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5 Fave Rooftop Bars in Knoxville

5 Fave Rooftop Bars in Knoxville

The Knoxville bar scene has expanded by leaps and bounds in just the last couple of years. From breweries and taprooms to CBD-infused beer bars, speakeasies and kitschy rum cocktail joints, Knoxville isn’t short on fun places to go when you want to wet your whistle. However, when it comes to sipping spirits while sitting sky high overlooking the scenic sites of our Scruffy City (say that 5 times fast?), these rooftop bars TOP my list. (See what I did there?) Keep reading for a bird’s eye view of all the places in Knox that will give you… well, a bird’s eye view.

1.) Five Thirty Lounge

First off, let’s talk about the newest addition/expansion to Knoxville’s rooftop bar scene, the Five Thirty Lounge, located above the Hyatt Place Downtown Knoxville on Gay Street. If you’re looking for a stylish, elevated experience, this place is it. The Five Thirty Lounge offers indoor and outdoor rooftop bar areas, delicious signature cocktails (the prickly pear margarita is my go-to) and an upscale bar menu of snacks and small plates. Comfy seating areas to get lost in conversation? Check. Stylish design and a glittering gold bar? Check and check. String lights and a fire pit outside to keep you warm on cool summer nights? 100%.

Five Thirty Rooftop Lounge Bar where the magical cocktails are concocted

However, my favorite thing about this bar is the view from their Mountain Terrace outdoor bar area. Even if you’re sitting inside, you can still take in views of the Smoky Mountains as the indoor bar is surrounded by 15ft glass windows. It. Is. A. Vibe.

Pro-Tip: This place gets busy so make a reservation and you can choose which area you would like to experience.

Radius Rooftop Lounge atop Embassy Suites in Downtown Knoxville

2.) Radius Rooftop Lounge

The next rooftop bar on my list is just a short walk from Five Thirty Lounge across Gay Street to Radius Rooftop Lounge. Similar to the FTL, it is located above a hotel (Embassy Suites by Hilton) and also offers indoor and outdoor rooftop areas. However, the vibe at Radius is a 180º turn from Five Thirty Lounge. On the weekends that I have ventured here with friends, I was glad I was wearing my party pants as the patrons do skew a bit younger and this place can get LITTY (am I using that right? Yeet?) and loud. The 360º circular bar is fun and aesthetically pleasing and hanging out next to a rooftop pool makes me feel bougie AF.

They also host live music in the lounge on certain weeknights and another Pro-Tip: you can nom on some of Knoxville’s best tacos as they serve CJ’s Tacos on the roof! Music and tacos on a rooftop?! Does it get any better? Yes, yes it does. Because in addition to all that, you get a lovely view of the structure that defines the downtown Knoxville skyline, the Sunsphere. *chef’s kiss*

Now, let’s say fancy schmancy hotel rooftop bars aren’t your scene. No worries. Knoxville, in true “scruffy” fashion, has got you.

3&4.) Pres Pub & Bernadette’s

A 3-minute walk to Market Square from Gay Street will take you to the next rooftop bar on my list: Preservation Pub and the adjacent Bernadette’s Crystal Gardens. Preservation Pub (known to locals as either Pres Pub or P-Pub) is Knoxville’s longest running rooftop bar owned by locals Scott and Bernadette West. These two have a fun and infamous story that I’ll save for another day, but they definitely know a thing or two when it comes to creating a rooftop ambiance. A large tree with sprawling limbs (dubbed the Magic Beer Tree) greets you once you get to the third-floor rooftop in the “Moonshine Roof Garden” on the Pres Pub side. Bernadette’s has a 4th floor lounge as well and there is something that will catch your eye in every inch of this space whether it’s the bar tops, hand painted bathrooms or all the gemstones that adorn everything. My favorite thing at both of these places is just how quirky and truly unique they are; you never really know what will be in store for your time spent here (except that it will include shenanigans).

There are several Pro-Tips I could offer up about these spots but here’s one specifically for the rooftop: This is the one you will want to be on when the temps go up this summer due to their misting fans and large triangle sun shades. Also – the $5 cover at the door gets you into Pres Pub, Bernadette’s AND Scruffy City Hall!

