10 Family-Friendly Outdoor Activities in Johnson City, TN and the Surrounding Area

Getting fresh air and exercise isn’t just good for your health, it’s also a fun way to spend time with your family. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of exciting Tennessee outdoor activities. In fact, aside from giving patients fantastic smiles with braces and Invisalign in Johnson City, TN and Norton, VA, Dr. Sturgill’s favorite pastime is taking advantage of all of the recreational opportunities the area has to offer. On weekends, you can usually find him hiking, horseback riding or camping with his wife. With the warm weather in full swing, now’s the time to get out there and explore.

To help, Sturgill Orthodontics is sharing some of our team’s favorite family-friendly outdoor activities. Here are 10 fun things to do in Johnson City, TN and the Tri-Cities area that the whole family will enjoy:

1. Visit Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium

853 Bays Mountain Park Road, Kingsport, TN – For adventurous things to do in Tennessee, look no further than Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium. You can make a whole day out of a visit. The park has a huge lake, some of the best biking trails in the Tri-Cities (there are about 30 miles of trails approved for mountain biking), hiking, a nature center with a planetarium, animal habitats and an adventure course, complete with low ropes, high ropes and a 310-foot zip line course called the Flying Squirrel.  

2. Walk, Run or Bike the Tweetsie Trail

Legion and Alabama Streets, Johnson City, TN – The Tweetsie Trail is a Rails-to-Trails project that transformed a stretch of the abandoned ET&WNC Rail Line into a beautiful trail connecting Johnson City and Elizabethton. You can access the trailhead between Legion and Alabama Streets. Since the trail is relatively flat and wide, it’s a great place to bike or walk with children in tow, making it one of the more family-friendly outdoor activities in Johnson City, TN.

3. Go Hiking in Buffalo Mountain Park

570 High Ridge Road, Johnson City, TN – Buffalo Mountain Park has some of the most amazing hiking trails in Johnson City with streams, panoramic overlooks, picnic areas and gorgeous scenery. The overlook at White Rock, while a moderate to strenuous hike to reach, provides an exceptional view of Johnson City and the mountains. Dogs are welcome too, so even furry family members can come along.

4. Enjoy Horseback Riding at Warrior’s Path Riding Stables

1882 Fall Creek Road, Kingsport, TN– Warrior’s Path Riding Stables is an excellent place for horseback riding in the Tri-Cities. They offer guided trail rides for people of all experience levels. Really tiny tots can even go for a hand-led pony ride. It’s something different to do with the family and who doesn’t love a mix of animals and nature?

5. Play Volleyball or Disc Golf at Winged Deer Park

4137 Bristol Highway, Johnson City, TN – We love Winged Deer Park and it has a few really fun Johnson City, TN outdoor activities: disc golf and volleyball! The 18-hole disc golf course is well-maintained and out of the way of other park activities, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally tossing a disc into the middle of anyone’s picnic. The two sand volleyball courts are perfect for a family game. If you have little kids, there’s an awesome playground too to keep them entertained.

6. Try Rafting on the Nolichucky River

USA Raft (2 Jones Branch Road, Erwin, TN) has guided half-day and full-day rafting adventures on the Nolichucky River about a half hour from Johnson City. There are trips on the Nolichucky River Gorge with Class III and IV rapids along nine miles of wilderness for rafters ages 10 and up. They offer more relaxed rafting on the Lower Nolichucky River for ages four and older that even includes swimming time as well. The Nantahala Outdoor Center (4 Jones Branch Road, Erwin, TN) also leads Nolichucky Gorge rafting trips for ages 12 and up and they’ll tailor the experience to your group. For a full-on weekend in nature, reserve a campsite at the Nolichucky Gorge Campgrounds and Cabins (101 Jones Branch Road, Erwin, TN).

7. Go Camping in Roan Mountain State Park

1015 Highway 143, Roan Mountain, TN – Roan Mountain State Park is great for family camping in Tennessee because you don’t have to be completely off the grid if you don’t want to be. There are 107 campsites all with a picnic table and grill and easy access to a bathhouse with hot showers. They have 87 RV sites and 20 tent sites. There are also deluxe cabins with kitchens, bathrooms and heat. They do go fast, so reserve a spot well in advance of your adventure. The state park has hiking and biking trails, fishing and picturesque views.

8. Explore Rivers or Lakes on Kayaks

If you have your own kayaks, take on the Watauga River for a bit of a workout or for a more leisurely outing, paddle on Watauga Lake. If you’d rather rent a kayak and go on a guided expedition, Watauga Kayak (1409 Broad Street, Elizabethton, TN) is an outstanding source of outdoor water activities near Johnson City, TN. We’re partial to their kayaking excursions because they’re family-friendly, so if you have young kids, they’ll have a blast as well. They’ll take your group to the Watauga River, Watauga Lake or Wilbur Lake.

9. Ride Bikes on the Kingsport Greenbelt

Multiple Access Points in Kingsport, TN – For another kid-friendly outdoor activity in the Tri-Cities, ride bikes on the Kingsport Greenbelt, an eight-mile fitness trail. It’s paved but it’s still scenic, allowing you to soak up the natural beauty, as well as historic sites. Stop off at the playground or take a break and head into downtown for a bite to eat.

10. History and Hiking at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

1651 W. Elk Avenue, Elizabethton – Several historic events took place in the late 18th century on the land that’s now Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park. Pay the park a visit on a sunny day. First, stop by the visitor’s center for a history lesson and then check out the reconstruction of Fort Watauga right behind the center. Wrap things up with a one-mile, easy hike along Patriot Path, a moderate, one-mile hike on the Longhunter Loop or take the entire two-mile Mountain River Trail, which features interpretive signs explaining historical events.

Feeling adventurous? Book a free consultation today and let’s talk about how treatment can work for your needs.