February is coming to a quick close. Have you scheduled your spring break family vacation yet? In case you’re a procrastinator like my husband and I, here are some last-minute family spring break destinations in the U.S. Specifically, in the Southeast U.S. so for you locals, no plane tickets are necessary!
- 1. Nashville, Tennessee
- 2. Memphis, Tennessee
- 3. Louisville, Kentucky
- 4. Lexington, Kentucky
- 5. Biloxi & Gulfport, Mississippi
- 6. Huntsville, Alabama
- 7. Edisto Beach, South Carolina
- 8. Asheville, North Carolina
- 9. Tybee Island, Georgia
- 10. Helen, Georgia
- 11. Fort Walton Beach, Florida
- 12. New Orleans, Louisiana
1. Nashville, Tennessee
Music City. There are so many fun things for families to do in Nashville, music-related and otherwise! We’ve been several times.
Things to do in Nashville, Tennessee for families
The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is 6 miles from downtown. There are over 6,000 animals in 188 acres.
Country Music Hall of Fame
With ever-changing exhibits, look into the lives of the musicians who shaped country music, from past to present.
Drop in at the Taylor Swift Education Center and create some art.
See the collections of over 1900 items, including stage wear, instruments, microphones, and even automobiles!
Gaylord Opryland Resort
You don’t need to be staying in this hotel to come enjoy what it has to offer!
Walk around the atrium, shop and dine in one of the restaurants, or grab a treat at the bakery or ice cream shop.
Take the walking path in the Garden Conservatory to walk behind a waterfall!
Best of all, there is a river running right through this hotel! Yes! Take the Delta Riverboat Cruise right through the atrium and hear about the history of the hotel!
Take a tour of former President Andrew Jackson’s home. You can also do a self-guided tour of the 1120 acres of grounds, including the garden, museum, field quarters, and walking trails.
For something extra special, take the Wagon Tour into the plantation fields where the enslaved people lived and worked.
Nashville has a hop-on-hop-off trolly with hotel pick-up and drop-off. The trolley stops at Centennial Park, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville Farmer’s Market, and more.
The trolley is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
Grand Ole Opry
“Country music’s biggest stage.” Come for a concert, or just to take one of the tours!
Radnor Lake State Park
Over 1300 acres of nature preserve. Take a hike, visit the Aviary Education Center, or take a guided float down the lake.
Nashville Adventure Science Center
A children’s museum with interactive, hands-on experiences. Bring the concept of infinity to life in the new Infinium Room. Explore the 75-foot Adventure Tower and learn about earth science, health, sound and light, and space.
Cumberland Park is right along Nashville’s riverfront. The park has a splash pad, ampitheater, and play structures including a climbing wall.
Fannie Mae Dees Park
Near Vanderbilt Hospital, this “dragon park” features a 150-foot-long sea dragon sculpture, along with traditional playground structures for all ages.
Treetop Adventure Park is located in the woods of Nashville Shores Resort. Featuring ziplines, nets, suspension bridges, and more. I have to say, this was the most fun adventure course or zipline experience we have ever experienced!
There is an adult’s course (age 12+), junior course (age 9-11) and kid’s course (age 7-9).
Another ziplining adventure option is Adventureworks Ziplines at Nashville West. This is a 90-minute adventure across 9 ziplines, as high as 85 feet up.
Participants must be age 6 and up, and weigh between 45 lbs and 275 lbs.
2. Memphis, Tennessee
Things to do in Memphis, Tennessee for families
Home of Elvis Presley
Visit Graceland, home of Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock ‘N Roll.” Explore the home, and the automobile museum – including the famous pink Cadillac, and even step onto his customized airplanes.
For those true Elvis fans, book a tour to explore Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi. With this tour, you will be picked up at your hotel and driven to the home where Elvis spent 13 years. Tour the 2-room house he grew up in (and his father built), then visit his elementary school, his church, and the soda fountain he loved. The tour included admission prices.
Just like the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville that I mentioned above, this is another hotel you need to experience, even if you don’t plan to get a room!
A group of Mallard ducks are marched into the Peabody and to the fountain at 11:30am each morning, and back out at 5:00pm.
Arrive early to get a good view of the Peabody Duck March!
Visit the 4500+ animals at the Memphis Zoo. Visit Cat Country, the aquarium, the African Veldt, and more.
Memphis Museum of Science and History
Come to explore ancient artifacts, fossils, artificial intelligence exhibits, and the Pink Palace Mansion – a millionaire’s home turned museum.
