24 Best Things To Do In Knoxville, Tennessee 2022
Nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains and the mighty Tennessee River, Knoxville, Tennessee, is an exciting modern city famous as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains.
The city is home to the East Tennessee History Center, World’s Fair Park, Tennessee Theater, Ijams Nature Center, Blount Mansion, and many other great attractions.
The best things to do in Knoxville, TN, with kids include the Knoxville Zoo, Muse Knoxville, the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, and the Knoxville Children’s Theater.
1. World’s Fair Park
World’s Fair Park, the 1982 World’s Fair site, is Knoxville’s ideal place to spend time outdoors and one of Knoxville’s top attractions. The park has been renovated to include beautiful gardens, trails, and water features.
Innovative fountains and geysers attract visitors looking to cool off in the summer, and the well-kept lawns serve as the venue for festivals and live performances throughout the year.
Artificial lakes and streams create beautiful scenery, while the newly renovated Sunsphere’s observation deck offers panoramic views of the Tennessee River and the Great Smokey Mountains. A walk along one of the accessible walkways is the perfect way to take in the park’s beautiful scenery.
Address: 954 World Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee
2. East Tennessee History Center
History comes to life year-round at the East Tennessee History Center, where award-winning exhibits, educational programs, and events showcase East Tennessee’s rich history.
Operated by the East Tennessee Historical Society, the museum displays various intriguing artifacts and stories that makeup 300 years of Tennessee life.
Annual event highlights include the Blue and Gray Reunion held April through May and the East Tennessee History Fair in August. An interactive educational exhibit and outreach program designed for K-12 students is available to students.
A variety of free genealogy conferences and workshops are offered throughout the year. Workshops require pre-registration.
Address: 601 South Gay Street, Knoxville, Tennessee
3. Tennessee Theater
The beautiful Tennessee Theater opened in 1928 as a “movie palace.” Designed in the magnificent Spanish-Moorish style, the theater was decorated with the most beautiful pieces available: Czech crystal chandeliers, Italian terrazzo flooring, and Asian details on the curtains and rugs.
The theater was meticulously restored in 2005 and today offers a little something for everyone: old movies, classical music concerts, Broadway shows, and rock concerts. If you’re looking for romantic date ideas in Knoxville, catch a performance at the Tennessee Theater.
The theater is home to the Knoxville Opera House and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and is used for many special events, large parties, and even weddings. The theater is part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Address: 604 S Gay St, Knoxville, Tennessee
4. Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN
Nature lovers have been enjoying the Ijams Nature Center for over a century. Developed by Harry Ijams as a bird sanctuary, the 300-acre park has grown into a leading wildlife sanctuary and center for environmental learning. Visitors travel just three miles from downtown Knoxville to explore its trails, streams, groves, boardwalk, farms, and much more.
Spend an adventurous day in Knoxville’s only outdoor climbing area, take in the natural scenery on a slow canoe trip, or relax with a picnic at a scenic overlook.
The award-winning attraction offers an impressive variety of events and programs for adults and children and is one of the best things to do in Knoxville, Tennessee. read more
Address: 2915 Island Home Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee
5. Blount Mansion
Blount Mansion has been restored and recreated to tell the stories of Tennessee’s formative years. William Blount, the signer of the United States Constitution and Governor of the Southwest Territory, built the house in 1792 when he declared Knoxville his capital.
Visitors can enjoy stories of the mansion’s intriguing and sometimes outrageous history as “the house with many eyes.” The Blount Mansion Association saved the house in 1926 and preserved it to showcase Knoxville’s rich history.
The Merry and Bright celebration in December and the Legends, Customs, and Myths Tour in October highlight museum events throughout the year. The Blount Mansion Visitor Center is open Tuesday through Friday.
Address: 200 W. Hill Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee
6. Knoxville Zoo
Have fun experiencing wildlife up close at the Knoxville Zoo. More than 900 animals worldwide make the zoo one of Knoxville’s best attractions. Visitors can ride a camel or carousel, feed a giraffe, cool off in Knoxville’s biggest splash, or unwind at a woodland theater show or Keeper talk.
Wee Play Adventure takes kids on an interactive jungle experience where they can see an intimate view of Khaleesi, the zoo’s Komodo dragon. Awarded for its red panda conservation efforts, the zoo displays exhibits of many endangered and threatened animals. It is open every day for a fun-filled animal gathering.
