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 you. When people inevitably visit, they will probably want to do more than watch Netflix and eat food (maybe not much more… but still.) We’re here to help.
Here are some Knoxville highlights 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 (so no judgement 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! Head to the East Tennessee History Museum for an overview, and then enjoy walking 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 museum is free!
3. FOR THE FIRST TIMER
It’s a bit of a drive, but if any new visitors come into town, 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 see 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. Book a tour with East Tennessee Tours to taste some of the best dishes at local restaurants and get a little history to boot!
5. FOR THE BEER LOVER
Have a beer drinker in your midst? Grab the 21+ visitors and enjoy 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, the old fashioned toys at Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain are always a hit (though you’ll definitely have to stick around for a larger than life sundae), and places like Jacks of Knoxville and 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.
The WDVX Blue Plate Special is a live performance radio show held almost daily at the 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. Scruffy City Hall, Jig and Reel, and Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria 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, paddle-boarding, and more – making it a great stop for people of all ages; or rent a couple Pace bikes and explore all of Knoxville via the greenways. 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 or indoor rock climbing at RiverSports Outfitters or Onsight Rock Gym!
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 get to know Happy Holler in North Knoxville. With breweries, thrift stores, a movie theater, and more – your visitors may be surprised to see how their scruffy city has transformed!
Wait, so what fun things can I do in Knoxville if my family visits?
- World’s Fair Park for a fun free experience including the art museum, a splash park, and the iconic Sunshere!
- Get the scoop on Knoxville’s rich history via the East Tennessee History Museum and historic home tours.
- Head to the mountains for hiking, views, moonshine, and roller coasters.
- Get to know Knoxville’s food and drink scene through things like East TN Tours and Knox Brew Tours.
- Catch a minor league game or explore the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame!
- Shop like a local at places like Phoenix Pharmacy & Fountain, Rala and Jacks of Knoxville, Mast General, and Pretentious Glass Co.
- Enjoy a free live show via the Blue Plate Special Monday-Thursdays at the Visitors Center!
- Get active via Ijams Nature Center, the greenways, or rock climbing!
- Explore up and coming areas like North and South Knoxville.
Finally, make sure you’re following 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?