Ripley's Aquarium at the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN
Photo Credit: Eric Ward

Rainy Day Activities in Tennessee

Rainy days are bright in Tennessee with museums, crafts and unique things to do for you and your family and friends.

Featured in this Article:

Rainy Day Stops in the Smokies
Indoor Stops in and Near Bristol
Indoor Activities in Knoxville
Chattanooga Rainy Day Activities
Rainy Day Activities in Nashville
Memphis Rainy Day Activities

When April showers start pouring, seek refuge and fun at these indoor attractions and destinations in Tennessee's cities in the Great Smoky Mountains, Knoxville, Bristol, Nashville, Chattanooga and Memphis. Where to take the kids and adult-friendly indoor stops are below. Add these to your rainy day itinerary in Tennessee. 

Rainy Day Stops in the Smokies 

Titanic Museum - Pigeon Forge

Immerse yourself in the history of the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge. Make your reservation in advance to see the new artifacts, displays and interactive elements inside. Then, stop by the new Titanic Frozen Custard & Chocolate Attraction located adjacent to Titanic Museum Attraction that’ll brighten any rainy day. Try specialty frozen custard blends, cake cones, sundaes, banana splits and more.  

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies - Gatlinburg

Explore thousands of aquatic animals, enjoy interactive, hands-on experiences and take a ride on the Glass Bottom Boat to see creatures up close at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Shark Lagoon is a can’t-miss experience featuring a moving glidepath that brings you face-to-face with sharks, sawfish and sea turtles. Take a look at the calendar for dive shows, penguin feeding and coral reef shows.

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts

When the weather is gloomy, pay a visit to the internationally recognized visual art education center, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. For more than 100 years, Arrowmont works to preserve the history of Appalachian craft as well as host more than 130 classes in contemporary arts and crafts that are hosted in weekend, one-week or two-week sessions. Or, visit the galleries which are open year round and display artwork from a variety of mediums by local and regional artists. You’ll leave feeling inspired by the techniques and talents.

Polka Dot Pots at Wilderness at the Smokies 

Wilderness at the Smokies is a great place for indoor waterpark fun when the rain won’t go away; but, the attraction also hosts Polka Dot Pots inside that kids of all ages will love. Pick your piece of pottery including plates, mugs, boxes and banks. Then, use the special tools on-hand to paint your masterpiece. 

Indoor Stops in and Near Bristol

Birthplace of Country Music Museum - Bristol

Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia was the site for the ‘Big Bang’ of country music. Learn all about the 1927 Bristol Sessions that led to launching the careers of music greats like The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest V. Stoneman and many more at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Hear the recordings that were influential in shaping the genre we know today. You’ll love the interactive exhibits that help tell this rich musical heritage and how the genre continues to influence music worldwide. 

Bays Mountain Planetarium - Kingsport

Photo Credit: Journal Communications Inc. / Michael Dominic Tedesco

Bays Mountain Planetarium is the perfect outing to see the stars even on a rainy day. Step inside the state-of-the-art planetarium theater - the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere - for a journey across our universe. The live presentation of "Appalachian Skies" is a must--see as it takes you on a tour of the current evening sky using the Zeiss optical star projector instrument. Each presentation is unique as it tracks the changing night sky throughout the seasons.

Hands On! Discovery Center - Gray

You could easily spend a whole day at the Hands On! Discovery Center in Gray, Tennessee, about 11 miles from downtown Johnson City. Inside, you’ll find extensive paleontology exhibits, air cars, air rockets, the Bernoulli  table, the circuit bench and the magnetic gear wall among other STEM-immersive experiences. Finally, take in the Tesla Experience, a Guinness Book of World Records-breaking show that transforms the oversized Tesla coil’s 240 volts of electricity into 200,000 volts of musical lighting.

Lost State Distilling 

Enjoy a tasting at the family-owned craft distillery, Lost State Distillery in downtown Bristol while dodging rain droplets during a day of shopping and exploring. The distillery produces small batch gin, rum, Tennessee Whiskey and canned cocktails. Take a sip of the straight bourbon whiskey, maple flavored whiskey, vodka, cinnamon maple flavored whiskey, and even the single barrel bourbon

Indoor Activities in Knoxville

Muse Knoxville 

Muse Knoxville is where you can let your children have fun during a rainy day and also learn about science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Your children will have a blast learning of the world around them in exhibits like The U.S.S. Muse where they can pilot their own planetary expedition, learn about the important roles of healthy eating, play with rainbow-colored lights in the Illumination Station and more. Finally, take a trip around the universe in the Planetarium. 

East Tennessee History Center

You could spend several hours at the East Tennessee History Center diving into the extensive regional and local history on display in downtown Knoxville. Immersive exhibits preserve and educate on the people who settled in East Tennessee through stunning artifacts, written and oral records. Kids will love the History HQ exhibit featuring interactive activities for children to learn historian skills through investigation, discovery and play.

Mabry-Hazen House Museum

Continue your history lesson with a tour of Mabry-Hazen House, built in 1858 with over 2,500 original artifacts on display, one of the largest original family collections in the U.S. The Italianate-style home gives a rare view into 130 years of Knoxville’s history. Hear stories of the Gunfight on Gay Street, a scandalous 1934 breach of promise and seduction trial and more.

Maple Hall Bowling Alley

Friendly competition is encouraged at Maple Hall. Gather friends and family together for a fun afternoon of bowling on 11 lanes equipped with leather couches and HD TVs, food and cocktail service. The upstairs cocktail lounge has life-sized board games and a full bar with top-shelf alcohol. Maple Hall is the perfect place to hang out on a rainy day.

