4 Nashville Activities that Belong on Your Spring To-Do List

Now that the weather’s getting warmer, it’s time to get out of the house and explore Nashville. Not only do these options offer plenty of family-friendly fun for all ages, they also help the whole family burn calories and build muscle without even realizing it. Pack a healthy lunch, get the kids in the car and enjoy spring in Nashville.

Float the Harpeth

The Harpeth River snakes 125 miles through the middle of the state before emptying into the Cumberland River. During the majority of the year, it offers only Class I rapids, which are perfect for children and beginners. If you have older children, renting kayaks will allow them more freedom.

Go on a Science Adventure

A science center may not be your first thought when you’re trying to keep your kids moving, but the Adventure Science Center is perfect for the day when those spring showers keep you indoors. From climbing in the three-story tower to dozens of hands-on exhibits that allow kids and adults alike to learn about science, there’s plenty to keep them interested.

In the BodyQuest gallery, you can play a life-sized version of the board game Operation, control a Ping-Pong ball with your mind and learn about blood cells while playing laser tag. The science center also offers a special toddler area to keep the youngest members of your crew engaged.

Learn about more family fun activities in Tennessee.

Learn about Nature

There is something for every member of the family at Warner Park Nature Center. For preschoolers, ask about the latest StoryWalk book and follow the story along the Little Acorn Trail. For teens, consider signing up for an organic gardening class.

People of all ages can enjoy other nature center programs, including learning orienteering and survival skills, catching crawdads and making mud pies. Nature Guides can help you spot wildlife and identify plants on a family-friendly hike.

Hit the Ice

You may know Ford Ice Center as the ice rink where the Nashville Predators train. But did you know it’s open daily for families to learn to skate, play games on the ice and have a little fun?

Kids can learn more about hockey through the center’s free youth hockey clinics for beginners and even meet Predators prospects. After you’ve gotten some exercise and enjoyed an afternoon of family fun, stay and watch local recreational hockey leagues duke it out on the ice.

 

What are your favorite outdoor activities to do in Nashville? Let us know in the comments!

Leah Newman is a freelance writer with particular interest in health and wellness, law, and personal finance. Her background is in journalism, and includes several years as a staff writer and editor at a daily newspaper. She has previously worked at the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, YMCA Camp Widjiwagan and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Leah lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Most outdoor activities have some level of risk, and you may need to consult an expert before engaging in the activity. Always check the current weather conditions before embarking on any outdoor activity.

4 Secrets for Handling Picky Eaters

In a perfect world, your children would love everything you serve. In real life, you know that just isn’t the case. One won’t touch anything green, the other is experimenting with being a vegetarian and the third cries over anything that isn’t chicken fingers.

Having a gang of picky eaters can be enough to drive any parent straight to the local drive-in, but with a few smart tricks, making healthy meals that everyone agrees on is easier than you think. Here’s how to cook for kids with different tastes without driving yourself crazy in the kitchen.

Plan Your Weekly Menu

Having your kids weigh in on the family dinner plans not only teaches them skills on building healthy meals, but it makes them feel as if you’re listening to their preferences. When one child gets to have her favorite roast chicken on Monday, she might be more open to trying her brother’s beloved veggie lasagna on Tuesday.

Posting the weekly menu ahead of time helps kids know what to expect. Sometimes, a little advance notice is all a picky eater needs to get used to the idea of eating sweet potatoes or spinach.

Find Your Healthy Go-To’s

Sometimes there’s no time to make a weekly plan—and you find yourself panicking at 6 p.m. on Tuesday about what to cook for dinner. To avoid scrambling for a crowd-pleaser, build a kid-approved list of simple, healthy meals you can turn to when time is tight.

On a weekend afternoon, gather 20 or so recipes you love and that are easy to make. Then round up the kids and discuss each dish. Have them vote for the recipes they like, saving the ones that get a resounding yes from everyone. Next time you’re not sure what to cook, all you have to do is turn to your list.

Learn more about healthy eating.*

Make More Mix-And-Match Meals

Instead of whipping up three completely different dinners, make meals that are easy for your gang to customize. For instance, tacos can be filled ground beef or black beans. Homemade pizzas can be topped with pepperoni or chopped olives.

