KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Several East Tennessee attractions are considered among the world’s best according to TripAdvisor’s 2021 Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Things To Do Awards.
The awards rank hundreds of tourist attractions from around the world in a dozen categories, including the top overall experiences. The 2021 list boasts six different winners from Tennessee and three in East Tennessee alone.
A rafting trip on the Upper Pigeon River with Rip-Roaring Whitewater Adventures was named the No. 1 family-friendly experience in the world and the top water adventure in the United States. It was also named the third-ranked water experience in the world and 11th overall experience in America.
The Upper Pigeon River offers class 3 & 4 rapids with scenic views of The Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee State Parks throughout the 5.5-mile course.
The City of Gatlinburg boasts two of its own attractions amongst the top-rated lists. The Hidden Cascade Hiking Tour in Great Smoky Mountains was named the fourth-ranked nature and hiking activity in the U.S.
The ‘Wine and Shine Walking Tour’ in Gatlinburg earned the fifth spot on the Top Overall Experiences in the U.S. list.
Three other Tennessee attractions earned recognition from Tripadvisor this year. The 2-Hour Chattanooga Walking Food Tour came in as the second-ranked food experience in the U.S. and sixth in the world while the Downtown Nashville Walking Food Tour came in as the fourth-best in America.
Rounding out the Tennessee attractions was the Taste of Downtown Memphis Food Tour, which was named the 15th-ranked food experience in the country.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism and travel to the Volunteer State in 2019 had reached record-breaking growth, according to a 2020 report from the state with numbers from the U.S. Travel Association.
The report found that Davidson County, which includes the city of Nashville, topped all county indices with $7.5 billion in tourism economic impact. Shelby County was second at $3.8 billion, Sevier third at $2.6 billion, Knox was fourth at $1.22 billion, and Hamilton fifth at $1.21 billion.
The report revealed that tourism in Tennessee hit a record-high $23 billion in domestic and international travel in 2019.