Nothing quite says the holidays like spreading Christmas joy in a cave, right? In case you think I'm crazy, Tennessee happens to have the historic Cherokee Caverns which have become quite the festive destination. If you need to get directions, it's located off Oak Ridge Highway in Knoxville. This winter event really provides some quality family fun with some unexpected holiday activities. I personally think this is one of the most unique Christmas activities in the United States.
Commercial tours first started in these caverns in 1929, going through multiple name changes until they settled on the Cherokee Caverns in the 1970s. The cavern is actually a nonprofit organization run by volunteers with the annual events being held each year to help pay for the insurance needed to keep the caves open to visitors. They've even started a new series featuring Dr. Bill Bass who is an expert in Anthropology.
While the Cherokee Caverns have multiple special events throughout the year (they even show movies in the cavern!) including a family trick or treat Halloween event, their "Christmas in the Cave" is really the showstopper. Complete with food trucks and local vendors (they take credit cards!), you can sneak in some snacks and shopping after checking out the cavern. You can even get a discounted ticket if you bring non-perishable, non-expired food item for Second Harvest Food Bank.
Attendees get to explore the cavern while listening to Christmas music, taking in the stalactites and stalagmites that are decorated with beautiful Christmas lights. The cave is open for its special events in Knox County regardless of weather conditions, making it a perfect rainy day trip during the holiday season.
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Not to mention, they have their very own Grinch who sneaks around the caverns. If it's your first time, watch out, he's been known to pop into photos unexpectantly.
Of course, what's a Christmas cave without a visit with Santa? After taking in all the lights and making friends with the Grinch, you get to stop by to visit with Mr. Christmas himself.
Next time you find yourself in East Tennessee on Oak Ridge Hwy, don't forget to stop at the Cherokee Caverns, "Knoxville's Hidden Treasure". (Maybe this is a good excuse for a road trip?) You can visit their website, to learn more about their history and annual events.