10 Ways to Keep Young Kids Entertained

If you have a 3- to 5-year-old in your household, you know it’s easy to run out of ideas for keeping them entertained. Now that most of the winter weather is behind us, it’s time to get out of the house and discover all the fun things young kids can do in Kingsport.

Here are 10 fun ideas and attractions for your preschooler:

Play Mini Golf – Indoors!

On days when the weather isn’t ideal for outdoor activities, check out downtown Kingsport’s Fizzy Fairway, a nine-hole indoor miniature golf course that’s fun for kids and adults alike. 

With a light food menu, an ice cream parlor, board games, a bar offering specialty sodas, and four TVs playing your favorite sports, Fizzy Fairway is a great place for kids and adults to while away a few hours. The course even features interactive holes where opposing players have the chance to play defense against their opponents!

Fizzy Fairway, 117 Shelby St., is open Tuesday through Sunday unless they’re hosting a private party. Call 423-390-1156 or email info@fizzyfairway.com for more information.

Start a Spring Garden

We may have another hard freeze or two before spring is officially here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get started on your vegetable garden now, with a little help from your little one! 

Growing things they can later eat is an excellent experience for kids on many levels – they can learn a bit about biology, gain a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and get some engaging, moderate exercise. And just like adults, kids can enjoy the benefits of stress relief and improved mood from digging in the dirt. 

So where to start? According to Evergreen, March is a good time to start sowing seeds for a variety of vegetables and herbs. If you have a prepared spot for your garden, you can go ahead and plant seeds for carrots, kale, broccoli, turnips, spring onions, spinach, peas, shallots, and more. You can also plant brussels sprouts, cauliflower, squash, chili peppers, sweet peppers, celery, and tomatoes indoors now and move your plants outdoors in early to mid-May. 

Evergreen is located at 1876 Moreland Drive. Call 423-245-4769 or email info@evergreenofch.com for more information on planting a garden.

Go on a Hike

While hiking with children is great exercise, it’s also an enriching experience in other ways. As you walk the trails, you can engage little ones’ minds by talking about plants and animals you see along the way, signs of changes in the weather, outdoor safety and trail etiquette, and how to read a trail map.

At Bays Mountain Park, a 44-acre nature preserve, there’s no shortage of ways to have outdoor fun, including more than 40 miles of hiking trails that range from easy to expert level. A couple of the easier trails are better-suited to preschool-age kids, such as:

  • Chinquapin Trail and Lakeside Loop Trail, a 3.3-mile moderately trafficked loop trail that features beautiful wildflowers and is good for all skill levels. It’s a great place to see ducks and turtles due to its proximity to the park’s lake. 
  • Cliffside Trail, a 1.6-mile lightly trafficked loop trail, is good for all skill levels. This trail takes you along the Bays Mountain ridge line to the observation deck and offers good views of the Tennessee Valley and Roan Highlands. It starts out steep, but levels out before long.

Bays Mountain is located at 853 Bays Mountain Park Road. Call 423-229-9447 for more information, or download a trail map at their website, baysmountain.com. 

Try Out Pedal Boating

If you and your little ones enjoy getting out on the water without the hassle or expense of a big boat, rent a pedal boat at the Warriors’ Path State Park marina – lifejackets are included. It’s good exercise, a fun way to enjoy Fort Patrick Henry Lake without getting wet, and is a safe, easy step toward getting kids interested in the many water activities available in our region. 

The Warriors’ Path marina is open year-round, Wednesday through Sunday, but hours vary by season. The park is located at 490 Hemlock Road. Call 423-239-7275 for more information about park activities.

Go Bowling

While it’s simple on the surface, bowling can teach a lot of wide-ranging skills to preschool-age children. Not only can they work on their hand-eye coordination as they learn to pick up, hold, and roll the ball, but they can also learn patience, balance, sportsmanship, turn-taking, and counting. 

Bowling at Warpath Lanes works up an appetite, and the snack bar offers plenty of options to fuel your game, including cheese sticks, nachos, onion rings, fries, corndogs, hot dogs, hamburgers, philly cheese steaks, pizza, and soda. 