5.) Scruffy City Hall

Right next door to Pres Pub and Bernadette’s is a third rooftop option in Market Square: Scruffy City Hall. While this rooftop may not have fire pits or beer trees, it still sports something truly unique. Friends, you must experience the “CinePub Under the Stars on the Scroof” where a projector plays movies and other various kinds of entertainment on the side of the building next door. Scruffy’s “Scrooftop” is a perfect place to watch an old timey black and white film or a sports game, and there is ample seating to bring a crowd.

Honorable Mentions:

Sunspot on the Strip and Hi-Wire Brewing in South Knox. While these two establishments definitely have options for getting above ground level to a rooftop area, they are not especially known for being “rooftop bars.” However, since both are great spots for so many other reasons, the fact that they have rooftop access in addition to their other offerings is basically just a bonus. Sunspot is a great choice if you are near UT, have a vegetarian in your squad, or are just looking for a delightful little brunch spot. Meanwhile, Hi-Wire is one of my favorite breweries here in Knoxville. They have two soccer pool tables, table tennis, shuffleboard, pint nights, yoga, trivia and oh yeah… a delicious selection of craft beer. AND they are in a perfect walkable location to hit up all your other fav spots in SoKno. Need I go on?

Sun hits a beer flight on the Hi-Wire Brewing Rooftop in South Knoxville

Image by @hiwirebrewing_knox

In conclusion, rooftop bars and summer make a perfect match. And while rooftops that are 60 floors high with infinity pools and swim up bars make for some magical vacations – we’ve got some pretty cute places to elevate your cocktail experience, take in the serene setting of East Tennessee, and get your staycation on right here in Knoxville. Cheers!

Nena’s Fun Fast (and Tall!) Facts: 

  • The Sunsphere, built for the 1982 World’s Fair, is 266 feet tall.
  • The First Tennessee Plaza is the tallest building in Knoxville at 327 feet with 27 floors. 
  • Downtown Knoxville is 936 feet above sea level. 
Rad Basement Bars in Knoxville

Rad Basement Bars in Knoxville

It’s obvious Knoxville has plenty of street-level fun – and you know we love a bar in the sky – but did you know there are people living their best lives underground while you stroll above them on Gay Street? We know, we know – nothing cues red flag alerts like “come hang out with me in a basement.” But we’re here to share five legitimately cool basement bars to check out in downtown Knoxville. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get killed in them – and you may even have a lot of fun!😂

1.) Maple Hall Bowling

Maple Hall is definitely the trendiest bowling alley in Knoxville – but it may just be the trendiest basement as well. When you head inside, you’re greeted by someone at street level – presumably there to make you feel a little less uncomfortable about boldly heading into a basement. However, once inside, you’ll be greeted with gorgeous exposed brick walls, leather couches, a full bar, and some of the best fried pickles we’ve had to date. Oh, and definitely go bowling 😂

Knox Box Karaoke bar

2.) Knox Box Karaoke

Once you’re done bowling, you’ll want to head to Knox Box Karaoke for the after-party. There’s no greeting area or entry way to this basement bar – once you open the door, you head down the stairs to a night of shout-singing your favorite tunes in the company of the friendliest strangers. (We actually have all the details on the magic that is Knox Box Karaoke right here.)

3.) La Cueva del Chango

La Cueva del Chango (which translates to “The Monkey Cave”) is the name of Soccer Taco’s downstairs bar in Market Square. With the same menu and offerings, it’s more a fun way to mix up your Soccer Taco experience than it is a bar to actively seek out. On the other hand, any bar named “The Monkey Cave” is worth checking out 😂

The Vault Cocktail Lounge and bar in downtown Knoxville

Image from The Vault

4.) The Vault

On the flip side of the basement bar vibe spectrum (didn’t know that was a thing, did ya?😉), there’s The Vault. As you walk into the entrance they share with Vida, you’ll encounter a chandelier hanging over stairs that lead you to a basement bar just dripping with class. You can sip your cocktail in an actual bank vault or cozy up in one of their many dark and elegant nooks. Either way, this is unlike any basement experience you’ve had before.

