Cyclists at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville

5 Free and Low-Cost Attractions for Family Fun in Knoxville

In Knoxville, no one is bored and your wallet stays full.

Families can enjoy a variety of free and low-cost attractions in Knoxville that'll entertain and engage all ages. Whether everyone is in the mood for an outdoor adventure or want to stay indoors and explore, no one will be bored and your wallet will stay full.  Here are five attractions that fit the bill.

McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture

See something new every time with McClung Museum’s rotating exhibits on human and natural history from the beginning of time. An Edmontosaurus Annectens, named “Monty” greets you as you start your walk through history. Marvel at geological and fossil finds in Tennessee, archaeology and the first people of Tennessee,. Explore world history by seeing artifacts from great Egyptian and Roman empires, paintings, jewelry, culture and more. 

Knoxville Museum of Art

Near the World's Fair Park is Knoxville Museum of Art. The locally-quarried Tennessee pink marble building houses works from regional artists. Children can release their inner artist at the Creative Corner. Don't miss Knoxville-native Richard Jolley's "Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity," the largest assembled figurative glass-and-steel in the world. Stop in the Thorne Rooms as Knoxville Art Museum is one of only five museums to have this collection. In addition, the museum hosts monthly events, such as Second Saturday Art Activity Day. 

Ijams Nature Center

For active families, fall in love with Ijams Nature Center, minutes from downtown. Even those who aren’t active will be under its spell. The 300-acre urban playground offers more than 10 miles of fun and challenging trails with plenty of scenic views. Don't miss the Ross Marble Quarry Loop to see the "Keyhole." Younger children will enjoy playing at Jo's Grove, custom-made for them. There is plenty more to see and do. Simply check out their events calendar. A trail map is $1. Other activities have fees.

Ijams Nature Center is also part of Knoxville's Urban Wilderness. Incorporating 1,000 forested acres and providing more than 50 miles of trails, 10 parks, four Civil War sites and beautiful views, locals and travelers can take advantage of the unmatched scenic beauty in Knoxville’s backyard. Journey just three miles from downtown to get to Urban Wilderness to spend a day trail running; hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and even paddle boarding.

Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum

Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is another natural spot that isn't far from downtown. The 47-acre site was the former home of Howell Nurseries. Today, it's open year-round and features walking trails, various gardens, “Every Child Outdoors” youth garden and more. Pack a picnic and enjoy some time on the grounds while taking in the scenery. 

Museum of East Tennessee History

The Museum of East Tennessee History tells visitors the region's history with the help of more than 13,000 artifacts. Exhibits highlight everything from the Civil War to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, mountain music and more. Admission is $5 per adult, $4 per senior, free for children ages 16 and under. The museum is free on Sunday.