Located in southeastern Tennessee, Counce offers your family a low-key vacation destination with easy access to the Pickwick Dam that slows the Tennessee River. The town sits close to the state lines for Alabama and Mississippi, making local attractions in nearby locations a short drive away. Choose a rustic cabin just outside of town, or consider a more spacious home near the small downtown area, where you can stop by the local gas station for some gossip and information on where to catch the biggest fish. Before you start packing, go ahead and check out the top 11 things to do in and around your Counce vacation rental with your kids.
1. Go Boating
North of the Pickwick Dam, you’ll find several boat ramps where you can launch a sailboat or powerboat out onto the Tennessee River. On the northern side of the dam, the water is calmer and more like a lake than a river, so it’s a great spot to take out a canoe or kayaks. Several local outfitters also rent watercrafts for the afternoon if you don’t bring your own.
2. Go for a Hike
Slip on your sturdy shoes and head out for a hike to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery. In nearby Pickwick Landing State Park, there are several trails that are tailor-made for families with small children. The Inn Walking Trail runs for a little over a mile along a paved surface, with great views of the river and the inn at the park. For something a little more challenging, check out the Island Loop Trail for a hike that’s just short of three miles over a natural trail.
3. Try Disc Golf
Take the family to the Pickwick Landing State Park to try your hand at disc golf, a game that’s played similar to golf except you use a small frisbee and try to land it in a net above the ground. The disc golf course at the state park is a great place for beginners and starts near the inn, where you can get a map of the course at the front desk. There are also some more challenging holes if you’re not new to the sport.
4. Catch a Mess of Fish
Between the Tennessee River and Pickwick Lake, there are many opportunities for fishing. Pack a cooler and your rods, reels, and tackle box. You can stop by the state park and fish from one of the docks, or find a shaded area to relax along the bank. Another great spot is below the dam in the Tennessee River, where you can sit on the rocks along the bank and throw your line in. Store any fish you keep in a cooler and make a fresh fish dinner back at your vacation rental.
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5. Hit the Beach
You might think since you’re miles away from the ocean that you can’t spend a day at the beach, but at Pickwick Landing State Park, there are two beaches for swimming. It’s a popular spot in the summer months, so arrive early to stake out an area for your beach blanket, cooler, and sand pails. There aren’t lifeguards on duty, so bring floaties for smaller children and less experienced swimmers. Stay the entire day with bathroom and picnic facilities in the immediate area.
6. Do Some Bird Watching
No matter what time of year you visit Counce, bird watching is a popular past time in the nearby Pickwick Landing State Park. There are more than 160 species of birds documented in the area. In the cooler months, you can expect to see loons, gulls, and ducks. Some say that the ring-billed gulls and American coots number in the thousands. When migration begins in the spring, it’s common to see a variety of songbirds. Grab your binoculars and a notebook before leaving your vacation rental to get a good view of your new flying friends.
7. Go Golfing
Bring your golf clubs and store them in the closet of your vacation rental until you have the chance to take the family to the Pickwick Landing golf course. Older children enjoy spending an afternoon trying their hand at a new game, and this golf course features a green surrounded by forests with glimpses of the lake. The course features out of bounds guards 11 holes and 21 bunkers throughout.
8. Learn a Little Military History
Gather the family in the car for the short drive to the Shiloh National Military Park. Two major battles of the American Civil War were fought in this area, and your family can take an audio tour of the park or wait a guided ranger tour. Depending on the day, there are reenactments of the battle with men in Union and Confederate clothing taking the field. Pack a picnic lunch before leaving your vacation rental and dine alfresco at the park.
9. Visit the Helen Keller Home – Alabama
Take the kids to the birthplace of Helen Keller for a little inspiration. Becoming deaf and blind before age two, Helen Keller overcame tremendous odds when she learned to communicate with the outside world. Spend an afternoon taking a tour of her home in nearby West Tuscumbia, Alabama, and learn about Helen’s life through the knowledgeable volunteer guides. Afterwards, wander through the outdoor gardens and enjoy the sculptures and greenery.
10. Tour a Frank Lloyd Wright Home – Alabama
On a rainy afternoon, load the family in the car for the short drive to the Rosenbaum House. This is the only home built by Frank Lloyd Wright in the state of Alabama. Take a guided tour of the home, or stroll the outdoor grounds and take photos of the beautiful greenery.
11. Visit Corinth – Mississippi
One evening, take the family to nearby Corinth for an outing. Select one of the locally owned restaurants for dinner and stroll through the downtown area afterward. For a little history, visit the “Crossroads of the Confederacy,” a railroad junction in downtown Corinth that gave the town its strategic importance during the Civil War.
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