You don't have to travel far during the upcoming spring break to make a worthwhile and fun trip for the whole family. What Tennessee lacks in beaches, it makes up for with a plethora of interesting stops and activities to accommodate everyone. Below is a sampling of options for your trip planning!
1. Tennessee Appalachian History Comes to Life at Museum of Appalachia
"These are our people. They are world renowned, unknown, famous, infamous, interesting, diverse, different, but above all, they are a warm, colorful and jolly lot, in love with our land, our mountains, and our culture. May their memories ever be preserved - not so much in reverence to them but as a gift to us and to generations to come." - John Rice Irwin, founder of Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, Tennessee.
The Museum of Appalachia, which might be more accurately described as a living, breathing village, is a meticulously-designed immersion into the hardscrabble life common to the folks who have made their homes in the Southern Appalachian mountains. This Smithsonian Affiliate museum is located less than 30 minutes north of Knoxville, just off of I-75 at 2819 Andersonville Highway, Clinton, TN 37716.
Among the many animals living on and roaming grounds of the museum is a flock of very social peacocks.
First stop on the self-guided tour is the Appalachian Hall of Fame, featuring an amazing collection of artifacts and photographs from all over Appalachia.
Throughout the grounds of the museum are hundreds of pioneer implements, such as this corn "crib," which was used to store cornmeal through the winter.
Small country stores located throughout rural Appalachia sold to pioneers and settlers all the goods that they could not produce or make themselves.
Created by the eccentric coal-miner turned folk-artist Harrison Mayes, crosses and other religious objects such as this one were erected across the United States.
Although the famous writer, Mark Twain was born just a few months after his family moved out of this cabin, which was previously located in Possum Trot, Tennessee, it remains today as a testament to the often harsh realities of mountain life.
Perhaps it is those harsh realities that have created the lasting musical legacy of the Southern Appalachian mountains.
A multitude of instruments and artifacts - some of which you may be able to identify on your own - are hung on the walls of the museum's many structures.
Once used as a set for the CBS television series Young Dan'l Boone, this cabin dates back to the early 1800s.
Institutions such as schools and churches provided Appalachia's often isolated family farmers with some semblance of society.
Not so commonly used these days, the cantilever barn was once found throughout Southern Appalachia.
The Museum of Appalachia and its wealth of history is open to the public 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. January to February; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March to May; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. June to July; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. August to October; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November to December.
Tickets are $18 for adults (19-64), $15 for seniors, $10 for youth (13-18) and $6 for children 5-12 years old.
2. Old Time Mercantile: Mast General Store
The tradition of the American general store remains timeless, even as the wares on their shelves change. Today's modern Southern mercantile carries everything from Yeti coolers to old fashioned candies by the barrel, from folding Buck knives to Tennessee Volunteer football tailgating gear. Occupying a spot in a building constructed in 1898, Knoxville boasts the only Mast General Store outside of the Carolinas.
Mast General Store is located at 402 South Gay Street, Knoxville
Did you know there's an Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, Tennessee? Great for a photo-op, the Eiffel Tower in Memorial Park is close to two walking tracks and recreation centers. Explore downtown Paris with its antique shops and dining areas. Sip 26 different varieties of wines and stroll the grounds of Paris Winery. Kick back and watch the sunset at Paris Landing State Park.
4. The Space Needle
Looking for a fun experience with the family? Look no further! The Gatlinburg Space Needle has everything you need for a memorable time in Gatlinburg.
Start your day on vacation right with some beautiful sights! We offer a huge observation platform with viewing stations and seating atop our 407' Tower, get the best sights in the 'burg! Once you have seen the sights, come back down our elevator and enjoy some quality family time in our Arcadia Arcade! We have a gigantic selection of the newest games and hottest prizes the whole family is sure to enjoy. Finding yourself a little hungry after all that fun? Stop in at our New York Style Pizzeria "Slice Pizza Bakery" and get a giant slice or a whole pie for your group. We only use the finest and freshest ingredients in our pizza daily, and we know you will be a fan! We look forward to seeing you, and your family, here at the Gatlinburg Space Needle!
5. Milan Dawg Daze Festival
Presented by Milan Chamber of Commerce, this festival features arts and crafts vendors, local businesses showcasing their merchandise, superb live entertainment, Pet Pageant, Antique Auto Show, Chalk Art Show, 5K, kids’ activities, great food and fun for the entire family! Admission is FREE to the public.
6. Falcon Rest Mansion & Gardens
In 1896, entrepreneur Clay Faulkner told his wife Mary he'd build her "the grandest mansion in Tennessee" if she would move next to their woolen mill, 2-1/2 miles from downtown McMinnville.
