Mom’s Night Out is all about relaxing and unwinding. Lucky for you and your gal pals you don’t have to travel far to feel like you’re getting a world away. Anakeesta is a mountaintop theme park in Gatlinburg but that description doesn’t do it justice. Knoxville Moms got to experience its magic first-hand at a special Mom’s Night Out. Anakeesta hosted us for a tour and tasting at the park’s popular Cliff Top restaurant.
Our first adventure was the drive up the mountain! Guests have the option to take a chair lift, chondola or a shuttle service. We decided to try it all during our visit starting with the shuttle. The ride is just a few minutes and drops you off in the middle of Anakeesta’s Black Bear Village. This mountain is the highest point in Gatlinburg and there are sweeping 360-degree views. We strolled past TreeVenture and BearVenture, which are perfect places for kids to play. But on this visit, it’s all about Mom, so we headed to Vista Gardens. This certified botanical garden literally came from the ashes of the 2016 wildfires. It’s a peaceful place to admire the flowers and stunning views. My personal favorite was the wisteria-covered misting tunnel which was perfect on a hot July evening.
Next, we went up, up, up to the top of the AnaVista Tower where you can see the peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and downtown Gatlinburg. As we made our way back down, we decided to try the Treetop Skywalk. It’s the longest tree-based skywalk in North America. It was an easy and beautiful walk through the trees. Guests often see wildlife including bears! While we didn’t spot any, it’s easy to imagine because you feel so immersed in nature. Best of all, this experience and all the others I just mentioned are included with your general admission at Anakeesta.
We worked up a healthy appetite on our walk so we made our way to Cliff Top. This eatery is “elevated” in more ways than one. There are incredible views of Mount LeConte and the Smokies. The food and craft beer and cocktails will please your palate too. Executive Chef Gabe Rosa prepared a tasting menu for Knoxville Moms of the seasonal items. Our bites included the Heirloom Tomato & Burrata Salad, Chicken Piccata, Bourbon Pork Chops and our crowd favorite–Buttermilk Fried Airline Chicken. We toasted the delicious food (and company, of course!) with summer cocktails in hand. I tried both the Blackberry Mojito and the Watermelon Crush. It would be hard to pick a favorite! Both had fresh fruit and herbs and were so refreshing.
After our delightful dinner and drinks, we decided to check out the charming shops in Firefly Village. If shopping isn’t your thing, we noticed plenty of spots to just sit and relax too. Many nights you can sit in a rocking chair and listen to live music. There are also several fire pits, which make perfect spots to gather as the sun goes down. We satisfied our sweet tooths with a stop at Pearl’s Pie in the Sky. It’s a step back in time to 1940s Gatlinburg. Pearl’s Pie in the Sky serves up ice cream and homemade fried pies, cookies and brownies. With treats in hand, we admired the view and realized our amazing Mom’s Night Out was coming to an end. But there was one final adventure before we headed home to our families. We hopped on the chondola for a smooth and scenic ride down the mountain. It’s hard to believe busy and bustling Gatlinburg was so close. Our trip to Anakeesta really did make us feel a world away! It was the perfect backdrop to our Mom’s Night Out!