Each of the cities in Northeast Tennessee's Tri-Cities area has a unique personality. For Kingsport, abounding, natural beauty surrounds a bustling and hospitable town that creates what might be the Tri-Cities most family-friendly atmosphere. So if you're seeking out a getaway spot where you can have as much fun as the kids, check out these can't-miss lakes, eats, city streets and mountain parks. What you find here just might surprise you.Special thanks to Melissa C. for helping make this spotlight possible
Afternoon On The Water: Warriors Path State Park
Lining the pleasant banks of the South Fork of the Holston River, just south of Kingsport proper, is the stillness of a reservoir: Fort Patrick Henry Lake. Tailor-made by the Tennessee Valley Authority for leisurely water activities, kayaks and canoes scull the calm face of the waters as fish plop and geese gabble. From the dock, families cast lines and soak in the warmth of the sun. There are also several miles of hiking trails, mountain biking paths and horseback riding trails through the woods. (490 Hemlock Road, Kingsport, TN 37663)
Local Icon: Pal's Sudden Service
Once you've worked up an appetite, head back into town and straight to the iconic Pal's Sudden Service, with the original location in downtown Kingsport. Serving up burgers, hot dogs, fries and sodas within the blink of an eye - hence, "Sudden Service" - Pal's is a must stop spot. And if you don't make it to the original location (327 Revere St., Kingsport, TN 37660) just keep your eyes peeled for the aqua-colored buildings around town, the ones that have the giant hot dog on the roof. I promise, you can't miss it.
Shop + Dine: Downtown
Anchored on Broad Street and running for several blocks in both directions, Kingsport's downtown district provides visitors and residents alike with shopping and dining opportunities. Try a New York-style bagel at the Bagel Exchange or grab some sweet treats at Little Cake Bakery. Grab a gourmet cup-of-joe at the Nutty Java and cross the street to explore the aisles at P&J Antiques and Pilgrims Rare Books. For a great meal, grab a table at the perennially popular Stir Fry Cafe or at Macado's Kingsport. Just whatever you do, leave time to walk down the Church Circle, a beautiful old town area located on a round-about at one far end of Broad Street. Local tip: if you visit during July, make sure you attend FunFest, Kingsport's own hometown festival.
Family Adventure: Bays Mountain Park
A trip to Kingsport has to include a morning or afternoon at Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium. Providing another series of waterborne activities, you can also take leisurely hikes around Kingsport Reservoir and visit the animal enclosures, which include otters, deer and even a pack of grey wolves. Local tip: Admission to the park is $5 cash, so make sure to drop by an ATM before driving out.