Spending a Day in Knoxville: things to do, places to see, & more!

spending a day in knoxville things to do places to see and more mccall writes travel

Nestled in the heart of East Tennessee, Knoxville is a vibrant city filled with rich history, natural beauty, and a thriving arts scene.

From exploring the city’s charming downtown area to taking in the breathtaking scenery of the nearby Great Smoky Mountains, there’s something for everyone in this dynamic city.

In this blog post, I’ll take you on a tour of the top things to do in Knoxville, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this Southern gem.

Table of Contents

1. Market Square

Market Square, located in the heart of downtown Knoxville, is a bustling hub of activity, with a rich history dating back to the 19th century. This pedestrian-friendly square is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes, as well as regular events such as farmers’ markets, concerts, and festivals.

Be sure to take a leisurely stroll through this lively area, soaking up the atmosphere and admiring the beautifully restored historic buildings. And don’t forget to pick up a souvenir if you get a chance!

2. Knoxville Museum of Art

The Knoxville Museum of Art is a must-visit for art enthusiasts, showcasing a diverse range of works by local, regional, and national artists. With a focus on art from the Southern Appalachian region, the museum offers visitors a unique glimpse into the area’s rich artistic heritage.

Be sure to explore the museum’s collection of contemporary art, as well as its fascinating exhibits on the history of art in Tennessee.

3. Walk Along the Tennessee River

One of the most enjoyable things to do in Knoxville is to take a leisurely stroll along the banks of the picturesque Tennessee River. The city’s Volunteer Landing Park provides a beautiful setting for a riverside walk, with paved pathways, lush green spaces, and stunning views of the river and the downtown skyline.

Don’t miss the opportunity to relax by the water and watch the boats pass by on a warm, sunny day.

4. University of Tennessee Campus

Home to the state’s flagship public university, the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus is a sprawling and picturesque area worth exploring. Take a guided tour or simply wander around the grounds, admiring the stately academic buildings and beautiful green spaces.

Sports fans won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit Neyland Stadium, one of the largest college football stadiums in the country.

5. World’s Fair Park

The World’s Fair Park, site of the 1982 World’s Fair, is a beautiful urban oasis in the heart of Knoxville. This expansive park features lush gardens, fountains, and walking paths, as well as several attractions that pay tribute to the city’s role in the World’s Fair.

Be sure to visit the iconic Sunsphere, a 266-foot-tall observation tower offering panoramic views of Knoxville and the surrounding area.

6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Just a short drive from Knoxville, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a wealth of outdoor activities and stunning natural beauty. With over 800 miles of hiking trails, as well as opportunities for wildlife viewing, fishing, and scenic drives, there’s something for everyone in this magnificent park.

Don’t miss the chance to explore this breathtaking natural wonder during your visit to Knoxville.

7. Experience Knoxville’s Vibrant Food Scene

Knoxville’s food scene is as diverse and dynamic as the city itself, with a wide range of culinary options to suit every palate. From farm-to-table eateries to international cuisine and down-home Southern cooking, you’ll find an array of delicious dishes to satisfy your cravings.

Be sure to check out some of the city’s best restaurants, such as the Tomato Head, Yassin’s Falafel House, and Stock & Barrel. And don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in Knoxville’s thriving craft beer scene at one of the many local breweries, such as Alliance Brewing Company or Blackhorse Pub & Brewery.

8. The Tennessee Theatre

The historic Tennessee Theatre, located in downtown Knoxville, is an opulent and beautifully restored venue that hosts a wide variety of live performances, including music, theater, and dance. With its stunning architecture, ornate interiors, and world-class acoustics, attending a show at the Tennessee Theatre is a memorable experience.

Check the theater’s schedule during your visit and treat yourself to an unforgettable night of entertainment.

9. Ijams Nature Center

Located just a few miles from downtown Knoxville, the Ijams Nature Center is a 315-acre urban wilderness offering a wide range of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages. With over 12 miles of trails, a beautiful quarry lake, and various wildlife habitats, Ijams is the perfect destination for nature lovers.

Whether you’re interested in hiking, birdwatching, or simply enjoying the great outdoors, Ijams Nature Center is a must-visit attraction in Knoxville.

10. Mabry-Hazen House

The Mabry-Hazen House is a beautifully preserved historic home that offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into Knoxville’s past. Built in 1858, this elegant antebellum mansion is filled with original furnishings, artifacts, and family heirlooms, providing an authentic look at life in the 19th century.

Guided tours of the house are available, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the history of this captivating home.

Are You Spending a Day In Knoxville Soon?

Knoxville is a dynamic and diverse city with a wealth of attractions and activities to suit every traveler’s interests.

From exploring the city’s rich history and vibrant arts scene to experiencing its thriving food culture and breathtaking natural surroundings, there’s no shortage of things to do in Knoxville.

By incorporating some of these top attractions into your itinerary, you’ll be sure to make the most of your visit to this charming and captivating Southern city.

Happy travels!

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