Knoxville Family-Friendly Daytrips


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.

Knoxville Family-Friendly Daytrips{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. Check out Beth’s tips too!

Other fun activities: Virginia Creeper Trail and check out Kara’s tips!

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 or about staying at Upstream Way in Asheville. We also recently released a Family-Friendly Trip Guide to Asheville with hikes, attractions, and food!

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 AquariumFernbank Museum of Natural History, Varsity, Children’s Museum of AtlantaAtlanta Zoo, Stone Mountain, Truist Park and IKEA. Be sure to check out the Ultimate Guide to Atlanta from the Atlanta Mom site

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 Choo followed by a visit to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and a train excursion? You can also check out our Chattanooga Mom site’s 85+ Family Fun Activities in Chattanooga

Here are some more amazing Chattanooga stops: Creative Discovery Museum, 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. Check out our family-friendly guide to Greenville

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! Check out these ideas from Atlanta Mom. You can also read about Meredith’s fall visit here

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

Huntsville, AL – Approximate travel time 3 hours 25 minutes

Huntsville is nicknamed “Rocket City” and for good reason. It’s the home of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center where you can experience everything from underwater astronaut training to the g-force accelerator. You can also find fun activities to do outdoors including hiking and biking

Other fun activities: Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville Botanical Garden 

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 square feet 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, 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 or hiking Waterrock Knob, there are plenty of family-friendly things to do.

Other fun activities: Socofalls, Wheels Through Time Museum, Cataloochee Ranch

Nashville, TN – Approximate travel time 2 hours 45 minutes

I 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. Be sure to check out these tips about Gaylord, Opry Mills, and the Grand Ole Opry.

Other fun activities: Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Ryman Auditorium, Johnny Cash Museum, Lane Motor Museum, Opryland, The Hermitage, Belle Meade 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 a 20 minute drive away, and they are open for tours five days a week!

Also, be sure to check out our guides to our surrounding areas of Sevier County, Loudon County, Clinton, and Oak Ridge. Or if you are looking for the beaches closest to Knoxville check out our list of 20+ Beaches Nearest to Knoxville

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




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