Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Things To Do in Tennessee for Families: Gatlinburg, Knoxville, and Beyond!
TRAVEL

Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Things To Do in Tennessee for Families: Gatlinburg, Knoxville, and Beyond!

πŸ‘‰

When it comes to family vacations, Tennessee might not be the first place that springs to mind. But hold your horses, partner!

This Southern state is packed with a surprising variety of family-friendly attractions, from thrilling theme parks and fascinating museums to breathtaking natural wonders and historical landmarks.

Whether you’re a family of outdoor adventurers, city slickers, history buffs, or a mix of everything, Tennessee’s got something for everyone.

Let’s take a whirlwind tour of the three main regions – East, Middle, and West Tennessee – and discover the unique experiences each has to offer.

Buckle up and get ready to discover why Tennessee should be your next family vacation destination!

Book your flight with Skyscanner to Tennessee and explore the wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, perfect for hiking and wildlife watching.

East Tennessee Family Fun: Where Mountains Meet Memories

If you’re looking for a family vacation that’s equal parts adventure and charm, East Tennessee’s Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are your ticket.

Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, these towns offer a winning combo of thrilling attractions, jaw-dropping scenery, and cozy Southern hospitality.

Get ready for non-stop fun amidst the beauty of nature!

πŸ‘‰Stay in a family-friendly cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains for easy access to hiking trails and scenic views.

Dollywood: Where Smoky Mountain Charm Meets Thrills

Day 9: Pigeon Forge, TN (Dollywood)

Owned in part by the legendary Dolly Parton herself, Dollywood isn’t just a theme park; it’s a celebration of Southern culture, family fun, and good ol’ fashioned entertainment.

Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, this park is a must-visit for families of all ages.

What Makes Dollywood a Top Family Attraction:
  • World-Class Rides: From the lightning-fast wooden coaster, Lightning Rod, to the family-friendly FireChaser Express, there’s a ride for every thrill level. Kids will love exploring Wildwood Grove, a whimsical land filled with gentle rides and playful creatures.
  • Award-Winning Shows: Experience the magic of live music, dance, and storytelling with Dollywood’s impressive lineup of shows. Enjoy bluegrass bands, gospel singers, and even Dolly Parton tribute performances.
  • Seasonal Events: Dollywood goes all out for holidays and special events. Don’t miss the Flower & Food Festival in the spring, the Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration, the Great Pumpkin LumiNights in the fall, or the heartwarming Smoky Mountain Christmas.
  • Southern Hospitality: The friendly staff and welcoming atmosphere make Dollywood feel like home. You’ll be greeted with smiles and a genuine desire to make your visit unforgettable.
  • Delicious Dining: Fuel up for your adventures with Southern favorites like fried chicken, barbecue, and mouthwatering cinnamon bread.
Things to Do with Kids at Dollywood:
  • Let the little ones loose in Wildwood Grove filled with whimsical rides, playful characters, and interactive play areas.
  • Experience the thrill of FireChaser Express, a dual-launch family coaster, perfect for kids who are ready for a bit of excitement.
  • Take the Dollywood Express, a scenic 20-minute steam train ride through the foothills of the Smokies, offering stunning views and a touch of nostalgia.
  • Catch a family-friendly show featuring music,Β dance, or storytelling.
  • Watch skilled artisans demonstrate traditional crafts like blacksmithing, glassblowing, and woodcarving.

πŸ‘‰Find the best flights to Tennessee on Skyscanner and enjoy the interactive exhibits at the Discovery Park of America in Union City.

Anakeesta: Mountaintop Magic with a View

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Anakeesta (@anakeesta)

If you’re searching for a way to add some magic to your family vacation, Anakeesta is the perfect solution.

This mountaintop amusement park located in Gatlinburg, offers a truly immersive experience that feels like you’re stepping into a fairy tale.

With charming attractions, stunning views, and a playful atmosphere, Anakeesta is a place where both kids and adults can find joy and excitement.

What Makes Anakeesta a Top Family Destination:
  • Chondola or Ridge Rambler: Your adventure begins with a scenic ride up the mountain on either the enclosed Chondola (perfect for little ones) or the open-air Ridge Rambler. Both offer stunning views of the Smokies as you ascend.
  • Treetop Skywalk: Prepare to be amazed by the Treetop Skywalk, the longest tree-based bridge in North America. Stroll among the treetops on this 880-foot-long series of bridges and observation platforms, offering a unique perspective of the forest canopy.
  • AnaVista Tower: Take your experience to new heights at AnaVista Tower, the tallest point in downtown Gatlinburg. Enjoy panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains that will leave you breathless.
  • Vista Gardens: Immerse yourselves in the beauty of nature at Vista Gardens, a sensory experience filled with vibrant flowers, fragrant plants, and whimsical sculptures.
  • Rail Runner Mountain Coaster: Feel the wind in your hair as you race down the mountain on the thrilling Rail Runner Mountain Coaster. You control the speed, so it’s fun for the whole family.
Things to Do with Kids at Anakeesta:
  • Let the kids test their agility and bravery on a multi-level treetop obstacle course, the TreeVenture Challenge Course.
  • Kids will love exploring BearVenture, an interactive play area designed to resemble a black bear’s natural habitat.
  • Cool off on a hot day at the splash pad, featuring water jets and interactive elements.
  • Experience the thrill of discovering treasures at the gem mining station.
  • Explore the charming shops and restaurants in Firefly Village, offering unique gifts, tasty treats, and stunning views.

