Five Family-Friendly Spring Getaways
March 2, 2023 | Permalink
Photo by @withlove_fromtennessee on Instagram
To help you plan your spring vacation, we’ve put together a list of five family-friendly getaways. Each experience offers a variety of crowd-pleasing activities and overnight accommodations that fit the needs of families.
Norris Dam State Park
Located 30 minutes north of Knoxville, Norris Dam State Park is a beautiful lakeside destination full of outdoor recreation and rich history.
Inside the Park
Explore over 21 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails that provide spectacular views of Norris Lake and the surrounding hills and valleys. The park even offers guided wildflower hikes during late March and early April. Find an event and register online using the park's upcoming events calendar.
Rent a pontoon boat from the full-service marina or launch your own from the park’s boat ramps and explore the picturesque blue-green waters on Norris Lake. Then, cast your line for largemouth, spotted, and smallmouth bass.
Engage with the area’s history by visiting the Threshing Barn and the 18th Century Rice Grist Mill. Then enjoy free entry to the park’s Lenoir Museum depicting life in Southern Appalachia from 12,000 years ago to the present day, including Native American items, tools, glassware, and ceramics. The museum also displays photography of the construction of Norris Dam, going all the way back to the first photo of the dam in October 1933.
Explore the restaurants and activities in the city of Knoxville, located 30 minutes south of Norris Dam State Park, like the Knoxville Zoo, Market Square, Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, the iconic Sunsphere, and Ijams Nature Center.
Visit the clear, slow-moving tailwater of the Clinch River, located 13 miles from Norris Dam, and fish for rainbow, brook, and brown trout in the cold tailwater of the Clinch River below Norris Dam. Many experienced anglers consider the Clinch River tailwater to be one of the finest trout fisheries in the country!
Immerse yourself in the living history exhibits at the Museum of Appalachia. This pioneer mountain farm village lends a voice to the people of Southern Appalachia through the artifacts and stories they left behind. Self-guided tours are available seven days a week.
Cove Lake State Park is located 30 minutes from Norris Dam in a beautiful mountain valley. Explore scenic nature trails that lead through wetlands and woodlands, or spend the day fishing surrounded by picturesque mountain views.
The park offers two types of cabins and two campgrounds. Surrounded by a quiet, wooded setting on a ridge above the lake, the park’s Standard Cabins offer three bedrooms. The Historic Cabins at the park were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and are on the National Register of Historic Places. While historic, these cabins received a renovation in 2020 with modern finishes, kitchen appliances, showers, etc.
There are also two campgrounds at the park, an East Campground with 25 sites and a West Campground with 50 sites. Each campground provides campsites for tents and RVs equipped with water and electric hookups and bathhouses with hot showers. The West Campground also has three ADA-paved sites.
Standing Stone State Park
Located amongst the rugged beauty of the Upper Cumberland, Standing Stone State Park is a go-to for families who want to split their time between relaxation and adventure. Standing Stone is often referred to as underrated because of its minimal crowds, prime location, and expansive beauty.
Inside the Park
Hike more than eight miles of trails that showcase vivid wildflowers, over-flowing streams, and beautiful Kelly Lake. The Lake Trail and the paved road upstream of the Overton Lodge are hot spots for wildflowers during the spring.
Rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, pedal boats, and rowboats from the park boat dock on Kelly Lake to find peace on the water. Then, cast a line for bass, bluegill, trout, and catfish;
Explore Tennessee’s eighth tallest waterfall 30 minutes south at Cummins Falls State Park. Visitors can observe this 75-foot waterfall from an overlook or make the rugged 1.5-mile hike to the base of the falls—Gorge Access Permits are required to hike to the waterfall base.
Visit a piece of history and the park’s namesake in the nearby town of Monterey. The park takes its name from the Standing Stone, a 12-foot-tall rock that once stood upright on a sandstone ledge, which was supposedly used as a boundary line between two Native American nations. When the rock fell, the native people placed a portion of it upon an improvised monument to preserve it. You can now visit the preserved stone at the Monterey Library on East Commercial Avenue.
Enjoy fishing and other water activities at Dale Hollow Lake, located ten minutes from the Standing Stone State Park.
Explore Cordell Hull Birthplace State Park, located a half-hour northeast of Standing Stone. The historic park features the Cordell Hull Museum, a replica of Hull’s log cabin, historical gardens, and Bunkum cave. A 2.5 round trip hike takes you to the entrance of historic Bunkum Cave, where Cordell Hull’s father made moonshine in the 19th century. Visitors can explore the large mouth of the cave and observe fall colors from underneath the rock shelter. *Spelunking is only open to the public from May 1 – August 31.
The park offers cabins that can accommodate a variety of family sizes. The deluxe cabins offer three bedrooms that can sleep 8 to 10 people. The recently restored historic cabins provide a cozy home base for families of 4 to 8 people.
The campground offers 36 tent and RV sites equipped with water and electric hookups in a peaceful, wooded loop. There are two bathhouses conveniently located at both ends of the campground.
Edgar Evins State Park
Just one hour east of Nashville, Edgar Evins is a hot spot for wildflowers amidst lake views. The park surrounds the stunning waters of Center Hill Lake and is just a short drive from scenic kayaking adventures on the Caney Fork River.
Inside the Park
Climb the spiral staircase to the top of the lookout tower at the park visitor center. At the top, you’ll enjoy a stunning view of the budding tree tops and sparkling lake waters in the distance. Take some time to explore the unique products in the gift shop, then chat with a friendly staff member at the front desk for more information on the park and surrounding activities.
Head to the start of the Highland Rim Nature Trail, conveniently located behind the visitor’s center, to begin your hunt for wildflowers! This trail is one of the most diverse trails in the park and offers an excellent display of blooms in the spring. While you hike, see how many flowers you can find on our wildflower scavenger hunt checklist. You'll also have the opportunity to soak up the sweet spring sun on one of the large rocks along the lakeshore.
