The Getaway
Knoxville, a Dynamic Center for Nature and the Arts

Knoxville isn’t just about barbecue and country music. This vibrant Tennessee city is a melting pot of cultural influences, with deep roots in jazz, rock, and blues. When you visit Knoxville, immerse yourself in its lively atmosphere by enjoying a drink and live music at one of the many local bars. For outdoor enthusiasts, the surrounding forests offer a paradise for hiking and nature activities. Downtown Knoxville will surprise you with its commitment to learning and the arts, showcasing the city's diverse character. This blend of natural beauty and cultural richness makes Knoxville a unique destination for travelers.

Advertisement

01 Dine and dive at Knoxville’s architectural icon

The Sunsphere in Knoxville EJ_Rodriquez / Getty Images

The Sunsphere, a remarkable architectural feat and a legacy of the 1982 World Fair, stands as Knoxville's most iconic structure. After years of dormancy, it reopened in 2014, now housing a variety of restaurants including a top-notch pizza place and a Southern BBQ joint. For the adventurous, skydiving from the Sunsphere is an exhilarating option – just remember to skydive before you dine! The Sunsphere not only offers culinary delights but also serves as a symbol of Knoxville's innovative spirit and history.

Advertisement

02 Drink great cocktails and enjoy breathtaking views

An aerial view of Nashville Kruck20 / Getty Images

Perched atop the Sunsphere, the Icon Ultra Lounge is a haven for cocktail enthusiasts and view seekers. The lounge offers a selection of expertly crafted drinks, but the real draw is the panoramic view of Knoxville and its surroundings. Photographers and sightseers alike will find this spot ideal for capturing stunning images of the cityscape. The lounge's ambiance, combined with the spectacular views, makes it a must-visit for anyone looking to experience Knoxville's nightlife.

Advertisement

03 Visit a life-changing nature preserve

A beautiful lakeside forest Remus Kotsell / Getty Images

The Ijams Nature Center, an urban wildlife sanctuary, plays a crucial role in educating visitors about conservation. This nonprofit center emphasizes experiential learning, with pristine forest trails and clean rivers that highlight the importance of maintaining urban green spaces. A visit here is not just a walk in the park; it's an immersive experience in the beauty and necessity of nature. The center's diverse range of activities, from bird watching to rock climbing, ensures that there's something for every nature lover.

Advertisement

04 Learn of Tennessee's Secret City, the Heart of WWII Atomic Bomb Development

epantha / Getty Images

Just outside Knoxville lies Oak Ridge, known historically as "The Secret City." It gained fame for two reasons: its role in the top-secret atomic weapons development during WWII, and the prophetic visions of John Hendrix, who foresaw these developments decades earlier. The American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge offers a deep dive into the atomic bomb's history and the intriguing story of the Oak Ridge Prophet. This museum not only provides historical insights but also reflects on the ethical and scientific implications of atomic research.

Advertisement

05 Bounce around the trampoline capital of Tennessee

Kids having fun on a trampoline Karl Weatherly / Getty Images

Jump Jam Trampoline Park is a family-friendly destination with over 60 trampolines spread across ten thousand square feet. But it's more than just a place for jumping; it offers unique fitness challenges, sports, and obstacle courses. Whether you're a parent with energetic kids or looking to unleash your inner child, this park is an excellent start to an active day. The park's design caters to all ages and skill levels, making it a perfect spot for family outings or even team-building events.

Advertisement

06 Discover Knoxville’s rich musical history

A man playing an acoustic guitar puhimec / Getty Images

Knoxville holds a significant yet often overlooked place in the history of jazz, blues, rock, and especially country music. The Cradle of Country Music Walking Tour is a self-guided journey through nearly twenty landmarks significant to the history of country music, including connections to legends like Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley. This tour, typically lasting about an hour, is a must for music enthusiasts. It offers a unique perspective on the city's musical heritage, highlighting how Knoxville has influenced the American music scene.

Advertisement

07 Check out a museum dedicated to America’s toughest admiral

Admiral David Farragut, famous for his command "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" during the Civil War, is celebrated in Knoxville with a museum in the town hall. This museum not only showcases exhibits about Farragut's life and 19th-century Tennessee but also features a nearby Civil War trail marking a local battle site. The museum provides an intimate look at Farragut's life and his impact on American naval history, making it a fascinating visit for history buffs and naval enthusiasts alike.