Anakeesta truly offers something for everyone, making it an unforgettable family adventure in the heart of the Smoky Mountains.

πŸ‘‰Book a hotel near Discovery Park of America to enjoy a full day of educational fun without the hassle of a long drive.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies: Dive into a World of Wonder

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ripley's Aquariums (@ripleysaquariums)

Prepare to be amazed as you embark on an underwater adventure at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies!

This Gatlinburg attraction isn’t your average aquarium; it’s a mesmerizing journey through diverse marine ecosystems, featuring interactive exhibits and thrilling encounters that will leave your family in awe.

What Makes Ripley’s Aquarium a Top Family Destination:
  • Incredible Diversity of Marine Life: Come face-to-face with over 10,000 exotic sea creatures, from playful penguins and graceful stingrays to mesmerizing sharks and colorful tropical fish.
  • Interactive Exhibits: Get hands-on with touch tanks, crawl-through tunnels, and immersive displays that bring the underwater world to life.
  • Thrilling Shark Lagoon: Walk through an underwater tunnel as sharks glide overhead and other marine creatures swim all around you.
  • Penguin Playhouse: Watch the adorable penguins waddle and play in their icy habitat.
  • Glass Bottom Boat Adventure: Glide across Shark Lagoon on a glass bottom boat for a unique perspective of the underwater world.
Things to Do with Kids at Ripley’s Aquarium:
  • Gently touch stingrays as they glide through a shallow pool.
  • Explore interactive exhibits designed to teach kids about marine life and conservation.
  • Get up close and personal with penguins during a special encounter experience (additional fee required).
  • Be enchanted by the underwater performances of live mermaids.
  • Take home a piece of the underwater magic with a souvenir from the gift shop.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is more than just an educational experience; it’s a place where families can create lasting memories and foster a love for the ocean’s incredible creatures.

πŸ‘‰Use Skyscanner to plan your trip to Tennessee for a fun-filled day at Dollywood, offering thrilling rides, live music, and crafts in Pigeon Forge.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Nature’s Playground for Families

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

No visit to East Tennessee can be considered complete without exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This vast natural wonderland, situated on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, is a sanctuary for individuals who love outdoor activities regardless of their age.

The park provides an infinite number of opportunities for families to have fun and engage in adventures, thanks to its verdant forests, cascading waterfalls, abundant wildlife, and picturesque trails.

What Makes the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a Top Family Destination:
  • Free Admission: One of the best things about this national park is that it’s free to enter, making it an affordable option for families.
  • Diverse Hiking Trails: Choose from a variety of trails suitable for all skill levels, from easy strolls along paved paths to more challenging hikes with rewarding views.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Keep your eyes peeled for black bears, white-tailed deer, elk, turkeys, and a wide array of birds. Remember to observe wildlife from a safe distance and never feed them.
  • Scenic Drives: Cruise along the park’s scenic roads, such as Newfound Gap Road and Cades Cove Loop Road, for breathtaking views of the mountains, valleys, and historic structures.
  • Picnic Areas: Pack a lunch and enjoy a family picnic at one of the park’s many designated picnic areas, surrounded by the beauty of nature.
Things to Do with Kids in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
  • Cataract Falls Hike: This easy 1.1-mile roundtrip hike leads to a beautiful waterfall, making it a great option for families with young children.
  • Laurel Falls Hike: A slightly more challenging 2.6-mile roundtrip hike takes you to a stunning 80-foot waterfall, with plenty of opportunities for exploring and splashing in the creek along the way.
  • Cades Cove Loop Road: Drive the 11-mile loop road for a chance to spot wildlife, explore historic homesteads, and soak in the stunning mountain scenery.
  • Sugarlands Visitor Center: Start your adventure at the visitor center to learn about the park’s history, ecology, and recreational opportunities.
  • Junior Ranger Program: Kids can participate in the Junior Ranger Program, earning a badge while learning about the park through fun activities.
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail: This 5.5-mile one-way loop road offers stunning views, waterfalls, and opportunities to spot wildlife.

With its diverse range of activities and stunning natural beauty, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a treasure trove of family fun and adventure.

So lace up your hiking boots, pack a picnic, and get ready to explore this incredible wilderness together!

πŸ‘‰Find a cozy resort near Dollywood to experience the excitement of the park and return to relax in comfort and style.

Knoxville: Urban Family Fun with a Side of Southern Charm

Looking for a fun family vacation in Tennessee?

While Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer a relaxing mountain getaway, Knoxville has a vibrant urban energy that’s perfect for families of all ages.Β 

This lively city blends its Southern roots with modern attractions, creating a unique and exciting atmosphere. Discover a world of family fun in the heart of East Tennessee!

πŸ‘‰Secure your flight with Skyscanner and visit the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, where families can discover marine life from rivers and oceans.

Zoo Knoxville: Where Wild Adventures Begin

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Zoo Knoxville (@zooknoxville)

Get ready for a wild adventure at Zoo Knoxville!

This top-rated zoo is home to over 1,200 animals from around the globe, offering an exciting and educational experience for families.

From playful red pandas to majestic elephants, there’s something to spark curiosity and wonder in every corner of this sprawling 53-acre park.

What Makes Zoo Knoxville a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • Diverse Animal Exhibits: Embark on a journey through different continents and ecosystems as you encounter a wide variety of animals, including African elephants, Malayan tigers, red pandas, and playful river otters.
  • Interactive Experiences: Get up close and personal with animals through special encounters and educational programs.
  • Family-Friendly Amenities: The zoo offers stroller rentals, picnic areas, playgrounds, and a splash pad to keep kids entertained and comfortable.
  • Conservation Efforts: Learn about the zoo’s commitment to conservation and the important role it plays in protecting endangered species.
  • Seasonal Events: Enjoy special events throughout the year, such as Boo at the Zoo during Halloween and the festive Christmas lights display.
Things to Do with Kids at Zoo Knoxville:
  • Boyd Family Asian Trek: Explore this immersive exhibit and encounter endangered Malayan tigers, playful gibbons, and colorful langurs.
  • Red Panda Village: Watch these adorable creatures climb and play in their bamboo forest habitat.
  • Williams Family Giraffe Encounter: Feed a giraffe from an elevated platform for a truly unique experience.
  • Kids Cove: Let the little ones loose in this interactive play area, featuring a treehouse, climbing structures, and water features.
  • Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Campus: Discover the fascinating world of reptiles and amphibians, from venomous snakes to colorful frogs.
  • Zoo Choo Train: Take a ride on the miniature train for a fun and scenic tour of the zoo.

Zoo Knoxville is more than just a place to see animals; it’s an opportunity to learn, connect with nature, and create lasting memories with your family.

πŸ‘‰Choose a riverside lodging in Chattanooga for stunning views and close proximity to attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium.

The Muse Knoxville: Spark Curiosity and Ignite Imagination

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Muse Knoxville (@museknox)

Get ready for a hands-on learning adventure at The Muse Knoxville!

This interactive science museum is a playground for curious minds of all ages, offering a variety of engaging exhibits and programs that encourage exploration, experimentation, and discovery.

What Makes The Muse Knoxville a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • Interactive Science Exhibits: Explore a wide range of exhibits that allow you to experiment with light, sound, energy, and the natural world. Build a roller coaster, launch rockets, and discover the wonders of the human body.
  • State-of-the-Art Planetarium: Embark on a journey through the cosmos at the Sudekum Planetarium. Catch a breathtaking show about the stars, planets, and galaxies, or learn about the latest discoveries in space exploration.
  • Educational Programs: The Muse Knoxville offers workshops, camps, and special events throughout the year, providing opportunities for kids to delve deeper into science and STEM topics.
  • Outdoor Play Area: Kids can burn off energy and explore nature in the museum’s outdoor play area.
  • Toddler Zone: The museum offers a dedicated space for toddlers, filled with age-appropriate activities and toys.
Things to Do with Kids at The Muse Knoxville:
  • Explore the STEM Station: Get hands-on with science experiments, building challenges, and coding activities.
  • Blast Off in the Rocket Room: Design and launch your own rockets to explore the principles of physics.
  • Discover the Human Body: Learn about the amazing systems that make up the human body through interactive exhibits and activities.
  • Catch a Planetarium Show: Be mesmerized by the wonders of the universe at the Sudekum Planetarium.
  • Play in the Outdoor Discovery Gardens: Explore nature, dig in the sand, and create your own adventures in the outdoor play area.

The Muse Knoxville isn’t just a museum; it’s a place where kids can unleash their inner scientists and discover the joy of learning through play.

πŸ‘‰Fly into Tennessee with Skyscanner and experience hands-on learning and adventure at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville.

World’s Fair Park: A Blast from the Past with Modern Fun

Step back in time while enjoying modern amenities at World’s Fair Park.

This iconic park, once the site of the 1982 World’s Fair, offers a unique blend of history, recreation, and family-friendly fun in the heart of downtown Knoxville.

