This is your reminder to breathe. Deep breath in….long exhale. Perfect. Every day there is a sunset, it’s up to you to go outside and enjoy it. Have a relaxing day.
We woke up on Monday morning, our last day in New York feeling blue. Our flight home wasn’t until 8pm, but we didn’t have much planned for our last day. Another of David’s friends, Ella, was in the city visiting family, so we made plans to met her at a Swedish coffee shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
After showering and storing our bags (thank goodness our Airbnb had a locker we could use after checkout!) we walked to the subway and headed from Astoria to Greenpoint. The coffee shop was a little chain store called Konditori, but David was excited because it was Swedish. We got drinks at the counter, Ella and I both ordered hot chocolate, while David and I split a muffin, then crowded around a little table in the back of the shop.
We chatted and enjoyed our hot beverages, then decided to explore the neighborhood we were in, which is known as “Little Poland.” Little Poland wasn’t as strictly defined as Little Odessa; while it had something of an Eastern European feel, there were still sushi restaurants, people speaking English, and Swedish coffee shops. We stopped in a few little shops in search of Prince Polo candy bars, my favorite Polish treat. There’s a cute Polish Deli not far from my work, but I still wanted to find Prince Polo in New York.
We wandered all over the neighborhood, explored bodega after bodega before finally finding a shop selling Prince Polo. You could tell right away we were in the right place: the store took me back to my study abroad days. They had a selection of Polish snacks and drinks, and a small deli counter. Everyone but us was speaking Polish. We picked up 3 Prince Polos (Ella was excited to try the chocolate bar) and headed back into the bitter cold.
Next on the agenda: Polish food for lunch. Between google maps and some good, old fashioned wandering around, we found ourselves in a Polish market. We ate potato pierogi dipped in mustard and chatted until Ella had to head back to her brother’s. She told us about a bookstore in Manhattan that supposedly had Urdu language books (David speaks Urdu) so David and I decided to check it out.
We said goodbye to Ella at the subway; David and I made our way uptown to the Upper West Side. Upon entering the bookstore, we looked at each other–it didn’t look like we’d find any Urdu books there. It appeared to be a children’s bookstore, and while we found a handful of Spanish learning materials for kids, we didn’t find anything close to Urdu resources.
What were we to do? Our uptown adventure was a bust, we only had a few more hours in New York and we weren’t at all familiar with the neighborhood. So we decided to just walk around in the cold and see what we could see. Two broke 20-somethings quickly saw the Mexican restaurant having happy hour $5 margaritas. Sold.
The restaurant was really cute and the bartender was nice. We ended up hanging out for a while and ordering their happy hour boneless wings to share. Finally, it was time for us to go. We took the subway back to Astoria to retrieve our bags, then ubered to La Guardia. Our plane was delayed because it was SNOWING in NC, but otherwise our trip home was fairly uneventful.
Whew! When I set out to share my NYC journey with you, I did NOT plan for it to go on for 2 months nor for it to expand into 6 posts. I hope you enjoyed it, because I certainly enjoyed experiencing it and sharing it with all of you. Tell me about your experiences in New York or your favorite city in the comments below. If you liked this post, be sure to hit the subscribe button, share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and keep following me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!
After taking some cheesy photos and finding our way to our seats, Holly and I were able to take in the set of the Broadway musical, Once On This Island. (David was exploring downtown on his own, with plans to meet back up with us later on.) The setup was different than any theatre I’d been in before. The theatre is in the round (the audience surrounds the stage instead of being on one side of it) and is very open. Some of the cast was already on stage, milling around while the audience was settling in. The floor of the stage was covered in sand, and there was a “river” flowing in from one side. The first row of seats are on stage, with the audience seated with their feet in the sand. In addition to human cast members, there was a live chicken and a live goat on stage (my cousin’s favorite part)! I don’t have any pictures of the set because photos in the theatre are not allowed and they’re actually pretty strict about it. The photo below is a model of the set that I found online.
