Knoxville Family-Friendly Daytrips

Knoxville Family-Friendly Day Trips

When you start having children, there’s no denying that the affordability of vacations goes right out the window. Not that we don’t adore our children, but vacations are a luxury we typically sacrifice as parents. Luckily, even if you can’t afford a trip to Disney World or a cruise to the Bahamas, there are quite a few family-friendly getaways within a hop, skip and a jump from Knoxville. Enjoy this list of family-friendly daytrips just a gas tank away from you.

{Check out Beth’s tips for a Road Trip to Birmingham, AL and Cincinnati, Ohio!}

Abingdon, VA – Approximate travel time 2 hours

Visit one of the nation’s longest running theaters in the country, Barter Theatre, and learn about some of its famous alumni. And while there, why not make it a themed trip with a visit to the Star Museum and Moonlite Drive-In Theatre? Check out Beth’s tips too

Other fun activities: Virginia Creeper Trail

Asheville, NC – Approximate travel time 2 hours

It goes without saying that any trip to Asheville should include a visit to the Biltmore Estate and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rest assured that if you have already been there and done that, Asheville is always full of amazing other attractions. Just plan on staying a while! Check out this post about how to make your Biltmore trip super kid-friendly! 

Atlanta, GA – Approximate travel time 3 hoursAtlanta Ga

The approximate travel time to Atlanta is three hours, which is also about the same amount of time it would take me to tell you everything family-friendly that Atlanta has to offer. Seriously, just check out this list, and just plan on staying the night. But if we’re going to hit the highlights, no trip to Atlanta is complete without visiting at the least one of these places:

Six Flags Over Georgia, World of Coca Cola, Georgia Aquarium, Turner Field, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Varsity, Children’s Museum of Atlanta, Inside CNN Studio tour, Atlanta Zoo, Stone Mountain, and IKEA.

Chattanooga, TN – Approximate travel time 1 hour 45 minutes

Chattanooga is home to some of the most amazing Tennessee attractions, such as Lookout Mountain, where you can ride the Incline, See Rock City or marvel at Ruby Falls. And if you want to make it a themed trip, why not stay at the Chattanooga Choo Coo followed by a visit to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and a train excursion? Check out Natalie’s tips of staying in Chattanooga and about staying at The Chattanoogan. 

Here are some more amazing Chattanooga stops: Tennessee Aquarium, Lake Winnepesauka, Chattanooga Zoo, Highpoint Climbing & Fitness, Coolidge Park & the Antique Carousel, and Hunter Museum of American Art.

Dahlonega, GA – Approximate travel time 3 hours

Their slogan “It’s Pure Gold” tells you everything you need to know! Site of the first major US Gold Rush, this trip will be both fun and educational for the family. You can visit some of the old mines and pan for gold.

Other fun activities: Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo, Gold City Corral & Carriage Co, Crisson Gold Mine, and Consolidated Gold Mine.

Del Rio, TN – Approximate travel time 1 hour

Square dancing, horseback riding, whitewater rafting – enjoy Southern fun at the French Broad Outpost Ranch.

Greenville, SC – Approximate travel time 2 hours 45 minutes

Greenville is another big city with so many things for the family to do, starting with Falls Park on the Reedy and the Liberty Bridge. While you are spending quality time downtime, you can also visit the Children’s Garden at Linky Stone Park.

Other fun activities: Children’s Museum, Greenville Zoo, Greenville County Museum of Art, The Peace Center, Fluor Field, and Runway Park at GMU.

Helen, GA – Approximate travel time 3 hours

Helen GACan’t afford the airfare and travel cost to Germany? No problem. Just take a trip to quaint Helen, GA where you can experience the charm of the Bavarian Alps without ever leaving the country. Just make sure you stop by the Alpine mini golf course and take some family photos!

Other fun activities: Anna Ruby Falls, Charlemagne’s Kingdom, and Dukes Creek Gold & Ruby Mines.

Jonesborough, Johnson City & Bristol, TN – Approximate travel time 1 hour 30+ minutes

Do your kids love story time? If so, they might just love a visit to Historic Jonesborough, home to the National Storytelling Festival. Your kids will learn a lot about history in this 18th century town. Once they’ve gotten in a day’s history lesson, drive on over to Johnson City for some fun. Just a 20 minute jaunt away, you can visit the Hands On! Regional Museum, a children’s museum with over 22,000 sq ft of interactive exhibits. Oh, and don’t forget about Christmas at the Bristol Motor Speedway!