Mary agreed, and Faulkner supervised construction as enthusiastically as he promoted the mill's "Gorilla Pants" (so strong even a gorilla couldn't tear them apart) and mineral water at the Faulkner Springs Hotel, the "ideal health and pleasure resort" he would eventually open on the lake across the road.
Faulkner's solid-brick, 10,000-square-foot mansion had all the "modern conveniences" when it was built -- electric lights, indoor plumbing, central heat, and more. That's one reason PBS dubbed it "Tennessee's Biltmore."
Today, the mansion is filled with museum quality Victorian antiques, and some say it's presided over by a friendly ghost -- perhaps the proud builder himself.
It's open seven days a week year round for guided historic home tours, delicious meals and 1890s shopping in the Victorian Gift Shop and Tea Room, interactive entertainment shows with meals and tours for motorcoach groups, weddings and other special events -- all of which live up to Falcon Rest's well-earned reputation as "the Victorian mansion where history is fun."
7. Museum of Appalachia
The Museum of Appalachia, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is a living history museum--a pioneer mountain farm-village that lends voice to the people of Southern Appalachia through the artifacts and stories they left behind.
Roam our 65 picturesque acres and experience a recreated rural Appalachian community--complete with 35 log cabins, barns, farm animals, churches, schools, gardens, and more. We have tens of thousands of artifacts in 3 buildings, with vast collections of folk art, musical instruments, baskets, quilts, Native American artifacts, and more.
The Museum also has a restaurant, and a two-story gift shop.
A non-profit organization, the Museum’s mission is to preserve Appalachian artifacts and to cultivate a greater knowledge of, and appreciation for, Appalachian heritage.
8. Oaklands Mansion
Oaklands Mansion is nestled in Oaklands Park, a native tree arboretum and natural wetlands, which includes Maney Spring as well as heritage and native gardens. Oaklands Visitors Center houses a gift shop and Maney Reception Hall for special events and temporary exhibitions. Plan your trip today!
9. The Elephant Sanctuary
Increasing public knowledge is key to creating a world where elephants no longer live under constant threat of poaching, habitat loss, conflict, or capture. The Sanctuary's Elephant Discovery Center offers hands-on, self-guided exhibits that teach visitors about the differences between the species and the ecological role elephants play in the wild, and tell the stories of the elephants that reside at The Sanctuary.
Please call 931-796-6500 ext 101 or email email@example.com to plan your visit.
All elephants reside within The Sanctuary’s 2,700 acres of habitat nearby, retired from public view. There are no elephants at the Discovery Center or Outdoor Classroom.
10. Elvis Presley’s Graceland
Take an unforgettable journey through the most famous rock ‘n’ roll residence in the world. Explore the personal life of Elvis Presley and learn how his revolutionary style and unique sound changed the face of popular music and culture forever.
This legendary rock ‘n’ roll pilgrimage will show you why Elvis lives on. At Graceland, enjoy an interactive iPad tour of Graceland Mansion, where you can experience the Jungle Room, the Pool Room and TV Room for yourself.
Then, take a tour through Elvis Presley's Memphis, Graceland's new state-of-the-art entertainment complex!
Elvis Presley's Memphis includes the world's largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum in the world, called Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. There, you can see an amazing array of Elvis' incredible jumpsuits, his Grammy Awards, his iconic outfits from the '68 Special and Aloha from Hawaii, and much more.
Elvis Presley's Memphis also includes Presley Motors, a collection of more than 20 of Elvis' cars, and Presley Cycles, which includes Elvis' motorcycles, go-carts, boats and more.
Explore Elvis' life and interests with Discovery Exhibits at Elvis Presley's Memphis.
The newest exhibit at Graceland is X's & O's: Elvis and His Love of Football. The exhibit features the king's sports memorabilia and equipment, plus handwritten football plays and more.
The Private Presley exhibit showcases Elvis' service in the U.S. Army. The Elvis' Tupelo Exhibit takes you back to Elvis' hometown, Tupelo, Mississippi, and features Presley family clothing and other artifacts.
Icons: The Influence of Elvis Presley Exhibit showcases artifacts from stars who were influenced by the King of Rock 'n' Roll, such as Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Trisha Yearwood and more.
In partnership with the Phillips family, Mystery Train: The Sam Phillips Exhibit presents the incredible story of music visionary and legendary record producer Sam Phillips, who essentially created rock 'n' roll and discovered so many incredible artists at Memphis Recording Service/Sun Studio.
Explore country star Marty Stuart's incredible collection of country music artifacts at Hillbilly Rock exhibit.
