Skip to Content

30+ Fun & Unique Things to Do in the Tri-Cities

Looking for fun things to do in the Tri-Cities of Tennessee?

The Tri-Cities incorporate the 3 major cities located in the upper northeast corner of Tennessee and southwest Virginia— Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol.

custom map of the tri-cities with cartoon icons of each city of johnson city, bristol, and kingsport

It’s easy to travel from one city to the next, as they are almost equally the same distance from one another — only 25-30 minutes.

Start the day eating brunch in Johnson City before heading to Kingsport to go hiking at Bay’s Mountain, then maybe you’d like to head to Bristol to play slots at the Hard Rock Hotel & Bristol Casino!

The possibilities really are endless — so let’s explore what there is to do in the Tri-Cities!

Table of Contents

Fun Activities to Do Around the Tri-Cities

From brewery hopping in Johnson City to watching NASCAR in Bristol to hammock-only camping in Kingsport to the small towns in between!

Things to Do in the Tri-Cities — Johnson City

Ride your Bike on the Tweetsie Trail

man riding a bike on the tweetsie trail in johnson city and tri-cities
Biking the Tweetsie Trail

We love to get outdoors and enjoy nature, and the Tweestie Trial is one of the best places in the Tri-Cities to do just that.

The Tweetsie Trail is 10 miles long spanning from Johnson City to Elizabethton and is great for riding your bike, taking a leisurely walk, or going for a run!

BYOB (Bring your Own Bike) or rent one from Local Motion Cyclery. Also, after you’re done, head over to Cranky’s Pump n Pints for a cold beverage.

Visit the Public Library

the entrance to the public library in downtown johnson city tn
Credit: Johnson City Public Library

Head to the largest library in the Tri-Cities and get lost in a book about mythical creatures, read a public figure’s autobiography, learn from a magazine, or simply just browse!

The Johnson City Public Library houses over 136,000 books, novels, magazines, and DVDs, after all!

They also host events & programs multiple days a week for children and adults such as Spanish practice sessions, storytime, and plenty more

Enjoy a Pint at One of Our Favorite Breweries

man and woman toasting a beer at the downtown johnson city brewing company as a fun thing to do in the tri-cities
Enjoying a pint at Johnson City Brewing Company

Johnson City houses some of the best breweries you can find in the Tri-Cities.

Most of the breweries & tap houses are within walking distance of one another in downtown Johnson City, making it easy to visit more than one!

Some of our favorite breweries in Johnson City are:

  • Little Animals Brewery — These guys know how to brew a great craft beer, including delicious sours! Little Animals also has a great atmosphere for hanging out with friends with plenty of seating and even a Nintendo 64 you can play!
  • Johnson City Brewing Company — We frequent here often as they are consistently releasing new & unique brews & flavors! Think banana pudding golden ale to a biscuit & jam pale ale to a blueberry pancake stout — the flavors continue to surprise us. And believe us, they’re spot on!

Get a Hole in One in a Game of Mini-Golf

Guy playing mini golf at Paradise Acres in Johnson City TN
Let’s play Mini-Golf!

Who doesn’t love a game of mini-golf!?

Paradise Acres is one of the best places to play mini-golf in the Tri-Cities. They also have other fun activities such as outdoor laser tag, a sunflower maze, and a pumpkin patch.

One of our favorite times to go is at night for glow golf with light-up balls and glowing holes!

Grab a Latté from a Cozy Coffee (Or Tea) Shop

coffees at moon tea and coffee shop in downtown johnson city tn
Coffees at The Moon Coffee & Tea House

Johnson City isn’t lacking in coffee shops, in fact, there are more coffee shops here than anywhere else in the Tri-Cities!

Some of our favorite coffee shops we frequent to are:

  • The Moon Coffee & Tea House — Located right in downtown Johnson City providing a bright atmosphere and unique coffee drinks!
  • The Philosophers House — Another one of our favorite places to go as they offer unique teas (tea is our favorite hot beverage). This tea house is the perfect spot to enjoy a hot cup of tea reading a book, working on your computer, or attending one of their many classes or workshops.
  • Open Doors Coffeehouse — Voted as the Reader’s Choice top coffee shop in Johnson City in 2022. Providing a cozy atmosphere with a drive-thru for convenience!

Have Fun at an Arcade

man playing arcade games at the retro play it again arcade in johnson city tn
Having fun at Play it Again Retro Arcade

Awaken your inner child by visiting one of the arcades in Johnson City!

Tiebreakers is a large arcade featuring over 100 arcade games, a bowling alley, axe throwing, and virtual reality as well as a restaurant and bar.

Our favorite arcade to visit however is the Play it Again Retro Arcade located next door.

