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13 Kid Friendly Things to do in Knoxville, Tennessee

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If you are vacationing near Knoxville, Tennessee in one of the many popular vacations destinations like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or even if you are just passing through, you will find a host of kid friendly things to do in Knoxville.

Knoxville is a wonderful, family-friendly city, just full of southern hospitality.  It is a great city to visit with kids of all ages with is larger range of activities that are both educational and fun, indoor and outdoor.

Be certain to check out even more great Kid Friendly Things To Do in The United States!!

Things for Kids to do while visiting Knoxville, Tennessee

In this guide, we’ll explore 13 fun things that will keep your little ones entertained and engaged. 

So strap on your adventure hats and get ready to discover the kid-friendly side of Knoxville, Tennessee! 

Each activity is handpicked to ensure it offers not only fun but also an enriching experience for your kids. 

Let’s turn your trip into a thrilling family adventure that will be considered the perfect place for a vacation for years to come!

Tips for Traveling with Kids in Knoxville

Traveling with kids can be a delightful adventure, and Knoxville, Tennessee is an excellent destination for family fun. The city is brimming with attractions and activities that cater to children of all ages. 

With a little planning and preparation, your trip to Knoxville can be a breeze and an experience your family will cherish for years to come.

The first thing to consider is the timing of your visit. Knoxville is particularly vibrant during the spring and fall when the weather is mild, and the city’s natural beauty is in full bloom or displaying colorful autumn foliage. 

These seasons also coincide with various festivals and events that your family might enjoy, such as the Dogwood Arts Festival in the spring and the Boomsday Festival in the fall.

Next, it’s essential to pack appropriately for your trip. Knoxville is a city best explored on foot, whether you’re strolling through Market Square, hiking in Ijams Nature Center, or wandering along the riverfront. 

Therefore, comfortable shoes are a must for everyone in the family. Ensure they’re well-fitted and broken in to avoid any discomfort or blisters that could put a damper on your vacation.

Summer in Knoxville can be hot, so if you’re visiting during this season, remember to bring plenty of sun protection. This includes hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen with a high SPF. Keeping the family hydrated is also essential, so consider bringing reusable water bottles that you can refill throughout the day.

On the other end of the spectrum, winters in Knoxville can be chilly, especially in the evenings. If you’re visiting during this season, make sure to pack warm layers for all family members. Thermal tops, bottoms, scarves, gloves, and insulated boots can keep everyone cozy during winter explorations.

While packing clothing is essential, don’t forget about entertainment for the journey, especially if you have young kids. Bring along favorite toys, books, or games to keep them occupied during travel times. If your kids are older, download some movies or shows on a tablet for quiet times at the hotel.

When planning your itinerary, remember that kids can tire quickly. Consider scheduling downtime or rest periods between activities. Knoxville has numerous parks perfect for picnics where kids can run around while parents relax.

Lastly, come prepared for adventure and fun! Knoxville is a city that encourages exploration, from its interactive museums to its beautiful outdoor spaces. Keep an open mind, be flexible with your plans, and embrace the unexpected. 

Whether it’s an unplanned stop at a local ice cream shop or a spontaneous detour to a playground, these serendipitous moments often become the highlights of a family trip.

Traveling with kids in Knoxville doesn’t have to be daunting. With these tips in mind, your family is sure to have a memorable trip filled with laughter, discovery, and quality time together.

Whether you’re a local family looking for a weekend adventure or a tourist planning a longer stay, these activities are sure to create memorable experiences. 

1. Knoxville Zoo:

The Knoxville Zoo is a wonderland of wildlife that kids will love. Visitors can see animals from around the world, including red pandas, elephants, and gorillas.

 For a more hands-on experience, check out the zoo’s interactive exhibits like the Wee Play Adventure, designed for children under five. 

Don’t miss the daily animal shows and feeding times.

2. The Muse:

Located in the picturesque Chilhowee Park, just a stone’s throw away from the zoo, The Muse is Knoxville’s premier Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math (STEAM) museum. 

This innovative discovery center is far more than just a museum—it’s an interactive playground where children of all ages can engage with the wonders of science and art.

The moment you step into The Muse, you’re greeted with a variety of engaging exhibits designed to spark curiosity and foster a love for learning. From hands-on science experiments to creative art projects, there’s something to intrigue every young mind. 

The exhibits at The Muse are thoughtfully designed to be interactive, encouraging children to touch, play, and explore. This hands-on approach not only makes learning fun but also helps children understand complex scientific and artistic concepts in a tangible way.

