Tennessee is a fantastic vacation destination for big groups. State residents have access to a plethora of thrilling and novel attractions. What follows are three recommendations that both you and your offspring are sure to enjoy.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is a fantastic place for a family vacation. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just next to this Southeast travel hotspot.
Read on if you’re a family that enjoys the outdoors and would want an abundance of kid-friendly entertainment, family-fun activities, miniature golf, eating, and alternatives.
- 5 Reasons Why Tennessee is the Perfect Family Vacation Destination
- When’s the Best Time to Visit Tennessee With Kids?
- What’s the Weather in Tennessee Across the Year?
- What’s the Perfect Length of Time to Spend in Tennessee?
- The Best Things to do with Kids in Tennessee
- The Best Family Hotels & Resorts in Tennessee
- The Best Places to Eat with Kids in Tennessee
- The Best Day Trips from Tennessee That the Whole Family Will Love
- How to Get Around Tennessee During Your Vacation
- The Best Ways to Get to Tennessee for Your Vacation
- Top Tips for Staying Safe in Tennessee When Visiting with Kids
5 Reasons Why Tennessee is the Perfect Family Vacation Destination
If there is one thing that the state of Tennessee is famous for, it is surely its musical heritage. Classical, jazz, gospel, and even country music all have deep roots in the state. Both the Hall of Fame and Museum may be found in Nashville, Tennessee, often known as a music city. Both of these destinations are excellent options for exposing your kids to some American history and heritage, as well as for introducing them to and celebrating American music. Of course, you and your loved ones should think about attending June’s CMA Music Festival if you’re a true believer in the power of country music. The music festival features performances by some of the greatest names in country music.
The state of Tennessee is home to several stunning natural areas. There are thousands of intriguing caverns and hundreds of stunning waterfalls in Tennessee, not to mention the majestic Smoky Mountains and the mighty Tennessee River. Even the most jaded city kid will be awed and inspired by the state’s numerous scenic rural areas.
Outdoor activities for families include walking, swimming, rafting, biking, and boating. The French Broad River Dude Ranch is an excellent option for parents seeking a memorable outdoor experience for their children. Activities like cattle drives, rafting tours, and nighttime shows are available to guests. The cabins at the French Broad River can accommodate up to nine individuals, making it an ideal destination for big families.
Almost 1,500 Civil War engagements were fought in Tennessee, and visiting these places is a wonderful opportunity to educate kids about the past and the good in people. Tennessee is also home to the museums dedicated to the three U.S. presidents who formerly called the state home, such as the Customs House Museum and the River Flows Museum. This will educate your kids about the rich local history.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is in a picturesque valley and serves as the main entry point to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which spans roughly 520,000 acres. Over 11.42 million people visited it last year, making it the most popular national park in the United States.
When visiting the park, there is no need to pay an entrance fee, unlike many other national parks. If you like getting out in nature and hiking, you should check out the area’s 800+ miles of trails. Depending on your level of fitness, you may choose between hikes that are simple, moderate, or even challenging. The park is home to several species of animals as well as breathtaking waterfalls and vistas of the surrounding mountains. There are more wild black bears there than in any other part of the United States. Have a picnic basket ready. There are several places away from the crowds where you can have a peaceful picnic.
Aquarium of Tennessee
Don’t leave Tennessee without doing this if you’re going there with kids. They’ll be able to explore the ocean and find new species. If you’re a fan of 3D movies, you’ll be happy to know that the Tennessee Aquarium also has a laser theater. From the deepest parts of the ocean to the furthest reaches of the earth, you’ll see it all in this immersive virtual reality experience. Alternatively, you can try their indoor ice skating rink.
When’s the Best Time to Visit Tennessee With Kids?
People of all ages should go to Tennessee. You may plan a short vacation to just one city or a longer one to see more of the state.
Seeing it at various times of the year will offer you new perspectives. Come in the spring, summer, or autumn to take advantage of the outdoors.
In the winter, the mountains in eastern Tennessee are a great place to go skiing or snowboarding. There are gatherings and indoor pursuits available around the state at all times of the year.
Tennessee is at its most beautiful in the summer and early autumn, namely in June, July, and August. Temperatures rise to uncomfortable levels, yet there are many things to do inside.
