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Is Knoxville Fun? Check Out What We Found!

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 5, 2023

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There's no denying that Knoxville is a beautiful city. Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, it offers stunning scenery and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. However, Knoxville is more than just a pretty face. It's also a vibrant city with a rich cultural scene.

From art galleries and museums to live music venues and festivals, there's always something to see and do in Knoxville. And, of course, let's not forget the food. From Southern comfort food to international cuisine, Knoxville has something to satisfy every appetite.

So if you're looking for a city that offers both natural beauty and urban excitement, Knoxville is the place for you. See why Knoxville is such a fun and exciting place to be!

Top 10 Attractions & Things To Do in Knoxville

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA Downtown Skyline

In a city as vibrant as Knoxville, narrowing down the best attractions and things to do can be hard. But we've gone ahead and done it for you. Here are our top 10 things to see and do in Knoxville:

1. Visit the Knoxville Museum of Art

Knoxville Museum of Art

The Knoxville Museum of Art is a great place to visit if you're looking for something interesting to do in Knoxville. The museum has a permanent collection of art dedicated to East Tennessee's creativity. This includes the "Higher Ground" exhibit, which pays tribute to local artists with a significant collection of their work.

One of the most impressive pieces in the museum is "Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity" by Knoxville artist Richard Jolley. This massive glass and steel sculpture is one of the world's largest of its kind. Admission to the museum is free, so it's definitely worth checking out if you're in the area.

2. See a Show at the Tennessee Theater

Knoxville Tennessee Downtown Facades and Businesses Gay Street with Theater in the Background

Knoxville is an amazing city for entertainment! It is home to the Tennessee Theatre, one of the country's most luxurious concert venues. The theatre was originally opened in 1928 as a movie palace and has since been restored to its former glory. Today, it is a popular destination for concerts and other performances. You can also find the theatre on the National Register of Historic Places. This is just one of the many reasons to visit Knoxville! Check out the theatre's website and book tickets in advance so you don't miss out on any fun.

3. Stroll Through the World's Fair Park

Drone Shot of Worlds Fair Park and the Sunsphere in Knoxville

Dancing fountains, an expansive amphitheater, and a lively performance lawn make World's Fair Park a hotspot for fun in Knoxville. The park was designed for the city's hosting of the World's Fair in 1982, and today it remains a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Visitors can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the landscaped gardens and walkways or participate in the fun by attending one of the many concerts or festivals held in the park. With something for everyone, World's Fair Park is sure to make your next trip to Knoxville a memorable one. It's no wonder this park is one of the city's most beloved attractions.

4. Stroll Through Market Square

Knoxville Tennessee Downtown Restaurants and Bars on Market Square

Nestled in the heart of Knoxville is the historic and vibrant Market Square. For over 150 years, this has been the place to gather with friends, enjoy live music and entertainment, do some people-watching, and indulge in some delicious food. This 13-acre space is always buzzing with energy, and there's something for everyone to enjoy.

During the weekly Saturday Farmer's Market, you can browse through the open-air stalls of up to 130 vendors, offering everything from fresh produce to handcrafted goods. This is a great opportunity to support local businesses and find some unique treasures. Market Square also plays hosts many public events throughout the year, such as live music performances, art displays, and festivals.

People in Market Square on market day in Knoxville

Kids will love playing in the interactive fountain, and adults can take a break from the hustle and bustle in Krutch Park, a nearby oasis with trees, benches, and sculptures. Whether you're a long-time resident or just visiting, Market Square is the perfect place to experience the best of Knoxville.

5. Sample the Local Cuisine

Street scene of historic downtown Knoxville Tennessee

Knoxville is known for its delicious food, and there are plenty of great places to eat in the city. If you're looking for a quick bite, stop by one of the many food trucks that line Market Square. For something heartier, try one of Knoxville's many barbecue restaurants. Or, if you're in the mood for something truly unique, sample some of the city's Appalachian-inspired cuisine.

No matter what you're in the mood for, you're sure to find something to your taste in Knoxville. So, come hungry and enjoy everything this city has to offer!

6. Visit Sunsphere Tower

The Sunsphere and Downtown Knoxville

Rising 266 feet into the air, the Sunsphere Tower is an iconic symbol of Knoxville's illustrious past. Atop a hexagonal tower sits the 75-foot gold geodesic dome. It was also the focal point of the World's Fair when it was last held in the United States.

The Sunsphere has been reflecting sun rays for more than 40 years and continues to illuminate any photos you take of Knoxville's skyline. The elevator to the Observation Deck is currently closed, but that doesn't detract from the beauty of this structure.

7. Explore the Knoxville Zoo

Elephant at the Knoxville Tennessee Zoo

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and explore the Knoxville Zoo! With over 800 species represented, it's one of the best places to view wildlife in their natural habitats. You can also learn about the zoo's efforts in conservation and education.

The East part of the zoo focuses on Asian habitats and animals, while the West Zoo is home to African primates, large mammals, and top predators. You can also see marine animals and a variety of birds. You're sure to see something new and exciting no matter which side you explore! It's the perfect place to spend a day with family or friends.

8. Catch a Game at Neyland Stadium

Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee

Knoxville is a great city for those who love sports. Neyland Stadium is home to the Tennessee Volunteers football team and has also hosted National Football League exhibition games and conventions. The stadium has seats for more than 100,000 fans and is the seventh-largest stadium in the world.

If you're in Knoxville, be sure to check event listings to see if there's a game going on that you can attend. And when the home team scores a touchdown, everyone joins in the sing-along of "Rocky Top." You can also see headliner concerts at the Neyland Stadium. So if you're looking for a fun and eventful city, Neyland is the place for you.