Similarly, make more dishes that are easy to leave things out of. It’s pretty hard to pick broccoli florets out of a casserole once it’s cooked, but it’s easy to reserve a portion of plain cooked noodles before adding broccoli to a basic bow-tie pasta and veggie dish.

Promote Adventurous Eating

You can’t force children to eat something they don’t like. But you can encourage your kids to try new things before giving them the veto. Make it a family rule that everyone has to sample a food item at least once. If someone doesn’t like something, ask him or her to explain why. For instance, you might find out your child doesn’t actually hate butternut squash; she only hates butternut squash with cinnamon.

Make a policy that requires your kids to re-try disliked foods again after a few months. Often, kids just need time to get used to a new food or recipe and will start to like it once it feels more familiar.

Learning how to cook for kids with different tastes doesn’t have to be difficult. With a few simple moves, you can start making more healthy meals that everyone accepts.

Marygrace Taylor is is an award-winning health, wellness, and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in Glamour, Redbook, Prevention, and Women’s Health. You can follow her on Twitter @mgtylr, or at marygracetaylor.com.

Healthy and Delicious Tomato Recipes Perfect for Spring

Tomatoes are some of the best parts of a Tennessee spring. Tomatoes are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs to be healthy.

Whether you want a main dish, a side or a satisfying appetizer, a tomato can get you whatever you need with these five recipes:

1.) Cornbread Salad

A hearty side dish for a potluck dinner, cornbread salad is a favorite among Tennessee families. While there are many variations, it typically begins with crumbled cornbread, fresh red tomatoes (any variety), bell pepper and onion mixed together with a dressing. You can add bacon, pickles, corn, beans, cucumbers or even cheese. Lighten the recipe using low-fat mayo or dressing. Try this a good basic recipe.

2.) Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes are a staple of many Tennessee households. To make them, slice four green tomatoes into half-inch slices. Whisk two eggs with half a cup of milk. Mix half a cup each of cornmeal and bread crumbs in a shallow plate and add some salt and pepper. Put one cup flour on another plate. Coat tomatoes with flour, then dip in the eggs and milk. Next, dredge the slices in the cornmeal-bread crumb mixture. Fry in vegetable oil until golden brown on both sides. For a healthier version, slice the tomatoes thinner (one quarter inch), coat as above and bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes.

Trying to eat healthier? See more delicious recipes.

3.) Tomato, Feta and Watermelon Skewers

Tomatoes’ tart acidity pairs great with cool, refreshing watermelon. This recipe from Southern Living takes about an hour and is a sweet, healthy treat that combines a bunch of flavors.

4.) Tomato Sauce

Plum tomatoes make a delicious sauce for pasta. It’s easy to make, but it does take some time to cook the tomatoes down, and you’ll need to peel the tomatoes. Score the tops using a sharp knife, and then drop them into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds. The skin will slide off easily.

5.) Peach-Tomato Salsa

Offer guests a fresh take on chips and dip with this easy-to-make peach-tomato salsa. Serve with tortilla chips or use it as a topping for grilled chicken or fish.

 

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.

3 Things Your Kids Will Learn at a Working Farm

Next time you’re planning an activity for the whole family, consider giving your children a glimpse into Tennessee’s proud agricultural heritage by touring a working farm. Many working farms in Tennessee welcome visitors for tours and a taste of the farm life experience.

Touring a working farm will help you and your family get a better understanding of where food comes from and develop a deeper appreciation for the farmers who manage the state’s 67,300 farms.

Here are three things your kids might learn on a working farm in Tennessee.

How to Make Cheese

Sweetwater Valley Farm in Philadelphia, Tennessee, welcomes visitors for walking tours. Visitors learn how humans’ routines affect a cow’s diet and how computers are used to manage the herd’s health. Farmers explain the cheese-making process, and visitors can see the process in action. A selection of these cheeses is available for purchase as well, so your family can enjoy what the farmers and cows work so hard to produce.

