From being where rock and roll started, to being the home of the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee is a phenomenal place to take your family on a vacation.
Whether it’s a single-day getaway or something a little more substantial, a vacation in Tennessee is an excellent way to spend some quality time with your family and craft memories that will last a lifetime.
Whether you’re looking for something all-encompassing like a resort stay at Dollywood, want to take in the array of live entertainment that’s available, or just want to set up a campsite in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—we’ve got the perfect vacation for you and your family on this list.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
As one of the most popular, and downright breathtaking, tourist destinations in all of Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the perfect place to enjoy a family vacation. It’s one of the biggest national parks in America, and as a result, it’s absolutely loaded with plenty of things for your family to see and do.
Hiking is a big thing to do, with plenty of destinations and trails to appreciate throughout. You can also catch glimpses of wildlife you wouldn’t ordinarily see, like specific species of elk native to the area and even bald eagles. On top of this, there’s plenty of fishing, kayaking, and camping to enjoy at sites scattered throughout, opening plenty of moments to bond together and make those lasting memories.
We all can appreciate the deep beauty that nature provides, but sometimes we’re looking for something a little more traditional out of our family vacations. Pigeon Forge is one of the most quaint, charming, and traditional mountain resort towns you’ll come across. It’s the perfect destination for families that are looking to enjoy some traditional touristy amenities while also being surrounded by the majesty of Tennessee’s natural beauty.
The area’s home to an array of theme parks, arcades, restaurants, museums, and traditional tourist attractions that all help provide endless hours of potential entertainment. Spend a day at The Island in Pigeon Forge, check out the Titanic Museum, or spend a weekend at Dollywood—even the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is only minutes away. No matter what you’re trying to do, there’s going to be plenty of fun to be found and memories to be made when you vacation in Pigeon Forge.
Much like Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg is an amazing destination for families who love the charm of traditional tourist towns, while being immersed in the immense natural beauty of the area. There are plenty of beautiful hiking and biking trails for your family to enjoy, along with plenty of parks throughout where you can play, picnic, and unwind. If you’re feeling more adventurous, consider enjoying some kayaking or tubing on the Gatlinburg River.
In addition to the wealth of natural beauty and resources available throughout Gatlinburg, there are plenty of your typical touristy things to see and enjoy too. Stop by Anakeesta to spend the day appreciating a Smoky Mountain-themed retreat as you enjoy panoramic views of the mountains. Or if you’re looking for something a little different, check out Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and appreciate the array of marine life they have.
Located just minutes south of Nashville, Franklin is an excellent option for families who want to enjoy a great vacation in a popular destination that features some real historical charm to it. It’s got all the charm of a quaint small town while offering plenty of open access to the great outdoors. Whether you want to spend the day shopping with the family, hike some pristine trails, or just unwind in one of the area’s many parks, restaurants, and bars, there’s plenty for the family to enjoy in Franklin.
Are you a fan of gaming? If not, we bet the kids are. Check out family classics like the Joyfull arcade, which is a combination retro, VR, and next-gen gaming arcade—perfect for hours of fun indoors with the family.
Or, if you’re looking for something a little different, stop by the Soar Adventure tower, and experience Franklin from new heights. If you’re looking for something a little more historical, consider booking tours at The Carnton Plantation or the Historic Carter House.
Last, but certainly not least, no list of the top vacation destinations for families in Tennessee would be complete without mentioning Tennessee’s single biggest family-friendly vacation destination: Dollywood.
A majestic love letter to all things Appalachia, Dollywood is an absolutely expansive and sprawling theme park loaded with rides, shops, eateries, and so much more throughout it. Whether you’re stopping by for the day or taking a weekend out, you’ll have no shortage of ways to help keep the kids entertained.
Enjoy the many rides throughout the park, including the famous Lightning Bolt, which is the fastest wooden roller coaster in the world. If the Tennessee sun’s particularly hot when you’re visiting, cool down at the massive Splash Country waterpark with the massive variety of waterslides and pools available. Then, when you’re tucked out after your day of fun-filled excitement, retire back to Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort for some well-earned sleep.
Crafting Lasting Memories With The Family
Tennessee, with its deep history and rich charm, beckons families of all kinds with its unique and diverse blend of history, nature, and entertainment. From the many melodies of rock and roll’s roots to the breathtaking, sprawling vistas of the Smokies, every corner of the state promises a new adventure.
Whether it’s the timeless charm of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg’s vibrant mix of nature and attractions, Franklin’s historical allure, or the endless delights of Dollywood, there’s something for everyone. With its own distinct warmth and charm, each locale showcases Tennessee’s gift of offering peaceful retreats and exhilarating discoveries.
So, grab your bags, rally your family, and let Tennessee be the backdrop for your next unforgettable escapade. In this state, every experience becomes a cherished memory, and every memory a story to share for generations.