KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Kids are heading into spring break. If you are looking for something to keep the kids occupied, there are several free items in the Knoxville area.
1. Storytime at the Knoxville Library
The Knoxville Library hosts nearly 40 storytimes for children each week. Check a full list on their website.
The storytimes start around 10:00 a.m. Monday through Friday. On Wednesday, March 15 the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will perform at one of the storytimes at the Blaine Public Library.
2. Visit the Sunsphere
Built for the 1982 World’s Fair, the Sunsphere has become an iconic feature of the Knoxville skyline.
It is home to the Primo Ristorante Italiano on the 5th floor, event rental space and local businesses on the upper floors, as well as the fourth-floor observation deck, which was recently remodeled and serves as a satellite visitors center.
The observation deck features a gallery of Knoxville images, as well as information on Knoxville and the World’s Fair and offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Knoxville. The Observation Deck is open free to the public daily from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
3. Williams-Sonoma Junior Chef Classes
Every Saturday at 10 a.m., Williams-Sonoma offers free Junior Chef classes at their West Town Mall location. They introduce a new “recipe” each week with step-by-step instructions.
On Saturday, March 11 they will teach kids how to decorate Easter cookies. Visit their website for a full schedule of classes.
Class size is limited, so those wanting to participate are encouraged to call ahead or register in store.
Make your spring break count. Habitat for Humanity has a variety of volunteer opportunities. Volunteers must be at least 16 and can sign up online.
On March 11, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., volunteers are needed to help construct the floor, build exterior walls, set trusses and deck the roof on a Habitat for Humanity house. No construction experience is needed, and Habitat for Humanity staff say volunteers will learn new skills.
Volunteer East Tennessee also has a number of volunteer opportunities on their website. Volunteer East Tennessee is leading the efforts to organize volunteers and volunteer opportunities in response to the Sevier County fires.
5. Visit a museum
Knoxville has a number of free museums.
The Knoxville Museum of Art is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. One of the exhibits on display is by Knoxville-based artist Jered Sprecher.
The museum also features a “creative corner” which is an interactive play area for children of all ages. Hands-on activities, books, drawing easels, and a wall light board encourage creativity in many different forms. Children can release their inner artistic abilities and create beautiful artwork to take home or to leave for future guests to enjoy.
6. Ijams Nature Center
Ijams Nature Center is a 275-acre wildlife sanctuary and environmental learning center in South Knoxville. They over dozens of programs each week, along with fun trails to take a walk or bike ride.
Some of the events coming up during spring break include free programs where kids can learn about different animals in the park, the hiking club will explore the Urban Wilderness and a family drum circle, led by Knoxville artist, writer, foodie, herbalist and crafter Jackie Hardin. Check out a full list of programs on Ijams’ website.
7. Great Smoky Mountain National Park
There is a good reason the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the United States. The park is filled with beautiful views and animal and plant life that kids can explore.
Cades Cove is a broad, verdant valley surrounded by mountains and is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies. It offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. Large numbers of white-tailed deer are frequently seen, and sightings of black bear, coyote, ground hog, turkey, raccoon, skunk, and other animals are also possible.
The road is open to motor vehicles from sunrise until sunset daily, weather permitting.
8. WDVX Blue Plate Special
Weekdays at noon, WDVX-FM radio brings back the Knoxville tradition of a downtown, midday, live radio show with the “Blue Pate Special” at the Knoxville Visitor’s Center. Enjoy live Bluegrass and Americana music every day at noon.
Check out a list of performers on WDVX’s website.
9. Take a walking tour
While you’re at the Knoxville Visitor’s Center, stop for a free brochure for the Civil War Walking Tour or Tennessee music heritage tour. You can take a self-guided tour or make an appointment for a guided tour.
10. Visit Beardsley Community Farm
CAC Beardsley Community Farm is an urban demonstration site that has promoted food security and sustainable urban agriculture through practice, education, and community outreach since 1998. The farm grows over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables in six acres of Malcolm Martin Park with the help of over 1,000 annual volunteers.
Visiting hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tours usually last 30-45 minutes but can be tailored to fit your time frame and your area of interest. There are also several volunteer opportunities such as composting, seed saving, beekeeping, basic construction and everything in-between.
To schedule a tour or get information about volunteering call (865) 546-8446 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.