Once the audience was settled (the show was standing-room only, but luckily we had seats) the show began. During a storm, the village storytellers tell a frightened little girl the story of Ti Moune. Ti Moune is an orphan girl who was adopted by peasants from the peasant side of the island. The island is also home to the grands hommes, wealthy descendents of French settlers who live on the other half of the island. In a Romeo and Juliet style story, Ti Moune falls in love with a grand homme, Daniel. I don’t want to spoil the ending, although if you’re curious, the synopsis is available on Wikipedia. The performance was incredible and the fairly young leading actors had phenomenal voices and stage presences.
After the show, we waited by the stage door for the actors to (hopefully) come out and sign Playbills. The first to come out was Sparky the goat! We got to feed him some goat food and take a few photos. Next to come out was Phillip Boykin who played Tonton Julian, Ti Moune’s adoptive father. He was really nice, signed both of our Playbills, and took a photo with us! Unfortunately no one else came out, but I’m not that surprised since it was a matinee and they had an evening show to prepare for. I was disappointed that Isaac Powell (who played Daniel) didn’t make an appearance, since he went to high school with my best friend and they were in their school’s production of Pippin together.
We met back up with David and decided to get drinks before Holly headed back to CT and we returned to our Airbnb. Holly picked the place, an Italian restaurant called Da Marino with allegedly really cool bathrooms. We sat at the bar and each had a cocktail. Holly had one of their signatures, an espresso martini, I had a cosmo, and David had a vodka tonic. We chatted with each other and with the bartender, who could tell we weren’t New Yorkers right away. We were the only ones at the bar, since it was like 6PM on a Sunday.
David and I checked out the men’s and women’s restrooms respectively, and they were indeed pretty cool. The women’s room was like a fantasy enchanted forest. When I returned to the bar, the bartender was singing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” with piano accompaniment. She was great! I guess she came to New York to become a singer, but was bartending to pay the bills.
We left shortly after her performance, Holly to Connecticut, and David and I to Astoria. David and I picked up some ramen and snacks to eat at home, rather than trying to go out to eat again. We had a chill evening for our last night in New York.
Read about our last day in the city in my next NYC post! (Update 5/20/18: part 6 is the final piece of the story!) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited New York before? Did you see a Broadway show? Where do you think the coolest bathrooms in New York are? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!
Once On This Island wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_on_This_Island
Once On This Island set photo: https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Broadway-By-Design-Dane-Laffrey-Clint-Ramos-Bring-ONCE-ON-THIS-ISLAND-from-Page-to-Stage-20171216
We slept in a bit on Sunday morning, knowing we’d need to be well-rested for another day of trekking around the city. We took the subway from Queens to downtown Manhattan so that we could visit the 9/11 memorial. On the site of the twin towers, there is now a single, functional skyscraper, a memorial museum, and two enormous, sunken waterfall pools. The pools are covered in the names of all of those who lost their lives during the attack in 2001. It wasn’t easy to see those huge memorials completely covered in names. The site is beautiful, but there’s something haunting about it.
The Grand Central terminal was next on our list, so after a quiet and reflective morning, we headed back up to midtown. Grand Central is one of those very New York things you just have to see when you visit the city. We walked around for awhile, taking in the mural on the ceiling, the huge market downstairs, and of course, taking advantage of free public bathrooms.
We met my cousin for lunch at a tiny (TINY) little pizza place called Patzeria Perfect Pizza on W 46th. She took the train in from New Haven that morning so we could spend the rest of the day together! The pizza place was so cramped, I’ve been in delivery-only pizza places with no dining room that had more space. But it was warm, cheap, and the pizza was really good. We managed to snag some tight seats on high stools at the table along the wall.
While we ate, we talked about our plans for the day. Holly (my cousin) and I wanted to see a matinee of a Broadway show. David was encouraged to come along, but insisted that he didn’t want to come. Holly and I had hoped to see Come From Away, but it was sold out. We talked about several different shows, but we both love theatre and would really be happy with anything. We settled on Once On This Island.
After we finished our pizza, we headed back into the cold and over a few blocks to the Circle in the Square theatre, where we got tickets for the 3PM show. Knowing that left us at least an hour to kill, the three of us decided to just walk around. We went to Rockefeller center and watched people ice-skate, passed by the NBC building and Radio City Music Hall, just enjoying being in New York and catching up with Holly. By 2:15 we made our way back to the theatre, knowing the doors would open around 2:30PM.