What Makes World’s Fair Park a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • The Sunsphere: Marvel at this 266-foot-tall golden orb, a symbol of Knoxville and a remnant of the World’s Fair. Take a ride to the observation deck for panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains.
  • Performance Lawn: Enjoy concerts, festivals, and other events on the sprawling lawn, perfect for picnicking and playing.
  • Amphitheater: Catch a live performance or simply relax by the water features of this modern amphitheater.
  • Clinch Avenue Promenade: Stroll along this pedestrian-friendly walkway, lined with shops, restaurants, and public art.
  • Splash Pad: Let the kids cool off and have a blast at the interactive splash pad.
Things to Do with Kids at World’s Fair Park:
  • Climb the Sunsphere: Ascend to the top of the Sunsphere for breathtaking views of Knoxville.
  • Run and Play on the Performance Lawn: Enjoy a game of tag, frisbee, or simply spread out a blanket and relax.
  • Cool Off at the Splash Pad: Let the kids splash and play in the interactive water features.
  • Explore the Clinch Avenue Promenade: Take a leisurely walk, grab a bite to eat, or browse the shops.
  • Catch a Show or Event: Check the park’s schedule for concerts, festivals, and other family-friendly events.

World’s Fair Park offers a unique blend of history and modern amenities, making it a great place for families to explore, play, and create lasting memories.

πŸ‘‰Secure a hotel in downtown Nashville near the Adventure Science Center, offering easy access to the city’s rich musical history and family entertainment.

Nashville: Where Music Meets Family Fun

Are you ready to dive into some family fun in Nashville?

This lively city, also known as the center of country music, offers much more than just honky-tonks and guitar tunes. 

From top-notch museums and thrilling sports venues to interactive exhibits and outdoor adventures, Nashville has something for families of all ages.

Let’s take a look at the best family-friendly attractions in Music City!

πŸ‘‰Book through Skyscanner for a trip to Tennessee and enjoy a riverboat cruise along the Mississippi River in Memphis.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: Sing Along to History

Even if your family isn’t full of country music aficionados, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is still a surprisingly engaging stop for all ages.

It’s more than just cowboy hats and rhinestone suits; it’s a journey through the history of American music, showcasing the stories, struggles, and triumphs of the artists who shaped this genre.

What Makes the Country Music Hall of Fame a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • Interactive Exhibits: Explore the history of country music through interactive displays, touchscreens, and multimedia presentations that bring the stories to life. Kids can even try their hand at singing in a recording booth or playing instruments in a mini-studio.
  • Iconic Artifacts: See Elvis Presley’s gold Cadillac, Dolly Parton’s coat of many colors, and other memorabilia from country music legends.
  • Live Music: Catch a live performance in the museum’s theater or the outdoor plaza, where you can often find up-and-coming artists showcasing their talents.
  • Family Programs: The museum offers special family programs and activities throughout the year, such as songwriting workshops and instrument demonstrations.
  • RCA Studio B Tour: Take a guided tour of the legendary RCA Studio B, where countless country hits were recorded.
Things to Do with Kids at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum:
  • Sing Along to Classic Hits: Let loose and sing along to your favorite country songs in the interactive exhibits.
  • Create Your Own Country Music Poster: Design a personalized poster in the museum’s art studio.
  • Play Instruments in the Mini-Studio: Let your kids experiment with different instruments and discover their inner musicians.
  • Take a Photo with a Life-Size Elvis: Strike a pose with a life-size cutout of the King of Rock and Roll.
  • Visit the Hatch Show Print Shop: Watch skilled printers create iconic letterpress posters using traditional techniques.

Even if you’re not a die-hard country music fan, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a fun and educational experience that the whole family will enjoy.

πŸ‘‰Opt for a riverside suite in Memphis, perfect for exploring the city’s cultural sites and enjoying evening river cruises.

Adventure Science Center: Ignite a Passion for Science

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Adventure Science Center (@adventuresci)

Discover the Adventure Science Center – a hands-on museum where kids can explore science through interactive exhibits, demonstrations and immersive experiences.

What Makes the Adventure Science Center a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • Interactive Exhibits: Get hands-on with exhibits that explore physics, biology, space, earth science, and more. Build a giant bubble, create a tornado, or test your reflexes in a reaction-time challenge.
  • Sudekum Planetarium: Embark on a cosmic journey under the dome of the state-of-the-art Sudekum Planetarium. Catch a show about the solar system, black holes, or the latest discoveries in astronomy.
  • Live Science Demonstrations: Witness exciting science experiments and demonstrations that will amaze and educate the whole family.
  • BodyQuest: Explore the human body in a whole new way with interactive exhibits that delve into anatomy, physiology, and health.
  • Space Chase: Discover the wonders of space exploration through exhibits, simulations, and a replica of the International Space Station.
Things to Do with Kids at the Adventure Science Center:
  • Create and Test in the Innovation Incubator: Unleash your creativity and problem-solving skills in this hands-on workshop.
  • Experience the Thrill of Flight in the Flight Simulator: Take the controls of a plane and soar through the skies.
  • Dig for Dinosaur Bones in the Dino Dig: Unearth fossils and learn about prehistoric creatures.
  • Explore the Solar System in the Sudekum Planetarium: Take a journey through space and time under the planetarium dome.
  • Build and Test Structures in the Construction Zone: Design and construct your own bridges, towers, and other structures.

