Knoxville, Tennessee is home to many fun and exciting activities. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures or cultural attractions, there are plenty of options.
Some of the most popular things to do in Knoxville include hiking and biking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, exploring local museums, and dining at world-class restaurants like The Tomato Head. Knoxville is only an hour’s drive from Gatlinburg, TN!
In addition, Knoxville is also home to numerous music festivals throughout the year, such as Big Ears, Rhythm N’ Blooms, and the Boomsday Festival. Whether you’re visiting on your own or with friends or family, Knoxville has something for everyone to enjoy!
Things to Do in Knoxville, Tennessee
1. Knoxville Ale Trail
Knoxville is a vibrant city, home to a thriving arts scene, endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, and some of the best craft breweries in the country. To show off this rich cultural landscape, the city has created the Knoxville Ale Trail – an official self-guided tour of Knoxville’s local breweries.
Each stop along the trail offers something unique – from artisanal brews and creative pub fare to live entertainment and gorgeous views of downtown Knoxville. Whether looking for an afternoon escape or a fun night out with friends, the Knoxville Ale Trail has everything you need to experience the city’s rich culture and world-class beer scene.
The Sunsphere in Knoxville, TN, is a gleaming monument to the city’s rich history and diverse culture. Towering over 250 feet high, this magnificent structure became an instant landmark when it was completed in 1982 as part of the World’s Fair.
Located in the heart of downtown, this striking architecture stands tall and stately against the backdrop of the city’s skyline. An icon that has long captured the imagination of locals and visitors, its shiny metallic surface reflects sunlight and moonlight with dazzling brilliance.
3. Happy Holler Shopping
Happy Holler is a vibrant neighborhood in Knoxville, Tennessee, full of unique boutiques, restaurants, and bars. Whether looking for vintage clothing, artisanal crafts, exotic spices, or the perfect cocktail to unwind after a long day, Happy Holler has something for you to enjoy.
Its charming brick buildings and an array of colorful storefronts give the neighborhood an old-world feel. And with its prime location near downtown Knoxville and easy access via public transportation, Happy Holler is also incredibly convenient. So if you’re looking for an enjoyable shopping experience in a charming setting, check out the Happy Holler shops!
4. Tennessee Riverboat Cruise
If you’re looking for a unique way to experience the natural beauty of Knoxville, TN, consider taking a riverboat cruise along the Tennessee River. Whether you opt for a daytime or nighttime tour, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the city skyline and shoreline and opportunities to spot local wildlife such as bald eagles and ospreys. The knowledgeable guides on board will provide plenty of information on the landmarks you’ll see while also sharing details about the history of riverboats in this region.
5. Ijams Nature Center
Ijams Nature Center is an expansive park located in Knoxville, TN. This popular destination comprises over 300 acres of forests, rivers, and wetlands, providing lots of recreational opportunities! Whether interested in hiking, kayaking, or simply exploring the beauty of the local landscape, Ijams Nature Center is an excellent place to get outdoors!
Aside from its natural beauty, this nature center also plays a vital role in conservation efforts in the region. Through research and educational programs, Ijams works to protect the local ecosystem and develop strategies for keeping our natural spaces healthy and thriving. So if you are looking for an opportunity to experience the wonder and beauty of nature while supporting environmental initiatives, then be sure to visit Ijams Nature Center when visiting Knoxville!
6. World’s Fair Park
World’s Fair Park is a beloved park located in Knoxville, TN. The park serves as a gathering place for locals, where people can enjoy a wide range of activities including picnicking, relaxing by the lake, walking their dogs, or exploring the beautiful gardens and sculptures. The park also hosts several major events, including an annual concert series and a summer farmer’s market.
Additionally, World’s Fair Park plays an essential role in Knoxville’s history: it was initially constructed to host several World’s Fairs during the mid-1900s, thus earning its name. Today, World’s Fair Park remains a cherished landmark of the local community.
7. Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum
The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is a beautiful refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life. With over 100 acres of diverse gardens and natural areas, this urban oasis offers you a wealth of experiences.
Whether interested in learning about native plant species or want to spend quality time outdoors, the Botanical Garden is an enjoyable visit. From winding walking paths lined with beautiful flower beds to majestic wooded areas filled with wildlife, there is no better place to experience all that nature has to offer..
8. Zoo Knoxville
Zoo Knoxville is one of the premier zoos in the state of Tennessee. With over 900 animals representing more than 200 different species, it offers a unique and exciting opportunity to see some of the world’s most fascinating wildlife. Whether you are interested in large predators like lions, tigers, and bears, or small creatures like penguins, otters, and lemurs, Zoo Knoxville offers animal lovers an educational experience.
9. Knoxville Museum of Art
The Knoxville Museum of Art offers various exhibitions and events focused on modern and contemporary art. The museum has been a pillar of artistic life in Knoxville for over 100 years, and it boasts an impressive collection that includes works by renowned artists such as Monet, Pollock, and Dali.
Whether you are a lifelong art enthusiast or simply interested in expanding your cultural horizons, the Knoxville Museum of Art is an essential destination for anyone visiting the city. With exceptional programming and a commitment to showcasing innovative artists worldwide, this beloved institution continues to shape the artistic landscape of this vibrant community.
10. Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is located in Knoxville, TN, and it has become a hub for women’s basketball enthusiasts. This prestigious institution recognizes the contributions made by female athletes to the sport of basketball, highlighting their successes on and off the court.
It also serves as an educational resource for young players, providing valuable information about skills development and critical strategies to improve their play. Whether a longtime fan or simply a curious observer, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame provides an invaluable glimpse into the history and future of women’s basketball.
11. WDVX Blue Plate Special
WDVX Blue Plate Special is one of the most popular live music events in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee. Each year, hundreds of aspiring musicians compete for one of only 20 coveted spots on the radio show, performing live to an audience of devoted fans and industry professionals.
The two-hour program features various musical genres and styles, from country and bluegrass to rock and blues. Whether you’re an avid music lover or a budding musician, there’s something magical about being a part of this iconic show that has been bringing people together for decades.
Knoxville is an exciting city to visit. Knoxville has everything, whether you’re looking for fun outdoor activities, engaging cultural experiences, or delectable restaurants. With sprawling green parks, picturesque waterways, beautiful mountain scenery, and unique local attractions, Knoxville is a great place to explore and enjoy.
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of Wander With Alex, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel a little easier.