Knoxville is a mecca for University of Tennessee Vols fanatics — the teams' iconic bright-orange color can be seen on everything from flags to T-shirts to body paint. But the city is more than a game-day destination and has developed a reputation for being a quality tourism destination for the whole family.
The city rests in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, beside the banks of the Tennessee River. It is a city bursting with culture and unique historical destinations, and a plethora of outdoor activities and festivals throughout the year.
Take the family to one of several local history museums, play outside in one of the city's parks and don't be afraid to attend a sporting event and cheer like a local.
>Knoxville Zoo: The zoo boasts Knoxville’s largest attraction and offers visitors the chance to come face-to-face with more than 800 animals. It’s open year-round and you can get more information at knoxville-zoo.org.
>Ijams Nature Center: This 300-acre nature sanctuary sits on the banks of the Tennessee River and offers both mulched and paved trails, a waterfront boardwalk and a variety of wildlife viewing areas.
>Krutch Park: This scenic park is located in downtown Knoxville. The park has a small stream and picnic tables for everyone to enjoy.
>Volunteer Landing: The landing runs parallel to the Tennessee River and is a convenient and beautiful riverside park. The park offers fishing, biking and accessibility for other water sports.
>Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center: The Adventure Center is a great first stop, as it provides visitors with the information they need about Knoxville’s extensive outdoor activities. Brochures and experts are on-site to guarantee that everyone is able to enjoy all of the outdoor activities that Knoxville and the Tennessee River have to offer.
Knoxville’s Sunsphere: The Sunsphere was built for the 1982 World’s Fair. It’s a structure 26 stories tall with a glass-paneled gold ball at the top that is 75 feet in diameter. The Sunsphere has been noted for its unique design in a variety of engineering publications.
Civil War Driving Tour: This tour is self-guided and highlights the city’s Civil War history. Stop by the Visitor Center at 301 S. Gay St. to pick up a brochure for the tour and enjoy each stop along the tour at your own pace. Call 800-727-8045 or 865-523-7263 for more information.
Knoxville Walking Tours: This tour is a 90-minute guided tour that tells the story of Knoxville’s history with topics ranging from family feuds and wanted outlaws to Knoxville’s famous authors. Custom and private tours are available.
Knoxville Food Tours: There is always a new restaurant to discover in Knoxville! This tour offers the history of some of Knoxville’s most notable food districts, provides samples of food and drinks from a rotating selection of locally owned restaurants, and a chance to meet some of the people involved in Knoxville’s food scene.
Haunted Knoxville Ghost Tours: This is one of America’s leading historical, investigation-based ghost tours. It is said to be a true, researched and educational experience that will come with a dash of chills!
Shakespeare on the Square: This festival takes place in July and August, featuring two of Shakespeare’s plays. The plays are rotated nightly and performed on Market Square. All you need to bring is a blanket or lawn chair to enjoy the performances.
Asian Fest: This festival takes place at the Market Square on Oct. 17th and is a celebration of Asian culture through food, music, dancing and crafts. For more information visit knoxasianfestival.com
Knoxville Holidays on Ice: Between Nov. 27 and Jan. 3, an outdoor skating rink is set up in the heart of downtown Knoxville on Market Square.
Hola Festival: The festival is an all-day celebration of diversity that takes place in September. It is a part of the local celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Mardi Growl: This dog-friendly parade and festival is hosted by Friends of Young-Williams Animal Center and the city of Knoxville. It takes place on Market Square in early March.
>Preservation Pub: This pub boasts live music from some of the best local bands in the city, offering a taste of Knoxville’s culture and personality.
>Sapphire: A Modern Bar & Restaurant: Sapphire has a liquor selection to keep everyone happy, offering more than 40 vodka options, a wide selection of Kentucky and Tennessee whiskey and some of the most interesting gin options around. The drink selection will please everyone in the group with something to meet their taste and expectations.
>Peter Kern Library: The Oliver Hotel opened this bar inside the hotel. Located behind the front desk, it is an oblong room with an old-time feel. The drink menus are hidden in old World Book Encyclopedias and offer more than a dozen speciality drinks named after fictional characters.
The Arts in Knoxville
>The Jubilee Community Arts & Laurel Theater is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a performance center for Jubilee Community Arts.
>The Knoxville Museum of Art is accredited by the American Association of Museums and celebrates the art and artists of East Tennessee.
>Market Square has been in existence since the 1860s and is a popular place in the city to shop, work, play and drink. It’s also home to a variety of outdoor concerts and Shakespeare on the Square.
>Children’s Theatre of Knoxville is a local theater that presents 10 productions a year for children and families.