Are you in search of a good place to spend quality time and create lifelong memories?
Oak Ridge is a destination that may offer you a variety of experiences all in one location. This modest city serves as a hub for some amazing activities and experiences. Plus, it has an intriguing history and entertaining elements that will make you fall in love with the city.
Located between Anderson and Roane Counties of Tennessee, the small town of Oak Ridge was established in secrecy in the middle of World War II by the government of the United States. The key reason for building this secret city was to shelter thousands of workers and their families who contributed to the development of the atomic bomb.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
This was the place where the Manhattan Project began and proceeded, laying the way for the development of the world’s first deadly and powerful lethal weapon, the Atomic Bomb.
It is therefore not wrong to state that this was the city responsible for playing a significant and critical part in transforming the global war scene.
By 1959, the city eventually progressed from a scientific station to a perfect self-governing city. It is now a popular tourist spot. Thus, besides such an outstanding history, Oak Ridge has much more to offer that a lovely holiday destination demands.
So, when are you planning to visit this amazing city? If you’re still unsure whether you should visit Oak Ridge, check out this list of the best things to do in Oak Ridge, TN.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
13 Best Things To Do In Oak Ridge,TN
1. Get Acquainted With The History Of Oak Ridge, TN At Oak Ridge Museum
How can one miss the history of such an interesting and vibrant city like Oak Ridge?
The Oak Ridge Museum offers a great insight into the secret history of the city. The museum especially focuses on the Manhattan project and the people who contributed a lot to the success of the project. It speaks about how Oak helped and contributed to the Second World War. The whole history of the city is presented through various artifacts and a vast collection of photographs.
This museum has more information about the city’s history than any other source. Here you will discover detailed information regarding the city’s construction, and architecture, facts about the school system, and public transportation system, as well as give an interesting portrayal of life while the town was a Secret City.
2. Witness the Live Performances at Grove Theater
Oak has more than simply history; it has a lot more to offer its tourists. One of the most exciting things to do in town is to see live performances at the Grove Theater. The most interesting feature of the theatre is that it was built during the heyday of the Manhattan Project and continues to entertain residents and visitors to this day.
Currently, the theatre is home to a variety of science, art, and music organizations, including a children’s choir group, a local dance troupe, and a symphony orchestra.
Furthermore, it arranges a variety of shows and events, including plays, concerts, and even religious gatherings, in which you can participate. As a result, this theatre is a source of both enjoyment and history!
3. Take A Stroll Down The City Commemorative Walk.
If you enjoy nature, then the Commemorative Walk of Oak Ridge is one of the best options for you.
Here you can appreciate nature, stroll along an oval walkway, and discover more about the city’s glorious history. This memorial, located in Bissell Park, especially honors the hundreds of men and women who relocated to this hidden city during WWII.
And as you walk, you’ll come across around 10 bronze tablets, each conveying a distinct story of the city and the famed Manhattan Project. Furthermore, along your walk, you can also learn about the people who helped build this beautiful city.
4. Try Ringing The International Friendship Bell
Following the Commemorative Walk, head to the International Friendship Bell, which is also situated within Bissell Park. After World War II, the United States and Japan forged a friendship which is symbolized by this 8,000-pound bronze bell. The bell is inscribed with symbols of friendship and unity between the two countries. It remembers the Nagasaki and Hiroshima atomic explosions, as well as V.J. Day and the Pearl Harbor attack. The lively sound of the bell’s striker log serves as a reminder of the virtues of peace and unity.
5. Be The Part Of Amazing Lavender Festival In Oak
The Lavender Festival, a very well-known event that promotes Nature, Good Health, and Herbs, is a fantastic event to attend in Oak Ridge. This is an annual celebration that takes place in June each year. There are numerous activities to participate in throughout the festival such as musical performances, informative presentations, wine tasting, and games for children. The best element of the event is that it displays the works of around 150 artisans.
This festival’s legacy began in 1998 and continues to this day. Every year, thousands of people flock to Oak Ridge to take part in this lovely celebration.
6. Take Some Fully Organic And Farm-Fresh Products From Oak Ridge’s Farmers Market
The popular Jackson Market, which is nestled within the Farmer’s Market, is a must-see attraction.
Let me inform you that this market is never empty; it is always crowded, and the reason for the crowd is the things presented here. Your visit to this crowded market is worthwhile because every product available in this market is organic and farm fresh. Everything from meat to vegetables, loaves of bread to pastries, and flowers are available in organic and fresh forms here.