Holly and I said goodbye to David (who planned to see the NY Stock Exchange and explore the financial district) and headed into the theatre when the doors opened. Crowds of people swarmed into the warm lobby, showed their tickets, had their bags peeked in, and all headed to the restrooms on the bottom floor, as there’s no intermission. On our way back up, we had our pictures taken at this cheesy but super fun red-carpet style backdrop. We showed our tickets again, found our seats, and waited for the show to begin!
Read about our experience with the show, fun with the alleged coolest bathrooms in NYC, and more in my next NYC post! (5/20/18 Update: The whole story is live! See the final post, part 6 now.) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited New York before? Did you see a show? What is your favorite musical? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. You can read about Day 1 here.
On day 2, Saturday, we were ready to brave the subway. We’ve both traveled to cities with metro systems, together and independently, so despite coming from NC where people will clutch onto their giant pickup trucks in a cloud of smog before they use public transport, we were both familiar with the concept. However, New York City’s subway system is confusing as hell. There are a million lines, some of them are numbered, some lettered, all of them are colored, but there are multiple green lines, for example, so that’s not helpful. Thank God for Google Maps.
We walked about 15 minutes to the subway station nearest to our Airbnb, then took the R train from Astoria, Queens into Manhattan, and the Q train all the way down through Brooklyn. Our stop was Brighton Beach also known as Little Odessa. Little Odessa is home to many Eastern European immigrants, especially those from Russia and Ukraine.
If someone had said to me “imagine a cross between Eastern Europe and New York City” I would’ve pictured Little Odessa, even before going there. We walked up and down the main street, under the raised train tracks. A variety of Slavic languages swirled around us; I didn’t hear anyone speaking English. There were tons of little convenience stores, delis, and shops. We went into a “department store” that was essentially an Eastern European style Walmart. David observed that it reminded him of similar stores in Serbia. They sold everything from underwear to kitchen appliances to pharmacy items and everything was very cheap by NYC standards.
Next we stopped in a bookstore. They sold English books in Russian, Russian books in English, kid’s books, romance novels, adventure stories, language books, and Russian cultural books. David definitely enjoyed it more than I did, considering he speaks some Russian.
We left the bookstore in hopes of finding a good lunch spot. Many of the restaurants looked amazing, but were sit down and we didn’t really have the time or money for that. Others had folks lined up down the sidewalk, but didn’t have a dining room. Did I mention it was 40F and windy the entire weekend? We aren’t Russian, and I can’t quite enjoy eating outside in the cold wind. We finally found a little corner restaurant selling 2 slices of pizza and a soda for $5. Sold. The store owners seemed to be Russian, even though the food wasn’t.
After walking around a bit more, we hopped back on the train to Coney Island (we totally could’ve walked, but woulda coulda shoulda, eh?). Since it was March, none of the rides were operating. Many of the shops and arcades were closed. It was a really cool way to experience an iconic piece of Americana.
We visited one of the few shops that was open, a candy store. They sold all kinds of novelty candy; giant boxes of cereal marshmallows, giant gummy bears, a huge variety jelly beans and gummies, Harry Potter themed candy, alcohol themed candy, and a bunch more. We had fun looking around before stepping back into the wind. There was a cute cafe/restaurant down the street with great views of the still amusement park rides. David got a macchiato and I had a hot chocolate (I’m a kid at heart, what can I say?). We enjoyed our hot drinks and people-watched for a while.
We had dinner plans with a friend of David’s in Manhattan that evening, so after finishing our drinks we went back to the train, which we road from Brooklyn back to Midtown Manhattan, so that David could see Times Square for the first time.
Read about our adventures in Times Square, the upper east side, and the village in my next NYC post! (5/20/18 update: the whole story has been posted! See part 4, part 5, and part 6 now!) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited NYC before? What’s your favorite neighborhood? Did you brave the subway? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!
