Make a point to have fun with your family, take time for yourself and stay connected to your community by following FamilyFriendlyBlount.com…coming soon! Blount Moms Today will make the transition in the next few weeks!
As you prepare for a New Year in 2012, here’s a list of 20 Family Friendly things to do in Blount County and 12 things just for moms!
20 Family Friendly Blount Activities
- Explore the Maryville/Alcoa Greenway. Parks are connected by a 10-mile paved pedestrian and cycling trail that is currently being extended to Louisville (Plans are underway to connect the Greenway to Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Click Here). You can do more than just bike or walk it…take kids on a photo scavenger hunt or take a “Tour du’ Playgrounds.” Click Here for a Map.
- Participate in a Last Friday Art Walk in Downtown Maryville, a recurring event to celebrate the arts on the last Friday of every month (Feb.-Oct.). What's unique about it is that it's not just galleries participating. It's also businesses like bars, retail stores, restaurants, theaters, and coffee shops. Each participating business hosts a "featured artist," this includes all disciplines of art; visual arts, performance artists, actors, writers, dancers, musicians, etc. New artists and new art are required each month, which gives the community a new experience each time they come. For more information, visit http://maryvilleartwalk.com
- Go Fish! Visit one of the most beautiful towns in Blount County–Louisville–to fish on the banks of Fort Loudon Lake.
- Dine on locally caught catfish at Allisons in Friendsville. Open March-November, Fri-Sat. 5 p.m. through 9 p.m. Call ahead and make reservations (865) 995-9245. It is a Blount County deep-fried treasure.
- Check out locally-owned bakery and frozen yogurt shops for an after school treat or reward. The new Menchies in Alcoa or Froyoz in Maryville are great for a guilt-free, low-fat treat. Something Savory Bakery and Cafe in Downtown Maryville offers Gluten-Free treats. Sweet Celebrations often offers baking classes for kids.
- Go to the Foothills Fall Festival Kids Adventure Land, a free annual event with loads of inflatables, games, activities and even a waterskiing squirrel. Hands-down one of the most exciting local festival events for kids. It is slated for October 12-14, 2012.
- Participate in a family-friendly charity event. Many are designed for families with kids. One of our favorites is the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, typically held in late-May or early-June at Maryville College. The Children’s Area with inflatables is staffed by members of Junior Service League. Parents or guardians purchase a band, and the children can play as long as they want. There is a reduce cost for families with three or more children.
- Take full advantage of the Blount County Library. Every program is top notch from story hour at the reading pond for young kids to teen activities to events like, Shakespeare on the Lawn in the summer.
- Invest in Family Fitness Fun! Join us at National Fitness Center, flagship sponsors of Family Friendly Blount! NFC is more than a great place to get fit, the club has something for the whole family. An awesome playroom, including a wii-room for older kids, and intentional activities are available while you work out. Families can enjoy an indoor pool and an open gym. The club also offers monthly events, like Family Nights every month (free pizza, ie: no cooking and chair massages) and Parent’s Night Out as well as special events throughout the year. Be sure to follow our NFC Blogs where we’ll share information and our personal fitness experiences.
- Keep your kitchen stocked with local products. Year-round you can purchase locally grown produce and meats at The Market on High Street (remember, no sales tax on locally grown food!). From Spring to Fall, frequent the Farmers Market, on Saturday mornings in the heart of downtown Maryville on Church Ave. near CBBC Bank. The market usually opens on the first Saturday in May.
- Visit a local farm! There are several roadside farms. A few well-known include: Circle A Farm, 2349 Jericho Road, Maryville, Circle A Farm offers tours of the educational experiences of farm living. There is a playground, pavilion, youth camp, & live nativity drive-thru. Educational school tours are available for school groups, adult retreats, church groups and home school groups. Call for reservations for groups or school tours. Honey Rock Herb Farm, 113 Honey Rock Way, Louisville. It’s a great place to buy honey and it’s the state’s only vinegar producer. Maple Lane Farms, 1040 Maple Lane, Greenback. Pick strawberries in the spring and visit the pumpkin patch in the Fall.
