Things to Do in Knoxville When Family Comes to Town
You are very cool and fun. We can just tell. When someone (such as yourself) is very cool and fun, people will inevitably want to visit Knoxville to hang with you. When people inevitably visit, they will probably want to do more than watch Netflix and eat food (I mean, maybe not much more… but still.) We’re here to help! Here are some things to do in Knoxville when family comes to town (and for every kind of visitor!):
1. FOR THE ART APPRECIATOR
Have family visiting? Make sure you hit World’s Fair Park! Start off your excursion by browsing through all the displays at the art museum. The museum is free – which means no one can judge you for splurging at the gift shop!
In the warmer months, reward younger family members for sitting through an art museum by going to the splash pad and playing in the water! Then cap the whole experience off by taking the elevator up to the observation deck of the Sunsphere for a beautiful view of East Tennessee. If you ask us, that view is the best art yet.
2. FOR THE HISTORY BUFFS
Knoxville is full of rich history, and you don’t have to go far to find it! Book a Knoxville Walking Tour (like this haunted one!). Or head to the East Tennessee History Museum for an overview, and then enjoy tours of historic places like the Blount Mansion, James White Fort, and the Mabry Hazen House.
Are you entertaining a large crowd? Go on Sunday when admission to the history museum is free!
3. FOR THE FIRST TIMER
There are certain things you simply have to do when visiting East Tennessee for the first time. It’s a bit of a drive, but if any new visitors come into town, you must take them up to the mountains at least once! The Smoky Mountain National Park is consistently the most visited national park for good reason. Enjoy a drive through the mountains, go for a hike, and snap some pictures. Then head into Gatlinburg for a moonshine tasting or hit up Dollywood for some roller coasters!
Once you’re home, head to Market Square for dinner. Our darling square is always a hit when people experience Knoxville for the first time.
4. FOR THE FOODIE
Knoxville is full of delicious eateries. If parents are only in town for a few days, there’s absolutely no way to hit all the best ones. BUT you know we’ll still do our best 😂 Book a Knoxville Food Tour to hit a bunch in one swoop!
5. FOR THE BEER LOVER
Have a beer drinker in your midst? Grab the 21+ visitors, head to Knox Brew Hub, and book a Knox Brew Tour. You’ll get an overview of the local brewery scene and definitely leave the experience with stories to tell (and a list of breweries to go back to!).
6. FOR THE SPORTY SPICE
Knoxville is known far and wide as the home of the UT Vols, but there’s more where that came from! Head out to the mountains to catch a Smokies minor league baseball game, or stay right downtown and check out a minor league hockey game a la the Ice Bears. Just past the Ice Bears stadium is the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame – open year round and great for all ages!
7. FOR THE SHOPPER
Money doesn’t count when you’re on vacation (right?😬😂) so we love to shop during our travels – and your visitors are probably no different!
Mast General has stuff for the whole family to enjoy (my mother does not come to Knoxville without hitting Mast), the old fashioned toys at Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain are definitely a hit (though it’s imperative you also stick around for a larger than life sundae), Glitterville is an actual sparkly wonderland, and places like Rala highlight local artists and makers. If you want to watch those makers in action, head to Pretentious Glass – they make their pieces on site, so you just might catch them in action if you stop by!
8. FOR THE MUSIC LOVER
It doesn’t matter what day it is – if you’re in Knoxville, TN you can treat your visitors to some live music. (Seriously. We have 7 Days of Live Music listed right here and a whole stinkin Live Music Page here!)
The WDVX Blue Plate Special is a live performance radio show held almost daily at the Knoxville Visitors’ Center. Bands from all over come to play a free live show at noon Monday – Thursdays. Once the weekend hits, there are even more options for live music! The Tennessee Theatre and the Bijou are both historic, beautiful venues. Spots like Scruffy City Hall, Jig & Reel, and Ale Rae Gastropub all boast consistent line-ups of acts on weekends and throughout the week as well.
9. FOR THE OUTDOORSMAN
During the warmer months, the options are endless for outdoor lovers. Ijams Nature Center has hiking trails, a quarry for swimming, and more – making it a great stop for people of all ages. Knoxville Adventure Collective will get you set up to paddle-board on the Tennessee River or help you explore all of Knoxville via e-bike. If you’re out west, the Cove at Concord Park has kayak rentals, a free swimming section, playgrounds, and trails, making it another gem for the whole fam.
If it’s winter weather, fear not! Your guests can enjoy ice skating on Market Square, indoor rock climbing at RiverSports Outfitters, try their hand at Craft Axe Throwing, or enjoy some basement bowling at Maple Hall!
10. FOR THE RETURNER
Have your visitors lived in Knoxville before? Well, trust us when we say – she’s changed! Let them enjoy their favorite spots, of course, but make sure to highlight some of Knoxville’s up and coming areas. Explore all Sevier Ave has to offer in South Knoxville or be reintroduced to Happy Holler in North Knoxville. With breweries, thrift stores, a movie theater, and more – your visitors may be surprised to see how their lil Scruffy City has transformed!
Finally, make sure you’re following us at New2Knox on Instagram. We keep you up-to-date on events around town and the coolest businesses to check out. Whatever you decide to do, we know you’ll have an amazing time with your people in East Tennessee! Honestly, how could you not?😉
Only have your visitors for the day?? DISCOVER WHAT TO DO WITH ONE DAY IN KNOXVILLE HERE.