child shorter than 40”, you can watch the movie in an alternative viewing room while your partner rides the ride and then you can switch out. They do tell you that if you have a fear of heights, you may not like the ride and you can watch the movie in an alternative viewing room. I’m not a big fan of heights or flying but had no issues with the ride. I thought it was awesome.
Also, if you’re a pregnant mom, SkyFly does not allow you to ride. SkyFly is fully ADA-accessible and can accommodate. If you have other questions, there is a great SkyFly FAQ section on their website.
Tickets to SkyFLy can be purchased online or in person. During peak hours and seasons, which is pretty much all year except January and early February, they advise you to purchase tickets ahead of time. Adult tickets are $22.99 and kids ages 11 and under are $17.99.
The Island at Pigeon Forge in Pigeon Forge, TN, about three hours from Greenville, SC is full of fun things to do for the whole family, whether you like exciting rides, good food, or prime shopping. We visited the Island and have all the details you’ll need to plan a great trip. Some of the experiences listed below were provided as complimentary tickets or stays for Kidding Around.
If you have ever seen photos of the iconic Ferris wheel in Pigeon Forge, this is where it is, on the Island at Pigeon Forge. While the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is absolutely a must-do and oftentimes the photo you will see everywhere when reading about Pigeon Forge, the Island where it’s located is filled with tons of things to stay busy and have fun for the whole family.
My kids and I have visited the Island a couple times and never run out of things to do and see! While many of the attractions require admission tickets, there are plenty of things to do there that are free. Additionally, Pigeon Forge has a wonderful guide with coupons that is available online and via hard copy at the Welcome Center. It can also be mailed to you.
Playing at The Island
Great Smoky Mountain Wheel
The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel at the Island was our favorite thing to do. We went on once during the day and too another spin at night. We could see so far and the views of the mountains were stunning. We visited in the winter and we could see snow on the tops of the mountains and we loved it. We felt very safe (I have a slight fear of heights!) and really enjoyed the views. At night was also amazing as we could see all the lights around Pigeon Forge – so cool. You go 200 feet up so you get a great bird’s eye view. Tickets are $13/adult, $8/kids 3 – 11. You can buy a day/night pass for $20.
Island Ropes Course
The Island Ropes Course consists of three levels of obstacles plus gives participants the option of doing a free fall controlled jump on the highest level to complete the course. You can as much time as you want on the course, which includes two zip lines. The course is all outdoors so definitely dress for the weather. There is also a little ropes course, the Sky Tykes Course, for smaller kids under 48″ tall. The bigger ropes course is open to anyone 42″ or taller. Those under 48″ need an adult on the ropes course with them. Tickets are $15/person for the Island Ropes Course and $5/kid for the Sky Tykes Course.
SkyFly: Soar America
This is a relatively new attraction to the Island, only having opened in 2021, but SkyFly has already received the “Best New Attraction” award by USA Today in 2021. I had no idea what to expect with this ride but it was so, so cool. You are suspended in a seat in front of a 50-foot dome screen and taken on a six-minute ride across 20 iconic locations in the United States from Niagara Falls to the Grand Canyon to Alaska. I absolutely loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat. Tickets are $22.99/adult and $17.99/ages 11 and under. Kids must be 40″ tall to ride.
Other Attractions on the Island
Other attractions on the Island include an arcade, an Escape Room, a mirror maze, bumper cars, a carousel, a 7D theater, racing track, a little kids-size roller coaster, and lots of other games. You can pay for these individually or get an unlimited rides two-day pass for $35-45/person, which covers a great many rides on the Island.
You can also visit the parrot shop and see live parrots or even some baby parrots. They are adorable. There’s also a Build-A-Bear Workshop and lots of shops to explore that carry unique gifts.
And if you’re lucky enough to be in Pigeon Forge for New Years, you can see fireworks at the Island for New Years Eve!
Eating at The Island
The Island was designed to look like a small village with cozy streets lined with cute little shops where you can buy toys or clothes, take one of those Old Time Photos in sepia with your family, and The Fudgery (get the chocolate fudge). It’s fun just to stroll around and check all these places out. Take a break and relax in one of the many inviting chairs surrounding the small lake where the dancing fountains spray the water in coordination with the outdoor music.
