Tennessee is a beacon for all kinds of travelers, but especially for families. And there are entertaining attractions across the state for kids of all ages.
If you’re traveling to Tennessee with toddlers, teens, or in-betweens, you’ll have a memorable vacation that will entertain everyone. Get close to nature, explore history, and maybe even do some dancing too.
Who knows? You may even rediscover your own kid-at-heart. Here are 23+ amazing things to do in Tennessee with kids that you’re going to adore!
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GATLINBURG & PIGEON FORGE
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Gatlinburg is one of the best family vacation spots in the country, and a getaway here is earmarked by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Cades Cove Loop is 11 miles of breathtaking scenery. When I was a kid, my parents gave me my own camera and a list of things to find and photograph.
Wildlife abounds year-round, whether you’re keeping your eyes peeled for black bears, stomping through glistening streams, or bird-watching from an overlook.
Tennessee’s Dollywood Theme Park was created by Dolly Parton and is located in Pigeon Forge, near where she was born and raised. It has thrill rides, regular shows, Southern-style fair food, and incredible scenery.
Come at Christmas time for lights and special programs, or wait until it warms up to enjoy all the great landscaping and take a dip at Splash Country water park.
Read More: 12+ EXCITING THINGS TO DO IN PIGEON FORGE
FOXFIRE MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE PARK
Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park feels like a hidden gem in Sevierville. Often overshadowed by nearby Pigeon Forge attractions, this vast adventure park offers scenic outdoor fun for the whole family.
There’s a multi-line zipline course, a swinging bridge, acres of hiking trails, and waterfalls. Visiting here feels like going to summer camp with your family, even if you only stay for a day.
GRAND OLE OPRY
It’s the ultimate Nashville activity: The Grand Ole Opry. Featuring classic western music and contemporary country stars, this is one of the most entertaining productions you can find.
Your kids probably won’t be familiar with the performers – it’s a lot of old-timers – but the show is really fun and will inspire them to discover more about country music’s roots.
In addition to the regular performances, the Grand Ole Opry House also presents special shows and backstage tours. It’s located by the Opryland Hotel and Opry Mills mall.
Book It: Grand Ole Opry Show Ticket
ADVENTURE SCIENCE CENTER
Growing up near Nashville, the Adventure Science Center was one of my favorite places to go. It was super hands-on and engaging, plus educational. It’s the kind of place where kids don’t even realize they’re learning.
There’s a planetarium, a mind-bending Infinium Room, a vapor vortex, and an immersive sound box. Kids and kids-at-heart will love spending the day at this incredible place just outside of Downtown Nashville.
BELLE MEADE PLANTATION
Tennessee’s Antebellum plantations don’t deserve the status and celebration they hold today. But if approached with care, they could be a place to gain an understanding of the state’s dark and complex history.
Will you get that at Belle Meade Plantation? I’m not sure it’s there yet.
The standard mansion tour takes you to the plush, ornately decorated halls that housed and entertained Tennessee’s wealthiest enslavers. A separate ticket takes you on the “Journey to Jubilee” tour, which tells the stories of enslaved people before and after emancipation.
The Belle Meade Plantation also offers wine tastings.
The Carnton is an Antebellum farmhouse that was central to the Battle of Franklin and served as a field hospital for wounded soldiers. Their blood still stains the floor, and their legacy still shapes the city, often at odds over how to commemorate the Civil War.
Tours of the home focus more on the battles during the Civil War, so they’ve cut back on the romanticized stories of the Antebellum South. Still, they’ve got a ways to go before truly presenting the complexities of history here.
Downtown Nashville has a great play area for kids and families on its scenic riverfront. Located right on the Cumberland River by the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, Cumberland Park is the perfect place to spend a pretty day in Middle Tennessee.
Climb, splash, dig, and run around in this greenspace, which is one of the newest attractions in Nashville. It’s free to visit and is part of a great downtown getaway for locals and visitors alike.