Lisa Marie Presley was on hand during Elvis Week 2018 to celebrate the opening of her new exhibit, Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley. The exhibit features items from her childhood, music career and more.
There are several ways to explore Graceland and Elvis Presley's Memphis. A new tour, called the Ultimate VIP tour, was just unveiled, and it includes tours of Graceland, Elvis Presley's Memphis and Elvis' custom jets with a personal tour guide, an exclusive photo opportunity and much more. Get your tickets now at Graceland.com.
Want to learn more about Elvis and his musical roots? Elvis Presley’s Graceland now offers expertly-guided tours to Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis Presley’s birthplace. The luxury coach ride to and from destination will be a big part of the experience, as Graceland tour guides and Archives staff take guests on a fun musical journey, celebrating the music that influenced Elvis Presley, the greatest entertainer of all time. Learn more and book your tour now at Graceland.com/Excursions.
Graceland and LiveNation have partnered to bring live music to the Graceland Soundstage and The Guest House at Graceland Theater! Go to GracelandLive.com to see a list of concerts.
Graceland is proud to announce its latest addition to our campus - the Graceland Exhibition Center – is now open. The 80,000 square foot facility is home to an ever-changing line-up of exploration showcases to delight visitors of all ages. Our latest exhibits are Expedition: Dinosaur and Journey to Space. Guests can choose from multiple dining options at The TCB Food Hall or visit The Jungle Room Bar during their visit. Learn more about the Graceland Exhibition Center.
Enliven your Elvis experience with a memorable stay at The Guest House at Graceland. The Guest House, a brand-new 450-room resort hotel located just steps away from Graceland, is now open and has received AAA's Four-Diamond Rating. Make your reservations now at GuestHouseGraceland.com.
11. Alcatraz East Crime Museum
Alcatraz East is a crime museum featuring an in depth look at American Crime History which includes artifacts from Alcatraz, but this is not a Museum dedicated solely to Alcatraz.Explore American History from a different perspective. Five unique galleries burrow
deep into the studies of criminal intent, criminal profiles, the penal system, victims,
crime prevention, forensic science, law enforcement and the Judiciary Branch of
government. Located at the entrance to The Island in Pigeon Forge, the museum is 25,000 square feet spread over 2 floors and includes over 100 interactives.
Kids can enjoy:
Jail Cell Escape, Prohibition Shooting Gallery, Modern Police Shooting Range, Heist Laser Maze, Numerous Photo Ops and our Top Detective Challenge!
Some of our famous artifacts include:
John Dillinger’s Car, Al Capone’s Rosary, The Bronco used in the OJ Simpson chase, Al Pacino’s machine gun from Scarface and MUCH MORE!
12. Appalachian Center for Craft
A campus of Tennessee Tech University’s nationally accredited School of Art, Craft & Design, we are home to fine craft studios offering Bachelor of Fine Arts degree concentrations in clay, fibers, glass, metals and wood. A 2 year Craft Certificate program is also available.
The Gallery at the Appalachian Center for Craft is one of the finest retailers of contemporary American fine craft in the southeast. We represent the work of 100+ artists whose work ranges from the contemporary to the traditional.The Craft Center hosts up to 25 exhibitions annually. Shows range from the works of regional, national and international contemporary craft artists, to our faculty, resident artists and student exhibitions. Find world-class, handmade functional and sculptural fine craft including handblown glass, ceramics, jewelry, furniture, decorative metals and ironwork, quilts, textiles and weaving, clocks, lamps, candles, wood carvings and turned bowls, and books and craft supplies.
The Center promotes excellence in American craft by teaching tradition and innovation in technique, concept and design providing access to the highest quality craft education, professional artists, and career opportunities.
13. Discovery Center at Murfree Spring
Discovery Center at Murfree Spring is a hands-on museum and environmental center for visitors of all ages. With hundreds of fun exhibits, twenty acres of outdoor wetlands, daily programs and a two-story slide!
14. Discovery Park of America
When it’s time for a different kind of eye-opening action, be amazed by Discovery Park of America. Zoom down a super-fast slide along a 48-foot human form. Control a huge globe to drain the world’s oceans, or create your own weather pattern. Race solar-powered airplanes.
You’ll see antique cars and motorcycles in the Transportation Hall. Slide behind a bookcase to discover a suit of armor and other treasures, and learn about Northwest Tennessee’s land and creatures. Feel how the New Madrid earthquakes changed the land. Press your nose against a 20,000-gallon aquarium. Take the family and watch Discovery Park of America work its magic.
