I may be a little partial, being a UT grad and all, but if you can’t gush about your favorite city on this of all mushy holidays, when can you? So, get ready. I’m about to unload a lot of Knoxville love.
Let me first wish all of you out there a very happy Valentine’s Day, filled with enough pink and red to make Rainbow Brite roll her eyes. I hope you’ve got a fun meal planned with the fam or a night out on the town with your favorite person. In the meantime, enjoy this love letter to Knoxville. The top 11 reasons I love raising a child in K-Ville…
1. When you’ve had the longest day ever, your makeup is smeared and your kid is crying in the backseat, you’ll randomly look up and catch a stunning view of the Smoky Mountains vista. For a split second all will be right with the world. It’s like built-in Zen moments courtesy of the City of Knoxville. Call Madeleine and say thank you for protecting our mesmerizing view.
2. You won’t have to brainwash your kid into passionately loving UT football, and all things UT for that matter. There’s so much orange in this town that the city does the brainwashing for you. And just like that, BAM. You’ve raised a child with class and dignity without ever having to parent.
3. When you wonder who secretly gave your child caffeine pills that morning, you can calmly put the straight jacket away (which you were planning to use on yourself of course) and usher him out the back door to run around like a wild monkey. Because whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall, the weather is rarely something a rain jacket or heavy winter coat can’t handle (or in our case, a tiny bear costume).
4. There are 81 parks in this fine city. That’s like a million different types of monkey bars to try and break an arm on. If your kid gets bored, you have 80 more parks to try out. Find them here.
5. Free story time, a science museum, children’s museum, two ice rinks, a jump jam, WDVX Kidstuff and more. Find ideas for weekend and weekday fun here.
6. The best kid-style mini-vacations are right in your own backyard. Pick a weekend to visit Dollywood, an incredible indoor/outdoor hotel water park, and well, all of GATLINBURG. Are the all-caps stressing you out? I’m just preparing you for the passion your children will exhibit when begging to visit every single weekend this summer.
7. Senor Taco. You can get cheap, delicious fajitas and a margarita while your kids scream at the top of their lungs and run around the restaurant like the precious little hoodlums you know and love. Fear not, your kids’ chaos will be drowned out completely by the family sitting next to you. And there’s a taco with a mustache…
If you live out West, try Chez Guevara. Don’t tell either restaurant I sent you or I will not hesitate to sneak into your house and steal your coffee, yoga pants and chocolate stash. Just try getting through the day (cue maniacal laugh).
8. Knoxville knows how to rock the holidays in kid-friendly style. For Christmas, try Fantasy of Trees. Around Halloween, don’t miss out on the pumpkin patch, corn maze and rockin’ family activities (hint: a pumpkin cannon may be involved) at Oakes Farm. Take a train ride around Thanksgiving time when the leaves have changed color. And for Easter, get the kids decked out in their Sunday best for the Annual Fountain City Easter Egg Hunt.
9. If you want to keep popping out those kids, you can do it any which way you like. Get a saaaweet epidural at UT Medical Center (or any of our swanky hospitals); push that baby out in the comfort of your own home; forego the Pitocin and epidural at the Lisa Ross birthing center or get the support you need for a natural birth in a hospital setting such as the Brabson practice at Tennova.
10. Take a rest from the kids in style. Thankfully, it doesn’t take but 30 minutes on the road to feel like you’re hundreds of miles away. The picturesque Whitestone Inn is serene, along with the Butterfly Gap retreat in Maryville, TN. And Blackberry Farm may make your bucket list for a truly luxurious getaway.
11. (Because I’m too in love with Knoxville to cut one) We’ve got incredible outdoor recreation. Visit Ijams Nature Center for an urban wilderness hike. Rent a boat for the day and enjoy the Tennessee River. Skiing, kayaking, climbing spots and more, are all close by.
I bet I’m missing so many of your favorite spots and activities. What would make your Top 11 list? Happy Valentine’s Day!
And P.S. I just had to include a photo of baby G and I out in all this snow. Judging by his face, snow is not as lovely as warm milk?