Memphis has several great museums! At The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, you can discover the history of rock, blues, and soul music. Learn about BB King, Elvis Presley, and more. See costumes and listen to the songs as you walk through multiple exhibits.
Visit the National Civil Rights Museum, at the place of Martin Luther King, Jr’s death in 1968. Learn about the American Civil Rights Movement through exhibits and emotional presentations.
At the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, you will browse exhibits and museum displays about the musicians and artists who put Memphis on the map.
Memphis Botanic Garden
Explore 96 acres of specialty gardens. See the sculpture and art collection. And, especially for families, visit “My Big Backyard” to jump and splash and play!
Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid
Possibly the coolest Bass Pro Shop you will ever visit. Inside the pyramid, aside from the store, there is a cypress swamp environment with alligator pools. There are multiple water features as well as aquariums.
And, best of all – The Lookout. For $10 per person, take the elevator ride to the top of the pyramid and look out from 300 feet above the Mississippi River. At the top, there is also a restaurant, aquarium, and arcade.
Children’s Museum of Memphis
Learn through play at the Children’s Museum of Memphis. There are indoor and outdoor exhibits, including a splash park and playground, as well as a carousel.
3. Louisville, Kentucky
Fun things to do in Louisville, KY for kids
Louisville Mega Cavern
The Louisville Mega Cavern is so cool! It features the world’s only fully underground zipline.
Kids must be at least 7 years old, but I’ll admit, this one was a little scary in parts for me, and I don’t think our otherwise zipline-loving 9-year-old would be a fan.
An option for the younger kids, or less adventurous, would be to take the Mega Tram through the cavern instead.
From February 17 to April 30, 2023, you can experience “Dinos Under Louisville” with 80 life-size, moving dinosaurs on a 20-minute adventure through the cavern.
Louisville Slugger Museum
For baseball fans, take a tour of the history of the Louisville Slugger bat and see how they’re made.
Kentucky Derby Museum
For horse lovers, visit the Thoroughbred horse racing museum in Churchill Downs. The family-friendly museum takes you through a Thoroughbred’s life from birth to the races.
Visiting the Kentucky Derby Museum stables is absolutely free!
See over 1700 animals on 134 acres at the Louisville Zoo. Visit the new sea lion habitat as well as the grizzly and polar bear habitats. Play at one of the playgrounds and pet animals in the petting zoo.
The Big Four Bridge
Crossing the Ohio River, the Big Four Bridge is a former railroad truss bridge that is now converted for pedestrian and bicycle use only.
It takes about half an hour to walk across and back.
Louisville Waterfront Park
Next to the bridge, the Louisville Waterfront Park is a public park with playgrounds, a splash pad, picnic areas, boat docks, and a Lincoln Memorial.
Formerly Six Flags Kentucky, this is an amusement and waterpark in Louisville. Rollercoasters, water rides, a carousel and bumper cars – there is something here for all ages.
Blue Moon Canoe & Kayak
For the more outdoorsy families, rent a canoe or kayaks and go for a float down Salt River.
4. Lexington, Kentucky
The horse capital of the world! The perfect spring break destination in the southeast U.S. for horse lovers of all ages!
Things to do in Lexington, TN for families
Go behind the scenes to see the care and training of Thoroughbred race horses, and get a feel for the typical day in the life of a race horse.
Tour a Thoroughbred horse farm
If you’re interested in seeing how thoroughbred horses are raised and taken care of, you can schedule a tour of a Thoroughbred farm! This half-day guided tour takes you behind the scenes at Calumet Farm – home to a breeding and racing dynasty.
This farm was also where scenes from the popular horse movies ‘Secretariat,’ ‘Seabiscuit’ and ‘Dreamer’ were filmed!
A 2.5-acre public park and tribute to the Thoroughbred industry. The park is divided into sections, including the “Meadow”, with walking paths, the “Track,” where 7 life-size bronze Thoroughbred statues race to the finish line, and the “Winner’s Circle.”
Kentucky Horse Park
Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm, competition venue, and educational museum. Go on a family trail ride, or a pony ride for the little ones, or enjoy a live horse show.
Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
A nature preserve with 10 miles of hiking trails and a nature center.
Explorium of Lexington
An interactive children’s museum for all ages.
Bluegrass Railroad Museum
Visit the museum and possibly take a train ride! Opens in April.
5. Biloxi & Gulfport, Mississippi
These two cities are so close together, that I am including them as one option!