From May through October, the market is open only on Sundays. The best part is that everything here is organic and healthy, so get something nutritious!
7. Witness The Great Art At The Oak Ridge Art Center
Besides its illustrious history and interesting Manhattan project, Oak is home to some outstanding art and artists. The Oak Ridge Art Center highlights the diversity of these arts, making it a must-see destination for art enthusiasts.
The stunning art displayed here by talented local artists will leave you awestruck. The best part about this art center is that you can also learn and enjoy art because the center conducts several workshops to train individuals. Moreover, the center hosts a number of exciting events throughout the year, which you may learn about on their social media and then arrange your visit appropriately.
8. Enjoy Nature With Some Adventure At Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement
This was the spot that witnessed the beginning of the Manhattan project and paved the way for the atomic age in the world. Apart from telling the fascinating history, it is a wonderful spot to admire the beauty of nature. You may easily get here via hiking or biking. Hiking to the spot is a fantastic experience because you may stroll through the magnificent picturesque pathways while listening to the birds chirp all around you. This 11-mile hike is well worth the adventurous experience.
Also read: Things to do in Miami OK
9. Check Out The Shops And Restaurants At Jackson Square
Jackson Square is a key spot in Oak Ridge. Almost all of the city’s good stores and restaurants are concentrated here, so it’s worth stopping by. It is the place that offers the city’s original town site. Because of its significance, the market has been included on the National Register of Historic Places.
While you’re here, you may visit some of the top restaurants in Oak and indulge in local cuisine. Don’t forget to visit the Jackson Square Oak Ridge mall, where you can find items of a rarity in the area!
10. Entertain Yourself At The Oak Ridge Playhouse
Located in east Tennessee, the community theatre Oak Ridge Playhouse is the oldest theatre in the Southeast of the United States. This 315-seat auditorium hosts concerts, dramas, stage plays, musicals, and comedies on a regular basis. If you’re seeking top-notch entertainment in Oak Ridge, this playhouse is one of the greatest places to visit. Historically, employees of the Manhattan Project and military personnel have used Oak Ridge Playhouse to relax after a long day at work.
The theatre has largely remained unaltered to this day, and its spacious auditorium provides superb entertainment for both locals and visitors.
Also read: Things to do in Owasso OK
11. Witness The World Of Science At The American Museum Of Science And Energy
Spend a day at the renowned American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge for a bit of fun, entertainment, and learning. It’s a wonderful place to accompany children as here they will learn concepts through interactive exhibits supported by science simulations. The major motivation for establishing this museum was to foster scientific advancement at Oak Ridge. It does, however, provide a section on the history of the Manhattan Project.
A few of the numerous hands-on demonstrations at the museum include the earth’s energy resources, Van de Graff Generator and self-directed activities. Want more? The museum also offers educational tours to familiarize you with real-world applications of science.
Also read: Things to do in Altus OK
12. Have A Look At The Wonderful University Of Tennessee Arboretum
The University of Tennessee Arboretum covers an area of 11,435 acres and encompasses forest regions: Oak Ridge Forest, Highland Rim Forest, and Cumberland Forest.
The wide forested landscape makes it a perfect place for outdoor activities, at least from the viewpoint of an outdoor enthusiast. And indeed, the arboretum offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as horseback riding, hiking, and wildlife and nature photography.
Green thumbs, take note: you’ll be able to browse more than 2,500 plant specimens from 800 distinct species here. The arboretum is home to a large number of indigenous plant species.
All-in-all, nature aficionados and outdoor enthusiasts should pay a visit to the University of Tennessee Arboretum.
Also read: Things to do in Moore OK
13. Take a bus ride to The Department of Energy
In Oak Ridge, the Department of Energy still runs a laboratory for the purpose of scientific research in the city. This means that, even though the Manhattan Project ended after WWII, Oak Ridge remains an important energy-generation hub.
The Department of Energy offers frequent guided bus excursions to allow guests to learn about Oak’s scientific developments and history. This bus tour covers various locations, including important research facilities and historical landmarks.
So, when are you planning to discover Oak Ridge’s secret city? Try out the things on our list whenever you plan a trip to the city. These are tried and true attractions to discover in Oak Ridge, TN to make your trip easy and memorable.