Gorgeous summer weather in the Tennessee Valley has us all itching to get outside, but it’s just SO. HOT. What’s a parent to do when the first words out of her child’s mouth every-single-morning are “Outside, mama?”
Charlie and I have gathered a list of some of our favorite outdoor activities in the area that can keep you cool, even when the heat index tops out over 100F degrees.
Shady Hikes and Blue Hole Dips. Our most recent favorite is Big Soddy Gulf Creek off highway 111. The trail is two miles total each way with several opportunities to veer off the path and take a dip along the way. Gravel paths are mostly shaded and have an easy uphill grade out with a rewarding downhill back with plenty of spots for picnicking and exploring. The swimming spot about 0.4 miles from the parking lot, is perfect for toddlers and older kids alike with spots to wade and explore and other spots deep enough for kids to jump in.
A visit to the Chattanooga Zoo. My childhood memories of visiting zoos consist mostly of sunburns, sweating, and all around misery. The Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park is different though. The zoo is small enough to cruise through in a couple of hours and the trails are shady. Reptiles, amphibians, and several other species are housed in gloriously air conditioned buildings, allowing for some reprieve from the sun. After your zoo adventure, pop over to the Warner Park Pool and Splash Pad. This is one of the areas largest public pools and the splash pad is great for younger kids. One of my favorite things about this pool is that they have life jackets available for use in case your kiddo is a little braver than you’d expected.
Check out Lake Winnepesaukah SoakYa Waterpark. With the addition of the SoakYa Waterpark, Lake Winnie is now the ultimate hometown summer experience. Rides, games, and delicious carnival food for everyone (writing this makes me want a funnel cake in a bad way). The Waterpark boasts slides of all sizes, a lazy (“Crazy”) river, a play area for younger guests, and a floating obstacle course. Day passes for all of the attractions for kids over age three are around $30 depending on the coupons you may have come across (check your local McDonald’s!), or you can get a Passport to Fun for $130 which includes eight days’ worth of all you can handle fun (about half the price of buying eight individual tickets).
Backyard Water Play. This may be our favorite activity so far this summer. I can’t speak for C, but personally I love it because it requires no planning, no packing, no getting dressed even. Equipment needed: some sort of baby pool, water hose, random beach toys, chair for mom. We scored an enormous blow up pool from Costco (it was a very thoughtful gift chosen by my niece for Mother’s Day–I’m pretty sure her ulterior motives were realized), and while my husband may have nearly died blowing the thing up, it has provided hours upon hours of entertainment for all of us over the past few weeks.