This is a great time to go camping, to the state fair, and to other events that celebrate the outdoors. Paddling around the various lakes and canals, seeing the nighttime fireflies, and cooling down with a glass of sweet tea are all things you may look forward to.
If you want to escape the crowds and increased expenses that come with a summer trip to Tennessee, the best time to go is January. The temperature will be lower than normal, although not as low as in other regions.
May is a wet month in Tennessee, so plan your trip accordingly. Everything is green and lush because of the rain; the flowers are blossoming, and the weather is pleasant.
As a whole, Tennessee is a beautiful and interesting place to explore. Visit Tennessee during the peak season for an experience you won’t soon forget.
What’s the Weather in Tennessee Across the Year?
The pleasant year-round temperature is a big selling point for traveling to the Volunteer State. Those who like a wide range of temperatures throughout the year may find Tennessee to be a great fit. The varied splendor of this state is on display throughout the year. Extreme heat and humidity in the summer and moderate temperatures and occasional snowfall in the winter make for a year-round paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
Tennessee is a good place to live if you want to avoid both very hot and extremely cold climates. On average, the winter low is approximately 40 degrees, and the summer high is around 83 degrees. Summers may be rather hot in Tennessee, particularly for those coming from the north, but the state’s abundance of water features—including rivers, lakes, and waterfalls—make even the hottest days bearable.
Compared to the rest of the United States, Tennessee receives more rain than normal, with roughly 53 inches annually. But that doesn’t mean the state is always dismal and gray; in fact, Tennessee enjoys a higher-than-average 207 bright days each year. This state receives more rain than usual because of its frequent spring and summer thunderstorms and unexpected downpours. Partly cloudy to sunny skies are the norm in Tennessee for the rest of the year. May is the wettest month in the state because of the springtime rainfall. Tennessee’s dry season begins in the autumn, so expect fewer showers then.
While Tennessee is not part of the area known as “TornadoAlley,”, the state nonetheless experiences frequent tornadoes, especially in the center and western parts of the state where the terrain is flatter and more open. Tennessee has the ninth-highest incidence of tornadoes in the United States, and they tend to occur in the spring when the weather is unpredictable.
What’s the Perfect Length of Time to Spend in Tennessee?
People of all ages should go to Tennessee. You may plan a short vacation to just one city or a longer one to see more of the state. Seeing it at various times of the year will offer you new perspectives. This is the place to be in the spring, summer, or autumn if you love the outdoors.
We hope that our Tennessee travel itineraries will be useful to you as you plan your trip to this wonderful state, which is indeed an awesome place to go on an adventure.
You may customize your road trip in Tennessee by selecting individual locations from among our available itineraries. The world is your oyster, after all.
Please review our Tennessee travel schedule and tips for a week.
Similarly, you can miss out on what makes the birthplace of the Grand Ole Opry so unique if you just visit for three days. Similarly, a visit lasting more than a week in Nashville may be excessive since it is not a very large city.
The Best Things to do with Kids in Tennessee
Families with kids may spend a few hours touring the city on the trolley, stopping at famous destinations including the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Museum, and the Musicians Hall of Fame.
Your kids will get a genuine taste of what it’s like to be in the “Home of Country Music” at any of the city’s many music venues, from tiny dives to massive amphitheaters.
There are many things to do in Tennessee when you visit with kids. The Hop-on, Hop-off Trolley in Nashville is a great way for families with kids of all ages to see all the cool places the city has to offer.
Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium has 3,500 acres worth of wonderful routes for hiking and mountain biking. See the relics left by the pioneers who first colonized the Bays Mountains in the mid-nineteenth century.
Pigeon Forge, located at Dollywood, is the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster. Dollywood is known for its innovative roller coasters, such as the first wing coaster in America, Wild Eagle, and the first double family coaster, FireChaser Express. When you add in the theme park’s award-winning performances, delicious southern cuisine, and fun festivals, you have the makings of the ideal destination any time of year. Play it safe when visiting Dollywood.
The Cheekwood Museum of Art and the Bicentennial Mall State Park are both located in this cultural hotspot. Visit Jack Daniel’s headquarters in neighboring Lynchburg.
The majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park may be found in eastern Tennessee. Towns like Sevierville and Townsend provide picturesque and friendly gateways to this breathtaking area. If you want to see the countryside covered in blue mist, a hike to Clingmans Dome is the way to go.
