Knoxville, Tennessee, should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. Getting about the city and hotel stays are both inexpensive. The majority of things to do can be accessed on foot. This city is fascinating, with a diverse choice of exciting activities.
The city is located on the Tennessee River. Market Square is a downtown quarter featuring 19th-century buildings housing stores, and restaurants. You may spend your days with exciting activities or keep it low-key with some laid-back trips. Whether you come for a weekend or a longer vacation, make a note of these 15 things to do if you chance to be in Knoxville.
15. Tennessee Theatre
(image via Tennessee Theatre)
A must-see building in Knoxville, the Tennessee Theatre is certainly one of the most unique buildings in the city. In the lobby, you’ll find snacks, sodas, beer, wine, and mixed drinks for most shows. Popcorn, candy, soda, beer, and wine are available at the movies.
The Tennessee Theatre, built in the 1920s, is a gorgeous old movie palace that dates back to the silent era. Inside you’ll find ornate detail throughout the building. It’s amazing that such places still exist. If you’re looking for a relaxing moment a beauty, you’re sure to find it here.
14. Market Square
(image via Visit Knoxville)
Market Square, just a few minutes’ walk from the Tennessee Theatre, is a lovely small area to have a drink, eat some healthy local fare, or simply browse the boutiques.
One of the things one might like about Knoxville is how walkable it is. It’s one of those areas where you could spend an entire day wandering around without ever needing to use a car, uber, or bus. Everything appears to be very close together, with Market Square being a good place to start.
13.Find the Peter Kern Library Speakeasy
(image via Peter Kern Library)
In Knoxville, the Peter Kern Library is a bit of a hidden gem. It’s one of Knoxville’s coolest little haunts and best things to do, only distinguishable by its little, red light (just off Union Avenue and in the same block as the Oliver Hotel).
If the lights are on, go ahead and open the entrance and walk through until you reach the bar (on the left-hand side as you enter). When you enter, you’ll be met by the coolest speakeasy you’ve ever seen.
12. Pretentious Craft Co.
(image via Pretentious Beer Co)
Matthew Cummings, entrepreneur and glassblowing artist, spotted a gap in the market for specialty beer glasses. It was a wonder why there were not individual glasses for ales or porters, as there are wide-mouthed glasses for red wines and thin flutes for champagnes. Pretentious Glass Co. took off when he designed some prototypes for his pals who felt they were extremely pretentious.
Pretentious Glass Co. was created as a result of this initiative, which he followed up with his own brewing next door. We’re pretty sure this is the only spot on the planet where you can drink a hand-crafted beer from a hand-crafted glass while seeing both of them being manufactured right in front of your eyes.
(image via Knoxville Sunsphere)
The Sunsphere is a 266-foot high hexagonal steel truss structure at World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, capped with a 75-foot gold-colored glass sphere that served as the symbol of the 1982 World’s Fair.
World’s Fair Park, the Tennessee River, and the University of Tennessee Campus are all visible from the 4th Floor Observation Deck, which offers a stunning 360-degree panorama ranging from downtown to the Great Smoky Mountains. You’ll find history, a gallery, memorabilia, and a gift store dedicated to the 1982 World’s Fair in this exciting spot.
10. World’s Largest Rubiks Cube
(image via Roadside America)
At the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair, which was most known for its famous Sunsphere – the World’s Largest Rubik’s Cube stood at the entrance to the Hungarian Pavilion. A complicated series of concealed motors allows the Cube, which stands 10 feet tall and weighs 1,200 pounds, to change its color patterns on the fly.
It has been broken and repaired many times, yet continues to stand as a reminder of moments that have passed. Find your moment of zen with this iconic piece of art at 701 Henley Street.
9. Farragut Museum
(image via Farragut Museum)
The Farragut Museum is a hidden gem of artifacts and photographs. The Admiral David Glasgow Farragut collection is the most notable in the museum. This area is where Admiral Farragut was born. Farragut was the United States Navy’s first commissioned admiral and is most remembered for saying, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” Farragut’s personal dinnerware, uniform embellishments, family portraits, manuscripts, letters of interest, and a huge collection of scrimshaw are among the treasures housed in this nationally coveted collection.
Artifacts from the Farragut and Concord villages’ histories, as well as the Civil War, are on display in the museum galleries. The museum contains a section dedicated to rotating special exhibits in addition to the permanent exhibits. Admission is always free, and they are open Monday through Friday from 11 am to 2 pm.
