Ijams Nature Center is committed to outdoor conservation and recreation, supplying members with rugged nature trails, an eco-friendly learning center, and a wildlife sanctuary spread over 300 acres. The visitor's center reduces energy emissions through passive solar heating, and most of the building's surfaces were constructed using materials made from recycled newspaper, cardboard, and grocery bags. New and permanent exhibits fill this space, such as Ijams Family History—which showcases the traditional preserved birds that highlight their passion for ornithology. Inside the forest exhibit, correct answers to questions light up components inside a giant walk-through tree, and glass cases hold specimens such as a hummingbird nest and snakeskin.
Heading outside, guests enter the raptor enclosure—a sheltered structure and small amphitheater housing a red-tailed hawk and turkey vulture, who read excerpts from their favorite Looney Tunes fan fiction during educational demonstrations. From here, all-ages visitors explore a greenhouse and organic garden. Children can frolic in Jo's Grove—an interactive nature play area replete with hidden spaces and materials for building a nature fort. Hikers and mountain bikers can traverse ten miles of surface trails that wind through mature woodlands, as well as Mead's Quarry and Ross Marble Natural Area.
Larry Schmittou, a renowned minor-league coach, executive, and overall baseball legend, traded diamonds for lanes to become president and co-owner of Strike & Spare Family Entertainment. Bowlers, gamers, and bar-goers can convene at locations across four states, each booming with the thundering sound of balls clashing against pins and confused children tap-dancing down the alley. The center is open 365 days per year, with lights and music enticing adults into the bar for a drink or snack, all while the arcade’s bells and whistles distract young ones until the lanes close. A bowling-rewards card incentivizes trips to the alley with credits for future purchases.
Regal Cinemas Webster Place 11, part of Regal Entertainment Group's 6,653-screen family, enchants movie-goers of all ages with its wide selection of cinematic offerings. Films range from summer blockbusters and family films to special broadcasts from The Met, The Globe Theatre, and the White House’s crawlspace.
The Blount Mansion Ghosts and Ghouls tour bridges the gap between past and present by taking visitors on a spine-tingling tour of Knoxville's spookiest historical sites. Leaders donning their most elaborate guises will take visitors through the ectoplasm-soaked streets of downtown Knoxville, regaling them with terrifying anecdotes of bloody and supernatural events in the actual places where they once occurred. Past excursions have included stops at the Gay Street Bridge, where criminals were hanged for horrendous crimes such as murder, robbery, and having shifty eyes. Perhaps the most horrendous intrigue is a recounting of the legend of the Wampus cat —an ancient folkloric creature that causes insanity and drags victims to its underground cave beneath the city, where they're forced to drink with the decidedly less frightening ghost of Andrew Jackson and declare their undying hatred of the Whig party.
Alive After Five provides music lovers with an opportunity to hear master melodeers in an unconventional venue. Each installment in the popular Friday-evening series presents the musical stylings of stylists who fall outside of the mainstream’s diet of pop-rock, gangster rap, and Mongolian folk song mash-ups. Come out October 8 to digest the Latin-flavored ear food of Matias-Rocha y Nueva Trova—accompanied by the fancy footwork of Latin dance school Salsa Knox—or swing by November 12 for the jazz, blues, and soul of Bluesette. Many performances also strike a comestible chord with fare from local eateries such as Cocoa Moon and Regas Restaurant, plus two cash bars to keep throats clear in case of a mid-song audience scat wave.
Packard’s Games and Movies fuels friendly competition and hours of virtual entertainment with an eclectic abundance of gently used media. Gamers can fire up current consoles with a collection of used games, such as Halo 3 ($9.99) and Fable II ($7.99), which carry the ghosts of past triumphs to challenge their new owners. Those yearning for pixels of the past can dive into a rich selection of retro games ($2.99+) for vintage systems including Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Guide virtual superheroes as they jump across flames and elude persistent tax collectors with controllers for the Playstation 2 ($9.99+), Super Nintendo ($9.99+) or the Nintendo 64 ($12.99–$19.99). Stacks of previewed DVDs ($4.99) and Blu-rays ($8.99+) provide ample fodder for future movie nights. Each store has a slightly different selection, so call ahead for specific inquiries or simply browse through the cartridge- and disc-packed aisles in person.