The Best Family Hotels & Resorts in Tennessee
Below are the best family hotels and resorts in Tennessee:
Sheraton Music City Hotel
The Sheraton Music City Hotel is the second biggest conference hotel in Nashville. The luxurious hotel has both an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as a restaurant and sun terrace. Families that plan on taking their dogs on vacation will find this hotel to be an excellent option. Guests who don’t want to slack on their workout routine may use the hotel’s on-site fitness facility, complete with locker rooms.
Go see the up-and-coming music talents in action at their state-of-the-art venue. If you and your significant other don’t have a love for music, consider taking a cruise along the Cumberland River instead.
Big Cypress Lodge
Big Cypress Lodge may be seen from very far away. The hotel, located inside Memphis’ Bass Pro Shops Pyramid, offers a variety of treehouse-style rooms decked out in wood and other outdoor-themed furnishings. Most families will like the interior dual queen room, and if you’d prefer to have a view of the outdoors, there’s a comparable suite with that view available as well.
Activities in and around the pyramid include fishbowl-themed bowling and an elevator ride with glass walls that takes you up 28 stories for a breathtaking panorama. Convenient access to the Memphis Zoo, the National Civil Rights Museum, and Elvis Presley’s Graceland is just a few of the city’s attractions.
Omni Nashville Hotel
The Omni Nashville Hotel is conveniently located near both the Music City Center and the Country Music Hall of Fame. There is a spa, an outdoor pool on the roof, five restaurants, and a gym at this hotel. Among the top Tennessee family resorts, its excellent on-site facilities make it a top pick.
To accommodate a family of four, ideally, the room would have two extra-large double beds. At the luxurious spa, partners can relax with massages, body scrubs, and facials. You can either take a relaxing dip in the pool or lay out on the sun loungers and work on your tan on the rooftop.
Dollywood DreamMore Resort, Pigeon Forge
The DreamMore resort is conveniently located near both Dollywood and Dolly Parton’s Splash Country, two of the area’s most popular attractions. The resort has a pool, spa, and activities for children, and it provides door-to-door transportation to theme parks. During your stay, you can skip the lines and get into the attractions early for free.
The Resort at Governor’s Crossing
The Governor’s Crossing resort is conveniently located close to both Highway 441 and Pigeon Forge. It’s one of the best hotels in Tennessee, and it has an indoor water park, an outdoor park during the warmer months, and other fun activities for kids like a playroom and a playground. If you’re looking for a family-friendly water park with exciting slides for kids of all ages, look no further. Nearby amusement park Dollywood is only 5.3 kilometers from the resort. Your adolescent children may have exciting rides beside you. Some rides are suitable for infants and toddlers, such as village carousels, buzzing bees, and hidden hollows.
What’s the Average Cost of a Hotel in Tennessee?
We discovered that the average price of a hotel in Tennessee was a very reasonable $219, with the median price being just $153. This was based on an analysis of 1,348 outstanding hotels in Tennessee. It seems to be the reason that this city would have a wide selection of high-quality hotels to choose from.
This is similar to how the average price of a three-star hotel in Nashville is $170 per night as of right now. Currently, a night in a 4-star hotel in Nashville will run you around $282, while a 5-star hotel in the city would set you back at about $449.
The typical daily cost of a trip to Tennessee is $138, so set aside at least as much money for your stay. On average, tourists spend $33 per day on food and $17 per day on public transportation. Additionally, a typical hotel room in Nashville costs $158 per night for a couple.
Put simply, the cost of living in Tennessee is among the lowest in the country. The World Population Review found that in 2021, Tennessee will be the sixth least expensive state in which to build a home. That’s about par for the state of Tennessee, which consistently ranks in the top 10 for the lowest cost of living.
The Best Places to Eat with Kids in Tennessee
Joyland may seem like any other burger place from the outside, but don’t let appearances fool you. The restaurant, owned and operated by Sean Brock, serves a wide variety of food suitable for both adults and children, including burgers made with freshly ground beef, biscuits, beer, and a variety of other munchies.
The fantastic culinary selections here span the gap between fast comfort foods and hearty main courses. In addition to delicious burgers, customers can round out their meal with a sweet treat on the patio, such as a Joystick, an apple cider donut, or other sweet treats.
