Anakeesta and Astra Lumina Experience in Gatlingburg, TN

Anakeesta Gatlinburg Review Roamilicious

Being one of the newest, most amazing experiences in the Smokies, Astra Lumina provides Gatlinburg with a new nightly offering unlike anything else with the celestial adventure of astral enchantment and discovery. It debuted in October 2022. Even though being the 15th experience the Lumina Enchanted Night Walk series would put out, Astra Lumina is the first of its kind in the United States. 

The 4D Astra Lumina light display transports you into the midnight sky while using hundreds of projectors to create a magical experience. The experience was known in France before Anakeesta brought it to the United States.

Anakeesta at Night Astra Lumina light show (Enchanted night walk) 

Anakeesta Tree walk in Gatlinburg

Astra Lumina Night Walk at Anakeesta is a surreal stroll along a trail near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park encircles the park, which is situated in the heart of the city, but  far above it. 

There are signs to help you get ready for the story you’re going to encounter when you enter the show (which isn’t a show as we’ve learned to anticipate a show to be). You will see words like  “We are always encouraged to aim high. What if we were within reach of the stars?” How cool is that for a preview for what’s to come? 

The laser lights and hundreds of tiny lights that look like stars suddenly shine down on the trail while you are walking through the cool mountain air. Then a bit further, the stars fall to the ground and sparkle as if they were gliding right through you. In addition we loved be enveloped by music and sound, played by a multitude of tiny, unseen speakers. 

One of the really neat things about Astra Lumina is even the light show is on an incline they gently sloped it. Owner, Bob Bentz told me they deliberately did that so that people didn’t have to feel exerted or out of breath by they time they reached the end. 

You will be mesmerized by the stunning displays of light and color as you witness the performance. An ever-evolving landscape of beauty and amazement is created by constantly changing projections. You can take a leisure stroll or ride the SkyRidge Wheel to get a bird’s-eye view of the lights because the park is open late.

All things considered, visiting Anakeesta at night is a genuinely singular experience that will leave you impressed by nature, if not thinking about our connection to it and the universe. 

Anakeesta Sky Bridge (Treetop Skywalk)

Lots of color changing lights at Anakeesta

You don’t have to wait until night to enjoy the park. In fact we went earlier in the afternoon before the sunset to experience the Treetop Skywalk. The park provides a range of activities with a Smoky Mountain theme, but the Treetop Skywalk, a hanging bridge that enables visitors to stroll through the trees—oftentimes steals the show.  

It is the longest tree-based bridge you will find in North America, with its 880 foot skywalk. The Treetop Skywalk is a network of bridges that extends far above the city. If you would like to do that, probably best to visit during the late spring, summer or early fall. Even in mid-November it was very cold and we opted not to do the Sky Bridge, but we will go back next year to try it. 

It  is 50 to 60 feet above ground level. The Skywalk path is quite durable. However, because it is a rope bridge, it will sway and jostle. So If you don’t feel comfortable on that, might be best not to try that. But there are plenty of things to do at Anakeesta –  mountain vistas, a zipline adventure, a tree challenge course, a rail runner mountain coaster, a challenge course and more. 

How do you get the top of Anakeesta? You have 2 options. Anakeesta offers a chairlift to get to the sky bridge, and in addition, Anakeesta provides a Ridge Rambler, which is essentially a large truck that may be used in place of the chairlift.

Cliff Top Restaurant at Anakeesta Gatlinburg

Dining at Clifftop Restaurant in Anakeesta in Gatlinburg

One of the highlights for us visiting Anakeesta for us was dining at the Cliff Top Restaurant. We arrived a bit early before the reservation and were able to snag a couple chairs right around the fire pit.  Cliff Top Grill is a great place to have a burger or steak. For apps, we loved the Fried Green Tomatoes. I was glad our reservation was early enough that we could still enjoy some of the views of the mountain top restaurant. 

