With the kids out of school and the weather heating up, summer is a fantastic time to explore all the outdoor activities Tennessee offers. Here are a few special attractions across the state, where you can get outside and have fun with the family.
A short walk from downtown Memphis, Mud Island River Park is an entertaining, family-friendly attraction. The park’s Mississippi River Museum covers 10,000 years of river history through 18 educational galleries and exhibits. See how early settlers navigated the river, hear river folklore and discover the important role the river played in the Civil War. Take a stroll along the Riverwalk, an exact scale model of the lower Mississippi River. This stunning replica covers five city blocks and is made of more than 1,700 pieces.
Located in Alamo, the Tennessee Safari Park stands on a Century Farm owned by the Conley family since 1858. The park opened to the public in 2007 and quickly became a top attraction in West Tennessee. Today, it has one of the largest collections of zoo animals in the United States. Drive through 5.5 miles of safari roads in your own car and feed animals such as alpacas, emus and giraffes from your window. Then park your car and walk through the remainder of the park for an up-close-and-personal experience with goats, lemurs, wallabies and more.
Just 30 minutes west of Nashville in Kingston Springs, Adventureworks Zipline Forest is a great spot to take the family when you’re looking for an afternoon of thrills with unsurpassed views. The forest includes an array of ziplines, aerial adventure courses, a moonlight tour and an endless amount of fun that will challenge kids and adults both mentally and physically. Adventureworks creates programs that are designed for people of all ability levels in a supportive and respectful environment, and uses a mix of warm-ups, games, activities and initiatives to get groups out of their daily routine.
Add some exotic to the everyday at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. Wander through a lush canopy of bamboo, come face-to-face with a clouded leopard, feed some Australian parrots and delve into the far reaches of the Amazon — all in the same day. See the new residents at the zoo like white rhinoceros, spider monkeys, Andean bears, and even Sumatran tigers. You can see veterinarians give excellent care to animals thanks to the viewing area at the newly-opened HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center. Be sure to check out popular exhibits like Critter Encounters, Lorikeet Landing, Shell Station and Kangaroo Kickabout, where you can gently pet and interact with the animals. Another popular attraction is the Jungle Gym, a giant 66,000-square-foot play area for running, swinging and climbing. While you’re there, learn about the history of the Grassmere Historic Home and how the zoo came to be located on its land.
Known as “The Greatest Sight Under the Smokies,” Tuckaleechee Caverns are full of natural beauty that seems out of this world. Though they’re estimated to be 20 to 30 million years old, the caverns first opened to the public in Townsend in 1931. They closed just a year later, but reopened in 1953 after two Townsend locals, W.E. “Bill” Vananda and Harry Myers, spent four years raising money and building safe passageways for tours. Today, the caves see an average of 50,000 visitors a year. Take the one-mile tour underground and experience the magic of these caves. Don’t miss the “Big Room,” an immense cavern room with stalagmites reaching 24-feet in height, and “Silver Falls,” a 210-foot, two-tier, underground waterfall.
Wildwood Grove is the newest and largest addition to Dollywood, the Dolly Parton-owned amusement park in Pigeon Forge. A whimsical land bubbling with natural beauty and fun, Wildwood Grove is made up of 11 attractions and six rides, including a suspended roller coaster called the Dragonflier. The area features a 55-foot-tall Wildwood Tree, a great place to sit back and enjoy live music performances. Be sure to check out Wildwood Creek, a winding creek you can play in; an indoor play area called Hidden Hollow; and restaurant Till & Harvest cooking up tasty Southern dishes.
If you’re looking to get outdoors with the family, Tennessee has plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained. Pack up the kids and come make memories this summer.