Address: 3500 Knoxville Zoo Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee
7. Knoxville Museum of Art
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Knoxville Museum of Art showcases the culture of the Southern Appalachians and “celebrates the art and artists of East Tennessee.”
The building, clad in Tennessee marble, recently received a $ 6 million renovation that includes the Cycle of Life Exhibition, the world’s largest figural glass installation.
Its permanent exhibits display century-old artwork from East Tennessee’s most renowned artists and an intriguing collection from America’s best-known miniature diorama group. Alive After Five brings in some of Tennessee’s most thriving musical talents to provide a fun night of dancing, food, and spirit.
Address: 1050 World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, Tennessee
8. McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture
Stop by the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture to take a selfie with Monty, the famous dinosaur who stands on the front lawn.
Then you can go inside and see the only dinosaur bones found in Tennessee. Located on the UTK campus, the museum displays Tennessee’s historical and artistic past and ancient civilizations worldwide.
The Civil War and Human Origins exhibits are visitor favorites. The museum maintains an eclectic collection of unique exhibits from around the world. Research opportunities are available in the museum’s laboratory, and educational programs for students, adults, and families are scheduled throughout the year.
Address: 1327 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee
9. Clarence Brown Theater
Enjoy a taste of Broadway at the Clarence Brown Theater, a gem on the UT Knoxville campus since 1970. The beautiful setting was made possible by the work of theater professor Dr. Paul Soper in the 1940s and the generous donations of legendary filmmaker Clarence Brown.
In the 1960s. As a cultural resource for the East Tennessee area, the theater thrives on community participation and presents educational programs and school performances, as well as general auditions and volunteer opportunities.
The award-winning performances have earned the national theater distinction. The theater offers visitors a rare Broadway experience in East Tennessee, Housed in three impressive facilities.
Address: 1714 Andy Holt Ave, Knoxville, Tennessee
10. Market Square Farmers’ Market, Knoxville, Tennessee
Market Square Farmer’s Market is part of the Nourish Knoxville project, which is designed to develop mutually beneficial relationships between the community, farmers, and local artisans and help provide the community with healthy food. It is located outdoors on the charming and historic Market Square in downtown Knoxville.
Everything sold in the market is made, grown, raised, or designed by those who sell it. Locals love to come to the need for lunch, enjoy music during lunchtime, load up fresh food for the week, pick up a plant for the balcony, or buy an original gift from one of the local artists.
Address: Market Square, Knoxville, Tennessee
11. Knoxville Food Tours
Knoxville Food Tours is just as interesting for tourists as it is for locals – they take you to little wall restaurants, little shop gems, and historic places with dark secrets few people know about.
Most of the tours are walking tours of the city center, and you can choose the time of day your adventure begins. If you don’t like walking, you can take a driving tour of the Bearden district.
Tours last approximately three and a half hours. It was stopping at 6 locations that change regularly and will introduce you to not only the culinary delights of Knoxville, which are substantial but will also tell you a bit about the history, culture, and its famous city.
Address: Gay Street, Market Square, Old City, Knoxville, Tennessee
12. Bijou Theater
Attending a performance at the Bijou Theater is a great way to experience the entertainment scene of downtown Knoxville. Knoxville’s fourth-oldest building, the theater, received a $ 2.6 million renovation in 2006 and now features performances ranging from complete jazz ensembles to small choirs.
Performances by renowned artists and perfect acoustics make it a world-class entertainment center offering guests diverse cultural experiences.
The landmark that survived war and fire and was once a hotel, bar, and fruit stand has been restored and preserved, making it an essential part of the revitalization of downtown Knoxville. The award-winning Bistro At The Bijou offers a great dining option.
Address: 803 South Gay Street, Knoxville, Tennessee
13. The Knoxville Muse
Kids of all ages love The Muse Knoxville. Combining science and art, its 4,000 square feet of play space provides so much fun that kids don’t even realize they’re learning about physical science, building construction, nutrition, and much more.
With a mission to “inspire and empower,” its many exhibits offer fun, interactive, and physical activities that entertain for hours. It is home to Knoxville’s only public planetarium that wows visitors with its variety of shows and programs.
