Summer in Tennessee means being active outdoors as much as possible. And, it's easy to do with waterfall hikes, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, outdoor concerts and more. But don't just take our word for it. Plan the rest of your summer in Tennessee's natural playground with insight from travelers like you.
Paddle on rivers and lakes in Tennessee this summer. Be awed by the mountain views while kayaking on Watauga Lake. Challenge your paddle skills on the Wolf River and explore the different islands found on Percy Priest Lake.
Vacationing near the Great Smoky Mountains? Make time to explore the outdoor adventure activities in and around Maryville. Hike on trails that take you in the mountains. Go tubing on the Little River. Go fishing and boating on Tellico Lake. And, explore the many farms for agricultural fun like picking strawberries and shopping in farmers markets.
Thrilling water rides can be found for all ages at Soaky Mountain Water Park. Little ones can frolic at The Hive, the ultimate kids' play zone with multiple water play features. Older kids and kids at heart will love the new The Edge Dueling Watercoaster featuring colorful AquaLucent rings in the water tubes, Hang 10essee Flowrider surf system and the AvaLaunch Watercoaster, the first-of-its-kind water coaster full of wide open turns and hills before a heart-pumping wall climb. Chill out in a cabana at Coyote Springs and enjoy delicious snacks, specialty milkshakes, craft cocktails and more.
Stillhouse Hollow Falls is a 90-acre state natural area with features like seeps, streams and small and large waterfalls. Hike 2/3 of a mile to the waterfall of the same name surrounded by beautiful wildflowers. While on the trail, you'll cross a tributary that forms small cascades before plunging approximately 75 feet over the falls. Pack a picnic and spend some time enjoying the view. Parking is limited at the trailhead, so this is a great trail to explore during the week.
Hike to this magnificent waterfall with waters cascading 110 feet over a sandstone cap rock into a deep, rocky pool. You'll see a cool rock house "amphitheater" that was created over time by the elements, providing the falls' backdrop. Ozone Falls is in a 43-acre natural area that is one of Tennessee's popular state natural areas. The rugged 1/4-mile trail begins along the bluff and then descends into the gorge, passing a small rock house called Gamblers Den. After seeing the falls, backtrack to return to the trailhead.
Twin Arches, considered the largest natural bridge in the states of Tennessee and Kentucky, in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is not to be missed. Have an adventure to this natural wonder this summer. There are two ways to access the arches. The Twin Arches Upper Loop is considered easy to moderate and is about 1.2 miles round trip. The short loop goes to the Twin Arches, a beloved Instagrammable spot. Or, you could access the Twin Arches through the Twin Arches Lower Loop, classified as difficult, which takes you by a series of rock houses and cliffs before ending up at Twin Arches. Pack a picnic and enjoy taking pictures at this beautiful wonder.
The Memphis Zoo, located in Memphis, is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species. See animal habitats in 19 exhibits like Northwest Passage, Teton Trek and China. See giant pandas, elephants and lions. Make time for a Keeper Talk, feed giraffes, see kangaroos up close and cool off at the new Splash Park.
Enjoy a summer concert during Overton Park Shell's Orion free concert series while you're in Memphis. The historic shell played a crucial role in Memphis' rise as the epicenter of blues and birthplace of rock 'n' roll. Today, the venue plays host to symphony concerts, rock, rap, soul and blues artists. Bring a picnic basket and blankets and lawn chairs (even your well-behaved pooch on a leash in the designated Puppy Bar, a new dog-friendly social spot) to enjoy the rich music creativity the city has to offer.
Cherokee National Forest is made of 640,000 acres in the heart of the Southern Appalachian mountain range. Here, you'll find the Ocoee River, 150 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, waterfalls, trout fishing, water skiing and camping for tents and RVs. You'll also find the 80-foot Laurel Falls located just off the Appalachian Trail. Spend a day or several enjoying this natural wonderland.
Enjoy even more outdoor adventures in Tennessee:
Pick a day to pick a pumpkin at one of Tennessee's local working farms.