- Pack up the Minivan for a Drive-In Movie. Open in the spring and summer. Check out our tips from this past year: click here.
- Thank our local troops. Many servicemen and women call Blount County home. Teach kids to say 'thank you' when you see them around town. Also, plan to attend the annual ‘Proud to be American Parade’ in downtown Maryville, typically held on or around Flag Day in June.
- Teach kids their manners. Mary McKinnon teaches “Miss Mary’s Manners Classes” in her home to children ages 6 through 13 during summer break. Her courses include lessons on everything from table manners to writing thank you notes. The licensed etiquette instructor has been teaching children in Maryville for over 25 years. The five-day, 2-hour courses are taught in her home. For more information, contact Mary McKinnon at 865-983-3740.
- Expose kids to The Arts Scene. We are a lucky lot in Blount County with a thriving arts scene from Art Walk demonstrations to the Appalachian Ballet Company to a constant stream of concerts. Be sure to check out an event at the beautiful Clayton Center for the Arts (Click Here http://www.claytonartscenter.com/events for the CCA 2012 calendar).
- Help ‘Keep Blount Beautiful’. Visit www.keepblountbeautiful.org. Kids of all ages can work with parents to help clean roadsides, parking lots, rivers, streams, lake shores, parks and more. Many Keep Blount Beautiful events include free lunch and T-shirts for volunteers of all ages.
- Explore a kid-friendly trail in the Smokies. Continue to check out recommendations from our in-house mountain-dwelling mama–Rebecca Tatum. Check out her latest post about Winter Hiking as well as her Beginners guide to Exploring the Smokies with kids.
- Explore the Smokies during summer break– Explore Fireflies (Sugarlands Visitor Center) when the Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials close the Elkmont entrance road to motor vehicles and pedestrian use every night around the first week of June. Trolley service, coinciding with the expected peak flashing period, is the sole transportation mode for visitor access during this period. There will be no parking along roadsides, pullouts, or any other areas besides at the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking area for the purposes of viewing fireflies at Elkmont. Only visitors parking at the Visitor Center can ride the trolleys. The trolleys typically begin picking up visitors from Sugarlands Visitor Center RV/bus parking area at 7 p.m. The trolleys run continually until the parking area is full or until 9 p.m., whichever comes first. The last trolley to return visitors from Elkmont to the Sugarlands Visitor Center is scheduled at 11 p.m. The cost last year was $1 round trip per person. During the day, splash in the “Redneck Riviera.” The Little Pigeon River is a great place to skip rocks and explore. The Herron family likes to wade at a popular spot where Lamar Alexander Pkwy. ends (right before the Laurel Creek Rd. Intersection). It is a broad, placid stretch of shallow river. Just stay with kids because the current can be strong and pull them under (hence the tubing) and there is a deep drop off in the middle.
- Learn about the rich history and culture of the Great Smoky Mountains. Visit the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center. The Center is located a few minutes from the National Park entrance in Townsend. It includes gallery exhibits, educational programs, demonstrations and festivals that guide families on a historic journey through time to visit the diverse cultures of Townsend and Tuckaleechee Cove. Kids can explore Native American artifacts and historic buildings, including frontier cabins and barns. Be sure to stop at the Little River Railroad Museum http://www.littleriverrailroad.org/ (on the left before GSMC)
- Go to an event in Townsend. One of the best ways to experience mountain culture with the family is by attending one of the many free events in Townsend. One of the first events of 2012 will be Winter Fest, Feb. 2-5.The Smokies Spring Festival and Old Timers Day is held in early May. This will be the 20th anniversary of the festival where families can see demonstrations and indulge in the tastes of traditional cast iron cooking, while enjoying guided walks in the wildflowers, listening to bluegrass music and stories of old Appalachia. Townsend Days in September encompasses the Townsend Fall Festival, the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center Blue Ribbon Fair, Railroad Days at the Little River Railroad and the Nawger Nob Arts and Crafts Fair. Last year, a record-crowd of 8,777 attended the two-day event of music, food and crafts. For more information, visit www.smokymountains.org.
