I have three boys in my life. I married one of them almost 14 years ago, and I gave birth to two of them in the past eight years. These guys have my heart. They have also taught me a lot…you know, since I’m a girl, and we are basically from two different planets. Of course, I go out on dates with my husband, but date my sons? Hhhmmm…now that is a great idea!
While it might take moving a mountain to carve out time to take your boy out for a date, it is so important! I’m speaking to myself here. I have taken some of the work out of the equation for you, so here are some date ideas:
Date Ideas to Bond with Your Boy
Knoxville has 81 parks. Most of those parks have playgrounds. As a boy mom, you know how important outdoor time is for a little guy. There has been a lot of discussion lately among the schools about recess time. Simply put, boys need safe spaces to run around and release some energy. It’s a win-win for parents and boys alike if this time is allowed.
The best part is that these parks are free (unless the ice cream truck pulls up, which is inevitable when we are at a playground)! My personal favorite park/playground for my boys is Fort Kid, a huge wooden structure that screams of Medieval play (think castles). Two of my other favorite playgrounds: The Hank Rappe Universal Playground at Lakeshore Park (huge climbing structure) and Fountain City Park (with a stream that runs through adjacent to the playground apparatuses). Dog parks are also included in the link above and a fun way to take your “boy’s best friend” along on your date.
Ijams Nature Center
Ijams Nature Center is considered one of the 81 parks from above, but I wanted to list it out separately because there is so much within Ijams to do. It is free to go and hike or explore. There is also a Visitor Center with exhibits and meeting rooms. If you are in for even more of an adventure, there are activities that have fees, such as Navitat’s Ijams Canopy Experience. If you just want a place to let your boys run around, head over to Jo’s Grove, a nature playscape, near the Visitor Center. My boys simply like to tromp through the secluded woods area and discover great walking sticks or jump off of stumps.
Safety City is hands-down my favorite activity to take my children to in Knoxville. It is a miniature version of the city of Knoxville where your boy can ride bicycles, scooters, or even battery-operated cars. The brilliant part of this is that they can learn to be safe on the roads, as there are signs and lights to teach them. Mom, bring your walking shoes because you will have a hard time keeping up with your son and the fun he is going to have. There are also picnic tables and two playgrounds just across the parking lot from Safety City. Don’t forget to bring a helmet! The staff will make sure your son’s helmet is a good fit for him.
Knox County Library
This activity was a favorite of mine when my kids were younger. There is a main library downtown and 17 branch libraries in the county. Sixteen of those libraries offer storytime. Storytime lasts approximately 20 minutes, and it includes stories and songs. It is a great time for your boy to get up and get the wiggles out between being read to by the librarian. Go early or hang out afterward with your boy to check out some books or videos. The summer reading program is a hit at our house too. There are numerous programs that align with the theme each summer. One in particular that I remember from a couple years ago was a magic show that my boy zoned in on one afternoon. The program kicks off with a FREE Summer Reading Festival in May each year. This year’s is scheduled for May 21.
The University of Tennessee Gardens
If you want a beautiful and peaceful place to take a walk, UT Gardens offers just that. Specifically, a good date idea would be their “Books and Blooms” program, which occurs spring through the summer on a weekly basis. Each week there is a different theme with stations set up where kids can do a craft, sing, and listen to a story. Also, at the end of the program, the staff turns on sprinklers. This is perfect for boys because it allows them to run around and through the sprinklers and jump in puddles.
This place is one of my family’s favorites. In fact, we have passes. It is great for ALL AGES (I have been known to build with Legos and create a dress for a wooden model while there with my kids!), but specifically for strong walkers through nine. Two programs that might peak your interest specifically are the Muse Mondays, a program for preschoolers, and Art Inspiration Sunday, a monthly guided art project with a local artist. Also, the Muse has a planetarium, where your boy might enjoy Knoxville Skies, a live guided star tour. If you would like to plan ahead, a great date idea for you and your older son would be Robotics Revolution on August 6.
