School might be back in session but there’s always weeknights and weekends to spend some time with your older kiddos.  Sometimes finding things that are cool enough can be hard for those with ages that end in ‘teen’.  We’re here to help with this top 10 list, this one is designed for teenagers, but some are younger kid-friendly too.  For our top 10 kid list, click here.  And just like that post, some are free and all are great for visitors and locals alike!

Kayak/Paddleboard at Ijams with Riversports

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2. Kayak/Paddleboard at Ijams with Riversports

Warm temperatures extend outdoor activities for much of the year here in the south.  Take advantage of our climate and enjoy paddling well into fall.  Riversports Outfitters rents kayaks and stand up paddleboards in Mead’s Quarry at Ijams.  If you and your teens are newer to getting out on the water, the quarry is perfect with no current to rock the boat.

Token Game Tavern

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3. Token Game Tavern

Try as you might to get the kids outside, sometimes it’s just not gonna happen.  For days like these, head to Token Game Tavern, where you can beat them at Pac-Man and they can beat you at, well, nothing – you’re the pinball wizard!

Food Truck Parks

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4. Food Truck Parks

Knoxville has a couple of food truck parks so if your teen is still on the picky side, they might find something to help open up their palate without you even trying.  Visit Central Filling Station, Southside Garage, or the Historic Southern Railway Station (Third Thursday of the month) – and the best part is you won’t even need to get them out of their jeans with holes that you hate!

People standing and sitting at tables at a Food Truck Park


Mural Hunting

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5. Mural Hunting

Help them up their Instagram game with some mural-hunting.  We have so many murals in every part of the city that you might need a couple of excursions to check them all off your list.  Let them teach you how to use that selfie stick, filters on Snapchat, and encourage each other with creative poses.

Bowling at Maple Hall

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6. Bowling at Maple Hall

If all of your bowling experiences have been in dilapidated alleys with mystery nacho cheese, stale hot dogs, and the lingering smell of Marlboro, it’s time to see bowling in a whole new light.  Maple Hall is Knoxville’s downtown boutique bowling alley.  With only 11 lanes and set below street level on Gay Street, right off the bat (lane?) you’ll feel like you’ve tapped into a whole new sport.  Their food is unexpected and they can really craft a cocktail for the 21+ set.

Maple Hall bowling alley after business hours

Tennessee Theatre

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7. Tennessee Theatre

The Tennessee Theatre has something year-round for everyone to enjoy.  I mean, whose kids haven’t been singing the entire Hamilton soundtrack for weeks on end!?  Musicals are where it’s at, and the Theatre’s Broadway shows start in December, see their lineup here.  For the summer, plan on catching some films of your childhood with Summer Movie Magic.  2019 summer saw Jaws, The Little Mermaid, Ghostbusters, and more. 

Festivals & Events

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Two teens getting food at a festival

8. Festivals & Events

Knoxville is a festival-loving town with over 80 events annually.  Experience a different culture, try new cuisine, or make your best guess at what genre that band falls into at Big Ears. 

East Tennessee History Center

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9. East Tennessee History Center

We know you read that one and are thinking, was this really written for teens?  Hear us out!  ETHC has a really cool exhibit on the history of Mountain Dew – it was created here, ya know?  We even have a blog post to tease you before you see if for yourself.  Afterwards go out and share what you learned over a cold glass of Knoxville’s hometown drink – it’ll tickle yore innards!

East Tennessee Historical Society ad for the Mountain Dew exhibit

Take a Tour

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10. Take a Tour

From guided tours to self-guided tours, from food to history to ghosts – we have something for everyone.  Stay in the car, get out and do a scavenger hunt, or event a boat tour down the Tennessee River.  Options abound!

Hope this gives you some ideas on how to plan a trip to Knoxville with your teen(s)!  Get more ideas here!