GATLINBURG – As part of its largest expansion ever, this year Anakeesta is adding new ways for guests to enjoy an authentic outdoor Smoky Mountain experience in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg. The city that’s grown from a dirt road into the United States’ most visited mountain town will celebrate its 75th Anniversary in 2020. And it’s still growing up.

Anakeesta’s new observation tower will become the tallest point in downtown Gatlinburg. Perched on the summit of the mountain, visitors will enjoy views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding states.

Anakeesta’s $6 million expansion in 2020, its biggest to date, is now underway with plans to be ready this summer. Beginning later this month, everyone can watch Anakeesta grow through its live construction camera feed online at www.anakeesta.com/here-we-grow-again-2020/.

Opening just two-and-a-half years ago in September 2017, the mountaintop destination has invested a total of $30 million, continually adding shopping, dining, and fun outdoor entertainment for families to explore nature. Soon, even more adventure will await Anakeesta guests who ride 600 feet up the mountain on the Chondola’s open-air four-person chairlift or enclosed gondola cabin or the Ridge Rambler Adventure Truck.

In addition to the tower, the current project promises to double Anakeesta’s dining capacity. A new Smokehouse and Brewery restaurant will seat close to 300 guests who can delight in Southern BBQ favorites. Diners will be surrounded by fabulous mountain vistas from a glass-enclosed, climate-controlled indoor area or a spacious outdoor patio. The new restaurant will also serve local craft beers at an inside bar and a walk-up window.

Just outside the storybook-styled restaurant, a new family-friendly water feature, designed to resemble a Tennessee mountain creek complete with waterfall will help kids of all ages keep cool. Additional walk-up windows will offer frozen yogurt and pizza. Guests can enjoy listening to live music from a new stage, relax together by two additional mountaintop firepits, and unwind at a Vista Garden’s new coffee and snack shop – all while overlooking the forested peaks and valleys of the country’s most visited national park.

Anakeesta is also adding a new play area for families to enjoy, featuring whimsical treehouses connected by a net challenge course and areas to swing and relax. Finally, a new accessible boardwalk will be built to extend Anakeesta’s botanical garden walkway. The trail winds its way into the beautiful Vista Gardens, where the new, yet-to-be named, observation tower will stand.

All of these additions will complement existing activities like the Children’s Treehouse Village Adventure, BearVenture play area, Dueling Ziplines, Rail Runner mountain coaster and the Treetop Skywalk. At more than 800 feet long, the Treetop Skywalk is the longest tree-based bridge in North America with a series of suspension bridges hanging 50-60 feet in the air between trees.

Experience all Anakeesta has to offer in 2020 as an Annual Pass Holder, especially now that memberships include 15% discounts on all food and beverage, retail, ziplining and mountain coaster rides. Benefits also include a free pass for a friend and free admission to VIP parties throughout the year to kick off seasonal events.

Anakeesta is located in and above the heart of downtown Gatlinburg at 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 (traffic light #5). Visit www.anakeesta.com or call 865-325-2400 for tickets and more information, including winter hours.