family friendly Free Family Fun

Steeped with Southern hospitality and tradition, Knoxville is an East Tennessee gem that provides incredible cultural, historical, outdoor and family friendly experiences.

The following 12 free and family friendly attractions can help make a family vacation in Knoxville more affordable.

1. Sundown in the City April-June, Thursday Nights at 7 p.m.: This free outdoor concert series in Market Square draws thousands of people to downtown Knoxville on Thursday nights every spring and summer. The bands that perform at Sundown play a variety of music, from reggae to rock to jam and beyond.

2. Alex Haley Statue: This magnificent statue honors Alex Haley, author of Roots, who made Knoxville his home. Designed for interaction, the statue is located next to a playground and is surrounded by a city park.

3. The Sunsphere: This Knoxville landmark was built for the 1982 World’s Fair. The Sunsphere’s observation deck offers a great 360-degree view of downtown Knoxville and beyond.

4. WDVZ Blue Plate Special Weekdays at Noon: WDVX-FM radio brings back the Knoxville tradition of a downtown, midday, live radio show with the “Blue Plate Special” at the Knoxville Visitor’s Center. Enjoy live Bluegrass and Americana music every day at noon.

5. Chrysler Jeep Boomsday Festival Sunday of Labor Day Weekend: Largest Labor Day weekend fireworks show in the nation. Amusement games, children’s activities, food, beverages, tons of vendors and live music are all a part of the fun.

6. Frank H. McClung Museum: This general-interest museum offers exhibits on archaeology and the Native Peoples of Tennessee, Ancient Egypt, decorative arts, geology and fossils, the Civil War and local and natural history

7. Shakespeare on the Square: July-August, Thursday-Sunday at 7 p.m.: The Tennessee Stage Company presents this Shakespeare on the Square series featuring local actors performing classic Shakespeare in the heart of the city.

8. Beck Cultural Exchange Center: Features the history of African Americans in Knoxville and East Tennessee from the late 1800’s to present through photographs, newspapers, biographies, audio and video recordings, books and artwork.

9. East Tennessee History Center: This regional history museum also is a premier genealogy research library and historical archive. Research genealogy and the archives are free all week. The museum is free on Sundays.

10. Dogwood Arts Festival: April: Walk along more than 60 miles of trails featuring spectacular dogwood trees, beautiful gardens, arts and crafts fairs, and outdoor concerts by local musicians.

11. Knoxville Museum of Art: Showcases exhibits from around the world and a permanent collection of contemporary art. The museum contains four galleries, gardens and a museum shop.

12. Ijams Nature Center: Ijams is a 150-acre nature sanctuary on the banks of the Tennessee River with mulched and paved trails, a waterfront boardwalk and wildlife viewing areas. Seasonal events include music concerts, owl prowls, canoe trips, plant sales and guided nature walks.

Hilary Thomas is an intern for