One of the standout features of The Muse is its planetarium. This immersive dome projection system transports visitors across the universe, offering a closer look at the stars, planets, and galaxies that fill our night sky. The planetarium shows educational films that cover a range of topics, from astronomy to earth science. 

These captivating presentations are entertaining and help children develop an appreciation for the vastness and beauty of the cosmos.

But The Muse isn’t just about indoor exploration. It’s located within Chilhowee Park, providing plenty of outdoor space for kids to burn off energy between museum visits.

The park is home to a beautiful lake, picnic areas, and several playgrounds, making it the perfect spot for a family outing.

Beyond its exhibits, The Muse also offers a wide range of programs aimed at further enriching the learning experience. 

These include summer camps, field trips, homeschool programs, and even birthday parties. Each program is tailored to deliver age-appropriate content that aligns with the museum’s STEAM focus, ensuring that every visit to The Muse is a new learning adventure.

The Muse is more than just a destination—it’s an experience, a place where children can let their imagination run wild and discover the magic in science and art. Whether you’re a Knoxville local or just visiting, a trip to The Muse promises a day filled with fun, learning, and countless discoveries.



3. James White’s Fort:

Take a step back in time at James White’s Fort, a reconstructed pioneer fort in downtown Knoxville. 

The fort showcases the city’s rich history as the capital of the Southwest Territory in 1790. 

Kids will enjoy exploring the fort’s log cabins and seeing demonstrations of pioneer life.

4. Blount Mansion:

Known as the “birthplace of Tennessee,” Blount Mansion once housed state governors and prominent families. 

Now a museum dedicated to the preservation of Tennessee History, it offers free tours to children ages 6-17 accompanied by an adult on the first Tuesday of each month 

Fun fact: children five and under are always free!

5. Max Air Trampoline Park:

Perfect for rainy days or when kids need to burn off some energy, Max Air Trampoline Park offers wall-to-wall trampolines for jumping fun. 

The park’s “Flight Controllers” supervise kids while parents relax and watch.

Tennessee State Unit Study
Printable Tennessee Lapbook

6. The Sunsphere and Worlds Fair Park:

The Sunsphere and Worlds Fair Park is a must-see stop for any visit to Knoxville.  Visiting is one of the free things to do in Knoxville, TN.  

The Sunsphere was constructed for the 1982 World’s Fair and has served as the symbol of Knoxville since that time.  It is also home to a full-service restaurant and an observation deck.  

The deck offers a 360-degree view of World’s Fair Park, downtown, the Tennessee River, the University of Tennessee, and the Smoky Mountains.  

Best of all, visiting the deck is free!

7. Knoxville Museum of Art:

The Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA) is a vibrant cultural hub nestled in the heart of downtown Knoxville, renowned for its commitment to celebrating the art and artists of East Tennessee. 

It serves as a platform for presenting new art and fresh ideas while striving to educate and serve a diverse community.

At its core, KMA is a testament to East Tennessee’s rich artistic heritage. The museum houses several permanent collections that showcase the unique artistic contributions of the region’s artists. 

One of the most notable among these is the “Higher Ground: A Century of Visual Arts in East Tennessee” exhibit, which offers an extensive overview of the area’s artistic history.

However, KMA’s dedication to art extends beyond showcasing the past. The museum is deeply committed to fostering contemporary artistic expression and regularly presents new art from local, national, and international artists. 

With new exhibits introduced quarterly, there’s always something fresh and exciting to explore.

Open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, KMA welcomes visitors to immerse themselves in a world of artistic exploration. 

Its spacious galleries are thoughtfully curated, allowing guests to connect with the artwork in an intimate setting. 

The museum also offers guided tours, providing deeper insights into the displayed works and the artists behind them.

Education is a cornerstone of KMA’s mission. The museum offers a range of programs designed to make art accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. 

From hands-on workshops and artist talks to educational tours and school outreach programs, KMA strives to inspire a love for art in the broader community.

Beyond its indoor spaces, the museum’s beautifully landscaped gardens serve as an open-air extension of its artistic offerings. 

These outdoor areas often host site-specific installations and provide a serene backdrop for special events and gatherings.

The Knoxville Museum of Art is more than just a museum—it’s a dynamic space where art, education, and community intersect. 

Whether you’re an art enthusiast or a casual visitor, KMA offers an enriching experience that deepens your appreciation for the artistic spirit of East Tennessee.

Have fun with the kids in Knoxville with these kid friendly attractions.