Other fun activities: Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium, Brights Zoo, Gray Fossil Site, Wallabies, and Tweetsie Trail.

Lexington, KY – Approximate travel time 2 hours 45 minutes

Horse capital of the world! If your children love horses, this trip is a must. First stop: Kentucky Horse Park, where you can see over 50 breeds of horses, shows, demonstrations and so much more. Second stop: a horse farm tour to meet some of the most famous horses around. After you are done horsing around, make sure to check out the Aviation Museum of Kentucky.

Other fun activities: Explorium, Dixie Bell Riverboat Rides, Jacobson Park, Salato Wildlife Education Center, and Seldom Scene Farm.

Maggie Valley, NC – Approximate travel time 1 hour 30 minutes

Up for some outdoor adventure? Travel to Maggie Valley for some scenic views and outdoor fun. Whether it’s skiing at Cataloochee, hiking Waterrock Knob or mining for gems, there’s plenty family-friendly things to do.

Other fun activities: Socofalls, Wheels Through Time Museum

Nashville, TN – Approximate travel time 2 hours 45 minutes

The Escape Game NashvilleI bet you can’t guess what there is to do in Nashville! Nashville is a great escape for the music lovers, offering tributes to amazing music artists and venues! Take the Walkin’ Nashville Music Tour and learn all about the city’s music legends. Speaking of great escapes, be sure to check out The Escape Game, the first of its kind, as well as so many other family-friendly attractions.

Other fun activities: Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Fontanel Mansion, Ryman Auditorium, Johnny Cash Museum, Lane Motor Museum, Opryland, The Hermitage, Belle Mead Plantation, Tennessee State Museum, Hatch Show Print, and Nashville Zoo.

Sweetwater & Athens, TN – Approximate travel time 45 minutes

Check out the United States’ largest underground lake and take the kids’ for a visit to The Lost Sea. Once you’re there, Mayfield Dairy Farms is only 20 minute drive away, and they are open for tours five days a week!

We’ve recently added our series On the Outskirts of Town, so be sure to check out Sevier County and many more to come!

Did I miss any? What’s your favorite family-friendly day trip?

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15 Responses to Knoxville Family-Friendly Daytrips

  1. Desiree October 27, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    Anderson County: Museum of Appalachia (Clinton, TN) Norris Dam & park (Norris, TN)

  2. Andrea July 6, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    What a great resource! Going to start planning now!

  3. Angela July 6, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

    If you go to Helen, GA make sure to check out Babyland General just down the road in next town over – where Cabbage Patch dolls are “born”! Great play area for kids!

  4. Kim July 18, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    Great list! I think you were being a little too optimistic on the travel time to Nashville though. You said 2 hrs 45 min. I live on the west side of Knoxville, my mom lives on the east side of Murfreesboro, and it takes 2.5 hrs. There’d be at least 45 more minutes to get to Nashville, especially all of that downtown stuff.

    • Kim July 18, 2015 at 9:27 am #

      Never mind. I just realized that staying on I-40 will cut that travel time, but I can’t delete my post.

    • Caro May 15, 2016 at 10:57 am #

      But you save 1 hr ?

  5. Meryl July 21, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    We did the Escape Game a few weeks ago and loved it. There are now 3 or 4 similar ones in Knoxville and at least 2 in Pigeon Forge. We have done one in both places and enjoyed them all.

    I had no idea about the town of Helen. Sounds a really unique place to visit!

  6. Crystal Copeland August 30, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    This is exactly what I was looking for! Thank you so much for taking the time to put it together!

  7. Carrie April 4, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

    One more reason I want to move to TN! I love day trips.

  8. Michelle May 17, 2016 at 8:25 am #

    Every weekend in the month of May the Tennessee Renaissance Festival is in Franklin TN…I’ve been twice and really enjoyed it

  9. Peg May 26, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    How about Greeneville TN, home of President Andrew Johnson. 1 hour away.

  10. Meg April 5, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

    The Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga is a great place to check out as well. We spent several hours there. Everything is hands on for the kids.

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