Route 66 from Interstate 40 to Pigeon Forge is a far cry from the famed Mother Road that wound from Chicago down to Saint “Louey” and on to California. However, there are many ways to get your kicks by taking this 66 that Smoky Mountain tourists know best.
Known locally as Winfield Dunn Parkway (named after a former Tennessee Governor), State Route 66 is the main route from I-40 to Sevierville, the first of three gateway communities to the nation’s most visited National Park.
At exit 407 you’ll find Bass Pro Shops, the Smokies Stadium and about a dozen other stores and restaurants. This area continues to grow and add new businesses. From here the gaps between businesses become smaller as you head into Sevierville.
At the French Broad River you will see the old Lee Greenwood Theater on your left which is now a church. Greenwood’s old restaurant is now New Orleans on the River. Just across the river is the famous Smoky Mountain Knife Works, a popular and familiar stop for thousands of people each day.
One of the newest and biggest attractions along Route 66 is the sprawling Wilderness at the Smokies complex just across the river. Housing the Sevierville Events Center, two outdoor waterparks, and one indoor waterpark, this resort is quickly expanding. Wilderness features the regions only Surf Rider as well as three giant waterslides, all visible from Route 66. To get into the waterparks, you must be a guest at the resort.
Officially, Route 66 ends when you get into Downtown Sevierville, but as part of the “Great Smoky Mountain Parkway” the road doesn’t end here and neither do the new opportunties for fun. As you make your way down the Parkway you’ll find the Eastern Shanghai Theater, home of the Soul of Shaolin, a Tony Award winning production with its original Broadway cast.
Governor’s Crossing continues to change with attractions like Rainforest Adventures still offering a great place to spend time with the family. Rainforest is an inexpensive outing with adult tickets only $11.99 and children only $6.99. This year there is a new Cerval on exhibit along with dozens of animals from Rainforest climates around the world.
Just a short distance away, across from the sprawling Tanger Outlet Mall is one of the area’s newest attractions. Adventure Ziplines of Sevierville has only been open a couple of months and already more than 100 people each day have met the challenge of “zipping” off the hill above the parkway. At $40 a person, this zipline tour is one of the most inexpensive in the area. Adventure Ziplines stays open late and allows you the chance to take the challenge at night.
New restaurants come and go all along the parkway and some of the latest additions along “the Parkway” are The Mellow Mushroom, Big Daddy’s Pizzeria, and the Partridge and Pear at the Christmas Place. All these are just a short distance from the looming smokestacks of the Titanic Museum Attraction. Since opening in the spring, more than 200,000 people have walked the halls of the Titanic.
As you travel Route 66 remember much of it is under construction. Crews are adding lanes on both sides of the highway and there are many times traffic often slows to a crawl as you head into Downtown Sevierville.
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