12 Things Just for Mom!
- Raise a Glass–
- Beer tastings at The Market on High Street take place twice a month on Friday evenings beginning at 7 p.m. and it’s more than an education, but the food pairings are always awesome.
- New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center’s annual Hops for Hope is typically held in May at Dancing Bear Lodge. The event sold out last year so get tickets early. Sharing the spotlight with the beer and food was the bicycle race, which is hilarious (although our very own Jen Hill got robbed last year).
- In the fall, the Downtown Maryville Association hosts the Annual Downtown Maryville Wine Tasting at the Top of the Plaza. Last year, Wine Tasting Tickets cost $30 in advance, $35.00 after deadline. For more information, be checking www.downtownmaryville.com.
2. Take your sweetheart swing dancing at The Capitol. The event is typically monthly and costs $12-$15. The live Streamliners Swing Orchestra provides the awesome dance music and a beginners class is available.
3. Get some caffeinated Me-Time. Find a coffee shop and meet gal pals there or just make a point to go regularly with a good book. The Blount Moms Team frequents Vienna Coffeehouse and Sarah’s favorite spot for creative collaboration–Southland Books.
4. Have a local “personal shopper” experience. Let Raina at Razberries in downtown Maryville or Alex at Zippers on Highway 411 help you find the perfect outfit. They know what works for every body type.
5. Download a free e-book from the Blount County Library, click here.
6. Tickle your funny bone by following a local blog, BlondeMomshell.com or RebeccaTatum.com maybe? Our partner Family Friendly Knoxville publisher Jennifer Doyle’s blog http://playgroupsarenoplaceforchildren.com was named as one of Babble.com’s Top 100 Blogs.
7. Get fit! We’re partial to National Fitness Center but there are several gyms and yoga classes, like Keola Fit. You can also walk with a friend on the Greenbelt or join a church group, like Rebecca’s Maryville Moms’ Group, which is offering a “Get Fit” series, starting January 14.
8. Feel Girlie with Polished Nails. Invest in a monthly Shellac Manicure by Marina, it lasts about 3 weeks and keeps nails from breaking, even when tearing into the packaging of a new toy, seriously.
9. Plan a Girls Night Out Pedicure Party. Grab several friends (at least 7) and call Pure Nail Bar for an after-hours pedicure party. There’s no charge to have the whole place to yourselves. It costs $25-$35 per person for the pedicure. You can even bring food and wine!
10. Go see a play–The local troupe, Foothills Community Players, put on fantastic shows. They will not disappoint. (If you’ve had to endure puppet shows and the like, it’s so your turn).
11. Visit the Chocolate B’ar in Townsend, a unique Chocolate and Coffee shop located 2 miles from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. They serve delicious chocolates, home made pastries and gourmet treats to complement wonderful coffee and chocolate drinks. Just sit and relax with friends, gather to chat or play a game of dominoes or checkers while enjoying cheesecake and truffles.
12. Get dressed up and go to a fancy Charity Gala–Maryville folks are a generous partying crowd so there are several events to choose from throughout the year. One of my favorites from last year was a Blount Memorial Foundation event in May: The Sassafras Ball. Through the canopied plaza at the Clayton Center for the Arts, guests clad in seersucker suits and sundresses enjoyed a really special garden party with great food. The Uptown Entertainment Band from Atlanta got everyone dancing. Tickets last year were $125 each, but $65 of the price is tax-deductable. Donations benefit chemo patients who have to miss work. Visit www.blountmemorial.org or find the Sassafras Ball on Facebook for more information.
From the Blount Moms Team, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!