When I was a kid, my dad used to take me to Bays Mountain for the water slides. You know, those watery thrill rides where you ride down on a rubber mat (at least you hope you ride down on the mat) and try to avoid being run over by the man behind you who weighs 150 pounds more than you do and is traveling three times faster than you are?
Yeah, those. Anyway, I have such good memories from those water-slide weekends. I don't think the water slides are there anymore, but never fear! For those who want water, there is the Kingsport Aquatic Center. This facility boasts several pools including a competitive pool and a warm water pool, a water activity park, and lazy river.
If you're still up for the outdoors, but don't want to swim, Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium is chock full of possibilities. It is a 3,550 acre nature preserve (right now they have wolf pups!), and there are hiking trails galore! There's also a state-of-the-art planetarium on site (we used to field trip there with my elementary school when I was a kid), and the planetarium shows are reasonably priced ($4.00!!).
For history buffs, Kingpsort is rife with possibilities. I'll only list two here: Allandale Mansion and Netherland Inn. My husband and I were married at Allandale in 2006.
It's a well-known point-of-interest in Kingsport. It can be rented for all sorts of functions, and its grounds are beautiful. http://www.allandalemansion.com/
Netherland Inn is on the National Register of Historical Sites and built around 1802. Seasonal events are often hosted there, and several presidents (Jackson, Johnson, Polk) are said to have stayed the night there while traveling through Tennessee. Some say it's haunted...
If you're into motor sports, well--you are in luck! The Bristol Motor Speedway is just off I-81 and every August the masses descend upon the entire area for NASCAR racing. Attendees rent out and take over people's homes, and you can't get a hotel room from Bristol to Knoxville.
Finally, for those with more "refined" tastes, the local area now hosts several vineyards and wineries(many which have produced award-winning wines). Reedy Creek Winery is located at Meadowview (a golf course and conference center), but they still produce their wines on site; Countryside Vineyards is located in Blountville just off of I-81, and so is the Corey Ippolito Vineyard and B&B.
So there you have it! A taste of the Tri-Cities in a snapshot. A little something for everyone!
Wait! What? Does Kingsport have a beach?
Umm...sadly, no. But it does have Boone Lake and the Holston River! Does that count?