This past weekend, my husband and I visited the Big Apple. NYC. New York. THE City. Is it obvious yet that New York is my absolute favorite city? I’ve been about 5 times before this trip, and I would go again in a heartbeat. (Anyone want to buy me a plane ticket for next weekend….?)
A few weeks ago I was looking up cheap airline tickets, just for fun. David and I had been hoping to do something for spring break, but all of our other plans had fallen through, and besides, we had different breaks (mine was last week and his is this week). I looked just out of boredom, hoping to get an idea of what we could do for our next trip. The site required me to put in dates, a departing airport, and a destination. I picked our local airport and NYC, any airport, just to get an idea of the price point. For 2 people, round trip, 2 weeks in advance it was $420, including fees. We booked it 2 days later.
We were going to New York!! I was giddy for the two weeks while we last-minute planned our long weekend. We booked an Airbnb for Friday-Monday, I asked off work for Monday, and we got in touch with friends and family in the area. We each made a list of things we wanted to do/see and tried to match them up the best we could, knowing we would barely be able to get a taste of NYC in a single weekend, albeit a long one. Our flights were early Friday morning and late Monday evening, giving us *almost* 4 full days.
Friday morning we woke up at 3:30AM to get to the airport by 4:30 for our 5:50AM flight with a layover in DC. Unfortunately, even in the urban areas of central NC there are a grand total of ZERO Ubers or Lyfts at 4AM on a Friday morning. ZERO. We scrambled to drive to the airport, knowing we’d have to pay out the ass to park at the airport all weekend, also knowing we had no choice.
So we threw our backpacks in the car and drove to the airport. We got through the surprisingly long line at security and to our gate, boarding exactly on time. We then waited in the plane for two hours for American Airlines to get themselves together. We finally took off, late, and arrived right when our connecting flight was leaving Ronald Reagan for LaGuardia. Fabulous. 21 people on our flight were supposed to be on that connection and I must say American did nothing to help us other than quietly assign us to a new flight, which no one could access full information on. The full story is a different story for a different day, but lemme just say #DisappointedAmericanAirlines
We finally got on the right plane, took off, and arrived at LaGuardia. NEW YORK CITY, BABY!!
NYC at 9AM on a Friday is crawling with Lyfts and Ubers, so we had no problem getting a Lyft from the airport to the Airbnb to drop off our bags. Then it was on to the adventure. We weren’t quite ready to brave the NYC subway system, so we took an Uber (Uber has shared rides in NYC, which are cheaper. Bring that to NC please!) to Jackson Heights, Queens, where there is a South Asian neighborhood and an AMAZING dosa restaurant, Dosa Delight. I knew about the place because 4 or 5 summers ago I went there with my cousin, Holly. We walked around the neighborhood for about 30-45 minutes, taking in the atmosphere and the culture. Different languages swirled around us, and different people surrounded us on the streets. We visited a couple of shops, just window shopping and killing time until the restaurant opened for lunch.
We split an order of samosas, followed by different kinds of dosa. David, of course, ordered like a pro, having spent last summer in India. I stumbled through ordering something that I hoped wasn’t ridiculously spicy, but would still be authentic. The samosas and dosa were amazing, and I would absolutely go back a third (and fourth and fifth…) time.
We ubered back to the Airbnb and crashed (we’d been up since 3:30AM!) until dinner time. We were sick of paying for ubers and lyfts, and weren’t quite ready to brave the subway system at night, so we looked for food near us. We were in Astoria, Queens, in a mostly residential area, but there were a few restaurants near us. We found a pub in walking distance that looked reasonably priced and headed out, already starving again.
Dillingers Pub and Grill was about a block away. It had a nice casual atmosphere, especially at 6PM. They were playing pop music from about 2000-2010, so I knew basically every song. It was a nice, nostalgic pick. The food was great pub food; David had a burger while I enjoyed a buffalo chicken sandwich. He got a beer and I had their rum punch, which was on special for $5. The whole experience was very enjoyable, and we went home full and happy, but totally ready to shower and go to bed early. We knew we had a big day ahead of us in Manhattan and Brooklyn!
