Things to Do in Knoxville, TN

Knoxville, Tennessee answers to many names — Big Orange Country, Heart of the Valley, Scruffy City, and Good Ol’ Rocky Top. But this year, we’re giving it a new one: home to HGTV Urban Oasis 2017.

Photo By: Gary Heatherly

Photo By: Visit Knoxville

Photo By: Gary Heatherly

Photo By: Bruce McCamish Photo

Photo By: Visit Knoxville

Photo By: Visit Knoxville

Photo By: Hannah Mills

Photo By: Visit Knoxville

Photo By: Visit Knoxville

Photo By: Visit Knoxville

Photo By: Andrew McMurtrie

Photo By: Gary Heatherly

Good Ol' Rocky Top

Knoxville is tucked away in the rolling hills of East Tennessee, less than an hour from the Great Smoky Mountains. The city is home to over 183,000 people, the University of Tennessee, HGTV Headquarters (Scripps Networks Interactive) and most recently, HGTV Urban Oasis 2017. 

Go Vols!

The University of Tennessee is a flagship public university, hosting nearly 28,000 orange-and-white clad students each year. In addition to being ranked 46th among public institutions of higher learning in the United States, UT students, alumni and fans alike pride themselves on its history-making athletics department. Thompson Boling Arena, seen here, served as backdrop to legendary coach, Pat Summit, who led the Lady Vols basketball team to an overall record of 1,098 wins to 208 losses over her 38 years with UT. More interested in SEC football? Just steps from the arena you’ll find Neyland Stadium, where MVP and two-time Super Bowl champ Peyton Manning spent his college career as Tennessee’s quarterback.

Golden Outlook

World’s Fair Park and the iconic, golden Sunsphere were constructed in anticipation of the 1982 World’s Fair. Today, Knoxvillians and visitors can spend some downtime lounging on the park’s grassy lawn with a good book, or tossing a tennis ball (or two!) for canine friends. Venture atop the Sunsphere for wow-worthy, panoramic views of the city, the university, the Great Smoky Mountains and the Tennessee River.  

Stroll the Streets

Looking to stroll the streets for an immersive experience of the city? Be sure to make Knoxville’s historic Gay Street a top priority. It’s a road that will guide you through the heart of downtown, showcasing niche shops, local eateries, the East Tennessee History Center and the iconic Tennessee Theatre.

See a Show

The Bijou Theatre first opened its doors to downtown Knoxville in 1909. Over a century later, the Bijou continues to serve its city as a living, breathing piece of Knoxville history. The performance venue aims to enrich the lives of locals by hosting culturally diverse live entertainment. Along with many small, student-led music groups, the Bijou’s stage has seen noteworthy acts like Richard Thompson, The Ramones, St. Vincent and comedian Louis C.K.

Maple Hall

Maple Hall is Knoxville’s very own boutique bowling alley, located smack-dab in the middle of downtown. Along with 11 lanes, Maple Hall offers a full service bar with hand-crafted cocktails, a live stage and even a two-lane, VIP room for private parties. Need a snack between strikes? Be sure to order a stack of fries! The “southern stack” is especially satisfying — topped with pulled pork, caramelized onions and blue cheese slaw.

Charming City Square

Nestled downtown, Market Square is this city’s tucked-away treasure for live entertainment, eclectic cuisine and local shopping. Knoxville natives make the most of their weekends here, attending various food and culture festivals, or simply perusing the fresh, seasonal produce at the Saturday Market Square Farmers’ Market. Looking for a taste of the Knoxville art scene? The square also hosts gallery walks, showcasing local talent on the first Friday of every month. 

Spirited Sips

Interested in wetting your whistle with some small batch, hand-crafted booze? Knox Whiskey Works is a distillery that prides itself on producing spirits that embody the spirit of East Tennessee. They offer tours of their facilities and a four-spirit flight tasting for $10, Thursday-Saturday. 

Homegrown Bites

For a taste of Knoxville flavor, look no further than The Stock and Barrel. Locals love this tucked-away treasure for its mouthwatering burgers and curated selection of bourbon and beer. The Stock and Barrel prides itself on crafting their burgers using only locally sourced, pasture-fed and hormone-free beef. Their menu offers artisan burgers topped with fresh, far-out ingredients that you won’t find anywhere else. “The Farmhouse” burger, seen here, is topped with barrel-aged cheddar, Benton’s bacon, tomatoes, onion, garlic aioli and a fried egg. Yum!

Hit the Sweet Spot

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a glaze-dipped, sugary delight — courtesy of Makers Donuts. The Makers team uses local, seasonal ingredients to craft fresh batches of donuts, each and every day. Their menu changes each week, offering patrons a myriad of flavors to choose from. Some of our favorites include funnel cake, maple bacon, churro and cookies + cream.

Bikes + Blooms

Dogwood Arts puts on several events each year to benefit the growth of arts, culture and natural beauty in the Knoxville area. Bikes + Blooms is an event that takes place in the spring and encourages biking along the scenic, blossom-lined Dogwood Trails. Not a biker? Not a problem. Support the arts by attending the wildly popular Rhythm ‘N’ Blooms Music Festival, or spend an afternoon scoping out the Dogwood Arts Festival.

Striking River Views

Henley Street Bridge crosses the Tennessee River and connects downtown and south Knoxville. Nightly, the bridge lights up the river, and the city changes out the colors for holidays and special events.