Finding the Beauty Wherever You Are

Emilie Conners, student, Middle Tennessee State University  |  January 19, 2023 in Pearson Students

A mountain meadow with the Smoky Mountains in the distance. Two young women, with their backs to the viewer, are jumping up in the air.

I have had the privilege of growing up and living in two very special places thus far in my life. I spent the first half of my life living 10 minutes from the beach in South Florida and the other half living 10 minutes from the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. Living in two completely different places with contrasting environments has really helped shape my perspective and teach me about the value of finding the beauty wherever you are. Here are some of my favorite places to go in South Florida and East Tennessee, the different aspects I appreciate about both places, and what each has to offer.

South Florida

I grew up in Delray Beach in South Florida, near Boynton Beach and Boca Raton, and spent a lot of time at the beach. Delray Beach has a long street right near the ocean called “Atlantic Avenue”; this avenue has tons of restaurants, boutiques, and fun surf shops to look at. One of my favorite restaurants here is “Boston’s on the Beach.” It is right across from the ocean and offers some really yummy seafood along with some non-seafood options. Atlantic Avenue tends to be loud and bustling with people at night, but peaceful and relaxing during the day.

Another one of my favorite places to go to in South Florida if you are looking for a nice beach that won’t be too crowded is: Gulfstream Beach. What I love most about Gulfstream Beach is that it’s not as crowded as some of the beaches directly by the avenue. It’s in a really beautiful part of town, plus the parking is free. If you happen to go to Gulfstream Beach, you should check out “Nomad Surf Shop” which is close by. They have great beach gear and beautiful surfboards to look at!

East Tennessee

East Tennessee is a lot different from South Florida. Obviously, there are no beaches but there are beautiful mountains and lots of wildlife to enjoy. My favorite part of living in East Tennessee is being so close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and visiting this park is definitely a must if you are in town. There are lots of hikes to go on where you can see waterfalls and sometimes even spot a black bear on the way! However, if hiking isn’t your thing, you can always just drive along the loop throughout the park where there are incredible views and lots of deer, horses, and other animals to see.

Another great place to visit is the Foothills Parkway. This parkway is a long road that winds through the Smoky Mountains with incredible views and plenty of places to stop and overlook the scenery. My best tip is to go before sundown so you can watch the sun set over the mountains. If you are not a huge nature fan, check out Market Square in Knoxville, where you’ll find lots of good restaurants and cool small businesses to check out.

East Tennessee has a lot to offer and so does South Florida. I have learned that every place has something to admire and enjoy if you are just patient enough to look for it and find it. If you ever get the chance, I greatly encourage you to visit South Florida and East Tennessee.

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