What to do with kids in Knoxville over Thanksgiving


The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be turned into a TV-only event, featuring performances from Broadway casts and Dolly Parton.


Happy Thanksgiving! Family fun time may look different with COVID-19, but Knox News has rounded up some activities you can do with your family over the holiday week.

While the holidays are often times we spend with extended relatives, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided recommendations for people who are travelling. Whether you’re staying in town or travelling, remember to social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands and clean surfaces. You should also stay at home if you’re sick or have been told to isolate or quarantine.

Every family’s comfort level with activities is different, but every person’s actions have ripple effects. Local schools and businesses don’t operate in a bubble. In order for things to stay open, people have to be careful.

Here are some ways to bond with your family while remaining cautious. 

Spend time outdoors

Whether you’re in the mood for a long hike or you just want to throw a football around at Lakeshore Park, East Tennessee has many outdoor options. Don’t forget a mask especially for highly congested areas such as the parking lot or playgrounds. 

You can also celebrate Small Business Saturday by purchasing crafts and other holiday gifts in downtown Maryville. Maryville’s Holiday Market will have vendors set up outside along Broadway from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  There will be a free cookie decorating station and hot chocolate. 

If you want to see colorful animal lanterns, tree lights and a 100-foot long cobra tunnel, check out Zoo Lights at Zoo Knoxville. There’s an admission fee and food costs are separate. The zoo has a list of COVID-19 guidelines on its website.

Be a tourist in your own city 

Museum of East Tennessee History

You and your family have through Sunday to see the museum’s “Marching to Victory” exhibit that looks at women’s suffrage. If you want to help your kids understand the electoral process, you can use Knox News’ comprehensive election guide. Do you have more questions about women’s suffrage? You can read all about it in our Women of the Century series.

More: ‘It was down to us’: Tennessee’s critical role in giving women the right to vote

More: Country music legend Dolly Parton among inspiring Women of the Century on Tennessee list

Knoxville Museum of Art

Whether you want to see walls of invasive plant species that make a room or you want to see art from students all across East Tennessee, the Knoxville Museum of Art is ready for you. Admission is free, but a reservation is required. 

Create something new


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Start a family tradition of trying a new recipe or sign up for a virtual cooking class through The Cutting Edge Classroom.

Chef John Alunni of The Cutting Edge Classroom demonstrates cooking skills during a live-streaming virtual cooking class. The photo was taken Nov. 11, 2020. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Paul Wells at Elkmont Media.)

Recipes don’t have to be limited to foods! Ijams Nature Center has guides for making mud paint and homemade hand scrubs. You could even make a whole day out of the activity and make handmade bath salts or everyone on your holiday gift list. 

Muse Knoxville is temporarily closed, but children can still learn with kits designed to teach them about rocket science, making a magnet and more  Each kit comes with project materials, a book and a link to an online video. These kits can be picked up or shipped to your home. 

You can even go old school – trace your child’s hand on a construction paper and teach them how to draw a turkey, encourage art work about the things your family is grateful for this season or make a collage out of leaves. 

Have a stay-cation

Stephen Brown, of Rockwood, deigns prototypes of crafts, which are then mass produced for online sales through his company Glitterville, which recently opened a studio in downtown Knoxville. (Photo: Courtesy of Glitterville)

Cozy up on the couch to classic movies or watch one of Knox News’ YouTube videos. We’ve got kid-friendly videos of everything from how to make a rainbow forest to how the Sunsphere is cleaned. 

Movie night!: Our Knoxville-themed Thanksgiving movie guide is filled with familiar faces and places

Just because school is closed doesn’t mean your family can’t learn! Check out books, movies and more from your local library. Knox County Library location shave a fun scratch-off challenge for kids and teens called Pilot’s Pursuit (psst: There are great prizes). 

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Wednesday November 2, 2022