To many, the Gatlinburg Space Needle is a favorite attraction when visiting the Smokies. This towering structure near downtown Gatlinburg gives you a birds-eye-view of the beauty and splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains. For me, though, it’s even more special. Read a bit more about the history of the Gatlinburg Space Needle — including my grandpa’s role in building it — and its current uses in the blog post below!
The Early Days
When most folks hear the words “Space Needle,” they think of the iconic tower in Seattle, Washington. Not me, though. I think of the observation tower in Downtown Gatlinburg. I grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains, and I was always happy to see the tower looming over my local skyline. In fact, the Gatlinburg Space Needle is part of my family’s legacy. When construction on the Needle started in the late 1960s, my grandfather Bill Pettit was one of the developers who planned and help build this iconic landmark.
The Grand Opening
The Gatlinburg Space Needle officially opened to tourists in 1970 with a parade and extra celebration. At the time, the tower’s 407-foot observation deck was the second tallest structure in all of Tennessee! I’m proud of my grandfather’s work and the legacy he created!
The Space Needle Today
Over the years, the Space Needle has been an important landmark in Downtown Gatlinburg. The observation tower provides a 360-degree view of the city and the Smoky Mountains, allowing you to really take in the sights and visually explore from above. From the twinkling lights of the Parkway to the lush mountainscape, the sights you’ll see from the top of the tower are truly amazing.
There are also a number of businesses in and around the Space Needle. Today you’ll find a few theaters and shows, an arcade, a pizza parlor and a grill at the Gatlinburg Space Needle, in addition to the amazing observation deck.
Today you can visit Arcadia, a 25,000 square-foot, two story playground with the latest video and redemption games including the area’s largest redemption center. No other Gatlinburg arcade can boast the quality and quantity of games and prizes offered at Arcadia. Here you can enjoy Lazer Runner, a futuristic lazer tag game with unbelievably realistic graphics and special effects. Or, step into our Hurricane Simulator for the lifelike experience of braving through hurricane-force winds.
Also be sure to check out the amazing Gatlinburg shows at the Iris Theater – home of Impossibilities: Magic, Mindreading & Mayhem, featuring Chris Collins & Erik Dobell. If you get hungry, grab a slice of the best pizza in Gatlinburg at Slice Pizza Bakery. As you leave, buy something for everyone back home at the Souvenir Gift Store.
The Space Needle is open 365-days a year. For information about Space Needle attractions and observation deck ticketing, check out their website. Feeling homesick for the Smokies? Consider checking out the Space Needle’s webcam for amazing views anytime!
Have you even ventured to the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle or enjoyed any of the attractions there? Get involved with the discussion at PigeonForge.com’s Facebook page! Or, while you’re at it, check out the links here for more details on favorite Smoky Mountain attractions and vacation planning information!