Saturday, May 31, 2014

Chattanooga Activities for Kids

My sister and her kids came to visit us for a couple of days and we had lots of fun in the sun with the kids. I thought I would share the activities we did – all were free or cheap and kept us busy and wore us all out. If you are visiting Chattanooga during warm months and want to do kid activities that won't break the bank, these would be at the top my list.

Warner Park Pool and Spray and Play Park

To kick things off, we met Angela and her kids downtown at the Warner Park Pool and Spray and Play Park. The pool is a little hard to find (if you aren't familiar with the area) because it is right behind the Warner Park Zoo. Basically you have to park at the zoo and walk a little way to the pool entrance.

Between us, my sister and I have three kids ages 2-5, so the pool and spray park are the perfect combo. The kids had fun wading in the 1-2 foot pool and running around the spray park. There is also a 3-4 foot wading pool and 4-12 foot pool with obstacle course for bigger kids. If you want to go swimming, this is a great pool for all ages.

Parking is free and you can take food in with you. The cost to swim is $3 for adults, $2 for kids 3-13 and ages 2 and under are free. Summer hours for the pool are Saturday-Wednesday 12:30-5:00 and Thursday-Friday 11:00-5:00.

Pumpkin Patch Playground
After we had our fill of getting wet, we headed back to my house on Signal Mountain to get changed and do something a little different. The kids were still going strong so we decided to take them to the Pumpkin Patch to burn off the last of their energy.

The Pumpkin Patch is worth the drive up the mountain – it is a huge playground with a wide variety of things for kids to play on. The super long slide is a hit with bigger kids and there is also a climbing wall and zipline. For littles, there is a separate playground to keep them entertained as well. Jack is a big fan of wandering around the park and digging in the sand. It is the biggest playground I have ever been to with a lots of things for everyone to do.

The park is wooded so you don't have to worry about kids getting burned. And there are picnic tables and plenty of benches for parents to sit on while watching your kids, but really, this is a park you will want to play with your kids.

Signal Point
We took our time getting moving on Friday morning, letting the kids play at our house. Then my sister packed up and I took them to Signal Point for a great view of the Tennessee Valley. My niece, Izzy, was a little annoyed when we told her we were going on a "little" hike, but when we arrived at the view, she exclaimed, "The view isn't too bad!"

To access the view of Signal Point, it is just a short walk from the parking lot. There are some steps, but nothing too difficult. 

The parking lot to the park closes at sunset, but the view is worth a visit to Signal Mountain. You can also access the Cumberland Trail from this park.

Coolidge Park Fountain
After viewing Signal Point, we headed down the mountain to go to Coolidge Park in Northshore so that the kids could play in the water fountain there. Before heading to the park, we made a stop at Shuford's BBQ to grab food for a picnic at the park.

The kids had a blast playing in the fountain. There is also a carousel at the park, but you have to do that first since you cannot ride it if you are wet. We skipped the carousel this time, but will definitely be back to ride it another time. 

Parking is $1.50 for two hours on Monday-Saturday. The park has a view of the Market and Walnut Street Bridges that cross the Tennessee River. The kids had a wonderful time playing in the water and climbing on the statues and running through the open field.

We had a great visit with my sister and her kids and we didn't break the bank doing fun stuff with them!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Summer Kickoff: Paddling on Wolftever Creek

Hiking, biking and paddling all within a 30-minute drive of our house. Have I mentioned that we love where we live?

To round out Memorial Day Weekend and our Summer kickoff, we decided to take Jack out in our canoe. We actually got him in the canoe with us when he was 11.5 months old, but I had to hold him the entire time and we were fearful of tipping. 

This time it was the real deal – he sat in the middle, by himself and didn't tip the boat over or try to jump out.

Before getting on the water we casually mentioned that we were going to go ride in a boat and wear our life jackets and our little guy seemed to be on board with our plans.

Our only issue before launching the canoe was that Jack was adamantly against letting me put sunblock on him. 

Since a fair-skinned toddler shouldn't be out on the water in the middle of the day without sunblock, I stuck to my guns and insisted on slathering him from head to toe. 

In the end I won and we were able to get out on the water.

Since it was Memorial Day, and we were launching on Wolftever Creek with access to Harrison Bay, there were tons of boaters to share the water with. 

Jack was happy to hang halfway off the side of our canoe and drag his hands through the water but he also enjoyed watching the boats, wake boarders, tubers, and people riding jet skis. 

Other than sticking his hands in the water, his favorite part was probably waving at everyone going by – especially since lake people are always friendly and wave back.

Thankfully Jack didn't seem bothered when we had to ride out the wakes of bigger boats. I'm even more thankful that we didn't tip!

We paddled about 1.3 miles over the course of an hour. We took it slow and turned back sooner than if it had just been me and Daniel. We didn't want to run the risk of a toddler melt down far from shore.

Thankfully the only time Jack was really upset (besides the sunblock incident) was when we got out. He wanted to ride some more. Or at the very least, wade in the water. 

We settled for some brief wading, and then promised ice cream from Chick-fil-a in an effort to tear him away from the water.

If this weekend is any indication, Jack seems on board with most of our hobbies and we are looking forward to doing more activities as a family.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summer Kickoff: Tennessee River Park

After our attempt at backpacking, we decided to do an activity we knew Jack would love: biking. 

We recently purchased a bicycle trailer (off of Craigslist) because Jack has almost outgrown the seat we had attached to Daniel's bike. 


Also, he gets tired of wearing his helmet and kind of maxes out at 8 miles when we ride. 

We are hoping the bike trailer will mean we can take longer bike rides. In addition, the trailer has suspension and we can put snacks and toys in it to keep Jack occupied. 

Plus it is probably more comfortable if Jack happens to fall asleep on our ride.

Daniel and Jack took a practice ride at home the day before and Jack only cried when they came home.

Saturday was the perfect day for a ride. Sunny, but nice and cool. For this ride we headed to the Tennessee River Park, but instead of starting in downtown Chattanooga we started at the Chickamauga Dam. 

Jack began the ride in the trailer. We took a brief water break by the marsh a couple of miles into our ride and he decided he wanted to sit in the chair for a little while...  I guess he likes being higher and being able to see a little better.

After another couple of miles we took another break and Jack swapped back to the trailer. At this point, we decided we were hungry and that we could probably make it to Five Guys for burgers without too much extra effort.

This involved a few city blocks of street riding, but Chattanooga drivers are used to bikers in the street so it wasn't a big deal.

Going into the downtown section of the greenway involves ramps that access several bridge crossings. These ramps make sharp turns, zigzagging up to the bridges. I wasn't sure how well Daniel would be able to make those turns with his bike and the additional length of having a trailer behind him. He made the turns without having to stop or put his feet down! I was very impressed.

Daniel was impressed that the Tennessee River Park had a bicycle repair station, complete with air and various tools for fixing tires.

Day 2 of our summer kickoff weekend was a success. Spending time together doing outdoor activities we love is our fave.

We rode from the Chickamauga Dam to the Bluff View Art District, then to Ross Landing before heading up Chestnut Street to Five Guys for lunch, then back the same way we came.

Our route – We completed 12.35 miles on this particular ride.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...