Home to the Great Smoky Mountains, Zoo Knoxville, and Dollywood, East Tennessee offers dozens of events and activities. Here are 10 suggestions for travelers looking to enjoy the mild spring weather.
Located 30 miles from Knoxville in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Tellico Lake is an ideal spot for boating, fishing, swimming. There are trails for hiking and horseback riding, and golfers can enjoy spectacular views of Tellico Lake and the Great Smoky Mountains at Rarity Bay’s Championship Golf Course.
Home to the International Biscuit Festival in May, First Night Knoxville and a farmers’ market scheduled to reopen May 4, historic Market Square is the premier destination for shopping, dining, and nightlife in Downtown Knoxville.
Zoo Knoxville is home to more than 800 and offers camel rides, behind the scenes tours and the Williams Family Giraffe Encounter, where visitors can get up close and personal with the animals. Little visitors can enjoy Wee Play Adventure, an indoor play experience will take you on an adventure to an island inhabited by dragons and a wide array of exotic lizards.
University of Tennessee Gardens
Named the official state botanical gardens in 2013, the University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville, Jackson, and Crossville are home to 4,000 annuals, perennials, herbs, tropicals, trees, shrubs, vegetables, and ornamental grasses. The gardens host events, classes, and workshops for adults and children throughout the spring and summer.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Straddling the Tennessee-North Carolina border for more than 800 square miles, Great Smoky Mountains National Park receives more than 9 million visitors every year, making it the most popular national park in the country. Download the Smokies Trip Planner to learn more about activities, attractions and accommodations at the park.
World’s Fair Park
Originally built for the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair, World’s Fair Park has since been expanded to include a festival lawn, a performance lawn and a lake area. The Court of Flags Fountain’s interactive water play area operates seasonally from March through October, and visitors can enjoy a playground that is open year-round. The Sunsphere towers 266 feet above the park, its observation deck providing visitors with a 360-degree view of the city and beyond.
Dogwood Arts Festival
The Dogwood Arts Festival is a monthlong celebration of art, music, and culture. Don’t miss Rhythm & Blooms, a three-day music festival steeped in Knoxville’s rich musical history.
Dollywood and Dollywood Splash Country
The theme park, waterpark, and resort in Pigeon Forge is one of the most popular destinations in Tennessee. Owned by actor, musician, superstar diva Dolly Parton, Dollywood hosts five annual festivals including three in the spring: the Festival of Nations (March 19 to April 18), Barbecue and Bluegrass (May 13 to May 22), and Dollywood’s Thrill in the Hills (April 8-9).
Tulip Time at Crescent Bend
The historic Crescent Bend House and Gardens hosts the 16th annual Tulip Time festival from March 23 to April 30. More than 25,000 tulips will be in bloom, blanketing the 3-acre gardens overlooking the Tennessee River in a riot of color.
Gatlinburg Smoky Mountain Spring
Gatlinburg is home to nine spring-related festivals in April and May including the Beans and Cornbread Festival on May 12 and the Smoky Mountain Wine Fest on April 9, which features bottles from 17 Tennessee wineries and food from some of the best restaurants in the area.