We left that Extended Stay America in a hurry and headed off to stay in Kentucky. Originally, we were to stay 2 nights with my niece but she came home from Florida pretty darn sick and we gave an extra day for new antibiotics to kick in as well as let her rest as much as possible. We just knew we wanted to end up in Louisville that night.
Our day started leaving Knoxville and we headed to Oak Ridge, TN to the American Museum of Science & Energy (AMSE) located at 300 S Tulane Ave. I bought their annual family membership online for an amazing price of only $40.00 and it’s ASTC reciprocal so we get tons of science & technology museums for free! We arrived before it opened and it was a weekday when school had just begun so it was nice & empty! The place was virtually all ours! It was interesting. Oak Ridge was established in 1942 as a production site for the Manhattan Project(read: atomic bomb stuff). It’s kinda wild – being it was so secretive, they made this town and stores and schools and houses and people never needed to leave. Besides talking about life as an Oak Ridge resident, it explained not only atomic energy, but energy itself with lots of hands on stuff. The museum originally opened as the American Museum of Atomic Energy in 1949 in an old World War II cafeteria nearby. It moved to its current facility in 1975 and was renamed AMSE in 1978 and is a Smithsonian affiliate. The museum has both permanent and rotating exhibits, including robots, science puzzles, a weather station, a timeline of atomic discoveries, its flagship exhibit, titled “Secret City – The Oak Ridge Story”, a WWII vintage flattop house (inhabited by Manhattan Project workers in Oak Ridge) and so much more! The kids really did have a blast here.
From Oak Ridge, we headed on to our next stop, Bush’s Baked Beans Center located at 3901 US Highway 411, Dandridge, TN. When we pulled up it was so cool! We parked by the restaurant & general store/tour (only place visitors can go). Across the street is the HUGE plant and a house (where the Bushes lived for a long time and still own and use for holidays and gatherings). As soon as you get out of the car, you smell the amazing smell of beans. YUM! We went inside the store to take the tour. The kids had a miniature fact scavenger hunt which yielded them a prize at the end (which was a certificate of completion & a sticker). The tour was great… had a movie you can watch about the history of how Bush’s came to be. The rest of the tour is self-guided and you can see props from the commercials, the history of beans, the history of canning, and it was great (especially for free)! At the end, you can even green screen yourself into a Bush’s photo for free. We got 3 photos – one of each kid – where they picked their own backdrop from 1 of 4 choices. Great souvenir! The store itself is nice but had a lot of non bean-related stuff. They do have some great Bush’s stuff like flying pigs and stuffed Dukes. We each got a can of beans and a spoon and went to the car for some lunch – hobo style. We would have eaten at the cafe but it was a 45+ minute wait and it wasn’t busy so we gave up. If you want to eat there, put your name on the list first, then tour the store/tour and then it’ll be time to be seated for food at the cafe. They were a bit pricey anyway so we were okay with beans! 🙂
Next, we headed to our little gem – the Abraham Lincoln Library & Museum at Abraham Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN. It’s a museum on a college campus and thought it might be worth a shot since Hunter’s favorite historical person is Abraham Lincoln (followed by Jackie Robinson). It was rainy out and later in the day (closer to their close). It cost us $16.00 I believe to get into the museum and it was WELL worth it! I cant sing the praises any higher of how well done this museum is, especially for what it is. They had artifacts there that made our jaws drop! It started with amazing facts and recreating his youth. It had items from his campaigning and items Lincoln used. They have the cane he had with him the night he was killed!!! The ticket to the theater, and so much more! The stories around the place about him and his friends were wonderful! They had Lincoln art and dioramas. They had a kids area where they could build with Lincoln Logs or dress up like soldiers from the war including a tent that they might have slept in. Upstairs they had war memorabilia which was okay but but we just loved all the Lincoln stuff. My 7-year old was thrilled!
Then it was dinner time. Where does one eat? The ORIGINAL KFC! Yes, in Corbin, KY (688 US 25W), you can eat at the Colonel Sanders Cafe and Museum. I think they did it well. It’s the old building with a new left addition which is a modern KFC. You order at the new part and eat in the old part. The new area has a photo op place and some memorabilia that was wonderful to see like a barrel which held the secret spice blend! The old part is rustic looking in regards to seating. The original kitchen is there in plain sight but one cannot enter it (which is okay). They have what the tables looked like on display. They have the original counter and register to pay at (counter filled with KFC stuff), his office you can see into complete with his jukebox and a statue of Harlan. They also have a room you can look into which has a bed in it. This is to show what the rooms looked like that you could have rented from their hotel that used to be located next door. It was a simple room but nicely displayed (although weird to be in the dining room area). The food was awesome although it would have been cool to have eaten on actual plates instead of paper like one would normally do. All in all, definitely worth the stop! Kids loved being at the birthplace of KFC.
We had some time so we went to Cumberland Falls which is also in Corbin. They nicknamed this waterfall the Niagara of the South. That intrigued me. Just about everyday of the year, there is a rainbow at the falls. Of course, the day we go, there isn’t one due to the extreme overcast and drizzliness. Either way, the waterfall was great and it was the 1st time the kids saw one. They were greatly impressed. It was a far cry from Niagara falls but still impressive. Supposedly, this is one of the only places one can catch a moonbow. You might be asking yourself what a moonbow is – I know I was. It literally is a rainbow that appears at night when the sky is clear and the moon is pretty full! It’s so rare of a place that this phenomenon can not found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. It apparently happened the week before we got there but that’s okay. One day I;’ll be back and catch the moonbow. They had some nice trails to give good views of the falls which could be reached rather quickly (which was great since it was getting dark, was rainy, and I had 3 kids). The park also had a gem mining site. We bought a bag for $8.00 and pslit it among the 3 boys. Tom put “equal” amounts on each boy’s screen then they rinsed it off in the flowing water revealing their treasures! They found Pyrite, Fluorite, Quartz, Ruby, Moonstone, Topaz, Crystal Point, Sapphire, Amethyst, Citrine, Aventurine, Obsidian, and Sodalite.
Then we hit a Starbucks to fuel mom (aka me) and use their wifi to get a hotel room. So, we used some of Tom’s Marriott Rewards to stay at the Springhill Suites by Marriott in Louisville since we had stuff to do there in the morning. This place was much better 😉