Advertisement

08 Tour Knoxville’s gorgeous collection of public art

Knoxville Tennessee Downtown Restaurants and Bars on Market Square benedek / Getty Images

Knoxville's passion for visual arts is evident in its Art in Public Places program, which annually showcases a rotating collection of artworks. Additionally, the city has commissioned numerous public murals, creating a vibrant street art scene. The Knoxville Downtown Murals Walking Tour guides you through over thirty of these stunning murals, reflecting the city's artistic spirit. This tour not only displays the city's artistic talents but also tells the story of Knoxville's communities and history through vibrant and engaging visual narratives.

Advertisement

09 Visit the Girl Scout Museum

Group of young scouts joining hands together, showing their unity.

The Girl Scout Museum in Knoxville is a treasure trove for former scouts, current scouts, and anyone interested in the organization's history. It houses a variety of exhibits, including vintage uniforms, badges, and memorabilia. A highlight is a historic Girl Scout doll, a special contribution from the Smithsonian Institute. The museum serves as a testament to the Girl Scouts' long-standing impact on empowering young women and shaping leaders, making it a meaningful visit for all ages.

Advertisement

10 See a perpetual motion machine

 Museum of the Appalachia

A short drive from Knoxville brings you to the Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, TN. This museum celebrates the unique and quirky aspects of Appalachian culture. Among its exhibits is Asa Jackson's attempt at a perpetual motion machine, a fascinating testament to human ingenuity and persistence, despite its ultimate failure to defy the Laws of Thermodynamics. The museum not only showcases this intriguing invention but also offers a glimpse into the rich cultural and historical tapestry of the Appalachian region.

Advertisement

11 Zoo Knoxville

Formerly known as the Knoxville Zoo, Zoo Knoxville is a delightful destination for experiencing the wonders of wildlife. It offers a range of attractions, including the Tiger Forest and Red Panda Village, and is renowned for its commitment to animal welfare. The zoo's staff are known for their excellent care of both carnivores and herbivores, making it a standout among American zoos. The zoo's focus on conservation and education makes it an ideal place for families to learn about and connect with nature.

Advertisement

12 Old City

The Historic Old City is a unique downtown area that offers a glimpse into Knoxville's past. This quirky neighborhood features a variety of distinctive restaurants, shops, and attractions, maintaining a small-town charm reminiscent of the city's earlier days. The Old City Market, held on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month, is a great place to find local treats and souvenirs. The area's blend of historical architecture and modern creativity provides a perfect backdrop for exploring Knoxville's diverse cultural landscape.

Advertisement

13 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame

The Knoxville Women's Basketball Hall of Fame is a globally recognized destination for sports fans, dedicated exclusively to women's basketball. Visitors can explore player statistics, pose with life-size statues of female basketball greats, and engage in interactive exhibits. It's a place where both kids and adults can spend hours learning and having fun. The hall of fame not only celebrates the achievements of female basketball players but also serves as an inspiring reminder of the progress made in women's sports.

Advertisement

14 James White Fort

Founded by pioneer and soldier James White in 1793, James White Fort is the original settlement that later became Knoxville. Visitors can explore this 18th-century homestead and stand where White decided to build the town. For history enthusiasts, the fort and other historical sites in the area offer a rich exploration of Knoxville's past. The fort provides a tangible connection to the early days of American frontier life, offering a unique educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Advertisement

15 Strong Alley (Graffiti Alley)

Strong Alley, also known as Graffiti Alley, is a vibrant stretch in Knoxville known for its stunning spray-painted murals. Located near Market Square, this alleyway is a collaborative effort between local businesses and artists, each contributing their unique designs. It's a popular spot for both daytime and nighttime visits, with the artwork especially vibrant on sunny days. The alley serves as a dynamic canvas that reflects the city's creative energy and community spirit, making it a must-see for art lovers and urban explorers.

Advertisement

16 Star of Knoxville Riverboat

The Star of Knoxville Riverboat offers a unique experience on the Tennessee River, combining scenic views with entertainment. Guests can enjoy various themed cruises, including lunch, dinner, and even a Murder Mystery Dinner Cruise. It's an ideal choice for those who love riverboat cruises or are looking for a fun, family-friendly activity. The riverboat provides a relaxing way to see the city from a different perspective, making it a memorable part of any visit to Knoxville.

Share

Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.
Advertisement
Advertisement