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Amidst the sea of breweries and songs about whiskey, it can sometimes feel like all Tennessee activities revolve around drinking. And you’re not so very wrong – fun runs, trivia nights, and live music are often held at bars. However, we also know there are plenty of reasons to step away from the drinking scene for any length of time – so if you ever find yourself in need of a sans-alcohol experience, we’re here to help. Here are ten fun and sober activities to enjoy in Knoxville, Tennessee!
Knoxville is the Maker City, after all – it’s only appropriate to make some stuff!
If you’ve only experienced painting canvases, you, my friend, have been missing out. Liza Moz Pottery in West Hills allows you to paint functional items like plates, mugs, and figurines (yes, figurines serve a function – making your desk 10x more adorable). You can even bring-your-own snacks and non-alcoholic sips with you to enjoy while you paint!
Would you rather eat your creation than eat off of it? Sign up for a private cookie class with Goody Two Chews! Alex will guide you through different techniques resulting in some beautiful cookies. We do, however, suggest being just slightly bad at it – you never want to make the mistake of creating a cookie too beautiful to eat 😉
Yes, the word “bar” is here, but no, it’s not alcohol! The Noble Kava Bar is open from noon to midnight and has seriously cool vibes for anyone who still wants a night-life experience. (We felt like we were momentarily transported to Asheville, NC when we stepped through their doors.) Kava is an herbal remedy that helps ease anxiety and makes your mouth feel all tingly and numb in a really fun way. This is such a unique experience for Knoxville (in fact, Noble is the first full service kava bar in Tennessee) so we highly recommend checking it out.
Located just a little further up N. Broadway by Lost & Found Records and Harby’s Pizza, Hummingbird Hemp Cafe is another “sober bar” open late! With plenty of teas and mocktails, you won’t feel like you’re missing out at all. However, just to make extra sure you’re not missing out, ask the friendly and knowledgable owners about off-menu goodies!
We all know what a zoo is. But did you know a ticket to Knoxville’s zoo is only $25? Or did you know they have after-hours opportunities at the zoo called Night Safaris? Or that you could ride a camel?? Or that they have fun events like Feast with the Beasts where you can sample from some of Knoxville’s best restaurants while hangin’ with monkeys?
Yeah, Zoo Knoxville is pretty awesome.
Okay, we admit alcohol is served at Maple Hall – but it’s certainly not the main attraction! This bowling alley is oozing with hip vibes and historic ambiance. It’s an awesome place to bowl – and their fried pickles aren’t bad either. (Is it bad if we mostly go for the fried pickles? That’s normal, right? Right?)
Knoxville is the place for outdoor adventures. You can hike up House Mountain, Sharp’s Ridge, or the Bluffs. Try your hand at mountain biking or simply biking through the greenways all over town. Or why not swim in the quarries, climb rocks at Navitat Canopy Adventures, or see what’s going on at Knoxville Adventure Collective? There are basically endless fun things to do outside in Knoxville – head here to start explorin’!
Three words: DOGGIE DAY TRIP. Yes! This is not a dream! Through Young Williams Animal Shelter, you can hang out with one of their adoptable pups all day long. All you have to do is fill out an application – then enjoy a day of hanging out at a dog park, taking him for a walk, or playing fetch – the pupportunities are endless!
In case you haven’t spent enough time over the last couple years dreaming up ways to escape small spaces, why not try an escape room? You can crack codes and solve mysteries at Breakout Games out west or Escape Room downtown.
Food truck parks take the necessary daily and drab event of “eating stuff” and turn it into an experience. They offer many of the same activities as bars (trivia, live music, and letting you sit and chat without being rushed out, to name a few), but with no expectation of drinking. Check out our five favorite local food truck parks right here!
This trend sweeping the nation finally hit our favorite target: Knoxville, TN. Enjoy cozying up inside Craft Axe Throwing just a smidge north of downtown or head further northeast to 865 Axe Throwing for an outdoor space with lawn games and fire pits. Whether you’re brand new to the sport or throw axes all the time (should we be concerned…?😳) there are people on hand to teach, help, and demonstrate at both spots. Either way, this is definitely the activity to enjoy stone-cold sober.
Whenever we decide to take a break from alcohol, there is always, without fail, a new vice waiting for us: ice cream. And while we’ll gladly enjoy ice cream of all sizes and qualities, our favorite places to get scoops are the Phoenix Pharmacy & Fountain and Cruze Farm on Asbury Rd.
The Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain allows you to truly step back into time. The ambiance is great, it doesn’t hurt that they serve sundaes the size of your face, and you can snag some cold medicine on your way out! (Yes, it’s an actual, functional pharmacy – not just a cute backdrop😂) And while we also love Cruze Farm’s downtown location, their big old house on Asbury Rd. is a must-visit. It just feels right to enjoy an ice cream cone on their huge front porch on a hot summer evening. If you time it right, they also tend to have fun events at that location – our favorite is the series of drive-in movie nights during Christmas!
Connect with makers or find more spots to make your own stuff!
Publish date: 3 January.
Images by: Emilie Stooksbury