Northeast Tennessee: There’s More…Family Fun

Bring the family for a trip packed with unique adventures, time for discoveries and experiences that will create memories only found in Northeast Tennessee. Explore some of the best ways to spend time with your family in Northeast Tennessee.  Here are a few trip ideas to get you started:


Hands On! Museum

A classic among local residents, Hands On! Museum is located one block from I-26 in downtown Johnson City, offering a unique interactive environment for children of all ages, designed to make learning fun. Programs and activities in the arts, sciences, and humanities are offered daily, as well as rotating exhibits. Check back often as plans are underway to relocate Hands On! Museum in conjunction with Gray Fossil Site & Museum.


Gray Fossil Site & Museum

The Gray Fossil Site & Museum is located in Gray (a suburb of Johnson City and Kingsport) is a place where visitors can get up close and personal with an active Miocene-era fossil dig site. Scientists believe the site was formed by an underground limestone cave that collapsed and created a sinkhole. This left a vast fossil deposit that dates back 4.5 – 7 million years ago.


Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway

Known as The World’s Fastest Half-Mile and the Last Great Coliseum, BMS annually hosts two of the largest NASCAR events on the circuit. Bristol Dragway, better known as “Thunder Valley,” hosts the NHRA Drag Racing Series, its own Bracket Series program and its popular street-legal racing series called Street Fights. Both venues also host track tours, several car shows and other events throughout the year. Visitors also can share in the spirit of the holiday season during Speedway in Lights, complete with a drive through both venues, an ice skating ring, Santa’s Village and more.


Kingsport Aquatic Center

The Kingsport Aquatic Center is year-round water fun at Northeast Tennessee’s most comprehensive public aquatic facility. The 46,000-square-foot indoor complex features three heated pools, including the region’s only indoor Olympic-size pool, the HMG Competition Pool. A seasonal outdoor water park features include pools, water slides and a 900-foot lazy river. The Kingsport Aquatic Center is open daily.


Erwin Fish Hatchery, Unicoi County Heritage and Clinchfield Railroad Museums

A visit to the Erwin National Fish Hatchery includes three activities within one destination. The Hatchery is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, producing 10-13 million rainbow trout eggs annually to support fishery management efforts. Six raceways are available on weekends for viewing, as well as a broodstock display pond and picnic pavilion. Also located on the property is the Unicoi County Heritage Museum, housed in a turn-of-the-century home showcasing the county’s history in uniquely themed rooms. Modeled to look like an old-fashioned train depot, the Clinchfield Railroad Museum pays homage to Town of Erwin’s rich railroad history.  The museum is located adjacent to the Unicoi County Heritage Museum. A nature trail is also located on the grounds of the museums.


Kingsport Carousel

The Kingsport Carousel is a totally renovated 1956 Allen Herschell Carousel located inside the temperature controlled “Pal’s Roundhouse” near downtown Kingsport. The stunning sight features 32 hand-carved, whimsical platform animals and two chariots. Kingsport’s history encircles the carousel through 24 rounding boards that feature painted scenes from the city’s past. A ride on the carousel is a favorite among all ages any time of the year.


Birthplace of Country Music Museum

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is located in downtown Bristol TN/VA and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The Museum tells the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings, explores how evolving sound technology shaped their success, and highlights how this rich musical heritage lives on in today’s music. Through text and artifacts, multiple theater experiences, and interactive displays – along with a variety of educational programs, music performances, and community events – the exciting story of these recording sessions and their far-reaching influence comes alive. Rotating exhibitions from guest curators and other institutions, including the Smithsonian, are featured throughout the year in the Special Exhibits Gallery. The museum also houses a research collection including an extensive digital archive.


Chuckey Depot Train Museum
This train depot was originally located in Chuckey, Tenn. and moved to downtown Jonesborough, opening back up to the public as an interactive museum in 2017. The restored depot museum includes railroad memorabilia, a hands on area for children, photo areas and porches to view the trains passing through Tennessee’s Oldest Town. Adjacent to the depot is a restored caboose that is open for tours as well.

This is just a selection including some of the best ways to spend time with your family in Northeast Tennessee.  For additional information on what to do, where to stay and more, visit NortheastTennessee.org.