The restaurant’s décor is  rustic and comfy, which is good because we were only wearing jeans and sneakers.I suppose they expect that with all the Anakeesta / Astra Lumina visitors. A wraparound deck with plenty of seats surrounds the outdoor dining area, making it ideal for taking in breathtaking views.

You should try a slice of salted caramel cheesecake from the limited but potent dessert selection. 

The Cliff Top Grill and Bar is open for dine-in meals every day of the week, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Since the restaurant is inside Anakeesta park, it does close a bit early and you’ll definitely need reservations on a weekend or during the busy tourist season. Our reservation was at 5 pm and it was already packed. 

Anakeesta Gatlinburg’s Cliff Top Restaurant offers a distinctive dining experience with breathtaking vistas and delectable fare. It’s the ideal location for dining while seeing the Great Smoky Mountains.

Ready for a visit to Astra Lumina and Anakeesta? 

Anakeesta tree canopy walk at night

The Anakeesta Tree Canopy Walk takes place at night, and it is a wonderfully spectacular experience. The high pathways, which are situated in the center of the Great Smoky Mountains, provide breathtaking views of the forest below and the sparkling lights of Gatlinburg above.

 Along the trip, there are numerous lookout sites and photo locations. The trail has 14 viewing platforms and 16 bridges in all.

The mood is tranquil and peaceful as the sun sets, and soft light lanterns illuminate the paths. The ambiance is enhanced by the sound of the tranquil river below and the rustle of leaves in the trees.

Visitors can choose to stroll along the 600-foot SkyBridge, which spans a ravine and provides sweeping views of the surrounding mountains, or the 400-foot Treehouse Walkway, which provides a bird’s-eye view of the forest. There are various viewing decks and platforms where guests can stop along the trip.

Lastly, there is a mix of both nature and tourism on this stroll through the trees. Besides the city’s sparkling lights below, there’s even more to see. Even wildlife can sometimes be spotted along the road. Visitors have observed birds, bears, and other wild wildlife from their perch in the woods.

Anakeesta vs Ober Gatlinburg

Anakeesta is a beautiful new experience in the heart of Gatlinburg. Get ready to experience a lovely tree walk adventure as well as night walk with special light show.
Anakeesta skylift in Gatlinburg

The two most renowned and liked tourist destinations in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, are Anakeesta and Ober Gatlinburg. Both will provide you with a wide range of experiences and activities, but there are some significant variations between the two.

Anakeesta is a relatively recent attraction that debuted in 2022. Some of the outdoor attractions and activities available are the chairlift ride to the mountain’s summit, zip lines, a treetop skywalk, and a mountain coaster. Along with a fire pit and a children’s playground, there is also a café and a shopping center.

In contrast, Ober Gatlinburg has been open since 1962, so it has been around for much longer. It is a ski resort in the winter, but in the summer, it provides attractions like an alpine slide, a wildlife experience, and an ice skating rink.  It also has restaurants, shopping malls, arcades, and snack shops.

There are some similar activities both Ober Gatlinburg and Anakeesta have. Both have mountain coasters, family-friendly activities, a birds-eye perspective of the city, and places to eat and shop.

The two attractions’ locations are one of their main differences. Anakeesta is conveniently accessible from the main strip because it is situated in the center of Gatlinburg’s downtown. To get to Ober Gatlinburg, though, travelers must either use a tram or drive up a mountain.

Another notable difference is the general atmosphere of the two attractions. With its emphasis on outdoor activities and the natural world, Anakeesta has a more natural outdoor vibe. In contrast, the ambiance of Ober Gatlinburg is more commercial and resort-like due to the wide range of indoor and outdoor activities and retail choices.

About the author

Malika Bowling

Malika is the author of several books including Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! and the founder of Roamilicious. She is also a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant. Follow us @Roamilicious on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for the content not shared on the blog. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter (subscribe box below) and never miss a contest, giveaway or the latest must visit restaurant!