When you’re hungry, the on-site restaurants include a Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, Mellow Mushroom, Yee-Haw Brewing Company, and Timberwood Grill. You can grab an authentic, and quite delicious, margarita at the Changes in Latitude bar at the Margaritaville hotel, as well as enjoy a quick bite (get the pretzels with cheese dip…mmmm).
Lodging at The Island
The Island at Pigeon Forge is central to pretty much all of the attractions in town. It’s 10 minutes from the Smoky Mountain Opry and Titanic Museum and 15 minutes from Dollywood. You can walk across the street to a couple different pancake houses and other attractions if you like.
Choosing to stay on the Island is a great decision for all of these reasons! The Margaritaville Island Hotel on the Island is incredible and guests can enjoy the rooftop pool and hot tub all year long. There’s also the Margaritaville Island Inn on the Island, which is under the same brand but is a little less expensive and includes a continental breakfast.
Parking at The Island
Parking at the Island is free – take a right past the Margaritaville Island Hotel and over the bridge, where there is a huge lot. Park for free there and take a trolley into the main part of the Island if you don’t want to walk.
Don’t forget to grab the coupon books around town or check online since many of them have coupons to attractions and restaurants on the Island. The Island’s website offers many coupons as well that you can use.
You can plan to spend a few hours or a couple of days here, especially if you stay at one of the properties on the Island.
The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, TN is one experience you really won’t want to miss. This one is unforgettable. If a crystal clear lake, a glass bottom boat, cave flowers, and a guided tour through amazing geologic features sounds like your kind of adventure, then put America’s largest underground lake on your bucket list.
We visited the underground lake and caverns in Tennessee and it did not disappoint. So, get planning! Here’s everything you need to know about the Lost Sea Adventure!
UPDATE JANUARY 2023: The Lost Sea is closed for renovations until February 28, 2023
Always looking for my next adventure, when I heard of the Lost Sea just outside Knoxville, Tennessee, I knew I had to go. I actually keep a running list of all the cool things I want to do and places to go and this one had been on my list for the past couple of years because it is legitimately a crystal clear, cold lake 150 feet underground amongst creepy and cool caverns. An underground lake.
Did it live up to my expectations? Oh yeah, it did.
Is your family planning a vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee? There are so many fun things to do in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area that we have put together a full guide for you. Our guide is full of places to visit in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN. We share attractions, places to eat, suggestions on where to stay, and more for this East Tennessee region.
For even more ideas on fun family trips, see our travel guide.
There’s a relatively new waterpark in Sevierville, TN called Soaky Mountain Waterpark. The park is right outside of Gatlinburg and we have all the details. Kristina took her kids to Soaky Mountain and shares information about the park and tips on how best to enjoy it with your family so you can plan your own visit to Soaky Mountain Waterpark.
Is your family planning a vacation to Chattanooga, Tennessee? There are so many fun things to do in the Chattanooga/Lookout Mountain area that we have put together a full guide for you. We will share attractions to visit, places to eat, suggestions on where to stay, and more for the Chattanooga/Lookout Mountain region.
For even more ideas on fun family trips near Greenville, see our travel guide.
Take an elevator 26 stories down to see a cavern and the waterfall that it hides over 1,000 feet underground.
1720 South Scenic Hwy, Chattanooga, TN
The Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel is fun to visit, even if you don’t stay there. We also took a cruise on a river boat. Nearby to Chattanooga is Rock City, which was a lot neater than I was expecting. We also went down into caves and saw Ruby Falls and took an incline railroad ride. We did a combo ticket for the falls, railroad, and Rock City attractions.
This pedestrian bridge is a fun way to see the river and explore Chattanooga. The bridge leads to the Tennessee Aquarium and Hunter Museum of Art on one side and Coolidge Park, Renaissance Park and it’s surrounding art shops and restaurants on the other side.
1 Walnut St, Chattanooga, TN
Aquarium, Zoo, both are great! Ruby Falls is fun, the incline train will take you up the mountain. There is a fountain downtown the kids can play in. There is a great hot dog place their as well near the fountain, but can’t remember the name. We found a great house to rent. Chattanooga is our go to summer destination; we love it!
Often recommended by locals, Raccoon Mountain Caverns specializes in educational tours of the Raccoon Mountain cavern.
