Maybe your family and friends are all planners and you've got your Thanksgiving week mapped out to rival most military operations. Maybe your tribe is more loose and you plan to play it by ear. My husband's and my crowds are a mix of both, meaning we need to have lots of options on hand to keep a variety of ages happy and entertained when they're in town. Whatever your Thanksgiving week looks like, here are a few inspos to add to the mix!
I've included links to most events, but due to the holiday, make sure you double check hours and openings at locations before you head over!
1. Dine out
Let's be honest, after all that cooking many of us do for one day, it's pretty important to have a few good restaurants on hand for the rest of the week! After turkey and stuffing, my family usually wants Italian or Mexican-- Marina's on the Square in Murfreesboro makes our favorite calzones, and we gravitate to Camino Real or Cinco de Mayo for Mexican. For a nicer sit-down dinner with kid-friendly dishes, impress the out-of-towners with local spots Dallas and Jane, The Alley on Main, or La Tavola Ristoriante Italiano in Smyrna.
2. Climb high
Busy kids and too-cool teenagers will find a great challenge, and a lot of fun, at local climbing spots The Ascent, Climb Murfreesboro, and Smyrna Outdoor Adventure Center. It's a great way to burn off the sugar highs and get a little friendly family competition going on the belays.
3. Skate on
What's more winter-y than ice skaing and hot cocoa? Enjoy favorite carols on the speakers and the magic of gliding on ice with loved ones at Fountains Winterfest 2019. Rails are available for littles and ice-skates accommodate a wide range of levels. Fires places warm chilly hands, and treats at the nearby Soda Bar make it hard to not have fun at this seasonal favorite at The Fountains.
4. Game on
Chances are that gaming is on tap for a few visitors in your home, but for something different, why not try local vintage arcades like Flashback Arcade or Game Galaxy Arcade in Smyrna? Pay by the hour or the day, and have fun getting your 80s-baby vibe on.
I'll go out on a limb here and assume that there might be a few friends and family who need to "escape" for a bit during the holidays! Direct them to local escape rooms Murfreesboro Escape Rooms or Locked: Escape Game Murfreesboro for a fun adrenaline rush and mental challenge.
6. Drink up
Get out of the house for a good cup of Joe, interesting spaces for the kids, and time to reconnect with friends at local coffee shops. Carpe Café, Just Love Coffee Roasters, Brass Horn, Morning Brew, and Bella Vista are just a few spots for the perfect cup.
7. Run for fun
On Thanksgiving join hundreds who have pledged to burn calories and contribute to local charities through the BoroDash, a 4-mile run/walk course through historic Murfreesboro. There's still time to get in on the fun (even on packet pick up day!). Register here.
8. Listen up
It's hard to find a night where the music isn't on around Rutherford County, but the holidays certainly make it more special. Thanksgiving night, head over to Mayday Brewery for Old Time Jam, or on Sunday starting at 1, go to Hop Springs for Americana Sunday, a family friendly event featuring a bluegrass jam session, wood-fired pizza, even corn hole and disc golf. On Sunday, visit MTSU for the "Sounds of the Season" performance, featuring holiday classics for the entire family.
9. Shop local
Shop "Black Friday," "Small Business Saturday," or any day, at the area's merchant hubs like Stones River Town Centre, The Avenue Murfreesboro, Downtown Murfreesboro, and The Fountains, where you'll find signature local businesses like Bink's Outfitters, The Country Gourmet, Epicurean Olive Oil, Quinn's Mercantile, The Marketplace, E. Allen Boutique, and dozens more.
10. STEAM up
Chances are that the grownups might still be recovering the day after Thanksgiving, but the kids will be ready to go. Give them a great experience in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (and the adults a bit of a break) at special events like "Turkey Day" at The Discovery Center and the "Make a Lantern" workshop at the Smyrna Outdoor Adventure Center.
11. Time travel
Locals and visitors alike will enjoy a beautiful walk (or run, or bike ride) at the Stones River Battlefield and learning more about the history of the county. Talk with rangers and take in the visitor's center with its unique film, exhibits, and intriguing gift shop.
12. Get lost
Not literally, of course, but maybe after a lot of food and conversation, a quiet meander through any of the Stones River Greenway trail heads or Smyrna Greenway trail heads might not be such a bad idea. Find climbing parks for kids, terrain maps, trail guides and amenities on their respective online sites.
