6 unique family-friendly trips from Knoxville

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Space Campers walk under the Pathfinder space shuttle replica at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Monday Feb. 5, 2007 in Hunstville, Ala. Parts of Rocket Park were in scenes during the filming of the movie “Constellation.” (AP Photo/Michael Mercier)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Summertime means family road trips for many East Tennesseans. However, it doesn’t mean vacations have to be contained to popular destinations. There are many fun places within four hours from Knoxville.

1-2 hours from Knoxville

Corbin, Kentucky 

The Kentucky town is off of Interstate-75 in Whitley and Knox counties. Families can visit the Harland Sanders Café & Museum to learn about the history of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The attraction is the first restaurant of Colonel Sanders’.

If your family wants to enjoy the great outdoors, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park can fulfill your wishes. The park is the home of a 125-foot wide waterfall that drops 60 feet. It is the western hemisphere’s only moonbow. The park has 17 miles of hiking trails and scenic views.

Black Mountain, North Carolina

The town east of Asheville can meet the needs of parents and children, including hiking and shopping.

Shoppers can stroll the streets for antiques, handmade quilts, unique gifts for pets, furniture and more.

In August, the town will host its annual Sourwood Festival. There will be music, dancing, crafts and 200 vendors. The town will be one of the few places in the country to view the total solar eclipse later in the summer.

Families can stay at many accommodations, from motels to cabins to bed and breakfasts to camp sites. Christmount, a retreat and conference center, offers a variety of lodging options and many hiking trails.

Spartanburg, South Carolina

The college town is northwest of Greenville. Car lovers can visit Zentrum, the only BMW museum in the country. Visitors can see cars, and visit the cafe and gallery at the free museum.

Families can take a photo-op in front of a giant peach…the Gaffney Peachoid. The water tank was created in 1981 and is located 20 miles northeast of Spartanburg.

If you have a skateboarder in the family, Hot Spot Skate Park is a great place to visit. The public park opened in 2008 and has street-style features: steps, rails, boxes, ramps and ledges. Also, there are two half-pipes with escalators, a pyramid, a spine, camel hump, a mini bowl and an eight-foot quarter pipe.

Blue Ridge, Georgia 

The town of Blue Ridge is located in Fannin County, the “trout capital of Georiga.” Fishers can enjoy the sport at the Toccoa River.

Children can ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The company has vintage climate-controlled and open-air rail cars. The train makes stops in McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee.

Thrill seekers can visit the Ocoee Whitewater Center, which was created for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Visitors can enjoy whitewater rafting, more than 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, kayaking and more. The center is located in Copperhill, Tennessee, 11 miles of Blue Ridge.

3-4 hours from Knoxville

Roanoke, Virginia 

The Virginia city is full of history. History buffs can visit a variety of attractions in the area. The Booker T. Washington National Monument is on the former site of the Burroughs Plantation and is Washington’s birthplace.

The National D-Day Memorial is in the nearby town of Bedford. Visitors can see the nine-acre memorial that has an English garden, invasion tableau and victory arch.

Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest is located in Forest, Virginia, around 44 miles east of Roanoke. Visitors can see the former president’s retreat where he “came to indulge in the life of mind and renew his personal creativity.”

Thrill seekers can visit the Buchanan Swinging Bridge. It was created in 1851 and is 366 feet in length. Visitors can walk on the bridge that crosses the James River.

Huntsville, Alabama

East Tennesseans can have fun in “Rocket City.” Families can visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. It is the world’s largest space attraction. Visitors can stand under a “full stack”: the Space Shuttle, external tank and two rocket boosters.

Art lovers can visit the Huntsville Museum of Art. Its permanent collection contains more than 3,000 objects and has exhibits featuring national and regional artists.

The Huntsville Botanical Garden features an aquatic garden, a wildflower and nature trail, and specialty gardens. The Children’s Garden features the nation’s largest seasonal butterfly house.

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