Ijams Nature Center

The 300-plus-acre park in Knoxville, Tennessee, lets families experience nature without leaving the city. 

Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville, Tennessee (photo by Corinne Krogh)

Get close with the outdoors at Knoxville’s Ijams Nature Center. The 300-plus-acre park lets families experience nature without leaving the city. The property started as the family home of ornithologist Harry “HP” Ijams and his wife, Alice, who lived here with their four children. They later donated part of their land to create a Girl Scouts camp. In the 1960s, the city took over management and by the 2000s, Ijams was one of the most diverse parks in the area. Visitors can hike more than 12 miles of trails and climb over boulders for photo ops. They can also soar through the trees thanks to six zip-lining and high-ropes courses. Naturalists lead visitors on tours that highlight the wildlife of the area, including encounters with the center’s 40 critters like Stay-Puft, a barred owl, and Spitfire, a feisty American kestrel. 

2915 Island Home Ave., Knoxville, Tennessee, 865/577-4717, ijams.org