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Let’s not beat around the bush – building community as a young adult is hard. Gone are the magical days of living down the hall from college friends. In its place are coworkers you may or may not vibe with – or even physically be with in these #workfromhome days. While this may seem real dismal, we have hope for you: You can totally make friends as an adult. In fact, we’ll prove it to you! Here are a handful of ways to make friends as an adult in Knoxville, Tennessee:
Okay, it may be more of a jog than a bolt, but either way we suggest trying out a local fun run! The concept is simple: Bars and breweries all over town (if you wanted, you could find one literally every day) host them. All you have to do is show up at the allotted time and run/walk about the length of a 5K. Best part? The community is truly awesome. We know because we (the original founders of New2Knox) actually met at a fun run at the Bearden Beer Market! 😍 You can find a bit of the story here. Second best part? Most runs involve a free or discounted beer at the end of your journey – the perfect opportunity to catch your breath, jump in on a conversation, and make a friend. Follow 865 Running to keep up with runs and other activities!
If you’re more into bolting via biking, we gotchu! The guys behind Two Bikes host rides pretty frequently, usually ending with tacos or coffee or equally enjoyable things. For all you ladies, Saturdays and Thursdays mean bike rides with Spokes Women Biking Club!
Are you a mama? We are, in fact, not moms… but we were invited to try out a Fit4Mom class recently and we loved it. You get a good workout in the sunshine. You get to hang with other mamas. And your little one is going to have as much fun as you are. (Or oh-so-casually miss all the workouts and just jump in on their Moms Night Outs, book clubs, and play dates 😉 No judgement here!)
If running isn’t up your alley, we suggest trying your hand at trivia. Knox Trivia Guys give you the inside scoop on where to find Trivia/Singo almost every day of the week (giving you ample opportunity to make a new bestie!). Access your inner extrovert, show up to a location, and see if you can jump in on a team. And while we did name this section “Bars Besties” because we’re obsessed with alliteration, they actually hang out at plenty of restaurants as well, allowing you to get your trivia on with or without a sober mind.
Pro-Tip: Knox Brew Hub has some type of activity every day of the week. Whether it’s Game Night, Music Bingo, or UT watch parties, these people will welcome you in with open arms and give you something to do with your hands.
This may seem obvious, but sports are a tried and true way to make friends in adulthood! Here are a few fun options:
👉 The ultimate frisbee scene in Knoxville is super welcoming and awesome!
⭐️ If you want a whole slew of options, Knox Sports & Social allows you to sign up as a single-player or with a group of friends for everything from kickball to bowling to volleyball.
👉 If you want to stay toasty warm, reach out to Craft Axe Throwing about joining one of their leagues.
⭐️ The East Knox Yacht Club is an actual treasure. Here are the requirements: find something that floats (or rent something), put it in the water, and enjoy paddling in the East Tennessee sunshine with new pals.
Best part? All of the above encourage ending your evening with drinks and hangs!
Okay, okay, I know we’ve thrown a lot of activities at you, but you can in fact make friends without being Sporty Spice. Young Professionals of Knoxville is a great way to make both business and bestie connections post-college. Professional development is great and monthly Happy Hours are even greater 😉
They don’t call us the “Volunteer State” for nothin’! Serving with like-minded people is one of the very fastest ways to make meaningful connections. (Especially if it involves getting literally disgusting together. You jump like thirteen friendship levels by getting super sweaty/muddy, trust us 😂) Go all in and hop on a clean up day with Keep Knoxville Beautiful, start hanging out with the humans & non-humans at Young-Williams Animal Shelter, or casually build a house with Habitat for Humanity. For any and all volunteering, Volunteer East Tennessee is a great place to start!
In a different (but lowkey incredible life-hack) vein, you can also volunteer at almost any festival in Knoxville. Beer Festivals? Check. Music Festivals? Check. Find one you’re interested in and reach out to see if they need help! (They probably do.) Then, when the next rad festival rolls around, you can just call up the people you volunteered with last time. Boom. Friendship.
You don’t have to live here long to notice that Knoxville, Tennessee isn’t just the Bible Belt – it’s the gosh darn buckle. There is a church on every corner and usually one in between. If you’re not religious, this can be… a lot 😬 But if you’re down, take advantage of small groups (not to be confused with New2Knox Small Groups which are… different😂). A few churches with a good chunk of young adults are The Point, City Church, All Souls, Heart & Soul, and Fellowship.
Speaking of Small Groups, some aren’t religious! 😂 (Yes, yes, we know we chose a confusing name for these meetups.)
The goal behind every single New2Knox Small Group is the same: Make friends while exploring our city. We started New2Knox because making friends as an adult is hard. (I had to start running to make friends when I first moved here, y’all. Running!! Did it work? Yes. Did I ever enjoy running? Nope.) Whether you’re brand new to Knoxville or just find yourself in a season where you need more community, we so hope we can provide a space where you can get to know your city AND get to know some new friends 😍
Here are a few general tips for making friends as a young adult!
1.) First things first, get a dog. Dogs are the ultimate ice breaker, give you a reason to get out of the house, and are just darn cute. Trust us. Get a dog. (Then go hang out at spots like these.)
2.) Be relentless! We have a friend who created a weekly Excel sheet with daily activities she forced herself to attend. Intense? A little. Effective? Very! We met her at one of those Excel sheet activities not long after she moved to Knoxville 😊
3.) Have confidence knowing you’re not alone. The vast majority of people either would like deeper connections or at least can empathize with you because they’ve been there before. It may feel isolating and awkward right now, but I promise you’re not alone.
4.) In that same vein, be the one who makes the invite! Be the person who plans dinner or happy hour or coffee. Be the person who follows up. Be the person who gets out their calendar. Be the person who sends the “we still on for…?” text.
Making friends as an adult isn’t just possible – it’s awesome. And we’re here to help!
Publish date: 2 March.
Images by: Emilie Stooksbury