We escaped the cold and snow of Indiana, and made our way 400 miles south to the Escapees Raccoon Valley RV Park just outside Knoxville.
After a couple days catching up on school, working, and getting many loads of laundry done, we were ready for a day of exploring.
Searching online for things to do in Knoxville, I found the Ijams Nature Center.
The Nature Center encompasses 300 acres along the Tennessee River in downtown Knoxville – originally home to Harry and Alice Ijams, and the Mead’s and Ross Marble Quarry. The Ijams were prominent bird and garden experts in Knoxville, and instrumental in establishing the Smoky Mountains as a National Park.
A Foundation was set up in the Iajms’ name, and the Nature Center established as a wildlife sanctuary and urban park.
We stopped in at the Visitor Center to check out the trail map. It’s a really nice facility – they have lots of educational programs for adults and kids, as well as the recreational opportunities. On this beautiful April day, there were quite a few people around.
Carvings on the porch posts.
There are multiple hiking and mountain bike trails, and we chose to take the North Cove Trail,
There were several types of spring flowers blooming along the trail, and in the rocks along the river trail.
We reached the river, and enjoyed the view as we walked along the boardwalk.
OK, that looked like an easier river to kayak . . . and probably no alligators, either!
As we continued along the boardwalk, the kayakers got closer to us.
The posted sign said that bats and salamanders lived in this cave – Bryce looked, but didn’t see any!
We reached the end of the boardwalk, and had to climb up the bluff to get back on the river trail.
The view was pretty nice from up there!
Bryce is always up to something!
The river trail brought us back to the Greenway Trail – a paved, multi-use trail that runs all through Knoxville – we followed it to get a look at the Quarry that is part of the Ijams Nature Center.
They say this is a really popular location for swimming and kayaking in the summer.
From the Quarry, we followed the Greenway Trail back towards the Visitor Center.
Bryce found a little hiding place,
and we passed by the Tree-based Adventure Course Course operated by a group called Navitat. There was nobody on it at the time, but it looked pretty cool.
Arriving back at the Visitor Center, we walked through the picnic area, which is a nice grassy hill with a pavilion and a cute playground for the littler kids.
After our adventures in nature, we drove to the Market Square area of Downtown Knoxville to check it out and get an early dinner. We walked through a few shops, and asked for restaurant recommendation, where we were assured that pretty much everywhere was good.
One of the shops that we went into was Local Motors – they produced the first 3D printed prototype car, and are now working on an actual production version for sale.
The prototype is in their shop.
They also had a cool-looking robot!
Bryce and I were in the mood for hamburgers, and told that Stock & Barrel had the best, so we made our way over there.
On the way, we passed by an alley that was covered in graffiti artwork.
There was some really interesting artwork!
There was also recently a sidewalk chalk competition, and many of the entries were still viewable on the square.
We found Stock & Barrel, and enjoyed our burgers out on the patio – it was a beautiful afternoon.