With dropping temperatures and the end of that darned Daylight Savings this month, I definitely felt the need to start laying out my indoor recreation options for the kids.
This week we scouted out the Smyrna Outdoor Adventure Center (SOAC), Smyrna’s barely two-year-old recreational facility in the former town center. Aside from its fantastic climbing rooms, it’s also home to rotating interactive exhibits and dozens of intriguing programs for homeschoolers, preschoolers, and families. While their fabulous Splash Town pool and splash pads are closed for the season I’m so thrilled to add this incredible center to our indoor fun options. Here are three ways you can take in the SOAC this fall and winter.
1. Take a Class
It may sound like a cliché, but SOAC truly offers a variety of classes for the entire family for incredibly economical pricing. Popular programs include PE and team building for homeschoolers, the free Critter Encounters every Wednesday, Wilderness Walks the first Saturday of the month (featuring hikes and fish release with TWRA officers), preschool crafts and lessons, Smyrna Strokes painting for children and adults, and Family Nights. The holidays bring a special run of programs including mod podge lanterns on Black Friday, a Gingerbread House Workshop before Christmas, and a Winter Break Camp for the 8-12 year old crowd. Most programs are free or run $2-$5, with a few closer around $10 for additional materials.
2. Explore Exhibits
You might not think “children’s museum” when you hear “outdoors” but that’s exactly the kind of experience the large area inside the SOAC offers with space for displaying artwork and hands-on educational exhibits for children. This week kicks off the “Amazing Castle” exhibit from Minnesota Children’s Museum traveling exhibits, and it will reign in the gallery through January 12. The colorful and engaging display features a child-sized medieval castle with costumes and props along with scenes depicting seven characters within the medieval society—carpenter, seamstress, blacksmith and others. Children 12 and under will have a blast imagining themselves as royalty while learning about daily medieval life.
3. Climb (and draw on, and move) the Walls
Busy children will love the spaces for active kids in the Adventure Zone as well as throughout the center. The Adventure Zone climbing area features two rooms—one for ages 8 and older, while the other is suitable for all ages, including toddlers—separated by a rope and clear partition (nice for families with children in both rooms). They really are that fun. My 2 and 4 year old and I loved climbing in the second room and running across the double-layer net that extends the length of the room. Balls, busy boards and building block cushions will entertain small children for hours, while even teenagers will be challenged by the various rope swings and climbing apparatus. Next door, ages and 8 and up will have fun using the auto-belay to lock-in and climb their hearts out on the walls and towers (staff is available to supervise and aid climbers).
Outside the Adventure Zone, my kids quickly found the adorable “Magic Mural” in the main activity hallway where they can color the animal or character without worrying about staining the walls. They also loved the many busy boards mounted on walls in the hallway that ensure little hands can stay occupied during their visit.
I see many more visits to SOAC for my family during chilly weather, and look forward to utilizing this valuable local resource year round!
Special Upcoming Events at SOAC
The Amazing Castle Exhibit: Now- January 12
Critter Encounter: November 6, 13, 20, and 27; 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Wilderness Walk, November 9, 9 a.m- 2 p.m.
Teddy Bear Tea, November 16, 11 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Smyrna Strokes Royal Kids Night, November 16, 6 -8 p.m.
Mickey and Minnie’s Birthday Celebration (Preschool), November 19, 1 -2 p.m.
Family Campfire and Night Hike, November 23, 6 – 9 p.m.
Make a Lantern, November 29, 1 – 3 p.m.
Find more upcoming SOAC events and programs on the Town of Smyrna calendar at townofsmyrna.org as well as on their Facebook page, or call 615-459-9710.
SOAC is a division of Smyrna Parks and Recreation and is located at 100 Sam Ridley Parkway East in Smyrna. Hours are Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Sundays 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. General Admission is $3 for seniors and children 3- 12, with climbing $5, and adults are $4 GA, $7 with climbing. Individual and annual family memberships are also available starting at $75.
Laura Beth Payne is a writer mama living in the Blackman Community of Murfreesboro with her husband Nathan and their two children. Follow @murfreesboromama on Facebook and Instagram for more family fun in and around the city.