5.) Mirage

Last but not least, Mirage is a vibey hookah bar tucked beneath Skybox Sports Bar. If you’re not into hookah, fear not! They also have a full bar, Turkish coffee, and “actually really good” food. (This detailed food review comes from my husband😂) If you do enjoy smoking hookah, they have over thirty flavors to choose from. While you can totally just come and chill, events range from catching a football game on the television to catching a belly dancing show live!

Bar hopping is so last year. We can’t wait to hear all about your basement hopping experiences instead!😉
Want to go from the lowest depths of downtown Knoxville to the highest? Click Here to Discover Knoxville’s Rooftop Bars!

YPK: How to Get Involved in Knoxville

YPK: How to Get Involved in Knoxville

Figuring out how to get involved in the local going-ons in a community when you’re the new kid in town can be a fun (but sometimes daunting 😳) mission. Maybe you just moved here for a job and are looking for some like-minded individuals to hang out with outside of work. Or maybe you aren’t new to Knoxville at all but have been looking to grow your leadership skills and do some professional networking. Or maybe you’re just looking for a way to take on a more active role in your local neighborhood. If you’re reading this, you’re in the right place (obviously) – maybe you’re feelin’ good about the top places to eat, drink, and be merry. Maybe you’ve even gone to some events or signed up for a New2Knox Hop… but now, how do you take your Knox involvement even further?

Have I got an organization for you! 😉 Let me introduce you to (drum roll, please) Young Professionals of Knoxville!


Young Professionals of Knoxville (or YPK as the cool kids call it) is a membership-driven, non-profit organization with a mission to inspire Knoxville’s young professionals to connect, develop and serve to build leaders and improve our community. This association really does take an active interest in the Knoxville community and goes above and beyond just networking.

As a member to the organization myself, I sat down at a recent YPK Happy Hour with Grace Bennett, current YPK president, to find out more about it and their upcoming events. (psssst, if you’re looking for Happy Hours across the board we got you.) Grace was a transplant who moved to our Scruffy City in 2019 for a job and didn’t know a single soul. She says the friends she has made through YPK, “have truly been genuine and it’s made Knoxville feel like home.”


In addition to making real connections like the ones Grace has made, being a member of Young Professionals of Knoxville gives you the chance to get to know Knox on a deeper level. There are exclusive events, meet & greets with civic leaders in our city, private tours of local businesses and more. “We pride ourselves on providing those behind-the-scenes and exclusives [to Knoxville],” says Grace.

Not only does YPK host several events throughout the year, they also have a variety of committees and affinity groups you can join and take an active role in to hone your leadership skills. If there is something you are passionate about but there isn’t a specific committee for it, YPK will dive in to help and encourage you to take on a leadership role in said area of your interest. Bennett, being a leader herself  in the organization said,“The leadership opportunities that YPK provides helps you state on your resume the leadership skills you have that go beyond [your current job].”


Now, I could go on about my own personal experience and involvement so far in YPK but the best way to find out more would be clearing your calendar for one of their YPK 101 events. Not only do they host them at some of the cutest event spaces in Knoxville, these fun little gatherings have drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and time for networking. They’re specifically designed to educate potential and existing YPK members on how to get the most out of their membership. During these events, YPK members will explain their three pillars: Connect, Develop and Serve by sharing what each committee does and how participation from members makes each committee more valuable and talking about upcoming events and affinity groups.


🌟 You don’t actually have to be that young. I know, I know… it’s in the name of the organization, Young Professionals of Knoxville – but there is no age restriction to how old you can be. Aren’t we all young at heart anyway? 😉 But seriously, the only stipulations are that you are a young professional, over 21, and that you live, work, or play in Knoxville.

⭐️ Yes, there are membership dues ($200 for new members, and $100 for renewing members) BUT if you come to any of their free YPK 101 events, you can get 25% off your new member dues which is $50 buckaroos (and like, several coffees and bagels from K Brew)!