The Adventure Science Center is a place where kids can discover the joy of learning through play, fostering a lifelong love of science and exploration.

πŸ‘‰With Skyscanner, reach Tennessee and explore the interactive children’s museum at The Pink Palace Museum in Memphis.

Nashville Zoo at Grassmere: Roam Wild with Your Family

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Nashville Zoo (@nashvillezoo)

Prepare yourself for an adventurous trip to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere!

Located on the historic Grassmere estate, this expansive zoo offers a fascinating combination of animal encounters, interactive exhibits, and exciting activities that will enthrall children of all ages.

What Makes Nashville Zoo a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • Diverse Animal Exhibits: Embark on a global adventure as you encounter animals from around the world, including African elephants, Masai giraffes, clouded leopards, and playful red pandas.
  • Immersive Habitats: Explore realistic habitats like the African Savannah, the Asian Rainforest, and the Unseen New World, where you can observe animals in environments that closely resemble their natural homes.
  • Interactive Experiences: Get up close and personal with animals through special encounters, educational programs, and hands-on activities.
  • Jungle Gym: Let the kids run wild in the Jungle Gym, a massive outdoor play area with slides, climbing structures, and interactive water features.
  • Soaring Eagle Zip Line: Take your adventure to new heights on the Soaring Eagle zip line, offering breathtaking views of the zoo from above.
Things to Do with Kids at Nashville Zoo:
  • Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear: Venture into a lush rainforest habitat and meet Andean bears, monkeys, macaws, and other South American species.
  • African Savannah: Embark on a safari adventure and see elephants, giraffes, zebras, and other African wildlife roaming freely.
  • Unseen New World: Discover the fascinating world of nocturnal animals like sloths, anteaters, and armadillos.
  • Jungle Gym: Let the kids climb, slide, and splash in the massive outdoor play area.
  • Soaring Eagle Zip Line: Experience the thrill of soaring through the air on a zip line adventure (additional fee required).
  • Historic Home Tour: Take a guided tour of the historic Grassmere home to learn about the estate’s past.

With its diverse animal exhibits, thrilling adventures, and interactive experiences, Nashville Zoo is a wild and wonderful destination for families.

πŸ‘‰Discover accommodations near The Pink Palace Museum to make multiple visits easy, especially for families with younger children.

Murfreesboro: Where History and Family Fun Collide

Located just a short drive southeast of Nashville, Murfreesboro is a delightful city that offers a perfect combination of historical attractions and family-friendly activities.

This charming city is known for its rich Civil War history, and it also boasts a variety of engaging museums, beautiful parks, and hands-on experiences that are sure to spark your children’s imaginations.

Come and discover this hidden gem in the heart of Middle Tennessee!

πŸ‘‰Find your flight to Tennessee on Skyscanner and take the family to see a show at the Nashville Children’s Theatre, one of the oldest running children’s theaters in the country.

Discovery Center at Murfree Spring: A Natural Playground for Curious Minds

Introduce your family to the wonders of science by visiting the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring!

This science museum and nature center provides an exceptional mix of hands-on exhibits, outdoor exploration, and educational programs that will entertain and motivate children of all ages.

What Makes the Discovery Center a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • Interactive Science Exhibits: Explore a variety of exhibits that encourage hands-on learning and experimentation. Build with giant blocks, create music with water, and discover the wonders of the natural world.
  • Wetland Boardwalk: Stroll along the elevated boardwalk through a beautiful wetland habitat. Observe turtles, frogs, birds, and other wildlife in their natural environment.
  • Outdoor Play Areas: Let the kids run wild and explore in the museum’s multiple outdoor play areas, featuring climbing structures, sandboxes, and water features.
  • Educational Programs: Participate in workshops, camps, and special events throughout the year, designed to spark a love of science and nature.
  • Nature Trails: Wander along the museum’s nature trails, taking in the sights and sounds of the surrounding forest.
Things to Do with Kids at the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring:
  • Build and Create in the Discovery House: Let your imagination run wild as you construct with giant blocks, design your own inventions, and experiment with different materials.
  • Explore the Wetland Boardwalk: Keep your eyes peeled for turtles, frogs, birds, and other creatures that call the wetland home.
  • Play in the Outdoor Discovery Gardens: Let the kids explore the natural world, dig in the sand, and create their own adventures.
  • Learn About Local Wildlife in the Wildlife Habitat: Discover the diverse species that inhabit the Murfreesboro area through educational exhibits and live animal encounters.
  • Catch a Show at the Star Lab Planetarium: Embark on a cosmic journey under the dome of the planetarium and learn about the stars, planets, and galaxies.

Families who enjoy science and nature will love Murfree Spring’s Discovery Center, where they can engage in hands-on learning and outdoor exploration.Β 

πŸ‘‰Select a centrally located Nashville hotel that provides convenience to the Nashville Children’s Theatre and other downtown attractions.

Stones River National Battlefield: Walk Through History

Stones River National Battlefield is a site of great historical significance in American history.