Look out for future posts on the rest of our trip! I can’t wait to share the full story with you. (5/20/18 update: the whole story has been posted! See part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6 now!) Have you been to NYC? What were your experiences there? What’s your favorite city in the US? The world? Let me know in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this.
Knoxville, TN is one of my personal favorite destinations. It’s a bit of a hidden gem in the south: people tend to focus on Atlanta, New Orleans, Nashville, or beach towns like Myrtle Beach, Miami, and Charleston when planning visits to the southeast, but Knoxville has a lot to offer. If you’re interested in a general guide to Knoxville, including entertainment, museums, bars, restaurants and general tips, check out my Destination: Knoxville post here.
If you’re interested in out-of-the-way, unique, international eateries and markets, Knoxville has you covered, and so do I. See below my recommendations for cool places to eat and shop.
Quality Turkish Market
The folks are Quality Turkish Market are very kind and helpful, especially to a noob like myself who had never tried Turkish food before. The setup is order at the counter and pay in advance, but the food is, as the name suggests, quality. It’s delicious and filling, even the 100% vegetarian dish I enjoyed. They also have a small market area where you can buy imported sodas, candies, and other non-perishable treats.
Have you ever tried Ethiopian food? You should, and you should start at Gosh. They have lots of options and simple explanations of the unfamiliar food. Get ready to eat with your hands!
Sitar Indian Cuisine
Sitar serves up traditional Punjabi dishes, just what most Americans expect when they sit down at an Indian restaurant. I would recommend starting with Samosas, which are crispy turnovers stuffed with potatoes and veggies. Our table devoured ours in record time. For main courses they have a variety of curry dishes, many vegetarian, but plenty of meat-lovers’ options: lamb, chicken, shrimp, etc.
The Indian Grocery on Kingston Pike is quite large; this is no corner store. They offer many fresh, non-perishable dry goods, and frozen ready-to-eat meals. The selection is impressive, and there are plenty of options for the novice cook!
Holy Land Market
This middle Eastern/Mediterranean market features a grocery section and a small deli. You can pick from an impressive array of olives, teas, and Turkish Delight, as well as many other grocery items.
What are your favorite international restaurants and markets in Knoxville? What about your hometown? Share with me in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!
A big thank you to Maria Grissino for allowing me to use her photo of the Tennessee Theatre as my featured photo on this post!
Original Destination: Knox: https://theglobetrottingscientist.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/destination-knoxville-tn-usa/
World’s Fair Flags Photo: http://www.knoxvilletennessee.com/downtown/worlds-fair-park.html
Sitar Indian Image: https://smokymountains.com/restaurants/sitar-indian-cuisine/
Charleston: A quick look
Drinking Age: 21
Public Transportation: 2 free trolleys, and a paid bus service
Passport: No (for US citizens)
Before you leave
- Stay with Airbnb! Charleston has many cheap Airbnb options. (If you sign up using my link you’ll get a $40 credit and I could receive a small compensation as well.)
- Charleston is pretty far south–if you’re going during the warm months (that’s April-October down here, y’all) be prepared to sweat, and pack appropriate clothing and sunscreen.
Once you get there:
You will likely have to drive to get around Charleston. If you’re flying in I would recommend renting a car. However they do have a bus service (CARTA) which offers bus rides for a fee, but their trolley, which operates through parts of historic Charleston, is free. Another service, DASH, also offers free trolley rides.
Be prepared to walk. Even with cars and buses and trolleys, to get around downtown you simply have to walk. There are plenty of paid lots and garages where you can park your car.
- Charleston City MarketThe Charleston City Market was established in 1788 by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and has been a public marketplace ever since. While it was once primarily a meat market, it has evolved into an artisan’s haven. You can find everything from hand-woven baskets, to paintings, to souvenirs, to cheesy hand-painted wine glasses.
- Hunley Submarine (civil war history)The Hunley is fun for any history buff. Scientists are working to restore a Civil War era submarine that’s open for tours on the weekends. The tours to the submarine itself are led by a guide, while the museum tours are self-guided. It’s a good introduction to the wealth of Civil War related history in the Charleston area. Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child.