8. Ijams Nature Center:

For those who crave the tranquility of nature and love exploring the great outdoors, Ijams Nature Center is a must-visit destination in Knoxville. Spread over 315 acres, Ijams is not just a nature center; it’s a vibrant sanctuary where city life fades away, replaced by the serene beauty and quiet hush of nature.

One of the main attractions of Ijams is its comprehensive trail system. Boasting over 10 miles of trails, the center offers an array of hiking opportunities for all fitness levels. 

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, you’ll find a trail that suits your needs. These trails meander through diverse landscapes, from lush woodlands and serene lakes to impressive rock formations and stunning overlooks, offering breathtaking views at every turn.

The beauty of Ijams lies in its diversity. It’s home to a variety of ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, and meadows, each teeming with wildlife. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the abundance of bird species that inhabit the area, while those interested in botany can explore the numerous plant species that thrive in the center.

Ijams is also home to the beautiful Mead’s Quarry Lake, a popular spot for paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking. The lake’s calm, crystal-clear waters reflect the surrounding natural beauty, creating a mesmerizing backdrop for water-based adventures.

Another unique feature of Ijams is its Navitat Canopy Adventures, which offers tree-based zipline adventure courses. This thrilling experience lets visitors soar through the treetops, providing a bird’s-eye view of the nature center’s stunning landscapes.

But Ijams isn’t just about exploration and adventure. It’s also a place for education and conservation. The center hosts various programs and workshops to educate visitors about the importance of nature conservation, wildlife protection, and environmental stewardship.

Ijams Nature Center is a much-loved sanctuary that seamlessly blends outdoor recreation, education, and preservation. It’s a place where locals and visitors can escape city life’s hustle and bustle and connect with nature in its purest form. 

Whether you’re an adventurer, a nature lover, or just someone seeking peace and quiet, Ijams offers an unforgettable outdoor experience.

9. Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame:

Sports fans will not want to miss a visit to the Womens Basket Ball Hall of Fame.  Located in downtown Knoxville, the Hall of Fame opened in June 1999. 

It is the only facility of its kind dedicated to all levels of women’s basketball.

10. Three Rivers Rambler:

Three Rivers Rambler or, the 3RR, is a tourist train operation located in the heart of Knoxville. 

The 3RR provides memorable train rides from downtown Knoxville to the start of the Tennessee River every day for thousands of passengers of all ages.  

Christmas is a favorite time to ride the Rambler and enjoy the annual Christmas Lantern Express.

11. The Ice Chalet:

Nestled in the heart of Knoxville, the Ice Chalet is a much-loved recreational facility that has been serving the city and its surrounding communities for several decades. 

With its competition-sized rink, the Ice Chalet offers a cool escape where everyone from beginners to seasoned skaters can glide across the ice and enjoy the exhilarating sport of ice skating.

Open to the public daily, the Ice Chalet warmly welcomes individuals and families alike to enjoy their ice skating sessions. 

Whether you’re seeking a fun-filled family outing, a unique date idea, or a great way to stay active, ice skating at the Ice Chalet provides a delightful experience. 

And don’t worry if you’ve never set foot on the ice before – the Chalet offers skate rentals and lessons for all ages and skill levels, ensuring everyone can join in the fun.

But the Ice Chalet is not just about ice skating. 

It also serves as a hub for other ice-related sports, offering curling and ice hockey sessions. Curling, often referred to as “chess on ice,” is a strategic game that is quickly growing in popularity. The Ice Chalet provides all the necessary equipment and instruction for those interested in trying out this fascinating sport.

For hockey enthusiasts, the Ice Chalet’s rink is a dream come true. Offering hockey sessions for both youth and adults, the facility provides opportunities for players to improve their skills, participate in friendly matches, or even join a league. 

The Ice Chalet takes pride in fostering a community of hockey lovers, providing a safe and fun environment where players can thrive.

Moreover, the Ice Chalet goes beyond being a recreational facility by hosting various events and programs throughout the year. From figure skating competitions and hockey tournaments to themed public skate nights and summer camps, there’s always something exciting happening on the ice. 

The facility can even be rented for private events like birthday parties or corporate team-building activities.

The Ice Chalet is more than just an ice rink. It’s a community gathering place where people of all ages can enjoy the thrill of ice sports, learn new skills, and create lasting memories.

12. Historic Market Square:

Located at the center of downtown Knoxville, the Historic Market Square is a bustling hive of activity and a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists alike. 

Known as the hub of the city, this vibrant square offers a unique blend of history, culture, and entertainment that’s hard to find anywhere else.