Located just outside of Murfreesboro, it marks the location of one of the deadliest battles of the Civil War.

Although the topic can be heavy, the park provides an engaging and educational experience for families.

It is a unique opportunity to learn about the past and pay tribute to those who fought for their beliefs.

What Makes Stones River National Battlefield a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • Historical Significance: Explore the site of the Battle of Stones River, a crucial turning point in the Civil War that paved the way for Union victory in the Western Theater.
  • Educational Opportunities: Learn about the causes and consequences of the Civil War through museum exhibits, ranger-led programs, and interpretive trails.
  • Scenic Beauty: Stroll through peaceful fields, along the Stones River, and among historic monuments, offering a serene and contemplative atmosphere.
  • Family-Friendly Activities: The park offers a variety of activities suitable for all ages, including hiking, picnicking, and exploring the museum.
Things to Do with Kids at Stones River National Battlefield:
  • Visit the Visitor Center: Start your journey at the visitor center, where you can watch a short film about the battle, explore exhibits on the Civil War, and pick up a Junior Ranger activity booklet.
  • Take a Guided Tour: Join a ranger-led tour of the battlefield to gain a deeper understanding of the events that took place here.
  • Hike the Battlefield Trail: Follow the 3-mile loop trail to see key battle sites, historic markers, and monuments.
  • Explore Hazen Brigade Monument: Climb to the top of this 70-foot tower for panoramic views of the battlefield.
  • Participate in the Junior Ranger Program: Kids can complete activities in the Junior Ranger booklet to earn a badge and learn about the park’s history.

The Stones River National Battlefield serves as a potent reminder of our nation’s history.

By visiting this historical site, families have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the sacrifices that were made during the Civil War.

Moreover, it emphasizes the significance of preserving our heritage for future generations.

πŸ‘‰Book your flight with Skyscanner to Tennessee and explore the wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, perfect for hiking and wildlife watching.

Memphis: Blues, Barbecue, and Family-Friendly Fun

Located in the heart of West Tennessee, Memphis is a city famous for its rich musical heritage, mouthwatering barbecue, and a vibrant cultural scene.

Despite its bluesy reputation, Memphis has plenty of family-friendly attractions that cater to all ages and interests.

From iconic museums and historic landmarks to outdoor adventures and interactive exhibits, Memphis offers a unique blend of experiences that will create lasting memories for your family.

Let’s explore some of the top family-friendly attractions in the Home of the Blues!

πŸ‘‰Stay in a family-friendly cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains for easy access to hiking trails and scenic views.

Memphis Zoo: Where the Wild Things Are (and They’re Pretty Cool)

Are you ready for an exciting and educational experience?

Head to the Memphis Zoo to embark on a wild adventure!Β 

This award-winning zoo is not just a collection of animals, but also a journey through diverse habitats.

From the African plains to the frozen Arctic, you can explore various habitats and see over 3,500 animals of more than 500 species.

Visiting the Memphis Zoo is an excellent opportunity to learn about and appreciate the animal kingdom.

What Makes the Memphis Zoo a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • World-Class Exhibits: Explore immersive exhibits like Teton Trek, Zambezi River Hippo Camp, and China, designed to replicate the animals’ natural habitats.
  • Diverse Animal Collection: Encounter fascinating creatures from around the globe, including giant pandas, polar bears, hippos, lions, and penguins.
  • Interactive Experiences: Get up close and personal with animals through special encounters, keeper chats, and educational programs.
  • Family-Friendly Amenities: The zoo offers stroller rentals, picnic areas, playgrounds, and a splash pad to keep kids entertained and comfortable.
  • Conservation Efforts: Learn about the zoo’s commitment to conservation and the important role it plays in protecting endangered species.
  • Seasonal Events: Enjoy special events throughout the year, such as Zoo Boo during Halloween and Zoo Lights during the holidays.
Things to Do with Kids at the Memphis Zoo:
  • Teton Trek: Experience the rugged beauty of the American West and see grizzly bears, wolves, elk, and other wildlife.
  • Zambezi River Hippo Camp: Marvel at the massive hippos as they wallow in the water and bask in the sun.
  • China Exhibit: Meet the adorable giant pandas, YaYa and LeLe, and learn about their unique habitat and conservation efforts.
  • Northwest Passage: Explore the icy world of the Arctic and encounter polar bears, sea lions, and other cold-climate animals.
  • Once Upon A Farm: Let the little ones interact with farm animals like goats, sheep, and chickens.

When visiting Tennessee, don’t miss out on the Memphis Zoo, a destination that offers diverse animal exhibits, engaging educational programs, and family-friendly amenities.

πŸ‘‰Find the best flights to Tennessee on Skyscanner and enjoy the interactive exhibits at the Discovery Park of America in Union City.

Children’s Museum of Memphis: Where Playtime is Learning Time

Bring your kids to the Children’s Museum of Memphis and let their imaginations run wild!