- Fort Sumter (civil war history)Fort Sumter National Monument is probably best known as the place where the American Civil War erupted. Nowadays, it’s another must see for anyone interested in American history. Getting there requires taking a tour boat to the fort, and taking an approximately two hour tour. Information on tours and facilities can be found on their website.
- Folly BeachA 20 minute drive from central Charleston, Folly Beach is a cute Carolina beach town. It is home to many tourist-y beach stores and hipster-y cafes.
- Kickin’ ChickenA local chain restaurant, the Kickin’ Chicken has great food and a relaxed atmosphere. With tons of big screen TVs, wings, and a bunch of beers on tap, it reminded me of Buffalo Wild Wings (with better service). The food was fantastic, and the service was excellent. I subbed in a barbecue sauce for the buffalo sauce on the menu for my sandwich and the server didn’t bat an eye.
- Black Magic CafeThe original Black Magic Cafe is located in Folly Beach with a new location in James Island. The Folly Beach location is in a tiny old house, with seating outside and in, including on the enclosed screened-in porch. It’s packed on a Sunday morning with plenty of 20 and 30-somethings enjoying coffee, muffins, eggs, and many breakfast combos.
- Aqua Terrace Rooftop BarLocated on top of the Charleston Marriott, the Aqua Terrace Rooftop bar has good views of the city, and a gorgeous view of the Ashley River. The drink prices are a little higher than the college bars we usually frequent ($10-15 for a mixed drink) but the cocktails are good.
- The Gin JointLocated right downtown (and near a parking deck, bonus!) the Gin Joint is hopping with 30-something hipsters on a Saturday night. It has a speakeasy theme and a variety of gin drinks, whiskey drinks, and cheeses.
- Fudgery IncLocated across the street from the Charleston City Market, the Fudgery is conveniently located when you’re out on the town. They offer gourmet homemade fudge, hand-squeezed lemonade, and a variety of ice cream flavors. We picked up some chocolate caramel fudge to take home and a strawberry lemonade to sip on while we walked around. The staff is very friendly and offer free fudge and ice cream samples!
Charleston is a cool city, and I would love to see more of it in the future. I’ve heard great things about their murder mystery parties, ghost tours, and other historic Charleston spooky attractions.
Did you like this post? Do you have any recommendations for visitors to Charleston? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter, and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!
Hunley submarine site: https://hunley.org
Kickin’ Chicken photo: https://www.thedailymeal.com/kickin-chicken-2
City Market photo: http://www.visit-historic-charleston.com/things-to-do-in-charleston-sc.html
Charleston City Market: http://www.thecharlestoncitymarket.com/main/history
Rainbow Row photo: https://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/charleston-county/rainbow-row.html
Fort Sumter photo: https://www.civilwar.org/
Hunley Submarine photo: http://cdn.history.com/
Knoxville: A quick look
Language: English is the official language of Tennessee
Drinking Age: 21*
Public Transportation: There is a trolley and a bus system
Passport: No (for US citizens)
*Fun fact, you only have to be 18 to be a bartender in Tennessee!
Before you leave:
- Keep in mind that a lot of stuff closes in Knoxville the week between Christmas and New Year’s. If you plan a trip at this time know that some stores, museums, and other attractions may be closed.
- Stay with Airbnb! Knoxville has many cheap Airbnb options. You can rent anything from a single room to a whole apartment/home. (If you sign up using my link you’ll get a $40 credit and I may receive a compensation as well.)
- If you’re interested in the night life, note that Knoxville is fairly casual. Even in clubs folks wear their denim shorts and nice tops.
- Also check out my post, International Eats in Knoxville for recommendations of international restaurants and markets in Knoxville.
Once you get there:
You will likely have to drive to get around Knoxville. If you’re flying in I would recommend renting a car. I’ve been to Knoxville many times as I have family there, but we always find something new and fun to do. Here are a few of my recommendations.
- Market Square/Gay StreetKnoxville’s market square is right in the heart of downtown. There are a ton of restaurants, bars, and shops. Plus there is almost always an event going on. Live bands play frequently and festivals are common.