Discovery Park of America is a world-class educational and entertainment experience in Union City. Discovery Center, the flagship of Discovery Park, boasts over 70,000 square feet of exhibit space featuring 10 unique galleries.
Interactive and fun experiences await visitors, including a large collection of dinosaurs and a glass-floored observation tower. Outside on the 50-acre heritage park, you’ll find a working gristmill, full-sized antique train and tractor displays, historical exhibits and lush gardens. Discovery Park has ten rental venues, including a chapel for weddings, and welcomes school groups and bus tours.
15. The Escape Game Nashville (Berry Hill)
#1 Rated "Escape Room" on TripAdvisor Nashville
#1 Rated "Fun & Games" Attraction on TripAdvisor Nashville
Book Now: TheEscapeGame.com/Nashville
Located near downtown in historic Berry Hill, The Escape Game is Nashville’s #1 escape room and immersive adventure. As a premier provider of escape rooms, The Escape Game’s adventures play like Hollywood blockbusters with twists, turns, and jaw-dropping surprises around every corner.
Their 60-minute adventures bring epic stories to life in a one-of-a-kind tactile experience. Here’s how it works: You and your team will work together to find clues, overcome challenges, and ultimately complete a mission. Escaping will require teamwork, communication, wits, a sense of adventure, and most importantly: YOU!
The Escape Game truly is epic for everyone, from friends and families to thrill-seeking tourists and team building outings. And by making the most accessible and immersive escape rooms in the world, The Escape Game’s adventures are more exciting, more inviting, and everyone gets a chance to save the day. Best of all, all adventures only take an hour to complete—so you can be the hero and still make it in time for dinner.
If you're looking for the best escape room in Nashville, make sure you come visit The Escape Game.
16. Lucky Ladd Farms - Tennessee's Largest Petting Farm & Fun Park
Spring, summer and fall, Lucky Ladd Farms is brimming with fun activities and outdoor adventures for kids and adults alike. This amazing farm park features a unique playground, a petting zoo, huge mega slides, and a variety of farm-style rides like ponies, barrel train and wagon rides. Visitors can see Middle Tennessee's Cedar Glades on a nature trail, cool off in water activities at the splash pad and bubble blast pool, discover fool’s gold at the gem mine, experience the giant jumping pad or tumbling tunnel, or crawl on a giant spider web to name a few of the fun things to do at the farm.
Not to be missed, fall brings a mind-bending corn maze and pumpkin patch that are family favorites. Named one of the 'TOP-15 BEST Pumpkin Patches in the U.S." by Travel Channel and "TOP-FIVE Pumpkin Patches in the South" by Southern Living Magazine, Lucky Ladd's offers a wide variety of pumpkins, squash and gourds to choose from.
Located only 45 minutes from downtown Nashville, visitors love shopping at the Lucky Ladd’s homegrown country store stocked full of delightful jams, relishes, fresh kettle corn, baked goods, clever farm toys and souvenirs. On-site concessions, bakery and ice cream parlor make this a welcoming stop even for a short visit. A must do for families exploring the area.
17. Stones River National Battlefield
The Battle of Stones River was one of the bloodiest and most significant battles of the Civil War. The battle resulted in nearly 24,000 casualties and yielded significant military and political gains for the Union. Stones River National Battlefield offers visitors a chance to experience this critical event in our history by exploring the fields and forests where the fighting raged from December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863.
You can start at our visitor center that includes a museum and orientation film. Visitors have a number of self-guiding tour options year round including a cell phone tour and app tour. Park Rangers offer regularly scheduled programs from May through October, and special interpretive events take place monthly.
18. Fall Creek Falls State Park
A paradise of more than 20,000 acres sprawled across the eastern top of the rugged Cumberland Plateau, Fall Creek Falls State Park is one of the most scenic and spectacular outdoor recreation areas in America. Laced with cascades, gorges, waterfalls, streams and lush stands of virgin hardwood timber, the park beckons those who enjoy nature at her finest.
Fall Creek Falls, at 256 feet, is the highest waterfall in the eastern United States. Other waterfalls in the park are Piney, Cane Creek Falls and Cane Creek Cascades. The oak and hickory forest that covers most of the park gives way to tulip poplar and hemlock forest in the gorges. The plants and animals of the moist, protected gorges are not unlike the species found in southern Canada. Mountain laurel and rhododendron are abundant throughout the park, as are other plants and animals.
With its many amenities, including a park inn with 145 guest rooms and 5,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, 30 cabins and villas, 222 campsites, 2 group camps, a challenging 18-hole golf course and a gorgeous panoramic natural setting, it is little wonder that Southern Living readers voted Fall Creek Falls the best state park in the southeastern United States.