The museum has a full calendar of special programs and excursion options. It is located in Chilhowee Park next to the Knoxville Zoo. read more
Address: 516 N. Beaman Street, Knoxville, Tennessee
14. Old City
A visit to Knoxville wouldn’t be complete without spending time in the Old City. The revitalized downtown area that holds secrets from Knoxville’s past has become a hotspot for visitors and locals to enjoy great authentic restaurants, coffee shops, and art galleries.
Coined as “Knoxville’s Independent Alternative,” the area comes alive at night as a vibrant music scene showcasing East Tennessee’s best musical talents.
The area’s beautiful historic architecture has been renovated to host a blend of Knoxville’s diverse history and cultures. Start at Central St. and Jackson Avenue and experience the Old City.
15. Mabry-Hazen House
The Mabry-Hazen House Museum sits atop Knoxville’s Mabry Hill and preserves the history of one of the city’s most memorable families.
On the National Register of Historic Places, the Victorian home built in 1858 contains one of the country’s largest collections of original family heirlooms.
Once the headquarters for Union and Confederate forces, the nearby Bethel home and cemetery offer visitors an engaging display detailing Knoxville’s vital role in the Civil War.
The museum hosts events throughout the year, including an annual Christmas tour and a Lineage and Legacy program. The museum is closed on Sundays.
Address: 1711 Dandridge Ave., Knoxville, Tennessee
16. Thompson – Boling Arena
Thompson-Boling Arena is more than just UTK’s premier basketball facility. The stadium is also known as a major entertainment center in East Tennessee.
It hosts various entertaining events throughout the year, including concerts, NBA exhibition games, conventions, and more. Located on the beautiful Tennessee River banks, it draws large crowds for Vols women’s basketball and volleyball.
If you’re visiting, you may find the court transformed into a concert stage, monster truck pit, or show floor. Thompson – Boling Arena, one of the highlights of the University of Tennessee, is a great place to find world-class entertainment.
Address: 1600 Phillip Fulmer Way Suite 202, Knoxville, Tennessee
17. Strong White James
Experience frontier life in the home of Knoxville founder James White. After obtaining a land grant in the Revolutionary War, White led the expedition that discovered the site of his fortress, which later became the capital of the Southwest Territory and the city of Knoxville.
The fort was rebuilt in downtown 1970 and entertains more than 10,000 a year with its interactive exhibits of pioneer cooking, blacksmithing, and spinning.
Its artifacts tell the story of Knoxville’s birthplace. It hosts popular special events throughout the year, such as Cherokee Heritage Day, ghost tours, and the Christmas open house.
Address: 205 East Hill Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee
18. Neyland Stadium
Neyland Stadium is home to the University of Tennessee Volunteers and is the fifth-largest football stadium. With seating for approximately 102,000 fans, it is considered an iconic field for college football.
It is named after the legendary head coach Robert Neyland, who was head coach from 1926 to 1952 and is credited with building the tradition of volunteer football.
His statue now adorns the west side entrance. Undergoing three renovation phases from 2004-2010, the stadium offers fans easier access and a more comfortable overall experience. Stadium tours can be arranged by appointment during business hours.
Address: 1600 Phillip Fulmer Way, Suite 201, Knoxville, Tennessee
19. Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
Show off your basketball skills, or lack thereof, on the interactive courts of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. You cannot miss the giant basketball spread out on its roof in the world.
The hall preserves the history of women’s basketball and displays memorabilia of its 139 members. With its mission to “honor the past, celebrate the present, promote the future,” the hall showcases women’s basketball’s inspiring and impressive history at all levels.
The interactive basketball court display and All American Red Heads memorabilia are popular attractions. The hall hosts various events throughout the year for students, groups, and families.
Address: 700 Hall of Fame Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee
20. Historic Ramsey House, Knoxville, TN
Bring a picnic and enjoy a day out in the country at Ramsey House. Built-in 1797 for Colonel Francis Alexander Ramsey, it is one of the few historic 18th-century homes in eastern Tennessee open to visitors.
Tour the home with replica furnishings and stroll through the beautiful gardens of what was once Knoxville’s finest home. Tours are available Wednesday through Saturday.
Special events are held throughout the year, the most popular Christmas with the Ramseys. The visitor center and 100 acres of the countryside can be reserved for private events. Ramsey House also offers excellent school tours that provide hands-on learning experiences.
Address: 2614 Thorngrove Pike, Knoxville, Tennessee
21. Oliver Royale
Located in the luxurious Oliver Hotel on Knoxville Market Square, Oliver Royale is an Art Deco gem with cozy black banquettes along white brick walls and a long bar. It is very popular with the “in” crowd and local food lovers.
