From creatures under the seas to thrilling rollercoasters and incredible panoramic views in Tennessee, spend some family time exploring East Tennessee.
The best aquarium in the U.S. for guest satisfaction, the Tennessee Aquarium takes you on a regional and international journey through bodies of water from lakes (River Journey building) to oceans (Ocean Journey building). See penguins and otters, touch stingrays and see jellyfish, colorful reef fish, and large sharks.
Miocene-era fossils are preserved at Hands On! Discovery Center and Gray Fossil Site and visitors can get up close with the fossil dig site. See scientists working in their labs, inspecting and classifying fossils. Go through the exhibitions to see how this fossil site became a treasury of fossils dating back 4.5-7 million years ago. Then, head outside to see the fossil site and the work that remains to be done.
Ijams Nature Center - Knoxville
Explore the great outdoor opportunities Knoxville has to offer all in one place. Ijams Nature Center is home to trails for hiking and biking, climbing opportunities, Navitat and canoes available for an afternoon exploring Mead’s Quarry. Take the little ones to Jo’s Grove, the natural playscape that’s filled with whimsy for children to imagine and explore. Discover The Keyhole at Historic Ross Marble, a stone structure on the Ross Quarry Loop.
Dollywood, Tennessee’s No. 1, attraction is the perfect place to bring kids for a spring full of rollercoasters, award-winning shows, incredible food and more. The Flower & Food Festival now through June 11, 2023 is a celebration of springtime in the Smokies. Enjoy colorful art installations, larger-than-life Mosaicultures, food and a whimsical aerial show. Then, enjoy even sweeter moments during the Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration June 17-Aug. 6, 2023. The event includes the Sweet Summer Nights drone and fireworks show featuring new illuminated scenes; the fan-favorite Gazillion Bubble Show Aurora on Dollywood's stages that shares a new fantasy segment paying homage to Dolly Parton and the Great Smoky Mountains; and loads of photo-ops including the garden hose fountain, a blanket of radiant kits and other pops of brilliant color throughout the park.
Get ready for the thrill of a lifetime when you come to Foxfire Mountain, nestled in the mountains of Sevierville. Take a waterfall canopy tour which is a trip along seven zip lines over rivers, creeks and forest canopy. Navigate the Aerial Adventure Course and climb on a five-lane, 60 ft. climbing course. The kids’ area features an obstacle course and play area. Cross the longest swinging bridge in the U.S., the Bridge to Prosperity. And, if you’re feeling valiant, take a ride on the Goliath Zip Lines, the highest and longest lines in the Smoky Mountains.
The 2,036-acre Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park has a wealth of activities for families. Be awed by the magnitude of the mountains as you experience them from a saddle, a bicycle, or on foot. Surrounded by three sides of the Cherokee National Forest, teenagers will love hiking the miles of logging roads that offer stunning panoramic views, perfect for their next Instagram post. Teach them how to fish in the clear, cold mountain waters of South Indian Creek and Rocky Fork Creek which is known for the large population of trout.
Fort Loudoun hosts an array of events including a guided kayak paddle and guided historical hikes during National Trails Day (June 3, 2023). Return in the summer as the fort is brought to life with historical reenactors for Garrison Weekend Aug. 5-6, 2023. See soldiers and Cherokee day-to-day activities, training, cannon firing and demonstrations. Blacksmiths will work the forge, the surgeon will give talks in the infirmary and soldiers will show what life was like in the barracks.
For more spring things to do, read our Spring Travel Inspiration Guide.