We took this tour as a family and were impressed with the tour guides’ ability to entertain even the smallest children while still giving a full presentation of the history and science behind the cavern.
Raccoon Mountain also has a campground, RV park, and cabins.
Mediterranean/Middle East Restaurant that serves lunch and dinner
5966 Brainerd Rd., Chattanooga, TN
Ankar’s Hoagies on Brainerd Rd. Steak in a sack (pita) & onion rings are to die for! We eat here every time we go back.
Taco Mamacitas on North Shore. Best sangria we’ve ever had.
Bones BBQ on Brainerd Rd. Classic southern style and their banana pudding alone is worth a visit!
Good Dog serves a variety of hot dogs including high-quality all-beef hot dogs, vegetarian hot dogs, sausages, and more. Their menu includes vegan and gluten-free options. They offer several housemade ketchups and condiments with their meals.
We just got back from there! The restaurant 1885 right by the Incline Train has sidewalk chalk through their entire outdoor seating and our two year old played all through dinner. Super yummy burgers too. And I second Urban Stack. And the BEST coffee shop we’ve found in all our US travels was Goodman Coffee in the warehouse district shipping downtown. So. Good. Those little energy peanut butter bites they makes were great at the start of our day at the Aquarium.
Boathouse and Foodworks for full-service. I haven’t been to Big River Grille in years but it is close to aquarium and has pool tables. Mr. T’s Pizza and Purple Daisy (both in St. Elmo near Incline) are budget-friendly local spots. Lupi’s for specialty pizza.
You can actually stay inside a refurbished train car at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. This iconic hotel is a classic choice for visiting Chattanooga.
1400 Market St, Chattanooga, TN
We stayed at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel and went to their miniature train museum. The room we were in was a converted old boxcar. It was so fun. We also went to the aquarium. I was very impressed with it. It’s probably one of my favorite aquariums.
This popular bed and breakfast on Lookout Mountain has a scenic garden trail, pool, and a gazebo with a jacuzzi.
1206 Lula Lake Rd, Lookout Mountain, GA
My parents live on Lookout Mountain. A great place to stay is the Garden Walk Inn. The carousel downtown is a must ($1). Then you must get Clumpies Ice Cream! The children’s museum is great for under 10. The aquarium is cool but lots of walking my 6 year old couldn’t make it all day. . . Raccoon Mountain caves are a few minutes further but way better. They have excursions for all abilities. The towing museum is great for any toddler who loves vehicles (but all you need is the free gift shop you can’t touch anything in the small museum). McKay’s used books is heaven for any reader and you must eat at City Cafe!
Cloudland Canyon State Park has a variety of styles of camping sites, cottages, and yurts available for reservation. Your family will have access there to hiking trails, horseback riding trails, bike trails (and rentals), cave tours, and more depending on the season.
122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Rising Fawn, GA
We stayed in a cabin at Cloudland Canyon Park.
If you enjoy staying at Airbnb’s, our family stayed at Country Corner in the City. It comfortably slept eight people (two families) and was pet-friendly.
Ready for a perfect day trip or summer vacation? Dollywood is a popular place to visit for Greenville families as it’s tons of fun and only three hours away. While you’re there, you can beat the heat by spending some time at Dollywood’s Splash Country. Kidding Around’s Kristina visited this water park with her kids and gathered up all the insider information plus tips and tricks so our readers will know exactly what to expect when they plan their own trip!
Planning a trip in the Smoky Mountains this summer? Kidding Around’s Kristina Hernandez spent a few summer days in the Smoky Mountains. While she was there she visited Townsend Wye. This swimming hole is FREE and perfect for families. You’ll want to add this one to your vacation things to do if you’re headed up to the Smoky Mountains!
Have you visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? The park straddles Tennessee and North Carolina, and is one of the most visited national parks in the entire nation. And the best part? It’s less than three hours from Greenville.
Are you looking for a quick weekend getaway with plenty to do that is family-friendly? Kidding Around’s Melanie loves the city of Chattanooga, TN, and has shared the weekend Itinerary from one of her trips with readers. There’s so much to see and do in this Tennesee city, but if a weekend is all you have – this is the perfect weekend itinerary to use.