6 Fun Date Ideas Around East Tennessee That Won’t Break The Bank
When you’re in love, any place can feel like heaven on earth. But the 9 Lakes region of Tennessee was actually dubbed “the most heavenly place” by naturalist John Muir. He coined the phrase in the mid-1800s when his Thousand Miles Walk to the Sea took him through ridges and forests. You and your date can recreate Muir’s journey and explore to your heart’s content – without breaking the bank. Here are six fun date ideas that won’t drain your wallet.
1. Road Trip
Taking a road trip is still one of the most economical ways to explore the area (eyes on the road and not each other, please!). You’ll see several hidden gems and panoramic views as you drive through Eastern Tennessee, including Fort Southwest Point, just off I-40 near Kingston. Back a picnic lunch and bring your pooch. Admission is free. Rent a nearby cabin for the night, and sip some local wine from your front porch
2. Wine Tastings.
The region is chock-full of breweries and wineries. The Wine and Cider Trail includes many stops that offer free tastings. Three wine trails and 20 wineries dot the countryside, providing ample opportunity to enjoy a romantic sunset toast. The area’s unique climate, created by bordering Appalachian mountain ranges – the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cumberland Mountains – helps vintners sips that you’ll only find in this part of the country.
3. Love at the Lake
Of course, the lakes are the region’s showstoppers, with plenty of hiking, biking, and water sports to enjoy on a leisurely weekend with your one and only. The 9 Lakes region is also home to many campgrounds (most are on the lakes), with amenities ranging from primitive cabins to “glamping.” Being on the water means an abundance of water sports, boat rentals, and other budget-friendly activities. And you don’t have to limit your lake visit to summertime. Enjoy fall foliage and experience autumn camping, with camping fees starting at just $10 per night.
4. Drive-In Movies
Looking for something a bit less rustic, try what your parents (or grandparents!) used to do to stir up some romance: take in a drive-in movie. The Loco Drive-In in Loudon offers reasonable ticket prices ($10 for adults and just five bucks for kids) for movies as well as free regional football games in the fall months. No outside food is allowed, so plan to bring some extra cash if you’d like to purchase snacks.
5. Knock around Knoxville
When you’re ready to head back to the city, know that Knoxville hosts a variety of free or low-cost activities, many connected by a free trolley. Hop on the Blue Line to enjoy lunch in Market Square or dinner along the waterfront. From art and culture to wandering the area’s urban wilderness and 85 miles of greenways, there’s ample opportunity for romantic walks that follow natural features like rivers, ridges, and streams.
6. Backyard Barbecue
Wandering the city’s greenways may inspire you to try to mimic this beauty back home. Homeowners in the 9 Lakes region know this area’s temperate climate can be hospitable to many grass varieties and native plants. Spruce up your yard, and dine al fresco with your date. (Few things are as enticing as a man making dinner for his date.) With a little TLC, you can make memories right from the comfort of your own backyard, sipping the last of that local wine you brought home.
Jodi Hunter is a freelance writer and photographer who enjoys traveling and fishing around the country with her boyfriend. Her Instagram and Facebook pages are filled with pictures of landmarks, waterfalls, wildflowers., and oh yeah, big fish.