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.
For more than 70 years, jewels used to fill the African mahogany cases lining Sapphire's walls. The dark wooden cabinets remain, although they now brim with more than 40 kinds of vodka, Tennessee and Kentucky whiskeys, and rums from Central and South America. Sapphire may no longer drape its customers in precious gemstones, but it does aim to preserve the sense of elegant refinement that characterized the historic building for decades.
This commitment is readily apparent in the menu of upscale southern cuisine, which includes Tennessee cheeses from Sweetwater Farms, bacon and ham from nearby Benton's, and seasonal produce from local farms. These ingredients appear throughout the selection of regionally inspired dishes. Some dishes, such as the Louisiana-crawfish-stuffed hushpuppies with cajun remoulade, assertively announce their southern roots, whereas others show a bit more restraint, such as beef-tenderloin medallions, which arrive with a simple southern succotash.
On Thursday through Saturday evenings, the elegant environment in the long, narrow room becomes livelier as the night progresses and DJs begin their sets. Upbeat rhythms echo off the high ceilings and the vintage mahogany woodwork while patrons enjoy one of the martinis that earned Sapphire a spot on Metro Pulse's Best of Knoxville 2012 list.
YMCA of East Tennessee holds fast to its three-fold mission: to encourage healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility. Each of their five locations brims with cardio and weight equipment, as well as digital ActivTrax kiosks, which print out customized workout plans based on each guests' information. Instructors lead group fitness classes for adults and stacks of trench-coat-clad babies disguised as adults, offering sessions that range from kickboxing to water aerobics. In addition to specialized sessions for seniors, they also lead sports programs for kids, such as swimming, basketball, and karate, as well as host a youth-based leader's club.
The folks at YMCA of East Tennessee offer memberships to military families and host programs for kids who have dropped out of school or who have been suspended. Their scholarship program helps families send their kids to the YMCA's fun, safe, character-developing programs no matter their financial circumstances.
Train dancers with the best instruction possible. Give audiences professional work to watch. Inspire a love of ballet in the community at large. This is the three-part mission at Appalachian Ballet Company, and it hasn't changed since its founding in 1972. That aim to both educate and entertain informs every production the company performs, which includes classic stories such as Peter Pan, Cinderella, and an annual Nutcracker, complete with lavish sets and costumes.
Appalachian Ballet Company's artistic prowess has won it more than truckloads of roses. The organization was accepted into Regional Dance America's Southeast Regional Ballet Association in 1989, and became an Honor Company three years later. Artistic Director Amy Morton Vaughn has earned plenty of acclaim herself, including an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and a 2009 Teacher of the Year award from the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts.
A lengthy lineup of traditional game-day fare and a sports atmosphere captivate fans at Fox and Hound - Bailey's, where the kitchen remains open as late as its neighboring fully stocked bar. Chefs cook until the wee hours of the morning and always until the bar closes, baking Bavarian pretzel starters, crafting towers of onion rings, and preparing hand-battered chicken tenders that are cooked until they are golden brown. They blend their own seasonings to sprinkle over grilled-to-order burgers, and draw from a diverse roster of cheeses and toppings to crown their wood-oven-inspired flatbreads.
While manning the bars, bartenders tap into a stash of libations, such as UV Whipped vodka and Patron Silver tequila, to mix their specialty cocktails. To further foster a sporting ambiance, high-definition TVs glow with sports games and custom music-video playlists, and guests partake in pastimes of ump bashing, billiards, or competitive people watching.
Water churns under the circular red paddles of a massive, wooden wheel, and, as dusk falls, the green shoreline slowly waves goodbye. Strings of bright holiday lights shimmer on two wooden decks, reflecting in the water?s darkening surface. The moon looks on.
On both evening and day cruises, Tennessee Riverboat Company?s captains steer the Star of Knoxville and its passengers past the river?s shoreline foliage. Buffet-style meals and an ever-changing lineup of live entertainment captivate guests without forcing them to bunk with prop comedians. Seasoned captains pilot their ships through calm waters, pointing out spots of interest while passengers lounge in air-conditioned or heated interiors. Participants may also take to the dance floor as decks fill with gospel or country tunes on themed music cruises, where performers encourage participation to help expose stowaway Dolly Partons.