Ocoee River Itinerary Family-Friendly - 3 Days
Affordable, Fun-packed Family Getaways Start Here
The Ocoee River in southeastern Tennessee is a wonderful location for an affordable, adventure-packed family vacation for all ages. Got kids too young to do the whitewater rafting? No problem! This itinerary shows you what to do and where to go. Here are the best Ocoee insider tips to maximize your family fun on a three day getaway in the Ocoee River Corridor.
It's Ocoee Time! Camping, Cabins, and Valley Views
Hit the road early with work and/or kids activities complete, to get to your unique, affordable lodging near the world famous Ocoee River. Many rafting outfitters provide awesome camping or cabin lodging – see all lodging & camping options here. Get settled, then use up those summer time hours to drive up to the Chilhowee Mountain Overlook where heaven meets the earth in one grand tableau. Take in the exceptional views of the entire Ocoee River valley, including the Ocoee River, Parksville Lake, and surrounding mountains of the Cherokee National Forest. If you time it perfectly, depending on the season and daylight hours, delight in a fiery sunset that paints the sky above and the vast valleys below.
You’ll drive up, up, up the mountain road in Chilhowee Recreation Area, to get to this overlook location. Expect a 15 minute drive from Parksville Lake to the lookout – it’s totally worth it!
Kid-Friendly Dinner Options - Camping Cookouts, Too
After witnessing the beauty surrounding the Ocoee River from Chilhowee Mountain Overlook, head back down the mountain and into Benton or Cleveland, TN, for many kid-friendly restaurant options on the west side of the Ocoee River Corridor. Explore the Food & Drink list here.
Are you camping at one of the many campgrounds in the Ocoee River Corridor? Enjoy a memorable family cookout, and end with a campfire and special s’mores! Be sure to stock up on groceries in Ducktown on the east side or Cleveland on the west side – as there are no grocery stores in the heart of the Corridor.
Breakfast Tips for the Entire Family
Start your Ocoee adventure day out right with good coffee and breakfast treats. Area favorites on the west side include Bakery on Main in Benton, and the Ocoee Coffee Joint, not far from Parksville Lake. If your day starts at the east side of the gorge near Copperhill, then grab a bite at Yellowbird Coffee Shop.
Whitewater Rafting and Float Trips - You've Got Choices
For families with kids aged 12 and over, whitewater rafting on the rapids of the Ocoee River is your must-do adventure activity today. Half day trips on the Middle Ocoee are the most popular, running 5 days a week, and best place to start. There are 23 expert outfitters offering fully-guided trips on the Ocoee River. Plan for your half day trip to take about 3-3.5 hours total with about 1.5-2 hours on the river. A full day trip includes the Upper and Middle Ocoee River sections, includes lunch, and takes about 6 hours.
Have kids under 12, or family members seeking a mellower experience? While some family members raft the whitewater section of the Ocoee, other family members can enjoy a lazy float trip down the Lower Ocoee River section at the far west end of the Corridor, or head to the far east end of the Corridor to the TN/GA border and do a tubing float trip on the Toccoa River, which is actually the Ocoee River by its Georgia name! Filter on Activities > Tubing/Float Trips for rafting outfitters who offer float trips and tubing.
Explore Copper Basin Towns, Ride a Scenic Railroad
If you are on the west side of the Ocoee River Corridor, raft or float the lower Ocoee River for a relaxing and refreshing day activity before hopping aboard the Tennessee Valley Railroad! The Hiwassee Loop winds you through 50 miles of beautiful bridges and mountain scenery. Children will enjoy the novelty of an old-fashioned train, and parents will love relaxing and taking in the views in a climate-controlled coach.
Restaurants for Families on the Toccoa/Ocoee River
After your train ride and town exploration, walk across the TN/GA state line and over the river to several great dinner options. Note that on the Georgia side of the bridge, the river is called the Toccoa River, and on the Tennessee side of the bridge, it becomes the Ocoee River. (We are pretty sure this naming convention was just to confuse visitors to the area!). Local favorites include Twisted Tomato and Burra Burra on the River. See all your Food & Drink options here.
Other Watersports Family Activities - Mountain Beaches, Yes!
After a delicious breakfast either at your campground or at the multiple spots along the river, there are many more outdoor activities to explore.
Want more time splashing, swimming and paddling? Base from the mountain lake beaches at Mac Pointe Beach Recreation Area or Parksville Beach and swim and paddle rental kayaks, SUP boards, or inflatables. See your Watersports options here, including where to rent boats and paddlecraft.
Land-based Family Activities- Hiking, Horseback Riding, & Ziplining, Oh My!
Ready to dry out a bit? Hike or bike on the Tanasi Trail System that start from the Upper Ocoee River Olympic venue. Bring a picnic and cool off in the swimming holes on the Upper Ocoee on weekdays when the river is low because the dam is not releasing.
Families love horseback riding in Cherokee National Forest, too. Visit the Rafting Outfitters and filter on Activities > Horseback Riding to see your options.
If you have kids ages 8 and up, go ziplining high in the treetop canopy for a bird’s eye view of the forest. Expect about 3 hours to do the entire zipline course with getting gear, instruction, etc.