From creatures under the seas to thrilling rollercoasters and incredible panoramic views of springtime in Tennessee, spend some family time exploring East Tennessee this spring.
Sharks glide in the waters at Tennessee Aquarium (credit: Josh Ness)
The best aquarium in the U.S. for guest satisfaction, the aquarium takes you on a regional and international journey through bodies of water from lakes (River Journey building) to oceans (Ocean Journey building). See penguins and otters, touch stingrays and see jellyfish, colorful reef fish, and large sharks.
Lab preparator working on rhino skull at Gray Fossil Site and Museum
Miocene-era fossils are preserved here and visitors can get up close with the fossil dig site. See scientists working in their labs, inspecting and classifying fossils. Go through the exhibitions to see how this fossil site became a treasury of fossils dating back 4.5-7 million years ago. Then, head outside to see the fossil site and the work that remains to be done.
Take a canoeing adventure at Ijams Nature Center
Explore the great outdoor opportunities Knoxville has to offer all in one place. Ijams Nature Center is home to trails for hiking and biking, climbing opportunities, and canoes available for an afternoon exploring Mead’s Quarry. Take the little ones to Jo’s Grove, the natural playscape that’s filled with whimsy for children to imagine and explore. Discover The Keyhole at Historic Ross Marble, a stone structure on the Ross Quarry Loop.
Soar high in the sky on Wild Eagle at Dollywood
Tennessee’s No. 1 attraction is the perfect place to bring kids for a day (or week!) of fun on world-class rollercoasters, entertaining shows, and spectacular festivals throughout the year that keeps the wonder and magic alive. Festival of Nations at Dollywood March 18-April 9 features riveting performances from groups like Mother Africa, which is a combination of acrobatics, modern dance, and colorful costumes; Invaders Steel Orchestra from the Caribbean; and Hodman & Sally, walk-around characters, among others.
The longest swinging bridge in the U.S., the Bridge to Prosperity (Credit: Foxfire Mountain)
Get ready for the thrill of a lifetime when you come to this adventure park nestled in the mountains of Sevierville. Take a waterfall canopy tour which is a trip along seven zip lines over rivers, creeks and forest canopy. Navigate the Aerial Adventure Course and climb on a five-lane, 60 ft. climbing course. The kids’ area features an obstacle course and play area. Cross the longest swinging bridge in the U.S., the Bridge to Prosperity. And, if you’re feeling valiant, take a ride on the Goliath Zip Lines, the highest and longest lines in the Smoky Mountains.
Situated on three sides of the Cherokee National Forest, endless adventures abound in Rocky Fork State Park.
The 2,036-acre state park has a wealth of activities for families. Be awed by the magnitude of the mountains as you experience them from a saddle, a bicycle, or on foot. Surrounded by three sides of the Cherokee National Forest, teenagers will love hiking the miles of logging roads that offer stunning panoramic views, perfect for their next Instagram post. Teach them how to fish in the clear, cold mountain waters of South Indian Creek and Rocky Fork Creek which is known for the large population of trout.
Experience Garrison Weekends when history comes to life circa 1756 at Fort Loudon State Park.
The state park is one of the earliest British fortifications, situated on 1,200 acres. Go through the interpretive center when you first arrive to learn about the area’s history and see artifacts that have been excavated from the property. Get an up-close look at what life was like at Fort Loudon, the western-most part of the British Empire in 1756 during events like the Colonial Trade Garrison March 25, 2017 and Garrison Weekend May 20, 2017, Aug. 12, 2017, and Nov. 11, 2017.