CONCORD MARINA and SEQUOYAH AT NORRIS LAKE MARINA
336 Lakeview Lane, Andersonville
It turns out that East Tennesseans have-count 'em-two favorite marinas: Concord Marina in Concord, and Sequoyah Marina on Norris Lake. That works out perfectly. Folks who live to the south can use Concord Marina and those who live further north can have Sequoyah Marina. See, we're just like Solomon.
Concord Marina is in Concord, an unincorporated community in Knox County. Part of the 500-acre Concord Park, Concord Marina has a full-service restaurant, fuel, easy to navigate boat ramps, a store with boating accessories, a rentable clubhouse and even accessible WiFi Internet. Not to mention, you know, a pretty big ol' body of water to access. The park has baseball fields, a skate park, a par three golf course and other amenities.
Sequoyah Marina is up north, not too far from Norris Dam State Park. There you can rent one of six Lakeview Yacht Houseboats (each equipped with six bedrooms, a hot tub, two full baths, three master suites, and central heat and air). Or if that's too fancy for you, spend your time fishing, skiing or sunbathing on Norris Lake, created in 1936 by the construction of nearby Norris Dam.
Runners-up: Fort Loudon Marina, Hickory Star Marina
BEST NEW ATTRACTION:
FOUR MARKET SQUARE
Four Market Square is many things to many people. The still warm from the oven project, the most ambitious to hit Market Square in quite some time, is a $6.5 million project of the Cornerstone Foundation, a Knoxville faith-based not-for-profit organization that "serve(s) as a catalyst to reach our God-given potential as a community."
So what exactly is it? Well, it's a restaurant//bakery/coffee shop/concert venue/church/live-in leadership residence program. Duh.
It works like this. Up front are a full-service restaurant, bakery and coffee shop known as Cafe 4. The restaurant serves chic modern American food like Lobster Mac N Cheese and Lobster Bacon Flatbread. The in-house bakery offers deserts like muffins and cakes, as well as coffee, mochas and the like. Upstairs is a lofted area where you can hang out, study, work on your laptop, eavesdrop on your neighbor, that sort of thing.
Behind Cafe 4 is The Square Room. The Square Room is a concert venue hosting live music acts like David Cook, Will Hoge, Carrie Rodriguez, and local bands like Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere. On Friday afternoons, WDVX's Blue Plate Special radio show is hosted there live at noon. On Sundays, two local churches hold services in the venue, with Crossings Knoxville there in the mornings and All Souls Church in the evenings. Upstairs you'll find dormitories for students in the Knoxville Fellows program.
And somewhere in there, maybe just maybe, are the hidden remains of Jimmy Hoffa.
Runners-up: Wilderness at the Smokies, Playground at World's Fair Park
BEST PLACE FOR FAMILY FUN:
Adults like to do certain things. Kids like to do certain things. Sometimes the Venn diagram overlaps in the middle, sometimes not. But, as a parent, you like to engage in activities that the entire family will enjoy.
Dollywood has so much for the whole clan to do. The 125-acre theme part nestles right up to the Smoky Mountains, and provides a range of activities, including roller coasters, live entertainment shows, music, crafts demonstrations, festivals, food and more.
New for 2009 is Sha-Kon-O-Hey!-Land of Blue Smoke, an elaborate $1.3 million stage celebration of the Smoky Mountains, featuring 10 acrobats, eight singers and dancers, and a six-piece band.
Season passes allow you unlimited visits for the year, and at $74 for kids aged four to 11 and $87 for adults 12 and up (children three and under are admitted free), it's a good time that won't break the piggy bank.
Runners-up: Knoxville Zoological Gardens, Smoky Mountains National Park
BEST PLACE TO KISS IN PUBLIC:
RIVER WALK AT CALHOUN'S ON THE RIVER/VOLUNTEER LANDING
This was a fun category to investigate, a reporter's dream job really. Let's hope the judge is lenient.
Making out in public isn't for everyone, though. And not everywhere works. In the aisles of Wal-Mart, it just seems tacky. But someplace romantic, it's almost expected.
Men take note: the River Walk on Volunteer Landing, just over by Calhoun's on the River, is a first-rate spot to be tender and passionate. Wait for sunset or a full moon (provided the object of your affections isn't a werewolf) for the full effect.
Runners-up: University of Tennessee Basketball Game (on the Thompson-Boling Arena Kiss Cam), Market Square
BEST PLACE TO LEARN TO DANCE:
COTTON EYED JOE
So you think you can compete on "So You Think You Can Dance?" Don't be so sure. It's a tough rug to cut, with a rigorous audition process, and foot-to-foot competition that incorporates a variety of dance styles, including classical, hip-hop, jazz and Latin. Not for the rookies.
Then again, everyone has to start somewhere. You can start at Cotton Eyed Joe.
Cotton Eyed Joe is a country-themed dance club in West Knoxville with four bars, food, a variety of music and lots of dancing. If you're the kind of person who doesn't know a do-si-do from a dodo bird, bring a few friends and make a night of it. There are free dance lessons three nights a week. The rest of the time there's beer, so if you're uncoordinated, you can blame that.
And, hey, if "So You Think You Can Dance" doesn't work out for you, you can always try your luck with Cotton Eyed Joe's Super Bowl bikini contest. Baby steps, right?
Runners-up: Academy Ballroom, Backstage Dance Company
BEST PLACE TO WORK:
In the current job climate, many people are happy just to be employed. That's not necessarily a bad thing. But that doesn't mean you have to settle for second or third best, either.
U.S. Cellular prides itself on its business model, known as Dynamic Organization. The idea is that effective leadership produces associate satisfaction, which creates customer satisfaction, which in turn drives business results. The goal is a company where "associates relentlessly and zealously direct their efforts toward gaining, retaining and serving customers."
The company treats those associates well, too. Employees get training, medical, dental and vision insurance, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment coverage, short-term and long-term disability. You'll also find flexible scheduling, business-casual dress, and adoption assistance for associates.
All in a day's work.
Runners-up: Pinnacle Financial Partners, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union
BEST SKATE PARK:
KNOXVILLE SKATE PARK
Knoxville Skate Park opened on Jan. 31, 2008. Going on two-years old now, the popular destination is a haven for skateboarders, in-line skaters and bikers.
The skating facilities can be found in Tyson Park, which is itself near the western end of Cumberland Avenue (that's The Strip to you, rookie). The terrain consists of banks, ledges, rails, stairs, Jersey Barriers, Taco hips, as well as a Banked Bowl, Flow Bowl and Peanut Pool. Yes, these are real terms that skaters understand.
Knoxville Skate Park is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m.-11 p.m. The park has lighting for after dark, and is completely free. Helmets are mandatory at the 15,000 square foot park. Funds are currently being raised for work on Phase II of the park, which will add street rails, obstacles and more bowls.
Runners-up: Concord Park, Spin City USA
© 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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