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Fun Things to Do in Knoxville, Tennessee 101

Nestled in the scenic foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Knoxville, Tennessee, is a vibrant city known for its rich history, diverse culture, and a wealth of exciting activities for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, sports fan, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, Knoxville has something to offer. In this guide, we will take you through 101 fun things to do in Knoxville, ensuring that you experience the best of this charming southern city.

Explore the Great Outdoors

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Embark on a scenic drive to the nation’s most visited national park, offering hiking, wildlife viewing, and breathtaking vistas.

  • Ijams Nature Center: Explore miles of hiking trails, paddle the Tennessee River, and discover the beauty of Mead’s Quarry Lake.

  • Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum: Stroll through serene gardens and explore a diverse collection of native plants.

  • Cherokee Caverns: Take a guided tour through the fascinating underground world of these natural caves.

Discover Knoxville’s History and Culture

  • Blount Mansion: Visit this historic site, home to William Blount, one of Tennessee’s Founding Fathers.

  • James White’s Fort: Step back in time and tour Knoxville’s first home and fortified structure.

  • East Tennessee History Center: Explore the region’s rich history through exhibits, archives, and educational programs.

  • Tennessee Theatre: Catch a show or take a tour of this beautifully restored historic theater.

Sports and Entertainment

  • University of Tennessee Sports: Cheer for the Tennessee Volunteers at a football game in Neyland Stadium or a basketball game in Thompson-Boling Arena.

  • Knoxville Ice Bears: Enjoy a fast-paced ice hockey game at the Civic Coliseum.

  • Tennessee Smokies Baseball: Watch America’s favorite pastime at a minor league baseball game.

Cultural Attractions

  • Knoxville Museum of Art: Admire a diverse collection of regional and contemporary art.

  • East Tennessee Veterans Memorial: Pay your respects at this poignant memorial honoring veterans.

  • Market Square: Explore boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants in this bustling downtown square.

Family-Friendly Activities

  • Zoo Knoxville: Get up close with animals from around the world at this beloved zoo.

  • Knoxville Children’s Theater: Enjoy family-friendly productions and theatrical performances.

  • McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture: Engage kids with interactive exhibits and artifacts.

Food and Dining

  • Knoxville Farmers’ Market: Sample fresh produce and local goods while enjoying live music.

  • Calhoun’s on the River: Savor delicious barbecue and enjoy waterfront dining along the Tennessee River.

  • International Flavors: Explore diverse cuisines in Knoxville’s culinary scene, from Southern comfort food to international fare.

Entertainment and Nightlife

  • Old City District: Discover Knoxville’s nightlife hub with bars, live music venues, and art galleries.

  • Tennessee Theatre: Catch a live performance or concert at this beautifully restored historic theater.

  • Sapphire: Dance the night away at this popular nightclub with top DJs.

Outdoor Adventures

  • Knoxville Urban Wilderness: Bike, hike, or run through this network of trails, offering over 50 miles of outdoor adventure.

  • Meigs Falls: Take a scenic drive to Meigs Falls, a beautiful waterfall located in the national park.

  • Stand-up Paddleboarding: Paddleboard along the Tennessee River for a unique perspective of the city.

Shopping Spots

  • West Town Mall: Shop at Knoxville’s premier shopping destination, featuring a wide range of stores and boutiques.

  • Vintage Shopping: Explore the eclectic shops in Knoxville’s historic neighborhoods, such as the Happy Holler and Old North Knoxville.

Festivals and Events

  • Dogwood Arts Festival: Celebrate spring with art exhibitions, performances, and the famous Dogwood Trails.

  • Big Ears Festival: Immerse yourself in a world of avant-garde music, art, and film during this annual festival.

Nature and Scenic Views

  • Neyland Greenway: Enjoy a leisurely stroll or bike ride along the Tennessee River and downtown Knoxville.

  • The Sunsphere: Visit this iconic Knoxville landmark for panoramic views of the city from the observation deck.

  • I.C. King Park: Experience serene lakeside views and tranquil trails perfect for picnics.

Museums and Galleries

  • Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame: Celebrate the achievements of women in basketball through interactive exhibits.

  • UT Gardens: Admire a variety of themed gardens on the University of Tennessee campus.

Educational Experiences

  • McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture: Explore exhibits on archaeology, natural history, and local culture.

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Take a guided tour to learn about cutting-edge science and research.

Live Music and Entertainment

  • Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol: Experience the thrill of college football at this historic game held at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

  • Bijou Theatre: Catch live performances by local and national artists in an intimate setting.

Day Trips and Nearby Attractions

  • Dollywood: Head to Pigeon Forge, just a short drive from Knoxville, to visit this renowned theme park and water park.

  • Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: Embark on a scenic train ride through the beautiful Smoky Mountains.

  • Cades Cove: Take a day trip to this picturesque valley for wildlife viewing, hiking, and picnicking.

Parks and Recreation

  • World’s Fair Park: Relax in this urban park, home to festivals, concerts, and the iconic Sunsphere.

  • Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area: Enjoy birdwatching, hiking, and nature exploration in this serene wildlife area.

  • I.C. King Park: Discover this hidden gem with hiking trails, a fishing lake, and abundant wildlife.

Unique Experiences

  • Haunted Knoxville Ghost Tours: Embark on a spine-tingling journey through Knoxville’s haunted history.

  • Marble Springs State Historic Site: Visit the home of Tennessee’s first governor, John Sevier, and experience living history.

Seasonal Attractions

  • Knoxville’s Christmas in the City: Celebrate the holiday season with festive events, parades, and ice skating.

  • Knoxville Ice and Lights: Enjoy an enchanting holiday experience with ice skating and dazzling light displays.

  • Boomsday Festival: Join the Labor Day festivities with live music, food vendors, and a spectacular fireworks show.

Stay Active

  • Knoxville Marathon: Lace up your running shoes and participate in this annual event that winds through the city.

  • Disc Golf: Play a round of disc golf at one of Knoxville’s scenic courses, such as Morningside Park.

  • Knoxville Skatepark: Skateboarders and BMX riders will appreciate this well-designed skatepark.

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