13. Have a ball
If chilly weather limits outdoor options, get everyone warmed up with a round of bowling or bumper cars! Local family fun spots Lanes, Trains and Automobiles and Stars and Strikes offer plenty to keep the whole family happy and busy.
14. Jump big
15. See Santa
Get the cousin together for a group photo at "Click with Ol' Saint Nick" at Stones River Town Centre! He'll be hearing wish lists Monday-Saturday 12pm-8pm (break 3-4pm), or Sunday 12-6pm.
16. Make ornaments
For those needing a break from the lines or "add to cart," get creating at the Board and Brush Kid Friendly Ornament Make and Take workshop in The Fountains Sunday, December 1 (register online), or get a few friends and their kids together for a painting date at The Pottery Place in The Avenue.
17. Catch a parade
Usher in Christmas with the 45th annual Smyrna Christmas Parade, "A Tennessee Christmas," Sunday, December 1, at 2 p.m. Bring canned food items to contribute to Nourish Food Bank of Smyrna.
18. Be dazzled
If the dinosaurs don't make you catch your breath, the gems and minerals will! Earth Experience Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History features actual fossils and some casts of a wide range of dinosaurs, while the Mid-Tennessee Gem and Minerals Society's collections includes dazzling examples of Tennessee's rock and minerals.
19. Check off your "bucket" list
Visit the World's largest cedar bucket (and get the story behind that) at Cannonsburgh Village, a village depicting local life between 1830-1930. Self-guided tours are free, and all ages will enjoy roaming the grounds and visiting the museum of homes and businesses depicted from different eras.
20. Mural hop
For a fresh, fun, way to take those family portraits, take the crew to downtown Murfreesboro or Smyrna for fun backdrops and eye-catching art. Here's a list to get you started! You also won't want to forget the city's newest cityscape mural at 117 East Vine Street.
21. Get wet
Take a break from the eat-sleep-shop-snack-movie-repeat cycle and head over to Patterson Park Community Center for an indoor water park and other fun. Kids will love playing on the climbing apparatus while teens and adults can take on the slide. Afterwards, spend a few hours playing pool or air hockey in the game room, while little ones can cuddle up with books and play educational computer games at the MGL library located in the center.
22. Hug a tree
How often do you get to hug a 200-year old Oak tree? The outdoorsy folk in your group will enjoy the historic Arboretum and nature walks on the grounds of Oaklands Mansion, with helpful signage to explain local flora and fauna. Weather permitting, kids can enjoy the playground at Oaklands Park. While you're there, take a tour of the mansion and don't forget a few eye-catching souvenirs from the gift shop.
23. Sweeten up
If home-baking wasn't on the table this week (or even if it was!) your guests will love exquisite, homemade sweets from Nonie's Bakery, Simply Pure Sweets, Olive Branch Bakery, all in downtown Murfreesboro.
24. Chill out
Whenever everyone's ready to not have pie for breakfast, get a boost from fresh, flavorful and nutritionally rich juices and smoothies from I Love Juice Bar off Thompson Lane or Vibe Nutrition downtown. Check out their great options for kids, too!
25. Read on
Adults and older kids can relax while browsing bookstacks and comics, or even picking up a few at the sale racks, at Linebaugh Library, Smyrna Library, or LaVergne Library, while littles will have a blast with toys, games, and computers in the colorful children's areas.
26. "Wine" down
Slow down from the holiday bustle with a walk through the gorgeous landscape at Arrington Vineyards, just 15 minutes outside Murfreesboro. The enclosed porches (you'll stay toasty even it's cold) and green spaces are the perfect spots for families to enjoy some unrushed time together (and yes, children are welcome!). On the weekends you can catch stellar live music, but you can visit any day for wine tastings, picnics on the property (bring your own food or purchase gourmet items there), and one unforgettable Tennessee scene.
27. Putt a hole-in-One
Bundle up and head over to Go USA Funpark for outdoor putt-putt, go-kart racing, batting cages, arcades and even a simulated roller-coaster!
28. Give thanks
Despite the day, it can be easy to forget to give thanks if you're caught up in hosting or just hustling. Whether you're at home or out and about, share a time of intentional thanksgiving with your family and loved ones. You can also join others at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church downtown for their annual community Thanksgiving service before a meal from 10:30am-12:30pm on Thanksgiving Day.