When the weather starts to turn sunny and the temperature gauge inches higher with each passing week, I get the urge to be outdoors as often as possible. Perhaps it’s being shut in all Winter long or the prospect of being confined indoors with the air conditioning during our Southern Summers.
Either way, I’m always looking for ways to get outside and Knoxville is just bursting with opportunities. I’ve shared some of our past unseasonably warm day ventures before. So if you’re like me and want to get yourselves (and your adventure-starved kiddos) out of the house, here’s a list of things to do in Knoxville in the Spring (in no particular order):
1 – Go to a local plant sale. Many churches, non-profits, clubs, and even shops are hosting special plant sales during the early spring to raise funds or highlight local plant expertise. While you can often find unique and interesting plants at a local plant sale, it’s also a great place to find plants native to the Knoxville area (Zone 7a).
2 – Visit Zoo Knoxville. The zoo is easily one of Knoxville’s best attractions. We frequently visit the zoo as a family during the Summer but the Spring brings it’s own unique benefits such as blossoms throughout the animal park, low-humidity sunny days, and small crowds on off-peak days. Of course, the extensiveness of the zoo provides plenty of exercise for adults and kids.
3 – Visit any of Knoxville’s amazing parks. It’s true that Knoxville has so many amazing parks, it’s impossible to name them all. Suffice it to say that there is a park to fit every need. Some of our favorites all year round include Lakeshore Park, Suttree Landing Park, Carl Cowan Park, and West Hills John Bynon Park.
4 – Explore the UT Botanical Gardens. These amazing gardens are part of the UT Institutue of Agriculture. They are open all year round and free to the public. You can easily meander through the gardens’ winding paths to see different environments and plant habitats. They also have classes and special events (including plant sales) throughout the year. (This used to be a favorite lunch spot of mine when I worked downtown!)
5 – Eat your dinner outside. If you’re lucky enough to have a deck or patio, eating dinner out doesn’t have to mean going out. If you are looking to take your family somewhere special with excellent outdoor seating, you might try The French Market Creperie, Balter Beerworks, Lakeside Tavern, Tomato Head, Chuys, or Dead End BBQ. You can always pack a picnic and take to one of the many parks in Knoxville for a budget-friendly dinner out.
6 – Celebrate Earth Day at the botanical gardens. April 28th is Earth Day and the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is hosting a day of events. There will be entertainment, food, environmentally-friend vendors, a scavenger hunt for kids, and pet-friendly grounds. It’s free and open to the public but vendors can charge for food and services.
7 – Take a hike. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is literally in our backdoor. To miss out on Spring in the park is a lost opportunity to be inspired and awe-struck. Hike trails to beautiful waterfalls or meander through the awakening meadows of Cades Cove. You can also enroll your kiddos in the Junior Ranger program for extra fun during your trip to the park. Because the Spring can still be a bit tricky with weather, be sure to check park website before you plan your trip as there may be road and trail closures.
8 – Go on a walking tour. Even if you have lived in or around Knoxville your entire life, I guarantee there is a walking tour to open your eyes to unknown history and artistry in the foundations of our city. Just a few of the walking tours provided by Knoxville Walking Tours are early years, gunslingers, civil war, ghosts of the old city, and musical history.
9 – Explore World’s Fair Park. Picture this: you pick up coffee and/or ice cream from your favorite downtown spot, park and walk to World’s Fair Park, and enjoy a book or take the kids on a scavenger hunt for things to be found around the park.
10 – Enjoy the Dogwood Arts Festival on Market Square. From April 27-29, Market Square in Downtown Knoxville will come alive with arts, crafts, performances, and food vendors. Events run from morning to evening each day and includes a special creation station just for kids. Admission is free and your own costs will be those you pay for goods and services.
It doesn’t take much to make a moment with your family, to get outdoors during this fantastic Spring weather, or to use everyday adventures to teach your children valuable life-lessons. I hope I see some of you doing one or two of these fantastic things this Spring in Knoxville!
Now, tell us what you’ve been doing this Spring in the comments below!