How to Make Wool and Cashmere

You’ve probably wondered how your favorite wool sweater was made. Find the answer at a place like Mountain Hollow Farm in Tazewell, Tennessee. Goats, rabbits, llamas and sheep live on this farm. Workers show visitors how fibers like wool and cashmere are harvested and then spun into yarn for clothing. Mountain Hollow also offers knitting and spinning classes.
 

Learn about more family fun activities in Tennessee.

How to Preserve Food

Farmers often preserve food grown during the summer to use during the less bountiful winter months. Find classes on how to can and preserve various types of foods at Taproot Farm in Franklin, Tennessee, or find one that’s organized by the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Office. You’ll learn what it takes to grow food and the best ways to store it, so you’ll have plenty of goodies to eat later on.

So why not plan a family farm experience for your next outdoor excursion? Find a working farm near you through the Tennessee Agritourism website.

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.

Why Gardening Is a Great Way to Relieve Stress

The next time you feel stressed, don’t reach for a sugary snack. Grab the gardening shears instead! Various studies have proven that gardening and stress relief go hand in hand.

A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology reported that gardening was more effective at reducing stress than reading a book. Another study that appeared in the Journal of Public Health found that working in a garden for just 30 minutes increased self-esteem and mood.

The Health Benefits of Gardening

So, why does gardening provide relief from stress?

  • Exercise: Digging, weeding, planting and harvesting are all physical activities that release endorphins and help keep you fit.
  • Time in the fresh air and sunlight: When you’re outside, your body enjoys fresh, clean air and your skin soaks up vitamin D from the sun. Just remember to wear sunscreen!
  • Provides nutritious food: If you grow vegetables, you’re more likely to eat a healthy diet. And when your body is healthy, you’re better able to manage everyday stresses.

Learn more about healthy living.*

Tips for Getting Started

Ready to start gardening? Here are four ideas:

  • Plant a vegetable garden at home. You don’t need much space to plant a garden. A small area in your yard where you can grow a few vegetables is a good start. Start with easy-to-grow vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers.
  • Or grow flowers instead. Try planting flowers in your yard or in hanging baskets. Good options to start with include clematis, petunias and geraniums.
  • Join a community garden. A community garden is a piece of land collectively gardened by a group of people. Each community garden works differently: some grow vegetables, some flowers. Some exist as one single plot where everyone pitches in while others allow people to rent individual plots.

In Tennessee, you’ll find various types of community gardens across the state. Neighborhood gardens like the Tree Streets Garden project in Johnson City allow residents to grow and harvest flowers, herbs and vegetables in a common plot. The Rest Community Garden in Memphis brings together seniors and youth to grow vegetables at a church. And the Sylvan Street Garden in Nashville utilizes public park space where local residents can grow food.

Have you tried gardening? Offer your tips for beginners below!

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

8 Can’t-Miss Tips for Surviving Spring Allergies in Tennessee

Spring in Tennessee means budding flowers, warmer weather and more often than not, sneezing and sniffling. With all of the state’s major cities ranked in the top 25 of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s nationwide list of “Allergy Capitals,” Tennessee is one of the most challenging places to live if you’re susceptible to spring allergies.

Pollen released from grass, trees, and plants as they are budding usually causes spring allergies, also called seasonal allergies. But allergies in Tennessee can drag on longer because of its relatively long growing season, according to The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.

This handy guide can help you with what to do before and during allergy season to avoid — or at least minimize — all the sniffling, coughing and sneezing.

How to Prepare for Allergy Season

Before the season hits this year, these tips can help you reduce your risk of a major allergy attack:

  • Enact a year-round “no shoes in the house” policy to keep dirt, dust and pollen from shoes out of the house.
  • Plan your gardening projects for early spring after the last frost but before budding begins.
  • Delegate lawn-mowing jobs to someone with no seasonal allergies.
  • Invest in a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to remove pollen and other allergens from your house.
  • Invest in a vacuum cleaner that accommodates a HEPA filter to trap allergens from floors and surfaces in the canister.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your allergy symptoms and get help.

 

Learn more about managing health conditions.*

What to Ask Your Doctor About Your Allergies

When you see your doctor about your allergies, you’ll want to ask these questions, as suggested by the National Institutes of Health:

  • Should I take an allergy test?
  • What recommendation do you have for treatment?
  • Should I use any over-the-counter medications such as nasal spray?
  • Does the medication cause any side effects that could make me feel worse?
  • How effective are allergy shots? What are the side effects?
  • Should I avoid exercising outdoors?