Here you’ll find all your favorite arcade games from the 80s and 90s such as Pacman, Galaga, NFL Blitz, Dig Dug, and many more!

Play it Again also serves snacks and alcoholic beverages for the adults!

Attend a Fun Festival

Dog jumping after toy over pool of water at meet the mountains festival in the tri-cities
Meet the Mountains Air Dog Competition

Johnson City hosts many fun festivals as a fun thing to do in the Tri-Cities.

Some of the best festivals include:

  • The Thirsty Orange Beer Festival (April) — The biggest beer festival in the Tri-Cities with over 150 craft beers, ciders, and meads from different vendors around the region.
  • Meet the Mountains Outdoor Recreation Festival (August) — Featuring many outdoor brands and organizations as well as fun activities. MTM is now being held at Winged Deer Park!
  • Blue Plum Music & Arts Festival (June) — One of the largest music and art festivals in the southeast. Hosted in King Commons Park in downtown Johnson City featuring live music, vendors, games, food trucks, and more. They also provide the Johnson City Christmas Parade each December!

Eat at One of Our Favorite Restaurants

fried green tomatoes with honey at Timber! restaurant in Johnson City and one of the best restaurants in the Tri-Cites
Fried Green Tomatoes at Timber!

If you’re looking for some of the best restaurants in the Tri-Cities — then Johnson City is where you need to be!

There are so many good restaurants in Johnson City from casual spots to upscale and fine dining.

We have so many favorite places to eat in Johnson City but a few of our favorites include Juniper, Timber!, Cafe Lola, & Project BBQ.

If you’re looking for the best fast food then head to Pal’s Sudden Service (only located in this region).

And don’t forget to check out our favorite places for dessert in Johnson City!

Rent a Boat on Boone Lake

woman knee boarding on boone lake with a boat rental in johnson city tn
Knee Boarding on Boone Lake

Boone Lake is the main lake in Johnson City and is one of the few lakes found in the Tri-Cities!

Boone Lake is popular for water-based recreation such as kayaking, wakeboarding, and knee-boarding! It is also highly popular among fishermen for its population of crappies, bluegills, and varieties of bass.

If you’d like to rent a boat, check out Rockingham Marina or Boone Lake Marina.

Listen to Live Music

uncle lucius band at the down home music venue in downtown johnson city
Uncle Lucius at Down Home

There are many different places in Johnson City and the Tri-Cities to find live music.

We especially like Down Home, with its unique and intimate setting you’ll be up close to the musicians! This venue has been hosting musicians and artists since 1976!

TIP: Arrive early if you’d like to order food!

More Things to Do in Johnson City

Things to Do in the Tri-Cities — Bristol

Go Paddleboating at Steele Creek Park

Steele Creek Park Trail Map
Map of Steele Creek Park

For something fun & cheap to do in Bristol, go paddle-boating on Steele Creek Lake at the park!

Paddleboat rentals are just $1 per person each 30-minute increment. Rentals are available at the Train Depot.

Other fun things to do at Steele Creek Park include playing a round of disc golf, going to the driving range, riding the mini train, and going hiking/walking/biking on the nature trails.

Watch a Movie at a Drive-In Theatre

twin city drive in theater now showing sign as one of the drive in theaters in the tri-cities
Credit: Twin City Drive-In Theatre

If you’ve never experienced a drive-in theatre, well now is your chance!

Twin City Drive-In Theatre shows movies on the weekends — usually a double feature.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children under 10 & under.

Treat Yourself at Nicewonder Farms & Vineyards

wine flight at nicewonder vineyards in bristol va as a great place to go for wine in the tri-cities
Wine Flight at Nicewonder Vineyards

Going to Nicewonder Farms would be an excellent idea for a special occasion or a romantic thing to do in the Tri-Cities.

Make a weekend trip out of it and stay in one of their amazing yurts!

Or what we usually do is just go for the evening. We like to begin at the vineyard for a glass of wine before heading to dinner at the scrumptious restaurant, Hickory.

Hickory is one of our favorite restaurants near Bristol AND in the Tri-Cities.

Keep in mind that it is considered luxury dining and is quite pricey, but we believe it’s worth it!

Go Ice-Skating at The Bristol Motor Speedway

three people ice skating holding hands at night under twinkling lights
People Ice Skating

A fun thing to do during winter in the Tri-Cities is to go ice-skating!

Bristol Motor Speedway isn’t just for racing, after all.

The ice rink is available from the middle of November through to the first week of January. Tickets are $12 per person throughout the week and $15 on the weekends.

Catch a Show at the Paramount Bristol

Theatre Bristol sign with Paramount in historic Bristol Tennessee-Virginia
Paramount Bristol

The Paramount Bristol is a great place to go in the Tri-Cities for some fun entertainment!

