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Your guide to Knoxville
Welcome to Knoxville
Knoxville is equal parts urban life and outdoor adventure, a fusion you might only find in a metropolis that sits just out of reach of the Smoky Mountains. Dubbed “Scruffy City” decades ago when it was chosen as the site for the 1982 World’s Fair, the nickname has stuck — and Knoxville has embraced being the weird, artsy cousin to Nashville’s more polished veneer. As you drive into Knoxville on Interstate-40, the 266-foot-tall Sunsphere, one of the relics of the World’s Fair, shines like a beacon, letting you know that you have, in fact, arrived in Tennessee’s third-largest city.
A university town with a massive student population, Knoxville has a youthful vibe, with plenty of art installations and indie shops. The food scene, too, is pulsing, as is the craft beer — more than 20 breweries now call Knoxville home. Hikers, bikers, and those who simply like to exist outdoors often flock to the city due to its waterfront perch (the Tennessee River divides the campus and downtown from South Knoxville, or SoKno) and the fact that it boasts more than 100 miles of paved greenways and trails. The city’s lower cost of living compared to its neighbors draws creative entrepreneurs who want to try something new, which means that with each visit to Knoxville you’re likely to discover something completely unique, off the wall, or both.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Knoxville?
With Tennessee’s relatively mild climate, May through October are prime months for staying in one of Knoxville’s cabins, the summer in particular if you plan to take advantage of the city’s many water features. The golden falls of East Tennessee are gorgeous, with the leaves peaking in mid-October each autumn. Spring, however, may very well be the best time to visit Knoxville for those who love both art and flowers. Every April, downtown Knoxville is awash in color with the annual weekend-long Dogwood Arts Festival and the multi-day Chalk Walk art competition on Market Square.
What are the top things to do in Knoxville?
Ijams Nature Center
A 315-acre compound spanning gardens, a natural bird sanctuary, and the spring-fed Mead’s Quarry, Ijams is a prime spot to while away an afternoon swimming, canoeing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. If you want to get your heart rate up, test your balance at the Navitat adventure park, whose tree-based terrain spans bridge crossings, tunnels, rolling barrels, nets, and zip lines.
Craft beer lovers will be eager to sip their way through Knoxville’s various homegrown brews. The Ale Trail links more than two dozen craft breweries and taprooms with a passport that encourages you to visit all of them safely and get rewarded for your efforts. The Knox Brew Bus is one convenient transportation option to hit up many of the stops along the trail.
At the turn of the millennium, many of Market Square’s buildings were vacant or boarded up; today, the area is the epicenter of much of Knoxville’s commerce and tourism. In addition to boasting water features and some excellent restaurants and bars, Market Square houses the verdant Krutch Park with its many sculptures, including the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Memorial statue.