This museum is a vibrant and engaging place where children can learn and play.

With interactive exhibits, creative play areas, and exciting programs, the Children’s Museum offers a fun and educational experience for kids of all ages.

What Makes the Children’s Museum of Memphis a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • Interactive Exhibits: Explore a variety of exhibits that encourage learning through play. Kids can climb a skyscraper, drive a fire truck, splash in a water park, and even create their own art masterpieces.
  • Themed Play Areas: Discover different worlds through themed play areas, like a grocery store, a construction zone, and a bank.
  • Outdoor Adventures: The museum’s outdoor space features a splash park, climbing structures, and a restored 1909 Memphis Grand Carousel.
  • Special Events and Programs: Enjoy seasonal events, workshops, and educational programs that cater to a variety of interests.
  • Accessibility: The museum is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all children, including those with disabilities.
Things to Do with Kids at the Children’s Museum of Memphis:
  • Explore the H2Oh! Splash Park: Cool off and have a blast in the museum’s outdoor water park.
  • Take a Ride on the Memphis Grand Carousel: Enjoy a nostalgic ride on the beautifully restored carousel.
  • Climb to the Top of the Skyscraper: Challenge yourself to reach the top of the museum’s indoor skyscraper.
  • Drive a Fire Truck: Hop in the driver’s seat and pretend to be a firefighter.
  • Create Art in the Art Studio: Unleash your creativity and express yourself through various art mediums.
  • Learn About Money at the Bank: Discover how money works and try your hand at being a banker.

The Children’s Museum of Memphis is more than just a place to play; it’s a place where kids can learn, grow, and discover the joy of lifelong learning.

πŸ‘‰Book a hotel near Discovery Park of America to enjoy a full day of educational fun without the hassle of a long drive.

National Civil Rights Museum: A Journey Through History and Hope

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by National Civil Rights Museum (@ncrmuseum)

The National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel, offers a compelling and emotional journey that narrates the story of the American Civil Rights Movement.

Though the topic can be weighty, it is an essential part of the history of our nation and a valuable lesson for youngsters about the significance of impartiality, fairness, and the impact of non-violent demonstrations.

What Makes the National Civil Rights Museum a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • Historical Significance: The museum is housed in the Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. It’s a place of deep historical significance and a powerful reminder of the struggle for civil rights.
  • Educational Exhibits: Explore interactive exhibits, artifacts, and personal stories that chronicle the Civil Rights Movement, from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the Selma to Montgomery marches.
  • Moving Experience: The museum’s exhibits are thoughtfully designed to evoke emotions and inspire conversations about the importance of equality and justice.
  • Family-Friendly Resources: The museum offers educational resources for families, including a children’s guide and a Small but Mighty Storytime series, which focuses on peacemaking, kindness, diversity, and creating positive social change.
  • Inspiring Message: The museum’s overarching message is one of hope and perseverance, demonstrating the power of individuals to create positive change in the world.
Things to Do with Kids at the National Civil Rights Museum:
  • Explore the Exhibits: Encourage your children to engage with the exhibits, ask questions, and share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Watch the Short Films: The museum features several short films that provide historical context and personal stories related to the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Sit on the Bus with Rosa Parks: Experience a replica of the Montgomery bus where Rosa Parks made her historic stand against segregation.
  • Visit the Lorraine Motel Room: See the room where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent his last night, preserved as a powerful memorial.
  • Participate in the Small but Mighty Storytime Series: Engage with stories and activities that promote peacemaking, kindness, and diversity.

A visit to the National Civil Rights Museum may provoke some difficult discussions, but it presents an essential chance for families to gain knowledge about our country’s history, acknowledge the advancements that have been achieved, and motivate upcoming generations to endure the battle for fairness and impartiality.

πŸ‘‰Use Skyscanner to plan your trip to Tennessee for a fun-filled day at Dollywood, offering thrilling rides, live music, and crafts in Pigeon Forge.

Beyond Memphis: More Family Fun in West Tennessee

Chickasaw State Park in Autumn

Memphis is a great city to explore, but West Tennessee has plenty of amazing family-friendly places to discover.

You can explore science and history through interactive exhibits or enjoy the beauty of nature.

These attractions will offer a unique blend of entertainment and education for your family vacation in Tennessee.

Discovery Park of America: Where Curiosity Takes Flight

Get ready to be blown away by Discovery Park of America – a vast 50-acre complex that is a combination of a museum, park, and entertainment center for families.

Situated in Union City, this exceptional attraction offers a diverse range of exhibits and experiences that cater to all age groups and interests, making it a must-visit destination in West Tennessee.

What Makes Discovery Park of America a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • 100,000-Square-Foot Museum: Explore a vast collection of exhibits that cover everything from dinosaurs and military history to space exploration and natural sciences.
  • Interactive Exhibits: Get hands-on with simulators, touch screens, and other interactive displays that bring history and science to life.
  • Beautiful Gardens: Stroll through the park’s meticulously maintained gardens, featuring a variety of plants, flowers, and sculptures.
  • Historic Village: Step back in time at the 1800s Settlement, a recreated village that showcases life in the early days of West Tennessee.
  • Antique Car and Tractor Exhibits: Admire a collection of vintage vehicles and learn about the history of transportation.