For a city with a population of 185,000, Knoxville has an amazing zoo, complete with a splash pad and Kid’s Cove (outdoor play area=winner for boys), which is a hit during the warmer months. Aside from exploring the zoo and all the exhibits, there are special events throughout the year. For example, they have been known to host Star Wars days where Darth Vader and Stormtroopers are dressed up, ready to pose with your little one for photographs. Also, it is open every day of the year except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Don’t think that you can’t do a zoo trip in the winter. They have an indoor area of hands-on learning called “Wee Play Adventure.” Also, during the winter they offer great deals, such as BOGO ticket free through the end of February.
For the the little boy in your life who likes to make noise and tap out rhythms, this class might be a great fit. In Knoxville there are three locations where you can go to a Kindermusik class, including The Little Gym of Knoxville, Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church, and Cokesbury Center. There are classes for children ages newborn to seven. They even have classes for children with special needs.
The University of Tennessee Athletics
Is your boy into sports? Is your boy a UT fan? Does his blood run orange? If so, you need to attend a sporting event at The University of Tennessee. There are a ton to choose from. Our favorites to attend are football, basketball, and baseball. Out of those three, the most kid-friendly game to attend is a UT baseball game. The set-up for boys could not be better. Along the right field line at Lindsey Nelson Stadium there is a playground and picnic tables. Get to campus early or stay afterward and take a walk past the other facilities or statues, such as the Torchbearer, UT’s official symbol since 1968. This might open up a conversation about the importance of education and going to college one day.
The Home Depot Kid Workshops
The first Saturday of the month, there are workshops where kids can make and take a different project. This is great for your tactile learner who loves the hands-on aspect of creating something with various materials (think wood and paint). Boys who are experiential learners will love creating things, such as mailboxes, birdhouses, and cars.
Sir Goony’s Family Fun Center
There are numerous activities to choose from at Sir Goony’s, including miniature golf, go-carts, and paintball, to name a few. This place has “boy” written all over it! You may need to talk it over with your son and decide what you want to do ahead of time or you could be there all day. They even have a Splash Zone (with water slides) that reopens in May.
Family Bowl Strike and Spare Family Fun Center
This activity will surely be a strike for your boy. Your son will enjoy competing with you to knock those pins down. Also, you can never go wrong with an arcade, which I’m convinced fills my son’s love tank up quicker than anything! There is a program that you can sign up for where kids can bowl for free.
Jump Jam or Max Air
Moms beware. You may have more fun than your sons at these trampoline parks. Jump Jam offers KidJump Monday through Saturday from 9-10am, an hour designated for children six and under. Max Air sets aside Fridays from 10-11am for guests six and under. Have fun jumping into a pit of foam or shooting hoops off of a trampoline. Challenge your son to a game of dodgeball or do an obstacle course together.
If you want an action-packed date with your son, this might be it. You can chase your son around or tag-team others in this combination of hide and seek and tag. Special effects (think fog) and fast tempo music get you energized and ready to run around and tag others. Oftentimes they run special events on holidays where school is out of session.
Tataru’s or Premier
Both places allow for wide open spaces in which to jump, run, swing, and balance. Each gym has parent and child classes for when your kids are young. This is a great way to bond and guide them alongside an instructor. Also, there are open gyms where you can hang out with your son in the foam pit or on a trampoline. You might even get brave and impress him with a cartwheel or handstand!
Knoxville Children’s Theatre
For your drama king, there is an excellent children’s theatre in town that runs plays year-round. Find a play that might interest him, and make it a date! Who knows? He might want to audition for a play in the future.
Liza Moz Pottery
If you have a boy who enjoys art, this idea gives you another option. You and your son can pick out a piece of pottery and paint it.
If all else fails, just go to Chick-fil-A. I’m pretty sure most moms in Knoxville have visited one of the 12 locations at one time or another. Another contributor wrote a great letter to CFA because of its goodness. Seriously. You can have conversation over chicken nuggets and waffle fries, and you can then let him loose in the indoor playground. One location near us even has a game projected onto a floor that requires running around and stomping. Um, perfect for little boys!