Recover from the daily grind and a fast-paced environment in a get-back-to-nature vacation at Norris Lake in Tennessee. When you stay in a vacation rental in Norris Lake, you’ll be able to take in the beautiful views of beautiful blue water and fresh leafy trees. You’ll also have stunning views of the Cumberland and Smoky Mountains from around the lake — and you can enjoy it from the porch of your home away from home. The kids will love swimming, fishing, hiking, and kayaking in this area, while the Museum of Appalachia, the popular rope swing, and the jumping bridge will also stand out in their memories. Here are 10 of the very best family activities to help you plan your trip.

1. Take the Plunge Off the Cedar Creek Bridge

cedar creek bridge

What gets your heart rate pumping? Locals and visitors flock to Cedar Creek Bridge, known as the jumping bridge, to test their courage on a 35-foot plunge to the cool waters below. Need a real adrenaline jolt? Hurdle yourself off the bridge in a kayak—, and make sure someone gets it on video for posterity. If you prefer spectator sports, pull up in your boat, relax, and enjoy watching the thrill-seekers execute their swan dives, cannonballs, and belly-flops.

2. Shred the Lake on a Wakeboard

man wakeboarding

While renting your boat from one of the Norris Lake marinas, get some wakeboards for members of your family who want to give it a try. It’s an activity made for a wet, splashy vacation adventure. If your family is new to wakeboarding, marina associates welcome questions about fitting boards, bindings, ropes, and buoyancy aids. Rent some inner tubes, too, for when everyone needs a break from waking up.

3. Hike the Trails

hiking

When hiking with kids, time is your friend. Take plenty of it to create a memorable adventure for everyone involved. The many trails around the lake give you opportunities for short jaunts or exploring the lush forests beyond the waterfront. Harmon Loop Trail’s half-mile trek is a good place, to begin with, new hikers. Before leaving your cozy lakeshore vacation rental, pack some water and healthy snacks in the backpacks. Designate a leader for each leg of the hike, and switch leaders during energizing stops. Look for wildlife along the way and take lots of pictures to commemorate the small wonders of the world that cross your path.

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4. Go Kayaking

kayaking

Learning to kayak on a lake makes a fun, and funny, experience for the whole family. Kid-sized kayaks help children learn to handle and maneuver their crafts while still having fun. Kayak rentals include paddles and life jackets. When everyone needs a rest, tie the kayaks up at your private dock that leads to your waterfront vacation rental. You’re guaranteed to smile while you’re on the water!

5. Splash and Swim

swimming lake
Source: Flickr/Kevin O’Mara

Enjoy a long, satisfying stretch, pad down to the end of your dock, saunter into the water, and release all of your worries into a refreshing swim. Float blissfully as the cool water dissolves every ounce of stress in your bones, and then prepare for the kids’ ambush. Pool noodles, super soakers, and buckets of water make good weapons of choice for such battles. Lose gracefully.

6. Meet the Animals at the Zoo

zoo tiger

Need to dry out? Include the Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue in Clinton on your to-do list. It provides a wonderful opportunity to teach the kids about animal rescue, as the zoo takes in exotic pets that need forever homes. Enjoy the beauty of the amazing creatures, lovingly tended in this non-profit facility.

7. Find a Geocache

geocache

For those in the family who wish to coordinate their electronic devices with their vacation adventures, geocaching is the perfect solution. Choose GPS coordinates and use smartphones to locate hidden treasures around and about the lake and Norris Dam State Park. Take an item from the cache as a souvenir and leave something in its place. Remember to sign the cache log to let others know about your participation.

8. Catch a Big Fish

fishing
Source: Flickr/outlan2000

Unless it’s raining cats and dogs, show the kiddies how to catch a fish—a catfish, maybe. Seasoned anglers bring their own gear, but you may get rods, reels, bait, and tackle at Norris Dam Marina. Catch that big one to show how it’s done, or let the kids wet their hooks first to feel the thrill of reeling in their very own fish.

9. Find the Rope Swing

rope swinging

Nothing gives kids (and teenagers!) more joy than swinging off a rope swing into a lake. The rope swing is one of Norris Lake’s most beloved attractions. At Big Ridge Park, heading toward the lake from the boat ramp, look for the rope swing in the last big hollow on the left across from an old boat launch.

10. Enter the Past at Museum of Appalachia

Source: Flickr/rjones0856

Step back in time at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee. The display barn features many exhibits, including Native American artifacts, settlers’ farming tools, folk art, and folk music. Enjoy the stories that accompany the exhibits, including the one about the civil war milk jug and the legacy of Granny Irwin’s Christmas Quilt. Explore the 30 rustic buildings that comprise the Appalachian village, including log houses, barns, a blacksmith shop, a jail, and a schoolhouse. There’s also a church and a moonshine still. It’s up to you (or the kids) what to visit first.

 
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