Chattanooga Rainy Day Activities

Tennessee Aquarium

Your day gets brighter the moment you step into Tennessee Aquarium. Enjoy two buildings full of local, regional and tropical creatures. The River Journey building showcases the wildlife found in Tennessee from the brook trout in the Appalachian Mountains to the colossal catfish in the Mississippi River. Laugh with delight at swimming North American otters before heading to Ocean Journey where you’ll see penguins, lemurs, sharks, jellyfish and the enchanting Butterfly Garden. 

Classic Arcade Pinball Museum

Play all day at the Classic Arcade Pinball Museum featuring more than 50 exhibits about the history, science and fun behind the game of pinball. Play famous games like Knockout, Space Invaders and Super Mario Bros. Mushroom World. You’ll love the nostalgia found in the museum as well as delicious snacks and drinks. Settle in for a fun afternoon designed to entertain all ages.

High Point Climbing & Fitness

The South’s premier source for world class rock climbing is found at High Point Climbing & Fitness in Chattanooga. Indoor climbing is a fun way to spend the day on the 45-foot climbing walls, more than 100 boulder problems and a fun Kid Zone designed for ages 4-18. High Point also offers fitness and yoga classes if you need a moment of self-care wellness. 

Ruby Falls

When the weather is less than ideal above, journey below to see beautiful Ruby Falls, the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the U.S. Descend 260 feet by glass-front elevator and walk the cavern trail to the waterfall. You’ll hear the story of how Leo Lambert discovered the waterfall and see the passage he took to see it and name it after his wife, Ruby Losey. Different cave adventures are available for reservation including the classic Cave Walk, Gentle Walking Tour featuring smaller groups and a gentle pace, the new history tour and lantern tours hosted after hours. 

Rainy Day Activities in Nashville

Frist Art Museum

Browse the various exhibits on display at the Frist Art Museum. While the rain pours outside, you can be cozy inside reflecting on art and making your own. Don’t miss the exhibit, “Black Joy In Spite Of” open now through Sept. 2, 2024 that offers a three-dimensional picture of the Black American experience by focusing on moments of joy. These select photographs highlight family connection, friendship, pride and resistance on display in the Conte Community Arts Gallery. Then, create your own artistic masterpiece in the interactive art-making space, Martin ArtQuest.

Paddywax Candle Bar 

Create your own cozy candle blend with Paddywax Candle Bar. Select your favorite vessel and fragrance, then let the pouring fun begin with a trained professional. It’s a great way to do something fun indoors with your friends and family. Candles are ready for pickup three hours after pouring or can be shipped for $12 per candle. 

Carter Vintage Guitars

Make your own music at the Carter Vintage Guitars showroom where hundreds of guitars are on display. Created by husband-and-wife duo, Walter and Christie Carter, you’re sure to enjoy the unmatched historical knowledge of these fretted instruments. Carter Vintage Guitars is legendary and trusted among musicians and collectors, so you know you’re in for a great music experiences as soon as you enter the showroom.

Forza Pilates

Photo Credit: Minnie Morklithavong/Forza Pilates

Find calm during a rain storm by booking a wellness class with Forza Pilates. Forza brings luxury and fitness together for the ultimate self-care experience. Enjoy a challenging workout with eccentric muscle contractions to feel longer and stronger. Book the ‘Foundations’ class – suitable for all Pilates skill levels. You’ll move at a slower pace to perfect your form, feel the burn and find proper balance. Private sessions are also available, perfect for individuals and small groups.

Memphis Rainy Day Activities

Memphis Breweries

Photo Credit: Memphis Travel / Craig Thompson

Take a rainy day as a sign to tour Memphis’ awesome craft beer scene. Enjoy an authentic taste of the city at breweries like High Cotton Brewing Co. in their taproom where you can pick from 10 beers on tap. Grab a seat inside the repurposed carriage house with its century-old exposed brick walls and reclaimed wood and settle in with a board or card game. Ten of Memphis’ 11 breweries offer taprooms so spend some time at as many as you want to experience a different vibe at each. 

Crosstown Concourse

Head to Crosstown Concourse for a variety of restaurants and cultural things to do. Get pampered at the Gloss Nail Bar, enjoy contemporary art exhibitions at Crosstown Arts and enjoy the Memphis Listening Lab where you can listen to a curated library of thousands of songs and albums. You can also watch the spinning of Memphis’ WYXR radio station. When you get hungry, savor the dishes from Global Café, an international food hall dedicated to supporting immigrants and refugees.

Memphis Chess Club

No matter your skill level, Memphis Chess Club welcomes you. Purchase a game rental pass for $5 to play chess and dozens of other games. Grab something to eat and hang out for a while in the laidback space. Breakfast items, pizzas, sandwiches and salads as well as coffee, cocktails and a kids menu with chicken tenders and grilled cheese can be enjoyed.

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid is one of the most dynamic and immersive retail experiences in the world. The Pyramid has America’s tallest free-standing elevator. Ride the 28 stories to the top to see incredible 360-views of Memphis on the outdoor observation deck. Play a game of bowling at The FishBowl at the Pyramid on one of the 13 lanes of aquatic-themed bowling. Practice your sharp shooting at a 25-yard live pistol and archery range. And, marvel at some of Tennessee’s most majestic wildlife at the in-store swamp that showcases alligators and 36 varieties of fish, all surrounded by 100-foot cypress trees. Don’t miss the Live Duck Aviary where you can sign up to be a duck caretaker for the day or several hours.

Places in this article

Sustainable Travel: Resorts and Hotels in Tennessee

Find sustainable and eco-friendly resorts and hotels that connect you and work to preserve nature.

Read More