The Best Summer Ever: A Knoxville Activity List

The Best Summer Ever Activity List

East TN Historical Society
Location: 601 South Gay St. Knoxville, TN 37901

History lives at the Museum of East Tennessee History! Enjoy the award-winning signature exhibit, Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee, a moving, artifact-rich journey through more than 300 years of life in East Tennessee. Popular, too, is the East Tennessee Streetscape, a true step back in time, where visitors can peruse the Corner Drug Store and enjoy Streetcar No. 416, a genuine trolley that once operated on the streets of Knoxville. The new temporary exhibit, Come to Make Records, offers an exciting look back at Knoxville’s contributions to American popular music. So, come explore the region’s history and heritage! Children 16 and under are free, Sunday is always free family day, and ETHS is a Penny4Arts participant offering free admission for one parent accompanying a participating child.

ETHS Inside Museum

Have a blast with the past at the East Tennessee History Fair on Saturday, August 20! Activities include a living history timeline from the Cherokee to the Vietnam War, live music, historic crafts demonstrations, children’s crafts and activities, Davy Crockett’s birthday party, walking tours of downtown, Civil War bus tours and tours of Knoxville’s historic homes, tours of underground Gay Street, “History Hound” dog costume contest, historical and genealogical groups from across the region, free museum admission, vintage films, exhibits, miniature battles, traditional foods, book sales, and much more! Free to the public!


East TN FARM MarketsFARM logo

Locally grown produce, grass-fed meats, herbs and artisan products from honey to handcrafted candles will be available soon at East Tennessee FARM Markets! The Farmers Association for Retail Marketing is bringing genuine Tennessee products direct to you at convenient locations in Knoxville and Oak Ridge. This producer-only market is celebrating #ETNFARM products with the new season that opened in mid-April.

Carefully juried artisan products, handmade by East Tennesseans, will be offered at FARM Markets for the first time this year. This includes soothing hand salves, crafted beeswax candles and more!
Our farmers pick fresh for you the day prior to or morning of the market, and they can tell you about this when you buy from them directly! Need local eggs, cheeses and baked goods? We’ve got those, too.

Hanging around the house

  • Run, don’t walk to your nearest KARM and buy some board games for a family game night! (I recently bought three versions of Scene It!, two of which were brand new, for $13).
  • Put on JT’s fabulous new song of the summer “Can’t Stop the Feeling” and have a family dance party!
  • Blanket Fort!
  • Create a legendary slip and slide with foam, whip cream, paint, add some bowling pins, etc.  The options are endless.
  • Outdoor lawn games (think giant Jenga blocks, giant checkers, spray painted twister circles on the lawn or corn hole).
  • Four words: water gun laser tag.
  • Bubbles, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, hula hoops – turn all of these every day items into a fun obstacle course for the kids.
  • A neighborhood scavenger hunt ending with a summer pinata.
  • Start a garden in the yard.
  • Get out the sprinkler or make your own from a two liter bottle.

Paint the Town Red

  • Visit JoAnn Fabrics, Michael’s, A.C. Moore, or even Home Depot for a craft class.
  • Make a fun summer art snack, edible art with toothpicks, and let the kids chow down after they are done! Or better yet, break out the popsicles and turn the leftover sticks into an art project.
  • Take a trip to the Knoxville Museum of Art or even The Muse for an arts and crafts area (aka mess) that’s not in your own home.
  • Remember Mad Libs? No better way to make your kids laugh out loud!
  • Visit The Basement Community Arts Studio and take some classes or just go to the open studio hours.
  • My personal favorite – painting pottery at Liza Moz Pottery studio!
  • Show your kids some Pinterest projects and let them pick the art activity of their choice.
  • Sidewalk chalk art contest and the winner gets a Hobby Lobby giftcard!
  • Speaking of Hobby Lobby, load the kids up and get some fabric paint and bandanas.

Go on an Adventure

  • Zoo Knoxville!
  • Rent a Pedal Boat at Adventure Outdoors
  • Splash around in the World’s Fair Park and take a ride up to the observation deck of the Sunsphere
  • Cool off at the many splash pads throughout the Knoxville area!
  • Enjoy one of the very few remaining drive-in theatres in the country by spending the evening a Parkway Drive-In Theatre in Maryville
  • Geocaching, need I say more?
  • Go on a family-friendly daytrip
  • No Knoxville summer would be complete without a trip to Dollywood; but you know what’s just as great and even cheaper? Kentucky Splash! ($10 admission and much cheaper concession stand food)
  • Go tubing in the Smokies or go on a swimming hole scavenger hunt!
  • Putt putt, race go-karts, laser tag, or even visit the Ripley’s Aquarium
  • Pack a picnic, get in the car, flip a coin for right or left turns, and have a picnic at a spontaneous location (wherever the coin takes you)
  • Explore all the parks in Knoxville or visit the Urban Wilderness!

Anything to Pass the Time

  • Visit the local animal shelters and give some orphaned animals a little love.
  • Make your own sundae party and then settle in for a 90s Retro Movie Night.
  • Sign the kids up for one of the many summer camps offered throughout the area!
  • Have a bonfire, roast some marshmallows, and bring out the sparklers!
  • Take advantage of the Knoxville Summer Kid Movie Series at local movie theaters.
  • Open gym at Tataru’s and Gym Bugs or plenty of other indoor activities.
  • Bring back date night with these creative ideas!
  • Ride a bike or take a hike!
  • Perform some random acts of kindness.
  • Cliché, but take in a matinee at the dollar theater!
  • Go fly a kite, up to the highest height.
  • Consult Buzzfeed or Google because parents everywhere are looking for something to entertain their children!

Do you have any activities to add to this list? Share with us in the comments!

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One Response to The Best Summer Ever: A Knoxville Activity List

  1. Kimberlee Aten May 29, 2016 at 8:53 am #

    We love taking our kids to Putt-Putt Golf & Games in Farragut. My kids love to play the video games and win tickets and prizes. They have 3 miniature golf courses as well as batting cages. Oh, and they also just got Dippin Dots, which the kids like a lot and think is very cool to eat. Lots of fun!

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