The Ultimate First Year in Knoxville Bucket List

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Emilie Stooksbury

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The Ultimate First Year in Knoxville Bucket List

So you’ve found yourself in Knoxville, Tennessee. Maybe you are ✨THRILLED✨ and more than ready to dive in. Maybe you are ✨DECIDEDLY UNDERWHELMED✨ and still need some convincing. Wherever you find yourself on the Knoxville-obsession spectrum, you have come to the right place! We love this lil city and will do our best to help you turn off the forty-fifth rewatch of The Office (been there, done that, no judgment here 🙋‍♀️) and instead get out & start exploring. Consider us your new next door neighbors who are here to introduce you to the city. Without further ado, here is your Ultimate First Year in Knoxville Bucket List!

PS. Want some real-life, non-internet friends to explore Knoxville with? We get it. That’s what New2Knox Hops are for!

1.) Farmer's Market Morning

It is absolutely imperative that you experience a Market Square Farmer’s Market morning in Downtown Knoxville! The Winter Market is a wonderful placeholder, but for this Official Bucket List situation, we must insist you also come on a Saturday in the spring, summer, or fall. There are gobs of produce. Various buskers make the block feel alive. Kids play in the splash fountain. AND you can wrap it all up with brunch on a patio? Pinch us, we’re dreaming. Except for we’re not dreaming & what did we do to deserve this kind of markety goodness?! 😭💛🙌

2.) Enjoy a Local Festival

Do we think you should hit up, like, EVERY festival in Knoxville? Well, yeah, duh. How else will you pick a favorite? 😉 But since we’re super nice neighbors, we’ll allow you to mark this off your bucket list if you at least hit one. This photo is from the Southern Skies Music Festival which is a literal delight. Some other favorites throughout the year are the Dogwood Arts Festival, Big Ears Music Festival (!!!), the Chalk Walk, Knox Asian Festival, Oktoberfest at Schulz Brau Brewing, and the Regal Celebration of Lights around Christmastime. Pop into the New2Knox Events Page now & then to see which ones are comin’ up next!

FREE Craft Coffee Tasting at Five & Hoek EVERY First Friday from 1-2 PM!

Taste coffees from around the world with Five & Hoek owner, Tyler, every first Friday of the month from 1-2 pm. Learn what you like about certain coffees, how coffees are selected & how quality is maintained from roast to roast & cup to cup.

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Have you heard? KUB Fiber has landed in Knoxville! Serving both businesses and residential so you can enjoy the fastest WiFi from your favorite coffee shop or the comfort of your home! Click below to see if it is available at your address yet! 

3.) Experience a Vols Sporting Event

Knoxville is way more than a college town, but it’s still fun to see what all that orange fuss is about! 🤪 The main event is a definitely a football game at Neyland Stadium if you can swing it. (Even if you don’t get your hands on a ticket, you can still enjoy the energy of Vol Village! We’ve got some tips for that right here.) Basketball games (the Lady Vols are iconic!) and baseball and fill-in-the-sporty-blank-here are super fun as well.

And while this may not be on your first-year-in-Knoxville-bucket-list, we suuuuper recommend hitting up other local sporting events like a One Knox soccer match or an Ice Bears hockey game!

4.) Take in the Tennessee Theatre

Will we allow you to mark this off your bucket list if you simply take a photo in front of this iconic sign and post it to your social-media-of-choice with a “Yay we live in Knoxville now & omg it’s even better than we imagined! 🤩” caption? Sure, sure. BUT we highly recommend finding a way to head inside the theatre as well. You can go all out & enjoy a concert or Broadway musical. Or you can enjoy the luxurious theatre on a budget via a Mighty Musical Monday (freeee, baby!) or one of their “Summer Movie Magic” nights for, like, ten bucks. Speaking of ten, we 10/10 recommend.

5.) Pop Inside the Sunsphere!

She’s def a beaut to look at, but did you know you can actually go inside the Sunsphere? A $5 ticket gets you 360 views of Knoxville with some history to boot. And quick Pro-Tip: Once you’re at World’s Fair Park, you may as well meander over to the Art Museum. She’s completely free & comes with a pretty dang good view of the park herself.

6.) Go on a Hike in the Smoky Mountains

Okay, TECHNICALLY the Great Smoky Mountains are not in Knoxville, Tennessee. Good observation 😉 BUT being close to the Smokies is no small part of Knoxville’s allure! As someone who moved from flat, flat Houston, TX… being just an hour away from views like these was an absolute “pinch me” moment. Pick a hike & make a day of it! Pro-Tip: the national park is freeeee but they did recently implement a parking pass situation. Learn more here or stop by the Visitor’s Center on the way in!

7.) Explore Ijams Nature Center

Thankfully (though it issss magical & def worth the drive), you don’t need to go all the way out to the mountains to enjoy a day full of nature. Just pop over to South Knoxville! There are pleeenty of options for an outdoor day in Knoxville, but Ijams Nature Center is probably the best place to start. They’ve got trails for days (the Boardwalk, Keyhole, and loop around Mead’s Quarry are some of our favorites). Speaking of Mead’s Quarry, you can swim in that beaut for free or rent a paddleboard/kayak for a perfect summer afternoon. For you more adventurous folk, Navitat Canopy Adventures lets you swing through the trees & is legit SO FUN. And there’s more where that came from (concerts, plays, markets, rock climbing, etc.) Just pop in the Visitors Center on your way in to make sure you know where you’re goin’!

8.) Experience a First Friday

Downtown Knoxville comes aliiiiiive on the First Friday of every month! There’s an onslaught of art & music & snacks & general vibrancy from Gay St. to the Old City to Downtown North and everywhere in between. It’s definitely worth coming downtown for on a summer evening, taking a stroll, and experiencing it for yourself. We’ve got ideas on how to make the most of it each month right here!

9. Take on the Ale Trail

Knoxville’s brewery scene has exploded in the past few years. We could try to point you to our faves… but we figured it’d be kind to let you choose your own favorites 😂 The Ale Trail is the best way to make sure don’t miss a single one! You can pick up an Ale Trail map at Visit Knoxville or snag one at pretty much any local brewery. Then start your journey on your own time! It may take all year, but we believe in you 😉

Want to get through them a little more quickly? Book a Knox Brew Tour to get to a few in one night! Want to get through them with some friends? Book a New2Knox Brew Hop to experience 5-6 breweries & make some new pals at the same time!

10.) Bluegrass on a Patio

There is no shortage of live music in Knoxville! (In fact, we’ve walked you through 7 Days of Live Music in Knoxville right here.) But there’s something particularly warm-fuzzy-feelings-in-my-hearty about listening to some live bluegrass on a patio. It feels quintessentially Tennessee in the sweetest way & it simply must be on your First Year in Knoxville Bucket List. Just trust us on this one.

Before we gooo....

First of all, if you don’t want to tackle all these things alone, you don’t have to! We thoroughly believe that no city, no matter how cute 😉, will feel like home until you find your people. New2Knox Hops are our way of helping you find your people & explore your city at the exact time. They’re five weeks long & intentionally put together to help you fall in love with Knoxville & make real-life friends for the long haul. See what Hops are coming up (or at least get on the email list) right here!

Second, want to stick this First Year in Knoxville Bucket List on your fridge to see how you’re doin’ throughout the year? Download a printable version right here. Cheers to a year of exploring the cutest city in the south. Stay scruffy, babes!

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