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Family Activities in Tennessee to Enjoy After School Starts

The kids may be heading back to school soon, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. There are many opportunities to spend time together well after summer ends and the first school bell rings. Here are some ideas for late summer family activities in Tennessee.

Outdoor Adventures

Tennessee is full of places to get outside and enjoy nature as a family. Pack a picnic and head to one of a dozen state parks, where you’ll find plenty of inspiration to go hiking, fishing, canoeing, horseback riding and even swimming. Interpretive centers and outdoor educational opportunities — like Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport, the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge or Discovery Park of America in Union City — also offer families the chance to spend an afternoon learning about the science of local nature.

Historic Day Trips

It’s fairly easy to get across the state, so consider taking a weekend trip to learn about Tennessee’s rich history — after the kids finish their homework, of course. In East Tennessee alone, you’ll find dozens of sites where you can learn about the early years of the community. The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greeneville and Davy Crockett Birthplace State Historic Park in nearby Limestone both provide a look at these famous Tennesseans’ lives.

In Northeast Tennessee, Rocky Mount Living History Museum in Piney Flats and Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton offer glimpses into the lives of the region’s first settlers. Near Knoxville, you’ll find the Museum of Appalachia and the Blount Mansion. In Southeast Tennessee, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park commemorates the 1863 Civil War battles for Chattanooga. Expect similar historic sites in Middle and West Tennessee, including the home of President James K. Polk.

Sporting Events

Sports are always a great time for the family, especially in Tennessee. Don’t just enjoy watching the UT or Titans football game from the couch; plan an outing to Nissan and Neyland Stadiums themselves. No matter what, increase the fun by tailgating before the game or preparing healthy snacks for a gathering friends and family can enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

For a truly unique experience, consider attending one of the NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway, which usually takes place on a Saturday night in late August. The race runs under the lights and is known as one of the best events in racing. If you want to make the event even more memorable, take advantage of the many campgrounds that surround the track. Your family will remember the experience for years to come.

Cooking and Canning

Garden-fresh vegetables are everywhere in late summer, so take in the bounty while you can. Visit farmers markets together as a family or search for a pick-your-own farm where you can harvest your own fruits and vegetables. Then, work together to either can or freeze the produce so you can enjoy them throughout the winter. Working as a team to preserve the food will make it taste even better when prepared!

For many households, back-to-school time means less together time, but that doesn’t have to be the case with so many fun family activities in Tennessee. Spend an afternoon or a weekend with your kids and make memories to last all year long.

Most outdoor activities have some level of risk, and you may need to consult an expert before engaging in the activity. Always check the current weather conditions before embarking on any outdoor activity.

Chelsea Adams

Chelsea Adams

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at

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