Originally established in 1854 as a marketplace for regional farmers, Market Square has evolved over the years into a dynamic, pedestrian-friendly district. Despite these changes, the square has retained its historic charm, serving as a living testament to Knoxville’s rich cultural heritage.

During the day, Market Square is a paradise for foodies and shoppers. It’s home to a diverse array of cafes and restaurants, each offering its unique take on local and international cuisine. 

Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite, a gourmet meal, or just a cup of coffee, there’s always something to satisfy your cravings.

Shopping in Market Square is an experience in itself. With a variety of stores ranging from boutique clothing shops to artisan gift stores, you can find something for every taste and budget. 

And don’t forget to check out the seasonal farmers market held on the weekends. It’s a great place to buy fresh, locally-sourced produce, handmade crafts, and more.

Market Square transforms into one of Knoxville’s premier entertainment spots when the sun goes down. The square is known for its lively nightlife scene, with numerous venues offering live music that ranges from rock and blues to jazz and country. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a long day, enjoy a drink, and soak up some fantastic tunes.

Market Square isn’t just about shopping, dining, and entertainment. It also serves as a venue for annual special events and festivals. From outdoor concerts and art fairs to holiday celebrations and community gatherings, something exciting always happens in the square.

Historic Market Square is the heartbeat of Knoxville. It’s a place where people come together to eat, shop, play, and celebrate. 

So whether you’re a first-time visitor or a long-time local, a trip to Market Square is sure to be a memorable experience.

13. Knoxville Riverfront:

A walk along the Knoxville Riverfront is the perfect outdoor outing for families who want to spend a leisurely afternoon.  

Along the way there are views of  Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee, and watercraft, including the Knoxville Riverboat.

Have fun with the kids in Knoxville with these kid friendly attractions.

Family-Friendly Dining in Knoxville

Knoxville is a food haven for both adults and children. From Southern BBQ to Mexican fiestas, there’s something to satisfy every palate. 

Here are some of the top family-friendly restaurants in town:

  1. Corner16: A popular choice among families, Corner16 offers a diverse menu that caters to all tastes.
  2. Calhoun’s Pellissippi: Known for its BBQ and welcoming atmosphere, Calhoun’s Pellissippi is another favorite.
  3. Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar: This restaurant serves up Southern comfort food with a modern twist.
  4. A Dopo Sourdough Pizza: This is the place to go if your family loves pizza.
  5. Scrambled Jake’s: For breakfast lovers, Scrambled Jake’s offers an extensive menu featuring classic and creative dishes.

Accommodation Suggestions

Finding the perfect accommodation for your family vacation in Knoxville, Tennessee, can make all the difference in your trip. Thankfully, this vibrant city is home to a plethora of family-friendly options that guarantee comfort, fun, and convenience.

When exploring your choices, consider what amenities would best suit your family’s needs. Hotels with pools can offer a refreshing break from sightseeing during the summer months, while those with game rooms can provide entertainment during downtime, especially on rainy days. 

Additionally, accommodations offering complimentary breakfast can save you time and money each morning, giving you more freedom to enjoy your day.

One excellent option is the Holiday Inn Knoxville Downtown, conveniently located near Market Square and The Sunsphere1. This hotel features an indoor pool, perfect for year-round enjoyment. They also offer a Kids Stay and Eat Free program, making it a budget-friendly choice for families.

For families seeking a home-away-from-home experience, Embassy Suites by Hilton Knoxville Downtown could be an ideal choice. Each suite includes a separate living area and kitchenette, providing the convenience of home cooking. Plus, they offer a complimentary made-to-order breakfast each morning and an evening reception with snacks and beverages.

If you’re looking for a unique stay, consider The Tennessean Hotel. This luxury hotel offers personalized service and spacious rooms. While it doesn’t have a game room, its location is within walking distance to many kid-friendly attractions like the Knoxville Museum of Art and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Vacation rentals might be the way to go for those desiring outdoor space and self-catering facilities. Services like Airbnb or Vrbo offer a range of options from quaint cottages to modern apartments, often providing extra space and amenities like full kitchens and private yards.

Choosing the right accommodation in Knoxville is about more than just a place to sleep. It’s about finding a space that caters to your family’s needs, ensuring everyone has a comfortable and enjoyable stay. By taking the time to research and select the best option, you’ll be well on your way to creating unforgettable family memories in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Author Bio: Melissa Langford is a wife and homeschooling mom of six children living in Knoxville, Tennessee. She blogs at Blessed Simplicity. You can find her on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest as well.

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Mother of 3

Sunday 24th of June 2018

This sounds like such a fun list of things to do! Pinned.