From dance to comedy, film, theatre, music, and more — Paramount Bristol has it.

View upcoming events here!

Visit the Birthplace of Country Music Museum

the birthplace of country music museum in bristol
Credit: Birthplace of Country Music Museum

If you’re a fan of country music then you should check out the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

This museum tells the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions with information about the history of country music and country musicians.

Ticket prices range from $11 to $13 and would especially be a good thing to do on a rainy or cold day in the Tri-Cities.

Go Camping on South Holston Lake

VW Westfalia and man sitting around the campfire at Little Oak Campground at South Holston Lake in Bristol
Camping at Little Oak Campground

We LOVE to go camping and camping on South Holston Lake has been one of our favorites so far.

We stayed at Little Oak Campground at site #001. This site is more secluded than the other campsites we saw, and we were right near the shore of the lake!

This campground includes bathhouses and a boat ramp, but there are no electrical hookups for RVs.

Other campgrounds on South Holston Lake are Jacobs Creek Recreation Area and Cherokee Trails Campground & Stables.

See Stalagmites at The Bristol Caverns

the inside of the bristol caverns with lights
Credit: Bristol Caverns

The Bristol Caverns are known as one of the oldest attractions in the Tri-Cities and Northeast Tennessee, predicted to have been created 200-400 million years ago.

Tours leave every 20 minutes from the gift shop and last approximately an hour. The paths are paved and lighted, making it easy for anyone to visit!

Shop-Til-You-Drop at the Pinnacle

woman holding a shopping bag

The Pinnacle is one of the best places to go shopping in the Tri-Cities as there are over 60 retail stores.

There are also many restaurants from Johnny Brusco’s Pizza to Chic-Fil-A to Outback Steakhouse and more!

When you’re done shopping, walk over to Marque Cinemas for a movie.

Play Slots at the Hard Rock Hotel & Bristol Casino

woman walking into the bristol casino
Ready to pay slots!

The Hard Rock Hotel & Bristol Casino is the first (and only) casino is the entire state of Virginia — and it’s here right in Bristol!

The casino offers over 800 slot machines, 21 game tables, 3 restaurants, a Sportsbook, and a retail shop.

If you plan on going and would like more information on what to expect, then read our Bristol Casino Guide!

The Hard Rock Hotel is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2024.

More Things to Do in Bristol TN/VA

Things to Do in the Tri-Cities — Kingsport

See the Animals at Bay’s Mountain Park & Planetarium

Wolf at Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport
Wolf Habitat

Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium is a 3650-acre nature preserve featuring animal habitats, hiking and biking trails, a lake, and a nature center with a planetarium that is the only one of its kind within the Western Hemisphere!

The animals you’ll see here are those that are native to East Tennessee such as wolves, bobcats, deer, and otters, as well as different species of birds of prey, reptiles, and amphibians.

Attend the Kingsport’s Fun Fest

hot air balloons in the sky at kingsports fun fest a yearly festival in the tri-cities
Credit: Fun Fest

Fun Fest is a popular event in the Tri-Cities, attracting over 100,000 people each year.

The festival lasts for 9 days in total with over 80 events for the whole family to enjoy. One of the best events is watching the hot air balloons take to the sky!

Other events at Fun Fest include parades, concerts, races, fireworks, and more.

Go Axe Throwing at King’s Sport Axe House

throwing axes at kings sport axe house
Fun at King’s Sport Axe House

One of the best places to go axe throwing in the Tri-Cities can be found at King’s Sport Axe House.

They also share their location with High Voltage — a gathering place & tap room featuring a large outdoor space.

Axe-throwing sessions can be booked by the hour. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended.

Spend a Summer Day at the Kingsport Aquatic Center

kingsport aquatic center outdoor waterpark with slides and lazy river
Credit: Kingsport Aquatic Center

On those hot summer days, put on your swimsuit and head to the Kingsport Aquatic Center.

Not only do they have 3 indoor pools, but there is also an outdoor waterpark featuring two waterslides, a water playground, and a lazy river!

Experience Hammock-Only Camping at Warriors Path State Park

people laying in hammocks at the hammock camping at warriors path state park in kingsport as a fun place to go camping in the tri-cities
Credit: TN State Parks — Warriors Path State Park

Surrounding the shores of Patrick Henry Lake, Warriors Path State Park is a beautiful place to go camping, hiking, biking, fishing, birding, and more!

There are a couple of campgrounds at Warriors Path State Park, but the one that stands out is the Cedar Ridge Hammock Campground.

There are 4 total sites: 3 of the sites can accommodate up to 6 hammocks, while the 4th site can accommodate up to 24 hammocks.

Camping with a large group? If needed, you can reserve all 4 sites at the same time, which would host up to 42 people sleeping in hammocks!