- Knoxville ZooThe Knoxville Zoo is big enough to keep you busy, but small enough to cover in a day. With a variety of exhibits, it’s fun for the whole family.
- World’s fair grounds + Sunsphere
The Sunsphere has become a Knoxville landmark, and is an essential spot to visit. While you’re there, you can take a walk around the world’s fair grounds, and see the hundreds of countries’ flags.
- University of TennesseeKnoxvillans bleed Tennessee Vol’s orange. You can get UT merch at any and every Walmart, Target, or gas station in the Knoxville area. The campus is beautiful, and worth strolling around.
- Bud’s Gun Shop and Range and Smoky Mountain Knife Works (Sevierville, TN)If you enjoy huntin’ and fishin’ and all that jazz, you should head up to Sevierville and check out Bud’s and Smoky Mountain Knife Works. Bud’s Gun Shop and Range is the largest gun shop in Tennessee, and also has an indoor shooting range. Right next door is Smoky Mountain Knife Works, which is basically just a huge souvenir shop. It’s worth a visit though, just for the very Tennessee feel. You can also visit the National Knife Museum, which is located inside the knife store.
- Wonderworks (Pigeon Forge, TN)Sort of a combo science museum/kids museum, I can guarantee this place is a blast for kids and kids at heart. An indoor ropes course is included in the price of admission. You can also ride the “Earthquake Cafe” which simulates an earthquake.
- Pinnacle Overlook at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (Middlesboro, KY)The Pinnacle overlook is on the corner of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky. It’s located in the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, which we entered from Kentucky. The overlook is a short hike up a mountain, and has spectacular views of the Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee mountains.
- Abraham Lincoln museum (Harrogate, TN)The Abraham Lincoln museum features artifacts from President Lincoln’s life as well as tidbits about his life, a small gift shop/bookstore, and a little dress-up area for children. It’s a small museum, but totally worth the visit.
- American museum of Science and Energy (Oak Ridge, TN)If you enjoy playing with science, this is the place for you. It features many different interactive exhibits and is fun for the whole family.
Restaurants/Bars to try:
Blue Coast Grill & Bar might be my favorite bar in Knoxville. They have average priced drinks but excellent service. They offer “animal hour” specials from 10-11pm.
Downtown Grill and Brewery
This place has good food and tons of beer options. If you’re overwhelmed by the beer selection, try out their beer sampler!
Chivo has great drinks, great food, and a relaxed atmosphere. They have a wide variety of tequilas, and a generally well-stocked bar. The food is southwestern style, and you can get the typical quesadillas, tacos, etc.
Sapphire is a bit fancier than I usually go for, but they have a super fun cocktails and shooters, including the “Pop, rock, and drop it” which features pop rocks on the rim and local honey.
Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern
Suttree’s doesn’t have a huge selection*, but their drink prices are low. Best of all, they have an arcade!
*To be fair we visited the bar in the back with the arcade games, and not the main bar in the restaurant area
Knoxville is a fun city, with tons to do whether you’re 2, 22, or 42. There are a variety of attractions that appeal to a variety of interests. I didn’t even touch on the art museum, Dollywood, or the Ripley’s museum, to name a few nearby attractions, simply because I haven’t visited them (yet!).
Have you visited the Knoxville area? Did you enjoy it? What were your favorite attractions and restaurants? Let me know in the comments below! Did you enjoy this post? Share via Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, and as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this. Also check out my other destination guides for the ultimate out-of-the-way backpacker trips such as Pristina, Kosovo, Montreal, Quebec, Rishikesh, India, and San Ignacio, Belize.
Wonderworks photo: https://smokymountainsbrochures.com/coupons/wonderworks/
UT photo: http://tennessee.edu/campus-guide/
Bud’s photo: http://www.wsmv.com/story/26820795/largest-gun-store-in-tenn-opens-in-sevierville
Smoky Mountain Knife Works photo: https://smokymountains.com/attractions/smoky-mountain-knife-works/
Blue Coast photo: http://www.restaurantnews.com/blue-coast-grill-bar-market-square-knoxville-tn/
Downtown Grill photo: http://knoxbrewery.com/
Chivo photo: http://www.utdailybeacon.com
Sapphire photo: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g55138-d829425-Reviews-Sapphire-Knoxville_Tennessee.html
Suttree’s photo: https://www.yelp.com/biz/suttrees-high-gravity-tavern-knoxville
Earthquake Cafe photo: http://www.smokymountainvacationinfo.com/smoky-mountains/blog/
All other images are the property of The Globetrotting Scientist.
