Taking a little trip to the Volunteer State, you’ll find a wealth of exciting things you can do with the whole family. There are so many things to do in Tennessee with kids you might find it challenging to find time for it all.
Not only is Tennessee filled with adventures in the great outdoors, but it is rife with historical sites and museums. You can spend one day hiking in the Smoky Mountain in Eastern Tennessee, and the next day head over to the Casey Jones Museum in Jackson.
There’s something for everyone in Tennessee. No matter how old your kids are, you’ll have a great time exploring the home of country music.
You can also check out related guides for example The Best Hotels In Gatlinburg, Tennessee For Families, and 12 Of The Best Water Parks In Tennessee.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Cades Cove
- Adventure Science Center
- Lookout Mountain
- Rock City
- Ruby Falls
- Shiloh National Military Park
- Museum of Appalachia
- Belle Meade Plantation
- Discovery Park of America
- Soar Adventure Tower
- Grand Ole Opry
- Lost Sea Adventure
- Chattanooga Zoo
- The Wandering Llamas
- Soaky Mountain Water Park
- Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum
- Cumberland Cavern
- Farragut Museum
- The Island at Pigeon Forge
- Memphis Zoo
- Beale Street
- Big South Fork
- Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
- The Wrap Up
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Taking a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will expose you and your family to the breathtaking views of Southern Appalachia. There’s a reason the Great Smoky Mountains remain the most visited national park in America, and the sites are a big part of that.
You can hike, camp, fish, walk more, enjoy some outstanding waterfalls, and maybe even spot a black bear in the Smoky Mountains. The wildlife roams free in the Smoky Mountains, which only adds to the fun of the adventure.
Your kids will remember their time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for years to come. It might just become a family favorite.
While you’re hanging out in the Smoky Mountains, you might as well swing by Cades Cove. The verdant valley in the heart of the mountains is a popular destination for tourists, and it’s well worth the journey to get there.
If you don’t feel like hiking into the valley, the Cades Cove Loop Road will take you and your family to see all the best sites in the area. You might even see some exciting wildlife from the safety of your car.
Once you’re there, you can get out of the car to stretch your legs. One of the many trails that wind through the valley will likely get you somewhere cool.
Adventure Science Center
Located in Nashville, in the heart of Tennessee, you’ll find the Adventure Science Center. Serving Middle Tennessee for more than 75 years, watch science come alive with the engaging exhibitions of the experts in science and technology.
The kids are going to love their time at the Adventure Science Center. It’s full of hands-on activities that make learning fun and interesting. The science center is a great place to spend the day making memories with your little ones.
Make sure you stop by the outstanding Sudekum Planetarium, complete with full-dome productions.
A stop in Chattanooga is essential when you travel to Tennessee with the kiddos. The city rests in the southeast part of the state, and there’s plenty of fun to explore.
Lookout Mountain is one of the best attractions that Chattanooga has to offer — located only minutes from downtown, the mountain houses multiple activities that you can do with your whole family.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, check out the Incline Railway. It’s one of the world’s steepest railways that carry passengers and offers incredible views when you get to the top.
While visiting Lookout Mountain, make sure you stop by Rock City. This natural wonder is home to ancient rock formations, massive amounts of unique plant species, and an Enchanted Trail that follows through the gorgeous views of Tennessee.
In Rock City, you can take the kiddos to Fairyland Caverns or the Mother Goose Village, building memories that last a lifetime.
And if you have any plant lovers in your family, make sure you enjoy the Rocky City gardens. You won’t get tired of the plant variety!
When you’re ready to traverse inside Lookout Mountain, you’ll find yourself discovering the wonder and beauty of Ruby Falls. This underground waterfall is supposedly the tallest and deepest of its kind.
A glass-front elevator will take you down the 260 feet necessary to get the full impact of the beauty of Ruby Falls. Once there, you can explore the cavern trail deep under the mountain.
The Falls were discovered accidentally, and they have been attracting visitors from around the world ever since. Don’t miss out on letting your family experience Ruby Falls up close.
It was only a matter of time before country music made its appearance on this list. In a state that’s teeming with country music museums and activities, is anyone surprised that Dollywood is the first attraction that gets mentioned?
The family amusement park called Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge and features the hard work of country superstar Dolly Parton. Her amusement park includes family-friendly rides, a water park, and a museum filled with performance costumes.
With over 40 rides and endless entertainment, the family will adore Dollywood. Inspired by its namesake, it might just be the friendliest place in the world.
Shiloh National Military Park
In the early days of the Civil War, the Union Army didn’t experience many victories. Between April 6-7, 1862, the Battle of Shiloh raged in Hardin County, Tennessee. But this bloody conflict ended in a Union triumph over the Confederates, paving the way for further successes in the Western Theater.
The Shiloh National Military Park is a stunning place to take the kids. They’ll learn about the history and America’s greatest internal struggle, and they’ll experience a piece of the somber reality of war.