Taste a Variety of Ciders at Gypsy Circus Cider Co.

Cheering two ciders from Gypsy Circus Cider Company in Kingsport TN
A dry and sweet cider – cheers!

Gypsy Circus Cider Co. is the only place in the Tri-Cities where you can find delicious alcoholic ciders.

Winning many “Tennessee Cider Producer of the Year” awards and being Tennessee’s first craft cidery, we think you should try it!

More Things to Do in Kingsport

More Things to Do in the Tri-Cities

Hike to a Gorgeous Waterfall

Couple sits on rock at Compression Waterfall in East TN
Compression Falls

There are PLENTY of waterfalls around the Tri-Cities!

Some with easy hikes and then those with more challenging hikes that will have you ready to jump in the water to cool off.

Some of our favorite waterfalls in the Tri-Cities are:

  1. Laurel Falls (Hampton) Moderate / 4.6 miles — A scenic hike that is fairly moderate in difficulty, with the last 0.3 miles being the most challenging.
  2. Compression Falls (Butler) Hard / 0.8 miles — Although the hike is short, at just 0.8 miles out and back, this is one of the most challenging hikes to a waterfall near Johnson City, but it’s worth it! There is a large swimming hole and the falls are beautiful!
  3. Martin’s Creek Falls (Erwin)  Easy-Moderate / 2 miles — Although this isn’t a beautiful scenic trail to the falls, it’s one of the closest waterfalls to Johnson City and one of the easier falls to get to.

Looking for more Waterfalls? Read: 9 Awesome Waterfalls Near Johnson City You Can’t Miss

Go WhiteWater Rafting on the Nolichucky River (Erwin)

people tubing on the nolichucky river as a fun thing to do in the tri-cities
Our family tubing on the Nolichucky

The Nolichucky River is not only one of the most beautiful rivers in the Tri-Cities, but in the United States!

You’ll find some of the best whitewater rafting in the Southeast on the Noli!

Here are a few companies in the Tri-Cities that offer guided rafting, tubing, and kayaking:

See our recommendations on floating down the Nolichucky River Here!

See the Spotless Giraffe at Brights Zoo (Jonesborough)

a giraffe at brights zoo in jonesborough and the only zoo in the tri-cities
Credit: Brights Zoo

Brights Zoo is the only zoo located in the Tri-Cities and is home to the famous spotless Giraffe!

This is a smaller family-owned zoo located in the historic town of Jonesborough. Although they are small, they still have a good variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles — from sloths to axolotls!

Tickets are $20 per adult and $13 for children.

Go SkyDiving at JumpTN (Greeneville)

man skydiving over greeneville and the tri-cities at jumptn
Credit: JumpTN

Who wants to jump out of a plane and go skydiving?! Well, you can!

JumpTN offers Skydiving near the Tri-Cities. It also made our list of one of the best things to do in Greeneville!

View the Sunset at the Beauty Spot (Unicoi)

viewing the sunrise at the beauty spot on unaka mountain as a beautiful hike near the tri-cities
Sunrise at the Beauty Spot

Drive to the top of Unaka Mountain in Unicoi to one of the most beautiful places to view the sunset near the Tri-Cities — The Beauty Spot.

We decided to come here for the sunrise and it did not disappoint as we were the only ones there and the views were serene.

Go Ziplining Through the Woods (Elizabethton)

girl about to go ziplining through the trees

If you’re looking to go ziplining in the Tri-Cities, check out Off the Grid Mountain Adventures in Elizabethton.

They claim to have one of the longest ziplines in the world, extending to nearly 3,000 feet! You’ll have to see it for yourself!

View Dinosaur Fossils at the Gray Fossil Site (Gray)

dinosaur fossil at the gray fossil site in gray tn near the tri-cities
Credit: Gray Fossil Site

The Gray Fossil Site is where you can learn about the Pliocene era including seeing real dinosaur fossils discovered right here in Gray, TN.

Some of the fossils found at this site date back to over 5 million years ago!

The Gray Fossil site is also home to the Hands On! Discovery Center — a non-profit science center offering interactive programs and experiences for all ages.

Sip Wine at Villa Nove Vineyards (Butler)

woman holding a glass of red wine at villa nove vineyards with mountains and vineyards in the background near the tri-cities
Cabernet at Villa Nove Vineyards

If you like a good vineyard (with a view), then visit the Villa Nove Vineyards near Watauga Lake in Butler.

This vineyard serves French-style hybrids with grapes imported from California. While their sister property, Watauga Lake Winery, serves sweet wines from the grapes grown at Villa Nove Farms!

What do you think about these things to do in and around the Tri-Cities? Let us know if you have any recommendations in the comments below!