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.