Exploring the park is about more than just seeing memorials and reading plaques. Taking your kids to Shiloh will help them gain perspective and hopefully a new appreciation for history.
Museum of Appalachia
Living history museums are some of the most exciting places for kids of all ages. There are many fun things to do at a living history museum, and the Museum of Appalachia is no exception.
Modeling a pioneer mountain farm and village, the Museum of Appalachia celebrates the culture and history of the people of Southern Appalachia.
With 65 acres to explore, there is no shortage of antique buildings and farm animals to get to know. You can roam the living history museum at your own pace, asking questions of the living interpreters who “live” at the farm.
Belle Meade Plantation
A trip to the South would be incomplete without a trip to a gorgeous plantation. John Harding purchased the property in 1807 and now stands as one of Tennessee’s most iconic southern mansion examples.
Located in Nashville, the Belle Meade Plantation is a beautiful place to explore history and stunning landscapes. The plantation offers visitors guided tours of the mansion, the grounds, and the winery.
That’s right, the winery. The Belle Meade winery makes this stop as fun for the adults as for the kids.
Memphis is the next stop on the list of things to do in Tennessee with kids. If you have any Elvis fanatics in your group, they’re going to lose their minds over the opportunity to stop by Graceland for a day or two.
In the place that Elvis made his home, you can explore an outstanding garden, a gorgeous mansion, and even see the planes he used to get from show to show.
The Elvis memorial of Graceland would be incomplete without a collection of costumes and memorabilia. Fortunately, Graceland offers that, too, making it a complete experience worth remembering.
The Carnton farm was one of the best in Franklin, Tennessee, in the early 1800s. Like so many homes in the South, the Civil War changed all of that with the battle of Franklin in 1864, and Carnton is now a piece of the American Civil War narrative.
A trip to the Carnton mansion means a history lesson unlike any you’ve experienced before. With guided tours that dive deep into the impacts of the Civil War, prepare yourself for a knowledge dump.
The little kids might not love all the tours and the talking. But they’ll have a blast exploring the property and running through the fields of the old plantation.
Discovery Park of America
Situated in Northwest Tennessee, in the region of Reelfoot Lake, the Discovery Park of America offers kids and parents alike the opportunity to explore the wonders of the natural world.
Not far from Union City, the park opened in 2013. Ever since, the park has been stunning visitors from all around the world with its interactive displays, beautiful gardens, and picturesque views of Tennessee.
The Discovery Park of America is a must-see destination if you plan a trip to Tennessee. There’s something for everyone, and you’ll be just as impressed as your kiddos.
Soar Adventure Tower
Heading back to Franklin, you’ll find yourself at Soar Adventure, the adventure park that offers fun for kids of all ages. Whether you’re still in junior high or you just refinanced your home, you’re bound to have a great time at Soar Adventure.
There are a number of fun things to do at Soar. Check out the adventure tower, a climbing apparatus that presents the right kind of challenge for your older kids. Or you can spend the day at the mini-golf course, putting your way to family rivalry.
Whatever your heart settles on, your time at Soar Adventure will most certainly be unforgettable.
Grand Ole Opry
Why is the Grand Ole Opry wedged in the middle of this list? Maybe it’s in the middle because it’s so apparent, or perhaps to keep things interesting. Either way, it’s on the list. It should be the first thing anyone thinks of when they think of Tennessee, and rightfully so.
Stopping by the home of country music simply must happen when you take your kids to Tennessee. If you spend any time in Nashville – and you should spend a lot of time in Nashville – you’ll want to pick up tickets to an Opry show.
Maybe your favorite country singer will be in town at the same time. Who knows? But regardless of who performs, the experience alone is worth the time.
Lost Sea Adventure
Tennessee is as famous for outdoor adventures as it is for country music. Exploring the great outdoors is a time to be had, and diving into the depths of Tennessee’s underwater adventures is even better.
The Lost Sea Adventure takes you underground into a set of caverns that contain wild history. The guided tour leads you to the bottom of the cave, where you can ride a boat on The Lost Sea.
Supposedly, America’s largest underground lake, prepare yourself for an experience, unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.
A good zoo is one of the best things you can do with kids. It’s so fun to watch their little faces light up at the sight of the incredible creatures. And the Chattanooga Zoo puts on such a great production you almost forget that these animals aren’t in their natural habitat.
The zoo is full of fascinating, exotic creatures. The kids will love running the trails from exhibit to exhibit.
The zoo is separated into multiple sections, each based on the corner of the world where the animals usually reside. From the Corcovado Jungle to the Gombe Forest, you can see amazing animals that you wouldn’t want to encounter in nature.
The Wandering Llamas
If you’re interested in learning more about llamas, you can do that with your kids in Tennessee! At The Wandering Llamas, you can adventure with a pack of llamas through the Smoky Mountains.
