A view of the night sky from Roan Mountain, Tennessee.
Photo Credit: @lmg_photography_for.you

Wheelchair Friendly and Accessible Travel in Tennessee

Learn more about accessible activities, events and venues in Tennessee.

Featured in this Article:

East Tennessee Accessibility
Middle Tennessee Accessibility
West Tennessee Accessibility
Tennessee State Parks Accessibility
Additional Accessibility in Tennessee

Travel to Tennessee is for all, and that includes wheelchair users, those in the deaf and hard of hearing community, folks with sensory needs and all those in between. Plan your Tennessee adventure with just a few of the accessible offerings the Volunteer State has to offer.

East Tennessee

Northeast Tennessee Night Sky Trail

With nearly every location having some level of ADA accessibility on the Northeast Tennessee Night Sky Trail, the sky’s the limit for virtually anyone wanting to spend a night under the twinkling Milky Way Galaxy. From panoramic vistas atop majestic mountains, serene lakesides, observation decks and historic downtowns, these locations offer accessible adventures for nature lovers to experience the incredible beauty Tennessee has to offer. While some trails recommend all-terrain wheelchairs, others are generally wheelchair friendly, including those on the Appalachian Trail.

Tennessee Riverfront Park – Chattanooga

Photo Credit: State of Tennessee/Jed DeKalb

If you’re not as much an exploring the land type, but still want an accessible outdoor activity, the Tennessee Riverfront Park in Chattanooga is a terrific option. With 13 miles of paved trails, river views and picnic stops along the way, this beloved Scenic City park is a perfect day time outing. Plan to spend some time at the Tennessee Aquarium, Bluff View Art District and the Battery Place neighborhood, all of which are easily accessible from the park. Coolidge Park, located on the city’s North Shore, is also along the riverwalk, with an interactive water fountain, green spaces and military memorabilia. Make sure to check out Curb Free with Cory Lee for more accessible outdoor adventure ideas in Chattanooga.

Lodge Museum of Cast Iron – South Pittsburg

Photo Credit: @lodgemuseum

The Lodge Museum of Cast Iron has quickly set itself apart with its interactive experiences for all ages. It’s the perfect visit for those who enjoy cooking, history, food culture and incredibly large skillets. All areas of the Factory Store, Museum and restaurant follow ADA standards and are wheelchair accessible. Museum guests can learn more about the art and science that goes into making a cast iron skillet, the heritage and legacy of Lodge Cast Iron, as well as how cast iron has played a pivotal role in food culture across the American South. Come camera ready to take a photo by the World’s Largest Cast Iron Skillet, which measures more than 18 feet from handle to handle and could fry up 650 eggs simultaneously.

Dollywood Sensory Rooms – Pigeon Forge

For those who need a little break from the myriad sensory experiences theme parks tend to have, Dollywood has created a Calming Room for some time for you or a loved one to center the self and recharge. The room is private and comes equipped with sensory items. Dollywood also requests usage to be one family at a time to keep the room a calming place. The theme park also offers sensory-sensitive hours and events, which can be found listed on the seasonal calendar.

Creative Discovery Museum Sensory Nights – Chattanooga

Planned and built with kids’ input, Creative Discovery Museum, a hands-on and interactive museum, is full of wonder for kids and adults alike. With a recording studio, Excavation Station, theatre and Visual Arts Gallery – among many others – this museum provides endless fun for families. Even the little ones can get in on the good times with the Little Yellow Garage or the infant garden of Little Yellow House. For the kids who want a little less sensory overload, Sensory Nights are on the first Thursday of every month. The museum will also provide sensory bags for regular visits with noise dampening headphones, fidget toys and other goodies.

Middle Tennessee

Rotary Park – Clarksville

Rotary Park in Clarksville provides a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle with more than 111 acres of secluded natural area. With miles of trails, including a wheelchair friendly trail, it’s a great way for folks to get out and have an accessible adventure. This park also features three pavilions, picnic tables and grills, outdoor exercise area, playground and ADA accessible amphitheater.

Tennessee State Museum – Nashville

The Tennessee State Museum provides ample accessibility options for virtually anyone wanting to visit and learn more about Tennessee’s important role in history. All public entrances are accessible, along with elevators for access to the second-floor exhibitions. Wheelchairs, both standard and large, are available upon request at no cost as well. The Children’s Gallery offers an ASL Interpreter during storytime every fourth Saturday of the month. The museum is also conveniently located by the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, which offers a paved walking trail, as well as easy access to the Nashville Farmer’s Market for an excellent place to find a bite to eat.