Heading to downtown Nashville with kids? Though often filled with bachelorette parties and rowdy party buses, there is also lots of family fun.
Explore Broadway’s many shops, walk along the bustling street, and even explore a real saloon with your kids. Wildhorse Saloon is family-friendly during most operating hours, but especially in the afternoon, when guests of all ages can dine and line dance to live music.
It’s a quintessential Nashville experience your kids will love.
SOAR ADVENTURE TOWER
There’s a great ropes course conveniently located in Middle Tennessee. SOAR Adventure Tower will take you sky-high through a series of challenges that will engage your mind and body. Bring older kids (8+) for the full course, or select the mini ground course for anyone 3 or above.
There is also mini golf for families who like a lower adventure, and a bar for the adults who want to celebrate a day of climbing.
Nashville Shores has everything you’d expect from a waterpark: Thrilling slides, a relaxing lazy river, a kid-friendly splash zone for water play. But it also goes beyond all that, allowing guests to dip into the neighboring lake and even camp out for a while.
Beyond its water and camping activities, Nashville Shores is also home to a treetop adventure course with zipline and Tarzan swings.
NATCHEZ TRACE STABLES
Have you ever been horseback riding with your kids? Once they’re old enough, they’ll love embarking on this unique adventure with you.
While there are many great horseback tours throughout the state, Natchez Trace Stables is a great option just off the state’s most scenic highway.
COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM
You can’t leave Music City without visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The museum honors the people who created country/western music and stewarded it into the mainstream draw it is today. Learn about Nashville’s biggest stars and the unsung artists working behind the scenes.
Check out the Taylor Swift Education Center, or visit during one of its special family events, like a songwriting workshop and dance lessons.
The Country Music Hall of Fame is located in Downtown Nashville, south of Broadway.
Elvis Presley was way before your kids’ time, but they can still appreciate a visit to Graceland, especially if you prepare them by playing his songs and movie clips. The home is ornately decorated, and the self-guided tours allow flexibility to go at your kids’ pace.
The highlight will likely be seeing Elvis’s car collection and airplane. There is also a lot of unique insight into Elvis’s contribution to music and his military service.
Visiting Graceland is a great chance to expose your kids to older music and unique design aesthetics.
Book It: Elvis Presley’s Upbringing Tour
STAX MUSEUM OF AMERICAN SOUL MUSIC
Sure, Graceland honors the persona and music of Elvis, but to get a complete understanding of Memphis’s incredible sounds, visit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
Housed in a preserved recording studio, the family friendly museum takes you through the evolution of soul music in Memphis and beyond. Kids and adults who can’t resist the enthralling music will love the “Express Yourself” dance floor.
This place truly honors Black artists and how they created the music we love today.
NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM
Your children have probably read a lot about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. Visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis offers them a rare chance to step inside this history.
Kids can join a student sit-in, a bus boycott, a freedom ride, a march on Washington, and the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike.
The museum is located in the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luter King Jr. was assassinated.
This is an incredible chance to walk through history, hear first-hand accounts, and see how it connects to the struggles still facing society today.
THE FIRE MUSEUM OF MEMPHIS
Do you have a little one who is obsessed with fire engines? You must take them to the Fire Museum of Memphis. Located in a renovated downtown firehouse, the museum features interactive exhibits, fire safety education, historical insights, and actual fire trucks.
You’ll come here for the kids but will become immersed yourself. There’s so much intrigue and adventure in fighting fires, and the museum uses that draw to guide you through history and safety.
The Memphis Zoo is one of the state’s oldest and most enduring family attractions, and for good reason. Its Giant Panda exhibit is alone worth visiting, though you’ll also enjoy seeing giraffes, lions, gorillas, and Komodo Dragon.
Older kids will adore engaging programs like the penguin feeding and sea lion show. There is also a train ride and prairie dog tunnel for the little ones.