The Pizza & Beer Bar of Slim & Husky
It all started with an idea from three college roommates who created the restaurant. Shrimp, pineapple, and Italian sausage are just some of the creative topping options on their pizza menu. Bean ragu, vegetarian cheese, red onions, roasted peppers, spinach, and oven-roasted corn all come together on their pie, making it an entirely vegan option. Since 2015, they have opened six locations across Tennessee and beyond, thanks to the success of their audacious vision and delicious pies.
Smaller versions of the restaurant’s signature wood-fired pizzas, as well as kid-friendly sides like vegetables, mac, cheese, and even Oreo balls, can be found on the kid-specific menu at Lockeland Table. These dishes are great for kids because they are tasty and filling, and they have been approved by kids.
You can also use the patio to your left if you’d rather not eat inside the restaurant proper and instead take advantage of the mild weather to enjoy some familiar fare while people-watching. Getting some fresh air and letting your kids run around if they need to is a smart idea since the restaurant inside might seem cramped.
Green Door Gourmet
Sylvia Ganier, a former chef with a lifelong passion for using only the freshest possible vegetables in her dishes, recently left the restaurant industry to start a farm on the west side of Nashville. That enterprise blossomed into Green Door Gourmet as quickly as the fruit and vegetables from her farms. They are now the proud owners of a 350-acre organic garden and agritourism attraction where guests may shop for farm goods and those made by other local artisans. Once a week, the market hosts culinary demos and tasting events where people can try out dishes made using ingredients from the nearby fields, and the entire family is welcome to attend.
Popular for both breakfast and lunch, Frothy Monkey offers a broad variety of tasty treats. You and the kids may be surprised to learn that cheesy bacon and eggs or a nut butter and banana sandwich are effective morning energizers.
The extensive Little Monkey children’s menu ensures a pleasant and memorable mealtime for your young patrons.
Even the grilled cheese on the children’s menu at Husk looks so good that adults may want to sample some. Plenty of delicious cuisines are available, from appetizers like fresh vegetable plates to hearty main courses like roast beef. The good news is that you can always discover something to suit your taste.
While Husk does not have a play area or other typical kid-friendly activities, the restaurant’s garden is a wonderful place for children to learn about the local fruit that is used in the kitchen. It’s a little thing, but no other eateries in Nashville provide this.
The Best Day Trips from Tennessee That the Whole Family Will Love
For the history aficionados among you, our first trip is a must-see. Franklin is located about 20 miles south of Nashville. This city’s significance during the Civil War cannot be overstated, and the city itself is rich in historical landmarks.
The Carter House, a grand residence constructed by the Carter family in the 1830s and used as a hiding place by them during the Battle of Franklin, is the city’s most visited attraction. You may learn a lot about what life was like in the South during the Civil War by taking a tour of this mansion. Experience a guided tour of the Franklin home and the battlefield where their middle son was killed in action.
Family Farm in Ethridge
South of Nashville, in a town called Ethridge, you’ll find a thriving community with many opportunities for cultural exchange and support. A map detailing the locations of 57 Amish houses that run businesses and the goods and services they provide is available for free from one of the stores. All members of the family may join in on the excitement of this cultural event.
A waterfall known as Cummins Falls may be found on the Blackburn Fork River in Jackson County, Tennessee, to the east of Nashville. In terms of water flow, it’s Tennessee’s eighth-largest waterfall. It is a great outdoor activity for the whole family to take a stroll to the waterfalls and then cool down in the water or even swim beneath the falls. The Old Mill General Store is a great place to have some refreshments afterward, especially ice cream. Get some sleep in the rocking rockers before making the trip back to Nashville.
Chattanooga, Tennessee, is just six miles away from Rock City. Its picturesque mountain surroundings provide picture-perfect surroundings for the little village. It’s becoming a tourist mecca, with incredible sights to see.
Ruby Falls is a great place to get your heart racing. The United States’ highest and deepest public subterranean waterfall. Before you get to the falls, which are illuminated by different colors, you’ll have a tour inside the cave. A trip like this is one you’ll never forget. Visit the Zoo, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, or the Tennessee Aquarium for a low-key day trip. Both may be fun for different types of groups, including families with children, couples, and friends.