Best things to do for families in Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi
Mississippi Aquarium is located in Gulfport, MS. See the sea animals, learn about conservation efforts, and possibly book an experience, such as a dolphin encounter.
Obviously, the biggest reason to spring break in Gulfport or Biloxi is to hang out on the beach! Gulfport Beach offers picnic tables and sand sports, with restaurants nearby.
Infinity Science Center
Come learn about space, science, engineering, and technology. There are also outdoor options, including walking down the “Biome Boardwalk” and “Possum Walk Trail.”
Gulf Islands Waterpark
Go down a waterslide, splash at the splash pad, or float down the lazy river. Gulf Islands Waterpark has water fun for all ages.
Institute for Marine Mammal Research
A research organization dedicated to education and conservation. Visit the resident dolphins and sea lions. Touch a stingray, watch a parrot show. Feed the parakeets and play on the playground.
Zip’N Fun Adventure Park
Ziplines, swinging logs, bridges, and more. Along with the Treetop Adventure Course, there is a Junior Adventure Course for those 60″ and below.
Jones Park has 60 acres of land and is called “The Front Yard for the State of Mississippi.” Featuring a splash pad, playgrounds, picnic areas, and walking paths.
Lynn Meadows Discovery Center
A children’s museum with 15,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits. The discovery center is located in a renovated 1915 elementary school.
Ship Island is 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi. It features Fort Massachusetts, a swimming area, beautiful beaches and picnic areas.
Ship Island is accessible only by boat. The ferry service runs from mid-March through October.
Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum
Perfect for the train-obsessed little ones. The museum features over 80 model trains, riding trains, and even one of the largest Lego model railroad displays in Mississippi.
6. Huntsville, Alabama
Most fun things to do with kids in Huntsville, AL
For families who like to do a lot of activities on vacation, it’s worth noting that Huntsville has a multi-attraction pass to save you some money on admission fees! The pass includes EarlyWorks Children’s Museum, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Burritt on the Mountain, Cathedral Caverns State Park, and more.
Harmony Park Safari
Harmony Park Safari is a nature preserve for endangered and exotic animals. Experience the 2-mile drive-through safari, then park and go inside the reptile house.
U.S. Space and Rocket Center
The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is one of Huntsville’s most popular attractions. A museum featuring one of the largest collections of rockets in the world, plus other artifacts of the U.S. Space Program.
Burritt on the Mountain
Sitting on Round Top Mountain, Burritt on the Mountain is a historic mansion and park that overlooks Huntsville.
Explore the mansion. Go to the barnyard and learn about farm life in the 19th century. See the old school house, walk a nature trail, and more. Visit during one of their events to see demonstrations of life in the 1800s.
Burritt Folk School teaches traditional arts and crafts classes year-round.
Earlyworks Children’s History Museum
The South’s largest hands-on history museum. An interactive children’s museum where you can learn about Alabama’s history.
Alabama Constitution Village
An open-air, historical museum reenacting life in 1819. The village includes a post office, a home, a law office, a print shop, cabinet-maker’s shop and more.
The tour is best for adults and children 12 and up.
Hays Nature Preserve
For the outdoorsy family, Hays Nature Preserve offers 10 miles of trails along the Flint River. There are picnic areas and restrooms, and leashed dogs are welcome.
7. Edisto Beach, South Carolina
We came to Edisto Island in 2018. We loved the uncrowded atmosphere and natural beauty.
Family-friendly things to do at Edisto Island
Edisto Beach State Park
Come to Edisto Beach State Park for swimming, hiking, biking, picnicking, and fishing.
Find sea shells, shark teeth, fossils, hermit and horseshoe crabs, starfish, sand dollars, and sea glass. Due to the changing currents and quick-changing tide, the best way to get to Shell Island is by boat.
Edisto Island Serpentarium
Visit the Serpentarium to see alligator feedings and other shows. In the outdoor gardens, look into the natural enclosures to see snakes and other reptiles living in streams, hanging out in trees, and just living the way they naturally live – not behind glass.
Take a Dolphin Tour
See the Wildlife, Including Monkeys!
Did you know South Carolina has monkeys? Morgan Island, aka “Monkey Island” has a population of over 4,000 Rhesus macaques. The monkeys were moved here from Puerto Rico in the 1970s for research. They are owned by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and are protected under Federal law.
For this reason, you can’t actually get on the island, but you can boat or kayak around it. Botany Bay EcoTours is one of the companies that can get you there.