Warpath Lanes is located at 2449 Memorial Blvd. Call 423-245-2695 or 423-246-2695 for more information. 

Take a StoryWalk

Reading boosts a child’s social, emotional, and character development, and brain scans show that when kids are read to, the part of their brain associated with visual imagery, story comprehension, and word meaning gets stronger. A landmark study once said, “The single most important activity for … their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” 

For preschool-age kids, the Kingsport Public Library is a great place to enjoy storybooks, read to them by friendly library staff in the auditorium every Tuesday morning at 10:30. See storytime guidelines and scheduled themes by visiting the library’s website. The library recommends extending the storytime experience by checking out books for your children each week as well. 

And just next door is a uniquely fun way for young children to become immersed in an exciting tale. StoryWalk, a series of stations with pages from kids’ books, starts near the front door of the library and goes into and through Glen Bruce Park. The library changes out the featured story periodically.

The library is located at 400 Broad St. and Glen Bruce Park is located at 414 Broad St. Call 423-229-9489 for more information.

Play Away the Energy

Perhaps one of the more obvious activity choices for preschool-age kids to have fun is to visit a playground. But the Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground is much more than just a swing set and some monkey bars. 

Featuring universally accessible playground equipment and soft-landing surfaces, the Boundless Playground is a place for kids of all ages and all abilities to let loose. Additional fun features include a walking trail, an environmental maze with interactive play stations, an amphitheater, a picnic pavilion, a state-of-the-art treehouse, a braille trail, and so much more! The specially equipped restrooms are also designed for accessibility.

The Boundless Playground is located lakeside at Warriors’ Path State Park, 390 Hemlock Road. Call 423-956-4330 or email info@friendsofwarriorspathstatepark.com for more information.

Learn to Swim

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most kids are ready to take formal swim lessons when they’re about 4 years old, which is the age when they can coordinate their movements to learn key swimming skills.

The Kingsport Aquatic Center has three multipurpose pools in its 46,000-square-foot indoor facility, which is open year-round. American Red Cross-approved swim lessons are offered for 3- to 5-year-olds with varying levels of experience. 

“Guppies” are the true beginners, and learn the basics of swimming, like entering the water safely and floating with support. “Seals” learn skills like jumping in and swimming to the side of the pool with assistance; “Dolphins” build on strokes they have already learned and can swim 5 yards unassisted; and “Sharks” learn to dive, tread water for 30 seconds, and add to their repertoire of strokes. 

The Aquatic Center’s certified instructors also offer private adaptive swim lessons, designed to teach swimming and water safety to children with neurological, developmental, and cognitive challenges. The center is located at 1820 Meadowview Parkway; call 423-343-9758 to learn more.

Try Gymnastics

Another good way to get younger kids active and strong is to enroll them in gymnastics classes. At Meadowview Gymnastics Academy, 1294 Southgate Place, children can learn balance, coordination, body awareness, and more in their preschool and Kindergym classes. 

These classes teach little ones the basics of gymnastic skills on preschool-sized equipment and let them have tons of fun on the rope swing, trampolines, in-ground loose foam pits, and more while their parents watch from the observation room. Kids can also enjoy much of the same equipment on Tuesday mornings from 10-11 without enrolling as students.

Meadowview’s coaches are all professionally apprenticed and hold national safety certifications. Call Meadowview Gymnastics Academy at 423-245-6779 or email meadowviewgym@gmail.com to learn more about their preschool and Kindergym classes.

Take a Turn on the Carousel

Inside the Pal’s Roundhouse at the corner of East Center Street and Clinchfield Street downtown, you’ll find a vintage, restored carousel with hand-carved animals ready to take kids on a spin. For just a dollar each, children can ride the carousel Wednesday through Sunday all year long.

The carousel’s dogs, cats, dragons, tiger, zebras, and of course, horses were hand-carved and hand-painted by volunteers, making it a true local treasure. In addition to the carousel, the Pal’s Roundhouse also features a gift shop and party room available to rent. Visit the carousel at 350 Clinchfield St.; call 423-343-9834 for more information.

Whether your kids are in the mood to go on a nature adventure, learn a new skill, play games, or simply burn off some excess energy, Kingsport has lots to offer!

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