How to Manage the Day-to-Day Allergy Battle

These tips will help you deal with the daily struggle.

  • Avoid air-drying laundry outside during pollen season as it can stick to bedding and clothing.
  • Check your local weather for the pollen count and any weather specifics such as wind that can whip up allergies.
  • Keep doors and windows closed during high pollen counts and instead rely on an air-conditioning system with high-efficiency filters to circulate and clean indoor air.
  • If exercising outdoors, try it at night when pollen counts are lowest.
  • Wear a face mask if you have to be outdoors during high pollen counts.
  • Vacuum often using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and be sure to have someone else empty the canister.
  • During spring, rinse your nose daily with a saline spray to remove mucus and allergens from your nose, so you don’t continue to breathe them in.
  • Drink lots of water to keep mucous membranes around your mouth, nose and eyes properly lubricated to reduce irritation from rubbing, sniffling, coughing and sneezing.

While spring allergies might be inevitable, a few steps can make the springtime more enjoyable for those most susceptible.

Naomi Mannino is a health and personal finance journalist who specializes in helping consumers get the most from their health and financial choices. She enjoys sharing her personal experiences and never writes about anything she has not tried herself. You can follow Naomi on Twitter @naomimannino.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

Trail Running for Beginners: A Runner’s Guide to Getting Started

Bored with running? Liven things up by trading the pavement for the trail. Trail running has grown in popularity in the recent years, and for good reason. Not only is trail running more forgiving on your body than your typical road run, it also burns more calories, improves your balance and strengthens your core. Trail running for beginners is not as complicated as it may seem, although there are a few things you should know before making the transition.

Getting Started: Know the Basics

What are some of the differences you can expect when you start trail running? For starters, there’s less impact on your body. Running on harder surfaces, like sidewalks and treadmills, applies more force to your body, which can lead to injuries. The dirt, gravel or grass found on trails offers a softer surface for less impact on your joints.

Don’t expect to hit any personal records during your first few trail runs. Trail running forces you to constantly adapt and move side-to-side to navigate around rocks, tree limbs and other obstacles. Expect your pace to be as much as 20 percent slower when you first begin running trails, according to Runner’s World. Forget your usual pace and just enjoy yourself.

You’ll also need to adapt your stride in order to keep your feet under you. Shortening your stride keeps your body weight over your feet, allowing you to quickly react to obstacles without losing your balance.

It’s important to scan the ground several feet in front of you as you run to help prevent trips and falls. When you see something in your path, do what you can to step over it rather than on it. Rocks and roots are often slippery, especially when wet.

Learn more about getting fit.*

Getting Started: Get The Gear

Before you hit the trail, you will need a few pieces of gear to make the most of your run. This includes:

  • Clothing: You can run in the same thing you wear when you run now, but make sure to choose items you don’t mind getting wet or muddy.
  • Shoes:  If you’re going to run trails regularly though, you’ll want to invest in trail-running shoes. These trainers protect your feet better than road shoes by offering a thicker sole and increased stability on uneven terrain.
  • Hydration: If you run with a favorite water bottle or hydration pack, you can use the same one. Just don’t forget it because there aren’t water fountains along most trails!
  • Insect repellent: You might not need to ward off mosquitoes and ticks while you’re running on the roads, but the Tennessee woods are full of blood-sucking bugs, so it’s best to be prepared.

Getting Started: Find Your Way

From local to state to national military parks, Tennessee offers a ton of places to go for a trail run.

The Nashville area alone has more than 190 miles of trails, ranging from paved greenway trails to wooded trails along cliffs overlooking Percy Priest Lake. Knoxville runners can enjoy the Knoxville Urban Wilderness Corridor and other local off-road runs, but don’t overlook the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park or Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

Chattanooga boasts more than 150 miles of trails along the Tennessee River within a quick drive from downtown, offering plenty of opportunities for trail runners of all skill and fitness levels. The Shelby Farms Park Conservancy in Memphis boasts 4,500 acres of both paved and unpaved trails.