However, there is no guarantee of seeing the monkeys because they are wild, uncaged animals, and go where they please. Even if you don’t see the monkeys, there will be other wildlife such as dolphins, eagles, pelicans, and more.
Day trip to Charleston
About one hour drive from Edisto Beach. Charleston, South Carolina is a beautiful historic town. With cobblestone streets, carriage rides, and colorful antebellum houses.
Boneyard Beach in the Botony Bay Preserve
Called “Boneyard Beach” due to the whitening of fallen trees by the sun. The beach is stunning. It’s accessible by a half-mile walk. Collection of sea shells, shark teeth, and other natural items is prohibited.
8. Asheville, North Carolina
Best things to do for families in Asheville, NC
Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest
For the adventure-seeker, add this to your bucket list ASAP! This was so much fun! Slide down a natural waterslide in the beautiful Pisgah National Forest!
A word of caution though – the water is icy cold! But it is so worth it!
WNC Nature Center and Wildlife Park
WNC Nature Center and Wildlife Park features daily animal programs, hands-on activities, and nature play areas.
There are over 60 species of wildlife, all of which live or have lived in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Some of them include the black bear, red wolf, cougar, great horned owl, and several species of goats and snakes.
Drive the Blueridge Parkway
In Asheville, there are a few entrances to the Blueridge Parkway. It connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.
Stop for breathtaking views and hikes of all levels. Also, stop to take in some of the many waterfalls along the Parkway.
Tour the Biltmore
Tour the Biltmore Estate and explore “America’s Largest Home,” an 8000-acre estate built by George Vanderbilt. If you’re wondering if it’s kid-friendly, it is. There is a playground area, a kid’s audio tour, and trails to walk and bike.
Relax on the beach at Lake Lure
At Lake Lure Beach, you can picnic, float and relax. Also, enjoy the waterpark and slides going right into the lake!
Get adventurous with whitewater rafting or canyoneering
You don’t need to be in the west to go canyoneering! For ages 12+, you can book a canyoneering trip in Asheville with French Broad Adventures.
French Broad Adventures also offers whitewater rafting for ages 8 and up. This adventure is beginner-friendly. They offer several options, including full-day, half-day, guided calm water rafting, as well as bundles with other adventures like ziplining or canyoneering.
Craggy Gardens Pinnacle Hike
A 1.2-mile round trip hike to the summit. At the top, experience panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trail features wildflowers and beautiful rhododendrons.
Because the parking lot is at an elevation of 5640 feet, you only have to climb about 250 feet in elevation, so it is not rated as difficult.
Have you ever heard of bellyaking? It was invented in Asheville! A bellyak is a kayak that you paddle on while lying on your stomach! You wear special gloves on your hands to paddle.
I’m adding this to my bucket list!
9. Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island is about 5 miles in diameter, so it’s easy to just stroll around the island. Another fun way to get around is to rent bikes!
Most fun things to do with kids in Tybee Island, GA
Tybee Island Light Station and Museum
Easily the most popular Tybee Island attraction. Climb Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse! When you come back down, explore the 3 lightkeepers’ cottages. Next, head right across the street and explore the Tybee Island Museum.
Take a dolphin tour
Take a dolphin tour to see wild dolphins up close! Some of the charters offering dolphin excursions are Captain Derek’s Dolphin Adventure, Tybee Island Charters, and Captain Mike’s Dolphin Tours.
Tybee Island Marine Science Center
See the resident loggerhead sea turtle exhibit and listen to a “Turtle Talk” to learn about sea turtle protection and conservation.
The Crab Shack
Plan to have a meal at the Crab Shack on Tybee Island. The restaurant overlooks the marsh waterways, and you can dine under the live oaks covered in twinkle lights.
Right outside the restaurant, there is a gator enclosure where you can feed the gators! Aside from the delicious seafood, this is possibly the best part of the experience!
Day trip to Savannah
Make sure you take a day trip to the beautiful Savannah, Georgia. It’s only about half an hour away. A beautiful town, with antebellum architecture, horse-drawn carriage rides, and live oaks lining the streets. There is a lot to do in Savannah, so plan for a whole day here!
Tybee Beach Pier
Come to the Tybee Beach Pier for fishing, or just for the views! Entrance to the pier is free.
Kayak to “Little Tybee Island”
Surprise! “Little Tybee Island” is actually twice the size of Tybee Island! It’s an uninhabited island and nature preserve that can be accessed only by water!
Fort Pulaski National Monument
Sitting on Cockspur Island between Tybee and Savannah, Fort Pulaski National Monument is one of the best-preserved masonry forts in the U.S.
