Are you traveling with your children? If so, you are probably faced with the challenge of keeping them entertained. Never fear, you can plan a family fun trip that keeps their minds stimulated but is also entertaining.
The Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge has hands-on exhibits the whole family will love from a life size doll house to the rainforest to a model train room. Be sure to check out the waterworks room, which is a hand-on flume that demonstrates the lock system on the Tennessee River. There are even outdoor exhibits and the museum is the Oak Ridge Headquarters for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
Many children today could not even imagine a world without cell phones let alone one without cars, electricity and running water. Visit the Museum of Appalachia and immerse your children in a world where children met in a one-room schoolhouse, farmed with their parents and lived in a one-room log cabin. Your children will love this living history museum that depicts life in a pioneer mountain farm-village and the unique stories that are on display. Be sure to check out the restaurant and save room from some home-made desserts.
At the Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue you can get up close and personal with exotic and farmyard animals. Approximately 98% of the animals at the zoo have been rescued from abandonment, neglect or abuse and been given a safe, loving, forever home at the zoo. Meet the animals and find out their stories. The Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue is a great place for a picnic lunch. There is even a covered pavilion. Pick up or pack a lunch before you go. FYI, Hoskins Drug Store and Apple Blossom in nearby Clinton have some great soup and sandwich options.
Hiking is a great way to enjoy the fall colors and burn off a little bit of energy. There are over 400 miles of trails in Anderson County that range from moderate to difficult. We suggest starting at Norris Dam State Park, located on the shorelines of Norris Lake and laying to the east and west of Norris Dam. The park offers 20 miles of trails ranging from moderate to difficult. Most of the trails are for foot traffic only but there are some multi use trails for bikers too. Be sure to check out the Storybook Trail located near the east side of Norris Dam.
If you want to work in a little bit of learnin’ while at the park, Norris Dam State Park has a lot of great programs for families with children of all ages from live snake programs to astronomy programs. You can even meet some owls. Check out their website or Facebook page for a schedule.
You might also want to check out the Melton Hill Greenway. Adjacent to Melton Hill Lake, this paved greenway is ideal for smaller children. It’s a great place to ride a bike and there’s a playground for the children to enjoy.
Another fun outdoor activity is paddling. The fall is a great time to be on the water and the fall colors reflected off the water are breathtaking. For beginners or families with small children, we recommend Norris Lake because of its still waters. If you don’t have a kayak or paddle board, you can rent one at Norris Lake Paddling Adventures. The Clinch River, the tailwaters of Norris Lake, is a more challenging area to paddle especially if water is being generated through Norris Dam. You can check the schedule on the Tennessee Valley Authority Lakes App. We suggest launching from the River Road ramp or the Peach Orchard ramp.
There are many locally owned and chain restaurants in Anderson County but for this trip, we recommend a few places that you don’t want to miss.
Coal Creek Smokehouse-If it is smoked and you can pour bar-b-que on it, the smokehouse has it. We recommend their pulled pork BLT.
Hoskins Drug Store-This authentic 1940’s soda fountain has the traditional drug store restaurant menu complete with burgers and chocolate milk shakes. They also have a daily meat and two vegetable plate. It is great for breakfast and lunch or just to satisfy your sweet tooth with an afternoon treat.
Sweet Café-Located in quaint Downtown Norris. Sweet Cafe is open Tuesday thru Saturday with a morning drive thru, local roasted coffees, lunch table service with menu items including Amazing Gourmet Burgers and Hand Cut Fries, Chicken Salad, Flavored Teas, Homemade Soups and Fresh Salads, a full array of desserts, milkshakes and handmade waffle cones and ice cream.
Calhoun’s on the River-Located on the banks of Melton Hill Lake, Calhoun’s is a local favorite with a full service restaurant menu. Every seat in the house has a view of the river and you can even access the restaurant by boat.
Big Ed’s Pizza-Known far and wide for their great pizza and cool atmosphere. It is a local and visitor favorite and the kids will love it.
Norris Dam State Park is a great family friendly place to stay with deluxe cabins, primitive cabins and two campgrounds. Or look at our short-term rentals on Norris Lake and the surrounding area at https://www.adventureanderson.com/where-to-stay/. Also check out the hotels located at the Clinton/Norris exit off Interstate 75. Their central location will provide easy access to all the above listed activities.