For help finding a trail near you, visit the American Trail Running Association’s free directory.

Leah Newman is a freelance writer with particular interest in health and wellness, law, and personal finance. Her background is in journalism, and includes several years as a staff writer and editor at a daily newspaper. She has previously worked at the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, YMCA Camp Widjiwagan and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Leah lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.

Most outdoor activities have some level of risk, and you may need to consult an expert before engaging in the activity. Always check the current weather conditions before embarking on any outdoor activity.

How to Maintain Your Friendships During Pregnancy

Having a baby not only changes your life, but also your friendships. Here are some tips on how to maintain friendships through pregnancy and remain supportive on both sides.

When Someone Doesn’t React Well

Whether you’re pregnant or someone else is, it’s common to have feelings other than joy. Learning about another person’s pregnancy can trigger strong emotions – and that’s usually not about the pregnant woman herself.

Perhaps your friend struggles with infertility, so your pregnancy reminds her of her own struggles. If a friend seems distracted at the news, it’s okay to ask if something’s bothering her and then reassure her you’re not taking it personally.

On the other hand, if a friend’s pregnancy brings up tough feelings for you, be honest. Tell her you’re happy for her, but you’re having a reaction based on your own circumstances and may need time to process your feelings. A good friend should understand.

What Should You Say (or Not Say)?

Women don’t always appreciate advice related to their pregnancy. If a pregnant woman wants to hear opinions on breastfeeding or potential names, she’ll ask. Otherwise, smile and keep your lips sealed. What if you’re pregnant, and someone is giving you advice? Nodding and saying “Thank you” or “We’re not ready to discuss that right now” is a great way to acknowledge someone’s words without starting an argument. Then politely switch subjects.

Having a baby? Learn more about what to expect during maternity.*

Activities to Do With a Pregnant Friend

In addition to a growing belly, pregnancy brings a host of physical changes that will most likely affect the activities you can do together. Not only is an evening at the bar less enjoyable for a woman sipping soda instead of chardonnay, but the smells, noise levels and high stools can be irritating or uncomfortable.

Pregnant women get tired easily. They may not want to stay out late or have the energy to do a marathon shopping spree. Pregnant women may experience hormonal changes, which can mean emotional instability, according to the Mayo Clinic, so proceed to tearjerker movies with caution. When planning activities with a pregnant friend, ask her how she is feeling and what she wants to do.

Consider going to an exercise class together, like pilates or yoga. You can also sign up for a meal preparation program, like the one offered through Super Suppers or host a freezer meal workshop with a Pampered Chef or Wildtree representative. You’ll prep meals you freeze and store until after baby comes, which is fun and helpful for the mom-to-be.

As you or your friends go through this life-changing experience, learning how to maintain friendships through pregnancy is important. Share your feelings in a kind but honest way. It’s important for you both to feel supported and keep those friendships strong.

Deborah Abrams Kaplan is a health and medical writer who works at a standing desk. She believes that everyone should take charge of their own healthcare and not be afraid to ask questions. She hopes that her writing empowers people to do that. You can see more of Deborah’s work on her website, and follow her on Twitter @friscokids.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

Vision Care Tips for the Whole Family

Living in Tennessee, you’ll want to be able to see all the beautiful things around you, including the vistas of the Smoky Mountains to the caves of Ruby Falls and the wildflowers Short Springs Natural Area. Here are some health tips to keep your vision in top shape for years to come.

How Often Should You Get Your Eyes Checked?

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends children get their first eye exam at six months and again at three years of age. After first grade, schedule an exam at least every two years.

If you don’t need eye correction as an adult, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends full examinations once in your 20s and twice in your 30s. The AAO also recommends adults with no eye disease risk factors get a baseline eye screening for eye diseases at age 40.

People approaching middle age might find that reading a restaurant menu is getting more difficult, as the development of eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and ocular tumors becomes more common as we age. From ages 40-64, have your eyes checked every two to four years. Adults age 65 or older should head to the eye doctor every 1 to 2 years.
 

Learn more about healthy living.*

What’s the Youngest Age You Can Get Contact Lenses?