I had a hard week at work the other week. I won’t go into details, but I was feeling very overworked and underappreciated. By Thursday I was a big ball of stress. My husband brought me dinner at work, and somehow we decided to go to the beach that weekend.
We live about 2-2.5 hours from the nearest beach, so it’s easy to do for a weekend. He wanted to go for just the day, but I didn’t think it would be worth it. So Friday evening we booked an Airbnb. Less than 24 hours in advance we booked accommodations for Saturday night. We packed in a flurry, thinking “are we really doing this?”
Now, I don’t believe in fortune-telling and I firmly believe you make your own destiny. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy fortune cookies! A couple of weeks before this spontaneous trip, I went with some coworkers to a Chinese restaurant where I got a fortune cookie. My fortune was “there are unexpected adventures in your future.” I loved it. I taped it to the mirror in my bathroom. No, it doesn’t actually predict unexpected adventures, but perhaps it inspired them?
After a flurry of packing and a good night’s sleep, we got up and headed for the coast. This was before summer, so it wasn’t peak season yet and we were going to be among the only tourists around.
We arrived at the address of the Airbnb. We called our host who helped us with parking and brought us up to his apartment. Let me pause right there and say the idea of staying with a stranger makes me uncomfortable. Our previous Airbnb stays have always been whole apartments, and this time we were just renting a room from some guy off the internet. However, our host turned out to be a really nice doctor who showed us our room and pretty much left us alone.
After dumping our stuff in the little bedroom with adjoining private bathroom, we changed into swimsuits and headed for the beach. It was a quick 10 minute drive, and getting out of the car, smelling that salt air and hearing the crashing of waves, I could already feel the stress of my crazy week fading away. While my husband braved swimming in the cold water in March, I set up my towel on the sand with a novel. After who knows how much long I woke up to my husband asking if I wanted to leave or if he should feed the parking meter. “Mmm I can stay longer” I answered sleepily. He kissed me and left to feed the meter. I tried to go back to my book, but ended up just soaking in the sun.
That evening our host was at work, so we got some food to-go and ate at the counter in the kitchen of our Airbnb. We had talked about going to some bars, but ended up having a couple of glasses of wine at “home,” relaxing, and enjoying being away from home for the night.
The next morning we went to a cute bagel shop across the street from our Airbnb. It was predictably packed, as it was Sunday morning. The bagels were to die for! That’s why you should always try the local shops and restaurants when you travel–you might find the best bagel of your life!
After our bagels, we drove about half an hour away to the aquarium. It’s a great aquarium, and we had a lot of fun looking at the fish, and feeling like kids again. Our stomachs started rumbling again, but we didn’t want to pay for overpriced food at the aquarium so we just started driving back home with the plan to stop when we saw something that looked good. A little burrito place caught our attention. We stopped and went in. It was probably 2-3pm, but we still had to wait for a table. The restaurant had kind of a Dia de los Muertos skulls theme. We were finally seated and found out we got unlimited access to their salsa bar. They had about a dozen different salsas and I think we tried most of them. Then came our meals. Oh man. To die for. The service was great, the food was great, the atmosphere was casual and cool, and the prices were low. Always. Eat. Local.
After stuffing ourselves with burritos, the last thing we wanted to do was drive back home, but alas, our spontaneous beach trip was coming to an end. We dragged our full bellies back to the car, and drove home. Would I take a spontaneous trip again? Hell yeah. But when? Who knows…. 🙂
Have you taken a spontaneous trip? Tell me about it in the comments! Did you enjoy this post? Share via Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Follow me on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!
If you follow the Airbnb link above (or this link!) and sign up you will get a $40 credit. I will also receive a small compensation.