RUSTY’S TV AND MOVIE CAR MUSEUM
Traveling through West Tennessee? Plan a stop at Rusty’s TV and Movie Car Museum in Jackson.
You’ll see some original prop cars and impressive replicas, all part of a personal collection now open as a museum. Check out the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo, a Batmobile, and a Jurassic Park Jeep.
Visiting this attraction won’t take long, but it’s a great spot to check out with the family.
TENNESSEE SAFARI PARK
Not far from Jackson is another kitschy roadside attraction that is sure to leave an impression on your little ones. Tennessee Safari Park is a drive-through petting zoo with animals like gazelles and zebras.
The zoo is located on a 19th-century farm. Tours are self-guided in your own car.
CASEY JONES HOME & RAILROAD MUSEUM
Take your kids to a place where American Folklore comes to life. In 1900, engineer Casey Jones died in a train crash. Legend says he died with one hand on the train’s whistle and the other on its break, slowing it in a way that saved every life onboard (except his).
Today, his Jackson, TN, home serves as a railroad museum that honors the engineer’s life and the broad history of trains in the south.
Your kids love trains. You love charming villages with shops and restaurants. Visiting Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum is a win-win for the entire family.
Chattanooga has some of Tennessee’s prettiest sights, including Ruby Falls. This is the country’s tallest and deepest underground waterfall that’s open to the public, and it’s a really fun time for kids.
A 260-foot glassed elevator takes you deep into the cave, where the waterfall thunders in the cavern walls.
But beyond the main attraction, there are lots of additional fun activities at Ruby Falls. There’s a zipline, a climbing tower for adventurers, and a village area with a cafe.
Downtown Chattanooga’s star attraction is the Tennessee Aquarium. Located right on the scenic riverfront, the massive facility is fun for all ages.
River Journey highlights unique wildlife through Tennessee’s freshwater systems. The ocean journey takes you to the far corners of the world, allowing you to see a Tiger Shark, Stingray, eclectic eel, and Sea Turtle.
The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga also has an Imax theater and a public outdoor area that honors the incredible city.
FALL CREEK FALLS STATE PARK
Want to venture away from it all? Come spend a day or weekend in Fall Creek Falls State Park, about an hour north of Chattanooga.
You may be surprised by how much your kids love the natural scenery. With multiple waterfalls, a suspension bridge, a campground, and miles of hiking trails, you can live the primitive life, even if only for a few hours.
Bring along a tree-spotting scavenger hunt for kids who need a little extra engagement. Explore the trails and enjoy a great time outdoors.
IJAMS NATURE CENTER
Immerse yourselves in Tennessee’s natural beauty at Ijams Nature Center. Located just outside of Downtown Knoxville, this nonprofit center has activities for all kinds of adventurers.
Rent canoes or paddleboards, hike or mountain bike on its miles of trails, fish in its quarry, or rock climb on its many bolted routes.
Ijams stretches out over 275 acres and is free to enter. Bring your entire family for a full day of outdoor adventures, or stop by for a quiet walk in the middle of a Tennessee road trip.
BAYS MOUNTAIN PARK AND PLANETARIUM
Bays Mountain Park is not your run-of-the-mill city park. With a 300-foot zipline, a glistening planetarium, a peaceful lake with barge rides, and acres of hiking trails, this Kingsport, TN park is a full attraction for families.
Kids will love the animal exhibits, which feature animals like the raptor, wolf, white tail deer, and river otter.
Bays Mountain charges minimal fees for entrance and hands-on activities, so this is an affordable spot for the family.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO TENNESSEE
- YOUR TENNESSEE VACATION
- TRAIN RIDES: All Aboard For These 7+ Train Rides In TN You Will Adore
- WATERFALLS: 13 Amazing Waterfalls In Tennessee You Should Chase
- WATER PARKS: 7+ Water Parks In Tennessee Your Family Needs To Visit Now
- ROCK CITY: See Rock City TN: Still Awesome After 80+ Years
WHERE TO STAY IN TENNESSEE
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