Your ophthalmologist may have a recommended age, usually around 10 to 12, says the AOA. However, it varies by child and doctor. Before allowing your child to get contact lenses, consider if your child is ready for them. How well does he or she handle responsibility? Does he or she have good personal hygiene habits?

Taking care of contacts can be a big task for preteens, so try a trial period to see how your child does. (Keep a pair of glasses handy just in case your child finds he or she doesn’t like contacts.)

How Can I Protect My Eyes?

Protecting your vision is easier than you think. These eye health tips can keep your eyes in good shape:

  • Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses protect your eyes from direct sunlight that can cause retina problems and cataract development.
  • Safety comes first. Prevent eye injuries by wearing safety glasses when playing sports or doing home improvement projects.
  • Eat the right foods. You’ve been told that eating carrots can help save your vision, but make sure you’re consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables and foods with omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) as well. Foods that contain zinc and vitamins C and E help prevent age-related macular degeneration.
  • Take breaks. Prevent eye fatigue that comes with staring at a computer or phone screen by taking a break every 20 minutes to look in the distance.

Deborah Abrams Kaplan is a health and medical writer who works at a standing desk. She believes that everyone should take charge of their own healthcare and not be afraid to ask questions. She hopes that her writing empowers people to do that. You can see more of Deborah’s work on her website, and follow her on Twitter @friscokids.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

6 Family-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Activities in Tennessee

Did you know nearly 700,000 Tennesseans are of Irish ancestry? It’s no wonder there are so many fantastic family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day activities held in cities across the state every March.

So if you’re Irish — or even if you’re not — you can plan to attend an event that highlights the culture and heritage of the Emerald Isle. Here’s a look at some of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day events in the state for you and your family to enjoy.

Memphis

The 42nd Annual Silky O’Sullivan St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held along Beale Street on Saturday, March 12. The parade features floats, bands, dancers, cars and bead and candy throws. The free event is appropriate for all ages.

Learn about the Scots-Irish who rest at Elmwood Cemetery with the “Luck of the Irish” Walking Tour on Saturday, March 12 at 10:30 a.m. A guide will teach visitors about a former mayor, the city’s founder and other notable Irishmen and women who are buried in the historic cemetery. The cost is $15. To register, call 901-774-3212 or visit the cemetery’s website.

Nashville

Learn to dance a jig at the Music City Irish Fest,  located on Demonbreun Street, starting at the Musica Roundabout. Irish bands and dance troupes will perform throughout the day and vendors will sell Irish wares and offer dance and music lessons. This celebration of all things Irish is free and open to the public on Saturday, March 12.

The East Nashville St. Patrick’s Day Festival runs from noon until 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 12. Kids can enjoy a parade and “little leprechaun” contest early in the day, and parents can take in some tunes by Irish folk bands in the afternoon. The festival will be held at East Park. The event is free, but VIP tickets include lunch, and souvenir glasses are available for purchase.

Chattanooga

Rock City transforms into “Shamrock City” on two weekends in March (March 12 & 13 and March 19 & 20). The entire family can enjoy Irish jig lessons, strolling musicians, Irish foods, Celtic dance performances, green fudge and much more during this ninth annual celebration. Shamrock City festivities go from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on all four days. Tickets are required.

A fun event for all ages, the St. Chatty’s Day Parade winds through Chattanooga’s downtown from Market Street to Coolidge Park. The parade will be held on Saturday, March 12 beginning at noon and features more than 40 participants.

Celebrate at Home

Can’t make it to one of these events? Don’t worry! Have fun at home with these family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day activities! Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Serve up an Irish feast featuring traditional foods like potato leek soup, soda bread and apple cake.
  • Listen to music by popular Celtic bands like The Chieftains, Gaelic Storm, The Clancy Brothers or The Dubliners. Or watch a video of Irish step dancing by groups like Rhythm of the Dance or Riverdance.
  • Organize crafts and activities for kids of various ages. Make a leprechaun puppet from a paper bag, create a rainbow using Washi tape or play a St. Patrick’s Day-themed word game.

Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about the Irish culture together as a family. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at a community event or stay home and host your own Irish festivities for family and friends.

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.