9. Take a Walk or Bike Ride Through Ijams Nature Center

In the late 1800s, Knoxville was a booming city due to its 35 marble quarries. The high-quality pink marble from these quarries was used to construct many monuments and buildings in Washington, D.C. However, by 1968, all of the quarries were abandoned.

Ijams Nature Center was established to repurpose the land and promote recreation and natural history awareness. This 315-acre parkland is now one of the most popular places for locals and visitors to walk, cycle, picnic, paddle, and swim. The scenic location also makes it a popular spot for hosting special events such as weddings. Consequently, what was once an abandoned city has now become a thriving community thanks to the Ijams Nature Center.

The Knoxville Nature Center is definitely a place worth visiting if you're looking for some fun outdoor activities to do. In addition to its scheduled programs, you can also explore the nature center, which exhibits live animals and sells arts and crafts. You can also rent a bike or canoe to explore more of the area. The nature center is close to the Urban Wilderness area, with 50 miles of trails to enjoy.

10. Visit the East Tennessee History Center

Walking through the East Tennessee Historical Society and Museum, you'll feel like you're a part of the state's rich history. With permanent exhibits displaying more than 13,000 items, this museum has plenty to see and learn about. One of the most popular exhibits is "History HQ, " designed for children. It's full of interactive games and activities that teach kids about East Tennessee's past. They can try their hand at weaving baskets, knitting quilts, and creating stop-motion films.

You'll also find iconic items on display, like Davy Crockett's rifle and Dolly Parton's famous red dress. But the museum offers so much more than just interesting artifacts. You can take a genealogy class or attend a lecture to learn more about East Tennessee's heritage. The museum is located in downtown Knoxville, making it the perfect place to start exploring all this city offers.

Top 4 Day Trip Ideas from Knoxville

The Knoxville area has a lot to offer, and there are many great day trip ideas if you're looking to explore beyond the city limits. Here are four of the best:

1. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains, National Park

A view with rhododendron and woodland to the Smoky Mountain range in Tennessee, USA

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just a short drive from Knoxville and is one of the most popular day trip destinations. With more than 800 miles of hiking trails, the park is a great place to explore the outdoors. You can also take a scenic drive, go horseback riding, or go whitewater rafting. And don't forget to look for wildlife! The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to black bears, elk, deer, and more. You can even take a ranger-led safari to see some of the animals up close.


2. Visit Chattanooga, TN

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga is another great city to visit if you're looking for things to do outside of Knoxville. Just a short drive away, Chattanooga offers many outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and rock climbing. You can also explore the Tennessee Aquarium or visit the Chattanooga Zoo. And if you're a history buff, be sure to check out the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

3. Brew Bus Tour

The Brew Bus ticket offers the flexibility of using a hop-on hop-off brewery transportation service that rides between breweries throughout the day. This allows visitors to Knoxville to plan their own schedule and visit multiple breweries in a day, with transport taken care of. In addition, the ticket includes bottled water and onboard Wi-Fi, as well as perks at various stops along the way. You can start or finish your tour at any of the stops on the bus route.

4. Knoxville Scavenger Hunt

This scavenger hunt is the perfect way to explore Knoxville and learn some new facts along the way. You and your team will compete against each other to see who can answer the most trivia questions and solve the most challenges. This is a great activity for bachelorette parties, birthday parties, corporate team-building events, or just for fun! Each player will choose an interactive role, with different challenges depending on the person. This is a great way to bond with friends or co-workers and create some unforgettable memories.

And if you're willing to make the trip, there's always fun things to do in Nashville too!

Top 3 Places To Stay in Knoxville

It can be difficult to decide where to stay in Knoxville, but these three hotels are sure to provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

1. The Oliver Hotel Knoxville

Oozing with old-world charm, The Oliver Hotel is a sophisticated boutique hotel that overlooks the bustling Market Square in downtown Knoxville. This 1876 property has been restored to its former glory and now offers elegant accommodations outfitted with handcrafted furniture, local artwork, and flat-screen TVs. Guests can enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, organic coffee and tea, and the use of a minifridge in their room. Suites with separate sitting areas and pull-out sofas are also available for added space and comfort. The on-site restaurant at The Oliver Hotel Knoxville specializes in innovative Southern cuisine that is served with a side of stunning views of the cityscape from the open terrace seating. For a truly unique experience, be sure to check out the hotel's Prohibition-themed bar – it's one of the best in town!

2. Courtyard by Marriott

Easily one of the most popular hotels in downtown Knoxville, the Courtyard by Marriott is a modern and stylish facility that's just a short walk away from some of the city's best shops and restaurants. The rooms here are spacious and comfortable, with plenty of amenities to make your stay enjoyable – including free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and minifridges. And if you're looking for even more luxury, upgraded rooms and suites come complete with sofabeds.

The hotel also boasts an excellent restaurant, a 24-hour fitness center, and a BBQ area – perfect for unwinding after a long day of exploring Knoxville. Plus, breakfast and parking are both available for an additional fee. Whether you're in town for business or pleasure, the Courtyard by Marriott will make your stay memorable.

3. Hampton Inn & Suites

From the University of Tennessee to the Knoxville Convention Center, this hotel is 10 minutes away from all the action. With free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs in every room, you'll never have to leave the comfort of your own room. But if you're feeling adventurous, take advantage of the fitness room, indoor pool, or coin-operated laundry facilities. And don't forget to start your day with a hot breakfast (or breakfast bag to go).

In Conclusion

Morning Sunlight on the Sunsphere in Knoxville, TN

Knoxville is a great city to visit for its history, culture, and food. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy, whether you're exploring the great outdoors or enjoying the nightlife. And with so many hotels to choose from, you're sure to find the perfect place to stay during your trip. We would like to wish you all the best on your adventure and have a blast in Knoxville!

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