Hiking through old growth forests, fishing in crystal-clear streams and biking through neighborhoods on the greenbelt are just some of the things to do in Kingsport, TN. Outdoor attractions draw thousands of visitors to the city each year and keep residents active, but Kingsport features a number of entertainment options, ranging from cultural venues to great restaurants and family-friendly adventures. Here are our picks for the best things to do in Kingsport, TN.
1. Enjoy the Outdoors
Just minutes away from the Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest, Kingsport offers outdoor lovers an assortment of areas to explore. The South Fork Holston River flows through the center of town, and a collection of nearby lakes provides many opportunities to fish, kayak and canoe. Bays Mountain Park, the largest city-owned park in Tennessee, features a 3,550-acre nature preserve, planetarium and ropes course. Also located in the city is Warriors' Path State Park, which includes a golf course, campground, Olympic-sized pool, horse and hiking trails, and a man-made reservoir for fishing. Weaving through the city is a greenbelt that connects neighborhoods, parks, the downtown area and shopping centers to schools and historic sites.
2. Listen Up
With more than 70 members under the direction of conductor Cornelia Laemmli Orth, the Symphony of the Mountains delivers a delightful sound to Kingsport. This professional orchestra performs throughout the year, offering music from baroque cantatas and Renaissance-era motets to Broadway shows. Orchestra members also visit local schools, introducing more than 6,000 children each year to instruments and classical pieces.
Kingsport also hosts the Twilight Alive Summer Concert Series, which brings bluegrass to Broadway from May to July with a series of free musical performances that starts at 7 p.m. on Friday nights downtown.
3. Shopping in Kingsport
If your idea of adventure is seeking out the latest fashions, great gifts and big bargains, then consider Kingsport a destination worth exploration. Downtown Kingsport is loaded with shops that give this historic area of the city a distinctive personality. You'll find a large concentration of antique stores along with boutiques, clothing stores, furniture sellers and florists.
Kingsport Town Center is anchored by JCPenney, Belk and Kirkland's. This shopping mall includes some of the nation's most popular chains like Victoria's Secret, American Eagle Outfitters, CJ Banks, The Children's Place and Kay Jewelers. East Stone Commons and Kingsport Pavilion are among the newest shopping centers in Kingsport. Both offer a mix of big-box stores like Target, T.J.Maxx, PetSmart, Dick's Sporting Goods and Hobby Lobby, as well as many chain restaurants.
4. Cheer 'Em On
Located in and around Kingsport are a variety of stadiums and arenas that host professional, college and amateur sporting events. MeadowView Convention Center hosts the Appalachian Athletic Conference men's and women's basketball championships. The convention center is also the site of the AAU Girls Basketball 7th Grade National Championships. Dobyns-Bennett High School hosts the AAU Wrestling Spring Youth Nationals in March and the AAU Wrestling Elementary School Duals in April.
A short drive away, racing fans will find the Bristol Motor Speedway, home of the Food City 500, which draws thousands of spectators. The speedway will host what is projected to be the highest-attended college football game on Sept. 10, 2016, when the University of Tennessee takes on Virginia Tech.
5. Historic Kingsport
Called the "White House" of Kingsport, The Allandale Mansion has become an icon of the city, with its Georgian-style architecture, pristine front lawn, massive oak trees and fishing ponds. Available for tours, special events or just a quick visit, The Allandale Mansion and 100 acres were donated to the city in 1962. It contains roughly 95 percent of its original furnishings.