Adventure Science Center – Nashville

Perched atop a hill with an amazing view of downtown Nashville, the Adventure Science Center has been opening minds to the wonders of science and technology for decades. With live science demonstrations, a state-of-the-art planetarium and interactive learning exhibits, the museum can be a little overwhelming to some with sensory issues. With the new EY Sensory Room, those who get overstimulated easily can take a short break in a calming environment before getting back to the learning fun. The museum provides additional accessibility items, including sensory bags, social stories and trip planning aids. It is also equipped with an adult-sized changing table, wheelchair rental at no cost, and has worked with the Nashville ADA office to make the exhibitions as accessible as possible.

Leiper’s Fork Distillery – Leiper’s Fork

The folks at Leiper’s Fork Distillery hope to bring back the history and heritage of small batch whiskey production in Williamson County, where it’s located. Using mainly local ingredients, the distillery has created spirits with a signature taste and focuses on a low volume/low impact concept of production. This means every small batch has a premium quality like no other. Tour the facility with up to 24 others to learn the start-to-finish process of their distilling craft. Private tours are also available upon request. The tours, gift shop and visitor center are wheelchair friendly.

West Tennessee

Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum – Memphis

Learn more about the birth of rock and soul at this must-see in Memphis. The Memphis Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum’s exhibit was researched and developed by the Smithsonian Institution and traces the origins of America’s musical genres of rock ‘n’ roll and soul music’s roots from the Blues. The museum is fully ADA accessible with ample room in the pathways as well as accessible restrooms.

Make sure to check out Kristin Secor’s World on Wheels blog post with even more ADA accessible Memphis tips.

Drummonds Park – Drummonds

This 30-acre Drummonds Park boasts various activity areas for those wanting a leisurely time in nature. Located less than 40 minutes north of Memphis, Drummonds Park offers lighted and paved wheelchair friendly nature trails that wander through woodlands rich with wildlife. Enjoy a show at the ADA accessible amphitheater, enjoy a picnic or stop by the play area with facilities for three different age groups.

Memphis Zoo – Memphis

The Memphis Zoo implements more sensory inclusive experiences for patrons who may need a little bit of a calmer environment when visiting. Zoo employees are trained by leading medial professionals to help those with sensory needs. A visit to the zoo can include loud noises and over stimulation, so areas that are prone to be a little louder are marked off where headphones may be necessary. Sensory bags with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads are available at Reception.

Discovery Park of America – Union City

From antique cars to dinosaurs, a train depot to 20,000-gallon aquarium, Discovery Park of America is true to its name. Discover and learn as you pass through the more than 10 unique galleries indoors as well as a working gristmill, agriculture exhibit and lush gardens outside. The park is committed to providing an accessible experience for all ages and abilities. Wheelchairs and scooters are available on a first-come, first-served basis at no extra cost. Every floor has elevator accessibility and large restrooms are available. Additionally, visitors on the spectrum have the option to request a visit to the park before or after hours with advance notice.

Tennessee State Parks

Tennessee State Parks has made great strides to ensure nature is accessible to all. Their all-terrain wheelchair program has made it so those who may not have their own can head out on the trail with everyone else. Wheelchair users can request an all-terrain wheelchair prior to their visit to select state parks, including Booker T. Washington State Park in Chattanooga, Radnor Lake State Park in Nashville and Chickasaw State Park in Henderson.

Many state parks also offer a Colorblind Viewfinder, a collaboration between Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and innovative EnChroma® lenses, to allow those with colorblindness to see the array of colors and beauty during the fall season, or even the beautiful shades of green during the spring and summer months.

Tennessee State Parks is also working to install accessible kayak and canoe launches at its parks with two already available at Booker T. Washington State Park and Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park.

In addition, Natchez Trace State Park recently installed an adult-sized changing table in its restroom facility and plans to install more in the future.

Additional Accessibility in Tennessee

In 2022, work began to install adult-sized changing tables to each of the state’s Welcome Centers and rest areas.

Many music, performance and event venues provide services for the deaf and hard of hearing community. These vary and can include ASL interpretation or assistive listening devices. It is best to reach out to each venue for more information, however, the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville Symphony, Bonnaroo Music Festival, The Bijou Theatre, The Orpheum Theatre and Tivoli Theatre are just a few examples.

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