Shop and dine in Tybee’s South Beach neighborhood
Filled with quirky shops, art galleries, and all types of dining.
10. Helen, Georgia
Things to do with kids in Helen, Georgia
Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen
Visit this candy shop in downtown Helen, where fudge and other candies are cooked on-site.
Bavarian Mountain Miniature Golf
A mini-golf course with mountain views! Bavarian Mountain Miniature Golf also includes an arcade and playground.
Go for a horseback ride at Chattahoochee Stables
Ride a quarter horse through the Sautee Valley on a guided trail ride. Riders must be age 6+.
Georgia Mountain Coaster
The first alpine coaster in Georgia. Our family recently discovered that we love a mountain coaster!
North Georgia Zoo & Farm
Featuring a drive-through safari, as well as animal encounter experiences.
Go tubing down the Chattahoochee River
Cool River Tubing can get your family tubing down the Chattahoochee. Cool River Tubing is the only tubing company offering short trips (as short as one hour). Tubes can be bottomless, or have bottoms for younger kids (age 3+.)
Trout fishing at Smithgall Woods State Park
Come to Smithgall Woods State Park for some of the best catch-and-release trout fishing in Dukes Creek.
11. Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Right next door to popular Destin, Florida is Fort Walton Beach. Fort Walton Beach has less traffic and can be slightly less expensive for lodging.
Family-friendly things to do in Fort Walton Beach
John Beasley Park
Hit the beach at John Beasley Park and swim in the beautiful emerald water.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
See animal exhibits and daily shows at the Gulfarium. Join an animal trainer for one of the many animal encounters.
Clear Kayaking Adventure
Paddle along in a clear, glowing kayak while watching the illuminated fish swim beneath you. You can choose to book a sunset paddle or a glow paddle. Each kayak holds 2 people. It’s approximately a 45-minute adventure.
Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone
This adventure park features a ropes course, mini golf, rollercoaster, bumper boats, and more.
Dolphin sightseeing tour
One of our favorite dolphin cruises was taken here. On the Cattywampus Seashell Safari, you can sight-see, dolphin watch, and snorkel. During the cruise, the kids get to have a hermit crab race!
Indian Temple Mound & Museum
An archeological site housing a museum with exhibits showcasing 12,000 years of Native American occupation.
Emerald Coast Science Center
A hands-on science center with interactive exhibits on robots, animals, dinosaurs, space, and more. Outside, climb aboard a boat exhibit and learn how boats stay afloat. Climb in the treehouse, excavate dinosaur bones in the sand, and play a game of giant checkers.
12. New Orleans, Louisiana
Fun things to do in New Orleans with kids
Visit with animals from all around the world. This zoo also features a waterpark.
Carousel Gardens and Storyland
Carousel Gardens features many amusement park rides, a carousel, and a train ride. Storyland features sculptures of storybook characters and has playscapes for kids to play.
Get into the mouth of the whale from Pinocchio, or get onboard Captain Hook’s ship.
Shop and dine in the French Quarter
Take a carriage ride through the French Quarter. Watch some of the street performers. Shop in one of the many shops, and eat some Cajun food in one of the restaurants.
Try a beignet at Cafe Beignet
Cafe Beignet is known for the best beignets in New Orleans. There are several locations in New Orleans – Decatur Street, Bourbon Street, Canal Street, and Royal Street.
Louisiana Children’s Museum
A children’s museum with indoor and outdoor exhibits. Hands-on exhibits to learn about health, culture, environmental education, and more.
Take an airboat swamp tour
See alligators and other swamp wildlife on an airboat tour. The airboat will take you through the swamp near Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. You can expect to see alligators, snakes, turtles, herons, and more.
Small airboats hold 10 people and the large airboats hold 30. This airboat swamp tour has amazing reviews and is likely to sell out quickly!
If the thought of planning a family vacation makes you stressed out, make sure you check out our guide to vacation planning in 7 easy steps!
I hope we helped you find a family spring break destination in the Southeast U.S. that fits your family!
Next, check out these posts:
- Guide to Panama City Beach with Kids
- Plan the Perfect Destin, Florida Family Vacation
- Plan Your Family-Friendly Gulf Coast Beach Vacation
- Visit the Most Beautiful Lake in Tennessee: Norris Lake
- Bucket List for Spring: 50 Family-Fun Things to Do This Spring
- 25+ Fun Things to Do Around Hot Springs National Park with Kids
- Important Questions to Ask Before Booking Your Next Airbnb
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