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10 Things to Do in Knoxville That Don’t Involve Drinking

10 Things to Do in Knoxville That Don’t Involve Drinking

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!

1.) MAKE STUFF!

West Knoxville

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 that 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 😉

A few other places to make are: Board & Brush, Mighty Mud, and Painting with a Twist!

Image from Noble Kava Bar - a sober bar in Knoxville

Image from Noble Kava Bar

2.) NON-ALCOHOLIC BARS

North Knoxville

Yes, this is a list of sober activities in Knoxville. Yes, the word “bar” showed up about two seconds into your scroll. But yes, we promise 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!

3.) THE ZOO

East Knoxville

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? Did you know 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.

Maple Hall Bowling in Downtown Knoxville

4.) MAPLE HALL

Downtown

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?)

5.) EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS

South Knoxville (mostly)

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’!

A Doggie Day Trip can a fun sober activity to do in Knoxville!

6.) YOUNG WILLIAMS ANIMAL SHELTER

Marble City

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!

7.) ESCAPE ROOMS

West & Downtown

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. Both offer fun (or at least high-adrenaline-inducing😳) sober activities in Knoxville!

Central Filling Station

8.) FOOD TRUCK PARKS

North, South, and West Knoxville

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!

Craft Axe Throwing in North Knoxville

9.) AXE THROWING

North Knoxville

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 an activity to enjoy stone-cold sober 😂

Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain in Downtown Knoxville

10.) ICE CREAM

Downtown & East Knoxville

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!

 

We hope this list of sober activities in Knoxville helps you have plenty of fun as you lose the booze! If you’re interested in switching one brew for another, head here to read about Knoxville’s Coziest Coffee Shop Corners!

The Star of Knoxville: A Look Inside

The Star of Knoxville: A Look Inside

When we sat down with Bailee Bridwell to learn more about The Star of Knoxville riverboat, we figured this thing you’re reading now would be about said boat. After all, it is one of only four authentic paddlewheel riverboats in the USA, right on the Tennessee River in good ole downtown Knoxville. Cool, right?

Very cool, yes. BUT y’all, >this family. They are precious. Settle in for the cutest story. (And then, once you’ve fallen in love with the Cheek/Bridwell fam, we promise we’ll tell you all about how you can bring your very own pizza and wine to deck of the boat. Cross our hearts.)

THE (ADORABLE) STORY:

Let’s start with the parents. Bailee Bridwell’s father, Mike Cheek, started working on riverboats in Nashville at the geriatric age of fifteen years old. (We assume he liked it okay, because he’s now been in the riverboat business for a mere 43 years.) After spending a few summers as a deckhand, in walked a new boat photographer: Tammy.

Because this is the cutest story ever, Mike and Tammy obviously fell in love, got married, and started a little family. (*sob*🥺💛)

Awhile later, this little family moved to Knoxville from Nashville so Mike could be the General Manager of, you guessed it, the Star of Knoxville. Mike made the trip in 1988, but get this: When the owners decided to move the riverboat in 1994, Mike offered to buy her so she could stay in our sweet Knoxville. Tennessee. (We could hardly contain ourselves when we heard this tidbit of information. Is this not a Hallmark movie waiting to happen?? Romance, risk, rivers – this story has it all!)

Okay, back to the story.

Bailee and her brother were just babies when the Cheeks moved to the Scruffy City, so they basically grew up on The Star of Knoxville. They went on all the cruises. They knew all the crew. They even ended up being on the crew as teenagers. (As a little kid, the “Boomsday Cruise” was her favorite. The boat would be so close to the fireworks, they’d all end the night covered in ashes. KNOXVILLE FREAKING GOALS.)

After college, Bailee left for a few years to gain experience on other boats (one of the biggest riverboats in the country in Savannah, to be exact), and when she finally came back to Knoxville in 2019, her parents handed her the keys.

This family affair has come full circle now. Bailee’s dad, brother, and husband are all captains – but it gets even cuter. You know how Bailee and her brother grew up on the boat? Well, if you see a stroller in the corner or some precious babies being passed around by the crew, you’re more than likely on a cruise with Bailee’s own sweet twins who are all set to grow up on the same boat as their mom and uncle. Some members of the crew have literally seen two generations of kiddos grow up on the boat. (*pause to sob from cuteness*)

The Star of Knoxville

Image by @tennesseeriverboat

7 Date Night Ideas in Knoxville

Whether you’re looking for a special evening with your significant other, a treat yoself adventure with numero uno, or it’s just high time for a girls night out: here are a few omg-it’s-been-a-year-since-I’ve-gone-out-and-my-social-anxiety-is-kicking -in-so-I-can’t-decide-what-to-do date night ideas to enjoy in good ole Knoxville, TN.

