Do you love getting out of the city and exploring the country? Do you wish you could, but just aren't sure where to go? Here are some great places to visit on your next trip to Tennessee!
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If you have read my blogs before, you know I am not very outdoorsy. My husband and our boys love the outdoors, so I am learning to love it... one adventure at a time. I have found that while I don't like dirt and bugs, I do love the adventures and the beauty of it all. And mostly, the time spent connecting with my boys!
These little towns that you may not have heard of, but have a lot to offer, are about 1-3 hours outside of Nashville. (Depending on traffic and where exactly you are at in Nashville.) They are also close to Alabama.
Your rental of a kayak or canoe is for the whole day! That's right, the whole day! You can go out on the water at 8 am and not come back until 7 pm. We had ours for about 5 hours, because we didn't go until after lunch. Next time I would go earlier, so we could spend more time on the water. People do swim in the lake. I am not a lake swimmer. I prefer the ocean or a pool! If I can't see in the water, I start to panic. I just know something is lurking, waiting for the right time to snatch me. (insert nervous laughter here) So, we didn't swim. But, if you like swimming in lakes you can park the canoe and jump in. There is even a place where we saw people climbing up and jumping off... if you are brave enough to do that. And, well, let's face it, if you are swimming in a lake then you are probably brave enough to jump off of it!
Fishing is allowed! We did fish while on the canoe. That was a first time for us and it was fun! It was a little hard with both of the boys being in close proximity to each other and trying to cast their lines out... but we made it through with no one getting hooked or tipped over!
You can bring a picnic lunch with you. There are places to stop along the way... or you can go into town to eat then come back to the canoe, just make sure to tell them you are getting lunch and then coming back. We didn't do that, so I am not sure how it works, but they did say that was an option if we wanted to do that, since the rental is for all day. The local Pizza Hut nearby offers a discount on pizza, if you show them your receipt from your kayak or canoe rental. There is a really nice 50's diner close by that we ate at, Holt's Diner. Good food and great atmosphere...
but back to the canoe...
We went on a weekday so they were not super busy, which was nice for us! If you like being out on the water with a bunch of people, plan for the weekends. If you want a more private experience, try a weekday. I believe there were 2 others out on kayaks but we never saw them on the lake. In one area we saw a few boats and a jet ski, and in another area we saw some people swimming, and some people on the shoreline. Most of the time though we were out there by ourselves.
If you have kids that like nature, they will love this! Our boys did not want to get off the canoe. And every day for the rest of the trip they kept asking if we could go back!
The staff was super nice and helpful. They even took a photo of us with the canoe for free! They gave us a print from an Instamax camera and also texted us a digital photo. If you don't have experience in canoeing or kayaking, don't worry! Just tell them and they will give you tips on what to do. They were really helpful for us as this was our first canoe trip. My husband and I had done kayaks before, but that was B.K. (before kids!).
Cost: Kayaks and Paddle Boards are $25 a day, Canoes are $40 a day. Life jackets are included in the rental.
Address: 106 Sharp Springs Rd. Winchester, TN 37398
There are 2 water falls to see. A nice walking trail down the creek. The creek is clear and beautiful and freezing cold! This a great place for a picnic, exploring, taking photos, and playing with your kids in the creek! We did have a close encounter with some snakes... I don't think they were poisonous. If you don't bring lunch with you, you can grab a sandwich at the Swiss Pantry, which is not too far from the mill.
The owners and the staff at the mill are super nice! They even gave the boys some bread to feed the fish in the creek. They loved that!
Address: 134 Falls Mill Rd. Belvidere, TN 37306
This little town is up in the mountains. You may have heard of the college there, University of the South. I had never heard of it prior to our visit there. A few very kind locals suggested these places and it was definitely worth it to see! If we ever go back to this area I would visit these places again. They are all relatively close to the University campus.
If you have trouble walking up or down hills you may want to skip this lake, you have to park up on a steep hill and walk down to the lake. It wasn't a problem for the kids. They loved running down it!
Directions: From University Ave, turn left on Texas Ave. You will pass a football field, keep to the right, pass a baseball field. You will see Lake Cheston Drive on the left. The lake is at the end of that road.
Morgans Steep is not for the faint of heart! The first sign you see, before hitting the trail says something like, "this trail contains serious fall hazards... be careful not to fall and die!" Those were not the exact words, but that's what I remember the over all message being. I am not afraid of heights, but I am afraid of falling from high up. They were not kidding about this trail. It is high, it is steep, and if you get too close to the edge and fall, it's a long way down. I was terrified. I wanted to turn back, but my husband and kids wanted to keep going, so I tried to keep up. The kids were loving it. They weren't afraid at all. The whole way down, I was in a panic in my head. I will say though that being down the trail was better than being at the top, because the fall distance gets shorter! In the end, it was a great experience and I did enjoy it.
It was beautiful, at the top looking out over the trees, going down the trail under a bluff, through the trees and seeing the waterfall. That was as far as I wanted to go. But, I'm sure you could probably get down to where the water was if you wanted to.
Directions: From University Ave: Turn on South Carolina Ave (there is only one way to turn). Follow South Carolina Ave until you get to Morgans Steep Road, turn left onto the road. There is a place on that road where you can pull off and park. Then walk just a short way to the steep. If you are coming from Texas Ave (Lake Chaston) you have to turn right on University Ave to get to South Carolina Ave, which will be on your right.
Directions: From University Ave turn on Tennessee Ave. Take that road all the way to the end. You won't be able to miss it!
Everything else we saw was in the same general area in Swanee. This one wasn't... These are the directions I have, but depending on where you are there may be an easier route.
Directions: Take Highway 41. In Sewanee turn south onto Highway 56. To Natural Bridge Road. Turn left onto Natural Bridge Road and drive to the end.
Directions: Passed Texas Ave on University Drive, turn left on Greensview Rd, take that road down all the way passed the golf course.
Do you have any favorite nature spots? Share with us in the comments below!
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Hi! I'm Lyndsey.
I am the artist behind iystudios. I have loved photography for as long as I can remember. Believe it or not, it all started with a disposable camera. Yes, disposable!
Flashback about 30 years and you will find me as a kid taking my first selfie before the world even knew what a selfie was. I still have the photo. It's not pretty. You probably will never see it online, but it does exist. I have come along way since then!
I have worked hard at perfecting my craft and learning all I can about photography and design. I have spent most of my years behind the camera and you will rarely see me in front of the camera, if ever.
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