A Visit to the Knoxville Botanical Gardens

Last week was Stacey and my 15th wedding anniversary, and went on a little mini-getaway. We are at the stage of parenthood where “getaway” means “to the nearest city, taking the infant with us, and staying away for a bare 24 hours”.

During this time we decided to check out the Knoxville Botanical Gardens, which turned out to be a solid choice. The highlight was the awe-inspiring stand of ancient Cedars of Lebanon, set high on a hill with a gorgeous view of the Smokies visible from beneath their wide-spreading boughs.

I took some pictures while we were there. You can see the whole album here.

Dollywood Splash Country

“Bear Mountain Tower”, 4 stories of undiluted childhood bliss. (PR photo swiped from their website)

So yesterday we finally exercised our season passes to visit the newer, wetter half of Dollywood. If you have kids and you ever have the chance to visit this park, do it.

I think what I loved the most about is was just how much of the park was devoted to free-form play. Yes, there are lots of slides and rides that you can stand in line for. But seemingly half the park consists of areas where kids can just run wild, float, swim, and/or explore.

As a result, we surprised ourselves by staying all the way until closing. The freedom to play without waiting meant no meltdown-inspired early departures.

Other notable features:

  • Lots of freedom to play means lots of freedom to get hurt. Rather than lock the attractions down, they employ a veritable army of attentive life guards. At one point, our two-year-old lost track of both me and mommy, and one of the lifeguards used (I assume) secret lifeguard divination techniques to help her locate me in a food line.
  • The food didn’t completely suck, and they actually had veggie burgers for Stacey, which was a welcome surprise.