Are you stuck in a park rut? Most of us probably frequent the park closest to us because, well, you know, kids, and it’s just so much more convenient than driving halfway across town to a park you have never been to. But here’s the thing momma! We are all always looking for free or inexpensive things to do with our kids, and guess what? The parks are completely free, and they all offer different things than the one down the street from you does — so put your kiddos in a car and go exploring. I don’t know if you have looked at the Knoxville Moms Blog Park Guide lately, but it is a pretty extensive list. While the cities and counties offer up a list of their parks, they might only have a small thumbnail of something that resembles a slide and a swingset, but you can’t quite be sure. Or they might not have any photos at all so you just have to rely on word of mouth that the park is great. Well, if you are in a rut going to the same old park or you just moved to town, I am happy to help share some of the favorite parks of Knoxville. And, wait for it…pictures are included! So you can actually get a feel for amenities and setting. For a full photo gallery of these 10 favorite parks, click here.
McFee has everything you could want in a park in more. It has an awesome splash pad (check), an enormous playground with something for kids of all ages (check), and they are just mere feet apart (check). There are two great pavilions available to rent, centrally located bathrooms, and nearby soccer fields if the kids just need to run off some energy. It’s also tucked away from major traffic or roads which is a plus in my book. The only downside to McFee is that on scorching hot days, the playground equipment can get too hot for the kids, so just keep that in mind!
Victor Ashe Park is about a twenty minute drive from where I live, and it wasn’t really on my radar until I met a friend there. This park kicked off my curiosity about all of the other awesome local parks I must be missing out on. While it doesn’t have a splash pad, it has a terrific playground for kids of all ages, a pavilion, an amazing walking trail that goes a little over half a mile around the playground and an enormous field in the middle (4 soccer fields worth — perfect for kite flying), as well as a dog park! Did I mention it also has an 18-hole disc golf course?! Seriously, it’s the park that just keeps on giving. It also has a volleyball court and a pond for fishing. If you really just want to get out and walk, the greenway passes by some horse and llama farms.
World’s Fair Park is an absolute must. Smack dab in the middle of downtown, it lends itself to entire day of activities beyond your typical park. Fort Kid (an amazing wooden playground that I’m going to consider part of World’s Fair Park for this post) and the Knoxville Museum of Art are just across the street, and every kid should experience a visit to the top of the Sunsphere while growing up in Knoxville. It’s also not too much trouble to settle your kids into their strollers and wander up to Market Square for some Rita’s and a stroll through Krutch Park too! But those are just some of the added bonuses of World’s Fair Park. The park itself has a hulking splash pad (can you really call it a splash pad? More like fountains in my opinion), a great playground, and a beautifully manicured lawn to picnic on. The only con in my book is that it is a well-trafficked playground so when I went to snap some shots, some of the playground equipment was out of order — but with so much to do, that’s just a minor detail. The bathrooms are also a small trek away from the playground and fountains, just to be warned!
While living in Tennessee is great, the only downfall is that we live in a landlocked state. The closest beach is about 6 hours away…or is it? While it may not be salt water, we do have our very own beach right here in Knoxville at The Cove at Concord. This gorgeous setting features a waterfront paved trail, a swimming “beach,” volleyball courts, public fishing areas, a playground, and picnic areas abound. The absolute best part? In the warm months, you can rent canoes, kayaks and SUPs from River Sports at the Cove. Honestly, this is the park that doesn’t end. If you are up for an adventure, there are other spread out areas to the park along Northshore, such as the dog park, baseball fields, soccer fields, the boat launch, skate park, etc. You might have to hop in the car and drive a little bit, but you can plan an entire day around at The Cove at Concord.
Looking for a picture-perfect picnic setting? I highly recommend Anchor Park. It is beautifully situated on the water with two fishing piers, three different picnic facilities, a playground, a large sandbox, and even a set-up for horseshoes. There are basketball courts, a softball field, a volleyball court, and exercise stations to take the kids around for some good old-fashioned activity.
Fountain City Park is home to a HUGE well-shaded playground, basketball court, picnic area, gazebo, and gorgeous greenways, and right next to the Fountain City Art Center. Another best kept secret? It’s within walking distance to Creamery Park Grille AND Scrumps Cupcakes. Do yourself a favor and check this park out. I will give you just a little tip though: there is no paved parking lot convenient to the park so be prepared to parallel park alongside the park or there is a gravel parking lot adjacent to the park, but you will have to cross a side street (not Broadway).
Do you have a kid that loves airplanes? If so, then jetset on over to Island Home Park, situated on the water and in the cozy historic neighborhood of Island Home. With the Island Home Airport being nearby, planes and helicopters are constantly overhead. There is a great playground with plenty of shade and cover so the kids don’t get too hot, and a paved loop around the park connects to Will Skelton Greenway, which has an incredible display of sunflowers the first few weeks of July (can we say photo op?!) and also to Ijams Nature Center. There are also some tennis courts, a ball field, and of course a pavilion. And if by chance you happen to a canoe (or something like it), there is also a canoe launch. For a full gallery, click here.
Carl Cowan is another hit for us because it has such a great splash pad, and it’s right near the water as well so if they kids want to fish, they can fish right off of a pier. It’s also home to basketball courts, tennis courts, and a playground. There are both paved and natural paths to take the kids around. There is also a boat launch so it will be fun for the kids to watch the boats coast along the water. I won’t deny that this is one popular playground so the splash pad is always hopping in the summer (except apparently at 7 pm when I took these photos). Also, the playground and splash pad are separated by a high-traffic parking lot so it’s not convenient for the kids to run back and forth between the two unless they are older.
Keep an eye out on this one! Even though it’s already an amazing park, there are some plans in progress to make this park even better (if that’s even possible). This is a terrific park with stunning views of the mountains and Fort Loudon Lake, a playground, ball fields, soccer fields and picnic areas. Not to mention, it’s also home to a Farmer’s Market on Fridays. But I will warn you, this park is HUGE so it’s easy to get lost (I did) driving around it. So a heads up, if you are a first-time goer, the playground is located toward the back of the park, past the ball fields.
All Saints Park
This is a little bit of a cheat and something different. This isn’t a city or county park per se, (it actually is property of All Saints Catholic Church, but open to the public), but if you have a young toddler, this is a great place to be. It has the perfect toddler-sized play structure, which just happens to be in a fenced-in area. Typically, most parks are geared toward older kids, and while it does have swings, a bigger slide, and a see-saw, this is really just a great place to take the young ones.
Which is your favorite Knoxville Park? Let me know for a future edition and so we can keep adding to our Favorite Parks Gallery!