Hiking with llamas doesn’t include llama rides, but the llamas will carry your gear as you trek through the mountains with your family and friends.
There’s no reason to avoid a trip with Wandering Llamas. Eastern Tennessee is a little more exciting when you’ve got a llama in tow. And your kids won’t soon forget about that time they walked through the mountains leading a llama.
Soaky Mountain Water Park
When you’re ready for a break from the museums, the hikes, and the trips to old battlefields, you’ll find rest and relaxation at Soaky Mountain Water Park. Located in Sevierville, Tennessee, the water park is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
The water park is a perfect time for the whole family. With various pools, water slides, a high dive, and unique water park rides, you can enjoy the fun of a water park surrounded by the beautiful Tennessee countryside.
Your kids are going to love you for taking them to Soaky Mountain. This award-winning park is a great family spot at any point during your vacation. Just make sure you pack your trunks.
Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum
Heading back to the museum world of Tennessee, take a trip to the Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum in Jackson. The kids will love hearing about the heroic tale of Casey Jones and his famous final train ride.
More than a museum, you can tour Casey Jones’ home nearby. You can also check out the gift shop, grab a bite at Dixie Cafe, and finish the day with a trip to the ice cream parlor.
With so many beautiful offerings, the Casey Jones home and museum are a fun place to spend the day. You’ll get an Old West feel even though you’re only in Tennessee, and you can eat some delicious food while you learn all about Casey Jones and railroad history.
Tennessee is surprisingly full of interesting underground explorations. The Cumberland Cavern is one of those great places to take the family and enjoy some good physical activity in the depths of the cavern.
The caverns span almost 30 miles, with passageways winding through and taking you on an underground adventure unlike any other.
You can experience underground rock formations, underground waterfalls, underground pools, and anything else that you might think you’d encounter underground.
Admiral David Glasgow Farragut was born around Farragut, Tennessee, in 1801. As an admiral in the United States Navy, he made waves with famous sayings that have gone down in history as inspiring moments worth emulating.
Visiting the Farragut Museum, you can interact with his wild collection of artifacts, photographs, and interesting stories about Farragut himself.
The museum is a great place to take the kids to learn about Tennessee history and the history of the United States Navy. Plus, you can explore the lovely grounds for some fresh air.
The Island at Pigeon Forge
We’ve already talked about Dollywood at Pigeon Forge. But that’s not the only great thing that Pigeon Forge has to offer. The Island at Pigeon Forge is the kind of adventure you and your family deserve to have.
The Island is a favorite for locals and tourists, essentially the ultimate carnival experience in the heart of Tennessee. There are plenty of shops to find unique gifts, and the restaurants are more than interesting.
Your whole family is going to love their time at The Island. There is something for everyone, no matter how old or how young. The shows, the rides, and the community spirit all combine to make The Island experience unforgettable.
The Memphis Zoo is not the only zoo on this list, but it is worth mentioning. It’s a great place to take the kids to experience wildlife up close.
The zoo offers exciting opportunities for kids to learn, like having conversations with the panda keeper or seeing a sea lion show.
If your kids love penguins, they can watch a penguin feeding. If they love elephants, they can see real elephants close enough to touch.
The animals at the Memphis Zoo come from all over the world. With over 4,500 animals from Asia, Africa, the Antarctic, North America, and so many other places.
You and your kids will have the time of your lives at the Memphis Zoo.
While you’re in Memphis, there are a few essential things that you need to check out with your family. Beale Street is one of those things. Regarded as one of Tennessee’s top tourist attractions, Beale Street is a must-see.
The subject of songs, poems, and famous stories from the heart of music country, Beale Street is a bustling center of good times and good food.
You’ll hear some funky music while you’re walking the street. Known to some as the official home of the blues, you’ll listen to a variety of interesting facts that are bound to make you want nothing more than to come back the next time you’re in town.
Big South Fork
The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee spans 125,000 acres across the Cumberland Plateau. The Big South Fork is a great place to explore with the family.
There are miles of scenic spots to stop for pictures or a picnic, and the sandstone bluffs create a stunning landscape. You can experience a ranger-led hiking program or explore the land yourself.
You can do everything from rock climbing to whitewater paddling at Big South Fork. Take the family on a horseback ride, or just stroll through the scenery. Whatever you decide to do, Big South Fork is the place to do it.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
And finally, you must make a stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. No other state boasts the same amount of unique music history as Tennessee, and Nashville is at the heart of it all.
For all the country lovers in your group, the hall of fame and museum is the perfect place to explore music history and get a taste of America’s heartland. Learn about country music heroes, the ones who made it great.
Your family will love their time at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. There are plenty of events to keep the little ones occupied and plenty of great music to keep the rest of you entertained.
The Wrap Up
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Tennessee with your kids, then you hopefully have an idea of where to start. There are plenty of good ideas when you’re planning the trip. It’s just a matter of picking which one you want to see first.