πŸ‘‰Find a cozy resort near Dollywood to experience the excitement of the park and return to relax in comfort and style.

Things to Do with Kids at Discovery Park of America:
  • Explore the Dinosaur Hall: Get up close and personal with life-size dinosaur replicas and learn about these prehistoric giants.
  • Take a Ride on the Train: All aboard the Discovery Express for a fun and scenic tour of the park.
  • Visit the Earthquake Simulator: Experience the power of an earthquake firsthand in this realistic simulation.
  • Play in the Children’s Discovery Garden: Let the kids explore nature, play with water features, and learn about plants and insects.
  • Watch a Show in the STEM Theater: Enjoy educational and entertaining shows about science, technology, engineering, and math.

Shiloh National Military Park: Echoes of History and Natural Beauty

If you want to gain a deeper understanding of American history, then you must visit the Shiloh National Military Park.

This sacred place is situated near Savannah, Tennessee, and it memorializes the location of the Battle of Shiloh – a decisive Civil War conflict that caused significant casualties and had a significant impact on the war’s outcome.

What Makes Shiloh National Military Park a Great Place to Visit for Families:
  • Historical Significance: Explore the site of one of the Civil War’s most important battles and learn about the events that took place here.
  • Educational Opportunities: The park offers a variety of educational programs, exhibits, and ranger-led tours that provide insight into the Civil War and its impact on the nation.
  • Scenic Beauty: Stroll along wooded trails, visit historic monuments, and take in the peaceful atmosphere of this National Park.
  • Family-Friendly Activities: The park offers a Junior Ranger program for kids, as well as opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.

πŸ‘‰Secure your flight with Skyscanner and visit the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, where families can discover marine life from rivers and oceans.

Things to Do with Kids at Shiloh National Military Park:
  • Visit the Shiloh Battlefield Visitor Center: Start your visit at the visitor center to watch a film about the battle, explore exhibits, and pick up a Junior Ranger activity booklet.
  • Take a Guided Tour: Join a ranger-led tour of the battlefield to learn about the key events and figures of the battle.
  • Hike the Battlefield Trails: Follow the trails to see historic markers, monuments, and other points of interest.
  • Explore Shiloh National Cemetery: Pay your respects at the final resting place of over 3,500 Civil War soldiers.
  • Participate in the Junior Ranger Program: Kids can complete activities in the Junior Ranger booklet to earn a badge and learn about the park’s history.

Tips for Planning Your Tennessee Family Vacation

Fall in Tennessee

Now that we’ve explored the best things to do in Tennessee for families, let’s dive into some practical tips to help you plan an unforgettable vacation:

Best Times to Visit for Families:

  • Spring (March-May): Enjoy pleasant weather, blooming wildflowers, and fewer crowds.
  • Summer (June-August): Ideal for outdoor activities and water parks, but be prepared for larger crowds and higher temperatures.
  • Fall (September-November): Experience the stunning fall foliage in the Great Smoky Mountains, along with cooler temperatures and festive events.
  • Winter (December-February): Enjoy holiday festivities, lower prices, and fewer crowds, but be prepared for cooler temperatures and occasional snow.

Family-Friendly Accommodations:

Tennessee has a variety of family-friendly accommodations, including cabins, lodges, hotels, and resorts.

Here are some tips for finding the perfect place to stay:

  • Location: Consider the proximity to attractions and activities that your family wants to experience.
  • Amenities: Look for accommodations that offer amenities like swimming pools, game rooms, and kids’ clubs.
  • Space: Choose a place with enough space for your family to spread out and relax.
  • Budget: Set a budget and stick to it. Tennessee offers accommodations for a variety of price points.
  • Reviews: Read online reviews from other families to get an idea of what to expect.

With a little planning, your Tennessee family vacation will be one for the books!

πŸ‘‰Choose a riverside lodging in Chattanooga for stunning views and close proximity to attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium.

Conclusion

Tennessee is a state that offers a unique and diverse family vacation experience.

From the natural beauty of Gatlinburg to the bustling city life of Knoxville, the musical charm of Nashville, and the historic depth of Memphis, there is something for everyone in the Volunteer State.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, cultural immersion, or a blend of both, Tennessee has it all.

You can explore the Great Smoky Mountains, enjoy the vibrant city life, or discover the hidden treasures that make Tennessee so special.

If you’re looking for a thrilling family adventure, a history-packed vacation, or just a fun-filled getaway, Tennessee has got you covered. 

Your family adventure awaits!

πŸ‘‰Fly into Tennessee with Skyscanner and experience hands-on learning and adventure at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville.

The post Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Things To Do in Tennessee for Families: Gatlinburg, Knoxville, and Beyond! appeared first on Take More Adventures.