Featured Activity: Exploring Local Creeks

Published on August 19, 2020 - Updated on August 19, 2020

Local creeks are a refreshing escape these days when hunting for safe outdoor fun with the kiddos.

Dora Kelley Creek River Shot.jpg

Creeks are the new pools - am I right? Summer 2020 has been the season of creeks, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls as we try to navigate this unfamiliar challenge of the coronavirus. While I miss going to our favorite indoor and temporarily closed outdoor spots to escape Nashville’s 90-degree weather, I have come to love these small, gently flowing, rock-bottom creeks. 

They not only provide a reprieve from the heat and crowds, but they give my 3-year-old son a chance to connect with nature and himself. He’s grown more confident as he navigates the slippery moss-covered rocks, practiced caution when he feels unsure of his next step, and has been free to laugh, squeal, cry, and sing along with the running water. 

My 5-month-old daughter is a trooper and is usually content to watch her brother play and dip her toes in the water. Me? I’ve learned to always carry bug spray, be okay with dirty kids, and safely soak up this season for all its goodness despite our new normal.

Kids in Creek.jpeg

While it can seem daunting to venture into nature with a baby and a toddler, I’ve learned a number of tricks and tips and own a few staples that make these trips easier. For my creek loving friends or those intrigued by this version of warm weather fun, here’s how we’ve made 2020 the summer of creeks.

  • Wear water shoes. This may seem like a given, but I forgot my own tip last week and ended up wading in water in my running shoes. There are often sharp rocks, shells, or glass, and the stream beds can be slippery, so I obviously intend to keep our feet safe as we splash around. My son rocks Natives and I am loving my new OG Tevas
  • Find an urban creek. While some of our favorite creeks are in the woods and off trails, many are just a few steps off a local greenway. Most greenways cross or run parallel to a creek and someone has already forged a path to the water. In Nashville, we love visiting Richland Creek, which runs parallel to the Richland Greenway and Little Harpeth River, which runs parallel to the River Park Greenway. Both creeks are just a few steps from the path and make for an easy adventure.

Narrows of the Harpeth.jpg

  • Keep it simple. Bring a cup, bucket, net, and done. You do not need to bring all the water toys. Kids love collecting (and throwing) rocks, catching fish, and filling up cups with water. Let them explore what’s around them and get familiar with nature. 
  • The right baby gear helps. While I can sometimes park my stroller next to the creek, there are many times I need a place for my baby to hang. My first line of defense - the Ergobaby 360 Carrier. My daughter loves facing forward and watching the world when she’s awake and comfortably napping when she’s sleepy. However, it’s hot here in Nashville, and wearing a baby for hours isn't always ideal. My solution- portably baby chairs. We used this travel baby lounger for a few months (3-5 months), and recently upgraded to this travel baby jumper (5 months +). 
Cheekwood Nashville Creek.JPG
  • Not every creek adventure is a win. I often remind myself of this when I have to leave a place early because one of my kids isn't having it. Whether it’s because my toddler is scared of a butterfly and wants to go home (yes - this happened), or my baby refuses to eat because she is too distracted and becomes hangry, not every seemingly fun outing ends well. And that’s ok. We will try it again soon. 

Will 2021 still be the summer of creeks? I’m not sure. Hopefully, our local pools are back open, life has a little more normalcy, and maybe I’ll have a Y membership. But even if this is the case, I want to make sure we are still seeking out these adventures and are spending time connecting with nature. 

Please send us your favorite safe outing ideas at share@happyly.com, and tag your highlights on Instagram @gethappyly! We love to hear from you! 

For more inspiration, check out another recently featured activity, Let’s Go To The Zoo, make time for Family Bike Rides,  enter the rapidly growing world of Stand Up Paddleboarding,  or bring out your inner camper and Find a Campsite near you! For a fun activity at home, check out our list of fun Chalk Games.

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Thoughtfully captured by:
Maureen Varghese
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Local creeks are a refreshing escape these days when hunting for safe outdoor fun with the kiddos.