🌟 Just like most things in life, you will get out of it what you put into it. There are no mandatory meetings or required attendance to events but showing up and getting involved will make all the difference!

If none of this is up your alley but you’re still looking to find community locally, hop on over to this article to find a ton of different ideas on where to go and what to do to meet people and connect. Hope to see you on Tuesday and if you have questions, please reach out to me on the ole Instagram @knoxknena! 


Vid’l: A Look Inside

Vid’l: A Look Inside

More than plant based. Locally inspired

By: Rachie Levy

You may have noticed the new kid on the block in Knoxville’s Old City – or you may be like us and have been (im)patiently waiting on the day she opened for what seems like forever. But good food cannot be rushed, and once you take your first bite of that oh so delicious Vidl taste, you’ll know it was well worth the wait. Here’s a little inside scoop on Knoxville’s newest plant-based restaurant: Vid’l.

First things first…

What the heck is ‘Vidl?!’ Short answer: the newest restaurant in Old City.

Long answer: the brainchild of chef, Jenna Baker. After years of teaching people the value of well-being, nurturing the body with good food, and how to make that good food, Jenna opened Vidl. You may already recognize her from Be Well Boxes by Cook To Be Well. Or maybe you know her from taking one of her classes on preparing whole foods. But noooow, you can cozy on up at the wooded bar (or sit in the back and eye those lush and vibrant micro greens sitting in the grow room, just waiting to top your market bowl) and enjoy those whole foods in the comfort of Vid’l.

The inside of Vidl is just as fresh and clean feeling as their fooood!

So what’s the big deal?

Do we need to mention the grow room again? It’s literally a room in the middle of the restaurant actively growing fresh micro-greens! (If you were in Knoxville during the days of Bluhen, you’ll remember that same room growing loads and loads of hemp. We love that Jenna was able to repurpose and make use of it for Vid’l!)

Besides this awe-inspiring grow room, just take one bite of the chickpea salad and you’ll be a believer. Chef Baker sources fresh seasonal produce straight from the East Tennessee region and creates masterpieces with them. 

The focus of the restaurant is fresh food, and she wants to show you the true value of fruits and vegetables. Baker believes the best way to make good food is to start from the source with quality produce. Instead of covering up a bad vegetable by frying it, she finds the best vegetables and simply enhances them.

One of Vidl's oh so fresh and delicious meals

Image from Vidl

Why Knoxville?

If you look around Knoxville, you won’t spot many places like Vidl – full of fresh produce, a rotating menu, and fresh takes on classic dishes. 

But Vid’l has high hopes of opening the door to cooking and eating for wellness in the city. And maybe, just maybe, this one little shop will inspire you to try something new and maybe even try a Be Well Box so you can bring the fresh, plant based cooking home to your own kitchen. O_r even open a kitchen of your own! 👀

The outside of Vidl in the Old City

Okay, for real, stop in now:

“It’s all just about featuring the vegetable,” says Baker, and if that doesn’t make you want to finally listen to your mom and eat your greens, I don’t know what will!

She doesn’t just make these vegetables delicious – she makes them approachable. You’ll notice from the start the restaurant feels like home and the dishes remind you of childhood. (They just may have a little bit more emphasis on the clean and healthy eating part.)  If nothing else, they’ll make you wish you never turned your nose up all of those times you were told to eat your greens!

Image from @vidl_oldcity

You’re through the background; now start here…

You get the idea: healthy but delicious food.

If this is something completely new and foreign to you, don’t worry. We may have tried A LOT of the menu, so we can help you out 😉 (For real, the chickpea salad is one of the best side salads your taste buds will ever touch.)

But if you’re feeling lost, the folks who make up the Vidl crew are really the ones to ask.  They want to bring this food to you and they’re super excited to do so. As we said, it’s been a long time coming between all of Baker’s previous positions leading her to this spot, getting the space restaurant ready, finding the right suppliers, and all the madness that comes with opening a restaurant. We’re stoked they’re finally here and ready for you to come and experience the world of locally inspired.

Have we convinced you yet?! No?
Okay then, try the cookies then come back and tell us the answer to that question 😂 See you soon!