Hop aboard a pontoon boat for a Ranger-led tour around Center Hill Lake. You’ll cruise past beautiful scenery while learning fun facts about the park and wildlife. You can view upcoming pontoon tours and register by visiting the Edgar Evins State Park Upcoming Events Calendar.
Families with small children won’t want to miss the .5-mile storybook trail featuring larger-than-life book panels that children can read while they hike.
Just outside the park, you’ll find multiple paddling outfitters that offer kayaking rentals and shuttle services on the Caney Fork River. You can also bring your own kayak or canoe and put in at one of the many spots along the river. The Caney is a Class I river, meaning you won’t find any rapids, just a peaceful paddle surrounded by bluffs and rocky shorelines. Plus, spring is primetime on the Caney Fork River for trout fishing.
Near the park, you'll also find state parks with impressive waterfalls: Burgess Falls, Cummins Falls, Rock Island, and Fall Creek Falls. If you visited all four of those parks, you would have the potential to see at least 15 unique waterfalls!
You’ll find unique restaurants and shops in Cookeville, about 30 minutes east of Edgar Evins. Dive into the local eateries to get your fix of “Tennessee’s Best Donut” at Ralph’s or discover treasures at the local antique shops and boutiques.
The park offers two options for overnight adventures, cabins, and campsites. The cabins sit on a hill above Center Hill Lake. They have a split-level design with the kitchen and living area on the upper level, the bedroom on the lower level, and the bathroom by the entrance foyer. These cabins are great for couples and families. Each can accommodate six adults, with two double beds in the bedroom and a sofa sleeper in the living room.
RV and tent campers can enjoy the unique wooden platform campsites that provide water and electric hookups. Some sites are nestled in the trees, while others hover over the lakeshore with incredible water views. There are also nine primitive campsites without water or electricity, nestled in the woods with some sites offering lake views. All the campsites have access to one of two bathhouses with hot showers.
Cumberland Mountain State Park
The beauty of the Cumberland Plateau shines through every corner of Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville, TN. Plenty of outdoor recreation and comforts like an on-site restaurant, camp store, and cozy cabins are available within the park.
Inside the Park
As a result of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal after the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the park. Visitors can engage with park history throughout their visit inside the CCC museum and through the architecture found throughout the park.
Byrd Lake offers fishing, paddling rentals, and prime picnic spots. The iconic CCC bridge serves as a dam for the lake and creates a gorgeous waterfall and area for wading. The hiking trails wind past the lakeshore and creeks with fun features like a swinging bridge and storybook trail along the way. An 18-hole Bear Trace golf course and four miles of mountain bike trails also await the adventurous.
Dine at the Homestead Harvest Restaurant located inside the park overlooking Byrd Lake.
It’s well worth the one-hour drive to Fall Creek Falls State Park, one of the most popular parks in Tennessee and home to the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi. The park offers a variety of hiking trails that show off waterfalls, cascades, and impressive overlooks. In addition, there is also a lake, golf course, snack bar, and nature center.
Ozone Falls State Natural Area is home to another impressive waterfall just 20 minutes from the park. The hike to the base of the falls is moderate and short, ¾ mile long. Surrounding the 110-foot waterfall is an incredible rock house amphitheater. The area is so beautiful it was a filming location for the 1994 Jungle Book movie.
Spend some time checking out portions of Cumberland Trail near the park. Areas such as Devilstep Hollow Cave at the Head of Sequatchie or Black Mountain make great day trips and allow you to see more of the rugged beauty on the Cumberland Plateau.
The Black Mountain section of the Cumberland Trail, located 30 minutes from Cumberland Mountain State Park, is a great spot for wildflower viewing and hiking.
The park offers a variety of cabin types to accommodate families of all sizes. The recently renovated historic CCC cabins have one king bed in the common area and one twin bed in a separate room. The Deluxe two-bedroom cabins or Timber Lodge three-bedroom cabins are ideal for larger families.
The campground offers 145 tent and RV sites equipped with water and electric hookups.
Tims Ford State Park
Tims Ford State Park is your destination for boating, fishing, and relaxing by some of the most picturesque waters in the state.
Inside the Park
Explore over 6 miles of hiking trails and 24 miles of hybrid biking/hiking trails. We suggest starting with the 1.3-mile Lost Creek Overlook Trail which includes two suspension bridge crossings and incredible lake views.
Visit the aviary located at the park’s Visitor Center. The aviary is home to birds of prey, such as hawks and owls, that are non-releasable or in rehabilitation and cared for by park staff. Throughout the year, park staff offers free birds of prey educational programs. Check the park’s upcoming events calendar or contact the park for more information.
Rent a pontoon boat or some kayaks and hit the lake before returning for ice cream inside the marina.
Cast a line on the premiere bass fishing lakes in the state.
Play a round of golf at the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed Bear Trace Golf Course.
Explore one of Tennessee's most diverse and abundant wildflower displays while hiking to a gorgeous waterfall at Short Springs State Natural Area.
Visit Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park, just 30 minutes from Tims Ford State Park. Hike, chase waterfalls, enjoy a picnic, and learn about the area’s history.
Chase waterfalls and experience some of the best hiking in middle Tennessee at nearby South Cumberland State Park.
Just 20 minutes away, walk around the Historic Lynchburg Square with unique shops, restaurants in restored buildings, and historic sites.
The cabins sit on a hill overlooking Tims Ford Lake and offer open-air porches with outdoor tables for enjoying meals in the fresh air. The park also offers two campgrounds for RVs and tents and one campground for tents only. The Fairview Campground offers several lakefront RV sites with full hookups.