1.) SCOOTER TO SOKNO

Have you seen the Link scooters downtown? (If you’re worried about scooties – “scooter cooties” – so were we. Thankfully, Link was one step ahead! Hop on any scooter sporting a green light on the handlebars. Once you’ve ended your ride, the light will turn red and won’t become green again until it’s been sanitized by a Link staff member.)

Pick up your green-lit scooter, travel over the Gay St. bridge (stop for a photo opp, obviously), and head into SoKno.

Order a pie at South Coast Pizza and enjoy that sucker at Suttrees Landing Park. Feel free to impress your date by scootering while balancing an entire pizza… however, the park is also close enough to walk 😉

Onboard the Star of Knoxville

2.) TAKE TO THE SEAS

We were absolutely floored to find out you can book lunch or dinner on the Star of Knoxville riverboat any ole time. Book the whole shebang to experience a meal and entertainment – or simply sip your own two buck chuck while enjoying the Tennessee River views from the deck! Either way, the entire experience lasts about two hours, avoiding any need for “three hour tour” fears 😂

RT Lodge is a great date night idea right outside Knoxville TN

Photo From: RT Lodge

3.) (KINDA SORTA) GETAWAY

A trip to Europe this year may still be a bit of a stretch, but East Tennessee ain’t half bad! Have you explored our sweet neighbor to the south? Enjoy mountain views (anything to avoid looking longingly at the airport…) as you drive towards Maryville. Take a stroll through their historic downtown. Grab a drink from Diamondjack Wine Bar before enjoying dinner on the gorgeous patio of RT Lodge, tucked in a forest in the back of Maryville College’s campus. Voila! Date night.

(Already checked out Maryville? Explore Sevierville or Townsend instead!)

4.) OPT OUTSIDE

Sorry but there was no way we could pick just one outdoor activity. This is East Tennessee, after all. Pick any of the following:

A.) Spend the day hiking through Ijams and reward yourself by jumping in Meads Quarry!
B.) Pack a picnic and hike up House Mountain to experience the tallest peak in Knox County.
C.) Check out Sharp’s Ridge followed by some Señor Taco takeout.
D.) Throw a couple rounds of disc golf or get in a game of sand volleyball at Victor Ashe Park!

(Maybe we should have named this “10 Date Night Ideas in Knoxville? Next time😂)

This Sunsphere at Sunset view is the perfect cap to a date night in Knoxville

5.) ROOFTOP HOP

Mix date night up and go out on a weeknight to experience the gorgeous views and delish drinks at Downtown Knoxville’s rooftop bars – but with a fraction of the wait time. Rank them on views, vibes, and quality of drinks – then let us know who wins!

6.) WE VOLUNTEER [LANDING] AS TRIBUTE

If downtown is a little crowded for your taste, pivot your date over to Volunteer Landing! Start off strong by renting a paddle board from Knoxville Adventure Collective. Afterward, stroll along the river, turn left onto the greenway, and soon you’ll find yourself near World’s Fair Park. At this point, we suggest photo opps on the colorful steps (near Cumberland Ave and 11th Ave) and in front of our beloved Sunsphere. Follow those photos with frisbee and cartwheels on the lawn!

Poppin Picnic Co. can host dreamy dates around Knoxville!

Photo From: @poppin.picnicco

7.) CAN WE GO BACK TO QUARANTINE?

Not over cozy date nights in? We get it! We also have Knoxville date night ideas for those I’m-done-with-people days 😉
Mix up movie marathon night by giving it a Knoxville theme. Grab some popcorn from Proper Popcorn and some crowlers of your fave local beer and then get cozy! You’re embarking on no small adventure. See how many you can watch in one sitting:

1.) MOVIE WITH DOLLY PARTON:
(We choose Steel Magnolias every time.)
2.) MOVIE BY QUENTIN TARANTINO:
(Maybe Pulp Fiction? Live your dreams.)
3.) MOVIE WITH AN ACTOR FROM KNOXVILLE:
(Hands down, The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Thanks for being born in Knoxville, Jake Thomas.)
4.) MOVIE FILMED IN KNOXVILLE:
(The Last Movie Star has a scene in the “Knoxville Grand Hotel” which we very much wish existed.)

Too nice outside for movies? Call up the Poppin’ Picnic Company and they’ll put together the luxury backyard picnic of your actual dreams.

There are plenty more ideas where these came from, so keep an eye out for future lists of date night adventures. In the meantime, however you date night, we hope you have bunches of fun exploring your city and living local this weekend!

Want to have a musical date night instead? Discover 7 Days of Live Music in Knoxville!

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