Lenoir City (or as the cool kids say, “The LC”) is starting to live up to its “city” name. Once a sleepy little town, Lenoir City is now booming with new homes and businesses cropping up all the time. The LC–just west of Farragut in Loudon County–is known for being “The Lakeway of the Smokies.” While enjoying Fort Loudoun and Tellico Lakes is high on most lists of things to do here, there are plenty of other fun family-friendly activities to check out, too. I’m sharing my family’s favorites in Lenoir City and beyond.
Deep Well Farm
This farm is way more than just a pumpkin patch! Yes, you can take a hayride and go through a corn maze, but you can also zip down the mega slide on a potato sack and meet and feed plenty of friendly farm animals. There are play areas for kids both big and small. The toddler hay bale maze is especially cute. My daughter’s favorite is the “sandbox” filled with corn (and covered for shade). Did I mention the new and very clean restrooms? Deep Well Farm also offers Halloween and Easter activities. You can even host birthdays and weddings here.
Sweetwater Valley Farm
Cheese, cows, wow! You’ve probably seen those billboards and it sums up how I feel about this dairy farm! Tours are offered regularly April through September. You get an up-close look at how the farm’s cows are raised and milked. There’s even a stop on the tour at the cow maternity ward and nursery. Even better, you can enjoy some free samples of Sweetwater Valley Farm’s award-winning cheese. The shop on site is filled with its delicious farmstead cheese. Your visit should also include a stop at “The Udder Story” exhibit, which teaches you about the dairy industry past, present and future.
This playground in the heart of downtown on Broadway Street will give children of all abilities a wonderful place to play. The main play structures are under large awnings to give kids plenty of shade on hot summer days. The playground is also fenced in, which especially helps moms like me who have a runner on their hands! There are brand new restrooms and changing tables are in the works for them. You can access the playground parking lot via Rock Springs Road. The ribbon cutting is scheduled for Friday, June 9th at 11:00am. There will be refreshments and the public is invited to attend. I’ll definitely be there!
Ugly Mug Coffee
Ugly Mug Coffee is a new addition to Lenoir City and quickly becoming a community favorite. It serves breakfast, lunch and, of course, delicious coffee. It’s modeled after The Ugly Mug in Memphis. The drive-through has recently opened and I’m quickly becoming a regular. The coffee cold brewed on site is amazing…I like mine with dark chocolate! Yum!
Le Noir Bistro
Le Noir is my go-to for out-of-town guests (that includes my friends who live in Knoxville!). It’s not every day you find a Belgian bistro. The menu includes traditional Belgian dishes and other European and American offerings. As someone who has tried nearly everything on the menu, I can tell you that you can’t go wrong! Le Noir is kid-friendly (being able to draw on the table is a plus) and the staff is happy to help tiny people with particular taste buds. They often make my daughter a plain croque (which is French for grilled cheese). Ask for the mayonnaise garlic sauce to dip your fries. You’re welcome!
There’s a reason this restaurant is always packed. Country Kinfolk is home cooking done right! Be sure to save room for dessert (I always do!) and don’t be surprised when the waitress doesn’t bring you a bill. It’s the honor system. Just go up to the cash register and tell the worker what you had to eat. Allow time to explore the marketplace filled with local crafts and antiques and the women’s clothing at The Hen House Boutique.
Tic-Toc Ice Cream Parlor
If you get an endorsement from Southern Living, you’re automatically on my list of favorite places! Tic-Toc is located in downtown Loudon across from the courthouse. Some people keep track of the seasons on a calendar. In Loudon County, we know spring and summer have arrived when Tic Toc opens! Enjoy a cone or other classic soda fountain treat with the freshly made ice cream. Bring change so the kiddos can make a wish in the charming fountain on the town square.
The Lost Sea Adventure
Further south on I-75, is The Lost Sea in Monroe County. It’s home to America’s largest underground lake. You can go on a guided tour of the cavern, which includes a boat ride on that very lake. It’s a popular destination, so be prepared to wait for your tour time. Don’t worry; you can enjoy Old Sweetwater Village while you wait. You’ll find a general store, gem mine and glass blower to explore. Grab a bite at the on-site café or zip over to Madisonville for some delicious pizza, calzones and more at Patio Italian Restaurant.
A factory tour with a sweet reward at the end! Guides take you behind the scenes to see how all the Mayfield Dairy products are made. Fun fact: The majority of milk your kids drink at Knox County schools is produced here. The tour wraps up with a stop at the on-site ice cream shop. If that ice cream didn’t fill you up, check out Michael’s Casual Dining. This family-friendly spot offers up made-from-scratch meals.