Posted on: Wednesday - Oct 18, 2017

It’s no secret that the opening night reception is one of the most enjoyable parts of the Governor’s Conference. It’s a time to network, relax and unwind from a busy day filled with sessions and learning, so we always strive to make it an enjoyable experience. By hosting the conference in Gatlinburg, we wanted to take advantage of the incredible tourist destinations and have a reception at a venue that encompasses all of what Gatlinburg has to offer. That’s why we decided to hold the opening night reception at Ankeesta.

Anakeesta opened its doors earlier this year and has quickly become a Gatlinburg favorite. Anakeesta is an authentic outdoor experience that celebrates the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while providing entertainment and fun for the whole family. Anakeesta aims to create a unique, authentic, entertaining and memorable outdoor family experience by immersing guests of all ages in the beauty and adventure of nature, providing diverse offerings and instilling a sense of appreciation and wonder for the magic that’s in the mountains. 

Unlike some tourist attractions, Anakeesta has many unique qualities that makes it stand out, including its access. In order to reach the top of the mountain to see the shops and restaurants, visitors must take a ski lift or Chondola. The ride offers some outstanding views all the way up. The Anakeesta Chondola is the first of its kind to be built in the United States. The scenic ride takes you up 600 feet to the Summit via the 104 quad chairs and eight 6-person gondola cabins. Once you reach the top, you are surrounded by the scenery of Gatlinburg. 

At the top of the mountain, you’ll get to enjoy shops and dining at Firefly Village, stroll along the 16-bridge tree canopy walk that’s 40 to 60 feet above the forest floor. You can also explore Anakeesta’s whimsical treehouse playground with your kids, walk the Memorial Forest Walk and enjoy the spectacular mountain views. For even more excitement, you can purchase tickets for the Dueling Zipline Adventure with two lengths of side-by-side zipping and rappel drops.

Visitors can also enjoy some great southern food at the Anakeesta Smokehouse food truck, which will feature a diverse menu of Southern favorites.

Anakeesta is full of Tennessee charm and with this year’s reception, we really wanted to highlight what Tennessee and Gatlinburg is all about. The menu for the reception will include on-site smoked barbecue, wings and sliders with Tennessee bourbon barbecue sauce. We will also have a few treats brought to you by the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. 

So, if you plan on attending the Governor’s Conference, you will get a first-hand look at the beauty of Anakeesta. But, if you can’t make it this year, make sure to plan a trip to Gatlinburg and visit Anakeesta for family fun and adventure.