The restaurant is the brainchild of Executive Chef Jonathan Gatlin, serving imaginative seasonal American dishes and working alongside local farmers to source the freshest ingredients.
Weekend brunch at Oliver Royale is a local tradition and can get filling, but the Crab Benedict cake and chicken and cookies are reason enough to face the rush.
Lunch and dinner menus feature traditional dishes with a special chef’s twist. Try their Seared Scallops or Oliver Burger to get an idea. Don’t skip dessert, as the macarons and truffles are divine. The wine list is respectable, and the cocktails are imaginative and original.
Address: Market Square 5, Knoxville, TN – 37902
22. Knoxville Children’s Theater
Knoxville Children’s Theater is a gem in the downtown cultural scene, and its mission is to provide a quality theater experience for children, by children.
The building may be quaint and hidden, but what happens inside is magical. The staff is top-notch, serving the city’s youth by offering classes and workshops on weekends and holidays.
The cast and crew of their award-winning productions are predominantly young from the area, with a full schedule of quality performances. The theater offers classes for children of all ages and is easily accessible from the center.
Address: 109 E. Churchwell Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee
23. Goalie Barbecue, Knoxville, TN
You can get a boy out of Memphis, but you can’t get Memphis out of the boy. Archer Bagley came from Memphis and brought with him the ability to make an authentic Memphis-style barbecue: dry-smoked, dry-fried chicken, pork, beef, and ribs.
Everything is marinated in Archer’s secret sauces. He claims that it is not the sauces that make your barbecue so delicious, but the exceptional quality of the meat you choose and the proper cooking temperature.
It’s probably a bit of everything. It serves its steaks with classic Southern sides like kale, green beans, coleslaw, and potato salad, all made daily. You don’t have to look far for Archer’s Barbecue – there are four locations throughout Knoxville.
Address: Bearden, 5415 Kingston Pike
24. Things to Do in Knoxville: The French Market Creperie
The French Market is a delicious French bistro-style restaurant in downtown Knoxville that serves authentic French sandwiches on baguettes, croissants, and freshly heated soups. But what people want when they visit are their sweet and savory crepes, shaken with wheat or buckwheat imported from France.
Whether you’re coming for breakfast or lunch, you’ll have a hard time choosing from the myriad of fillings wrapped in light and delicious crepes.
You will find options like salmon with cream, Swiss cheese and ham, tomato, spinach, onion, and much more. And if what you like is sweet, try crepes with strawberries and believe me, Nutella, s’mores or believe me, Bavarian, like in Paris.
Address: 526 S Gay St, Knoxville, Tennessee
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Things To Do In Knoxville
Is Knoxville worth visiting?
Knoxville is your gateway to visiting notable landmarks like the Great Smoky Mountains and the University of Tennessee. Although Knoxville doesn’t have the same hustle and bustle as Tennessee’s capital city of Nashville, there are still plenty of opportunities to have fun or relax.
What street is downtown Knoxville?
Named one of the Great Streets in America by the American Planning Association (APA), Gay Street is the prime corridor of Downtown Knoxville. The ten blocks from the Gay Street Bridge to West Jackson Avenue are home to beautifully preserved architecture, a lively cultural scene, and a bevy of activity day or night.
Is Knoxville a cool town?
With a booming outdoors scene, grand hotels, and a slew of new restaurants, Knoxville is one of the South’s most happening cities. The Tennessean hotel enjoys views of Knoxville’s bustling downtown and its famous Sunsphere monument.
Are there mountains in Knoxville TN?
High points include Sharp’s Ridge in North Knoxville at 1,391 feet (424 m) and Brown Mountain in South Knoxville at 1,260 feet (380 m). House Mountain, the highest point in Knox County at 2,064 feet (629 m), is located east of the city near Mascot.
Why is Knoxville called Scruffy?
Knoxville was referred to as a “scruffy little city,” in 1980 by the Wall Street Journal in reference to its bid to host the World’s Fair. Since then, Knoxville planted thousands of trees and invested in its rich history – all while embracing the name.
What beach is closest to Knoxville TN?
The closest beach to Knoxville TN is Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina. At just under six hours away, this beach location offers an easy drive and tons of rest and relaxation. This is Charleston’s quietest beach town.
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