8.Yassin’s Falafel House – Nicest Place in America of 2018
(image via Yassin's Falafel House)
In Knoxville, Yassin’s Falafel House is renowned not only as a popular restaurant but also as a second home and a safe haven for everybody. The proprietor believes that if we “mix together” all of the wonderful from “back home” with all of the things we love here, we will all be “the best people ever.”
It is because of this recipe that the community, both locally and nationally, has recognized that there is something special, something unique going on at Yassin’s Falafel House. Yassin has garnered several awards since its formal inauguration in 2014.
7. Fanatic Brewing Company
(image via Fanatic Brewing Company)
Marty Velas founded Fanatic Brewing Co. in 1978 with the goal of making the most “Drinkable Beer” possible.
Fanatic provides something for everyone, from flagship to seasonal and everything in between. At the production facility, they sell kegs, bottles, and fill growlers by appointment. Tours are available on Fridays and Saturdays, but you need to contact them ahead of time to double-check the times and make an appointment.
6. Knoxville Opera
(image via Knoxville Opera)
Knoxville Opera is committed to enriching East Tennessee’s cultural landscape by producing high-quality opera performances locally. Knoxville Opera seeks to educate the audience about the importance of opera’s cultural and sociological significance in history via its beautiful presentations of classic opera productions.
From Cinderella to a devilish spectacle of Mefistofele, you’re sure to find a moment of delight at this Knoxville establishment!
5. Historic Westwood
(image via Knox Heritage)
Westwood is a historic residence in Knoxville, Tennessee, located at 3425 Kingston Pike on the outskirts of the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood. This home also goes by another name, The Adelia Armstrong Lutz House. It was erected in 1890 by John Lutz and his wife, artist Adelia Armstrong Lutz, on land donated by Adelia’s father, Robert H. Armstrong.
It holds a rich, artistic history. The home is lavish and filled with delicate beauty in each of its fine corners. From the marvelous entrance to the ornate paintings. You’re sure to find delight within this wondrous establishment.
4. World’s Fair Park
(image via World's Fair Park)
World’s Fair Park is a public park in Knoxville, Tennessee’s downtown area. The park is located on the former fairgrounds of Knoxville’s 1982 World’s Fair. The Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater, the two remaining structures from the exhibition, are now located in the park.
There are tables where you may eat your lunch and benches where you can rest. There’s also a massive fountain and splash pad for the kids to play in. This park is home to the convention center and the renowned sun sphere as well. A tribute to the East Tennessee war memorial is beautifully exhibited here. If you’re in the city for whatever reason, this is a terrific location to unwind.
3. The Knoxville Museum of Art
(image via Knoxville Museum of Art)
The Knoxville Museum of Art celebrates East Tennessee’s rich, diverse visual culture and its connections to the wider currents of world art. There are three splendorious levels, a basement, and an outdoor garden. It is located within the famed World’s Fair Park. Surprisingly, entrance is free. For anyone curious about local artists this spot is sure to be an instant delight.
2. Zoo Knoxville
(images via Zoo Knoxville)
Zoo Knoxville is one of the Southeast’s best zoological attractions. Committed to offering educational and ‘wildly enjoyable’ experiences. Zoo Knoxville, previously the Knoxville Zoo or Knoxville Zoological Gardens, is a 53-acre zoo located immediately east of downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, near Interstate 40 exit 392. Each year, around 400,000 people visit the zoo, which is home to about 800 species.
The zoo’s main and lower lots both have parking. The cost of parking is $5. Members of the Zoo Knoxville are entitled to free parking.
1. Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
(image via Women's Basketball HOF)
The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (WBHOF) is the first and only institution dedicated only to the sport of women’s basketball. It honors those who have made significant contributions to the sport of women’s basketball.
You may learn a lot about the game’s history, sportsmen who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and, of course, Pat Summitt. Those in Knoxville always “support Pat,” the Lady Vols basketball coach from 1974 to 2012, who retired with 1,098 career victories, the most in college basketball history. Don’t forget to play some hoops on the bottom level’s three-way basketball court; it’s a fantastic spot to work those youngsters out – rain or shine.
As you can see, Knoxville has a lot to offer everyone. If you are looking to do more in the surrounding area, check out other weekend trips from nearby Chattanooga, Tennessee.
These areas are perfect for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore our favorite things to do or peruse some pre-built itineraries.