Instead, spend the day at Hamilton Mall, where over 200 shops and eateries await.
Obed Wild and Scenic River
About three and a half hour’s drive from Nashville will get you to the beautiful Obed Wild and Scenic River. The Obed River, which begins in Cumberland County, Tennessee, and continues downstream while simultaneously splitting off into multiple tributaries, is surrounded by sheer canyon walls.
You may see this river and have a picnic in its scenic valley on the Cumberland Plateau. Outside activities such as boating, fishing, hiking, and bicycling along the river are also available, but whitewater rafting is the most popular. The Nemo Picnic Area and the adjoining tourist center are also convenient locations for lunch. There are a plethora of ranger-led excursions and activities, such as nighttime stargazing in the International Dark Sky Park.
Mammoth Cave National Park
This park is, as its name implies, a section of the much larger cave system of the same name. It’s the longest cave network on the planet. The park is home to a magnificent treetop forest, perfect for exploring on foot or via a picnic basket or even pitching a tent.
Depending on your preferences and degree of stamina, there are a variety of excursions available to you. Many first-time guests choose to take the Historic Tour. During that time, you’ll hear about the cave’s formation and history from your guide.
Rock Island State Park
This park on an island in the Caney Fork River is a favorite destination for outdoor activities including walking, swimming, and picnics.
The park is home to a few pictures of waterfalls. Its 30-foot descent makes Great Falls the most spectacular. Check out the ruins of a mill that produced hydroelectric power throughout your trip. Your outdoor journey would be incomplete without some time spent hiking, fishing, and camping.
How to Get Around Tennessee During Your Vacation
A trip to Tennessee does not require the use of a vehicle. However, a car is a must for seeing most of Tennessee.
The major airport in the area is BNA, which is located in Nashville.
The majority of the state can be navigated with relative ease by car. Basic public transportation is available in most large cities, however, outside of these regions, there is nothing. Ridesharing services are generally accessible in most urban areas. Realize that in certain outlying places, there may be no ridesharing services at all. Tennessee’s urban areas are gradually embracing the bicycle. Infrastructure for cycling differs widely.
The Best Ways to Get to Tennessee for Your Vacation
The ideal mode of transportation for you in Nashville will be determined by your itinerary, where you’re staying, and how much money you have. Consider your tolerance for discomfort and how important convenience is to you.
Public buses in Nashville may take you to and from the airport as well as other locations inside the city limits. Day tickets are available for use on the MTA’s bus system, which operates continuously. Moreover, the Music City Circuit provides free shuttle service across the central business district. The Green Circuit operates Monday through Saturday and connects downtown and The Gulch; the Nashville commuter train stops at six different locations. Some trains run Monday through Friday, and from each stop, you may access a public bus.
Nashville has a large number of taxi services, and all rides inside the triangle formed by the airport, downtown, and the Gaylord Opryland Resort cost the same. The ridesharing applications Uber and Lyft are both accessible in Music City, and once you have them installed, you can have a car sent to you in a matter of minutes.
You may choose from several different bicycle rental shops if you’d like to explore Nashville on two wheels. Nearly thirty docking stations and hundreds of bicycles are at your disposal. Bicycles may be rented hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or annually.
Top Tips for Staying Safe in Tennessee When Visiting with Kids
Check the Weather
Within a single week, the weather might go from mild to quite cold. Moreover, bad weather might be a problem.
The Shift in Time Zone
Both the Eastern and Central time zones include the state of Tennessee. Figure out which category you fall into.
Don’t forget the Basics
At whatever time of year, you should always remember to bring sunscreen. The rays from the Tennessee sun may cause serious harm.
Your destination, or lack thereof, however, will need some walking on your part. Do yourself a favor and pack some comfortable walking shoes.
There may be significant temperature drops, especially at night. Don’t forget to bring a warm backup layer. It’s not uncommon for businesses to accept only credit cards. In the summer, temperatures soar. Don’t forget to bring a water bottle so you can keep hydrated.
Tennessee is a fantastic place to take the kids. There’s little doubt that you and your loved ones will appreciate Tennessee’s beautiful landscapes, vibrant music scene, and rich heritage. If a vacation was in your future, we hope our guide was helpful.