Near the Great Smokey Mountains lies a beautiful and unique city just waiting to be explored. Knoxville, TN offers a little something for everyone whether you like bar hopping, shopping, paddle boarding, kayaking, or hiking, then you MUST read on! Here are some super fun day trip ideas to take in Knoxville.
The Square in downtown Knoxville offers a unique variety of shoppes, restaurants, and bars. Two of my favorite places to eat is Blue Coast (on the corner with plenty of outdoor seating) and Downtown Grill & Brewery. Both offer a wide variety from Brunch to Dinner. The Square is a very popular bar hopping location in Knoxville. I love these bars that offer fantastic views from their rooftop such as Preservation Pub and Scruffy City Hall. If you want to get away from the party scene, there is a great little speakeasy bar that is hidden from many tourists. The Peter Kern Library is by far my favorite bar anywhere in the United States. Hidden down a dark alley on Union Avenue you will find the entrance. Just look for a red gleaming light and a security guard out front, as there is no sign. It is a nice, relaxing place to grab a pricey drink named after many literary characters and the menu is literally a thick, antique book.
The Armstrong/Strong Alley is a great spot for a quick walk through to see beautiful graffiti art. Artists have been given permission from the building owners to use this alley as an artistic outlet. The popularity and the love this alley has placed upon the city have inspired people to fund and donate to help preserve the art on the walls. You can find this alley between Market Square & Gay Street.
The city of Knoxville burned down long ago, so you will come to find that part of the city is labeled, The Old City, and the other part is labeled, The New City. Part of The New City was built up above The Old City. Some streets actually allow you to look down from the top of the street to the old buildings down below. The picture below doesn’t do it any justice, you have to see it in person!
Norris Dam is the largest Dam of it’s kind on the Tennessee River with beautiful views and plenty of hiking trails, not to mention it’s right near the Norris Dam Marina offering water excursions from boating to kayaking, to paddle boarding. This was our first time Paddle Boarding and we absolutely loved it. It was such a great workout and a nice way to enjoy the sun. There are plenty of areas to rent the paddle boards or kayaks once you arrive at the marina. Try Norris Paddling Adventures or Stand Up Paddle (SUP) rentals which will give you about a 10-20 minute class before letting you go out on the water by yourselves.
Flea Traders Paradise is a fun place to spend a few hours walking around. I love going to flea markets and antique shoppes and this was definitely one to remember. It’s pretty run down, but you can find some really unique things. There are food stands on site to grab a snack or a refreshment while you are there!
Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House is a must stop if you are looking to grab some authentic southern BBQ. Mouthwatering, smokey pulled pork and banana pudding, need I say more? Order at the counter and grab a seat outside near the water basin, a branch off of the Little River.
Circle G Ranch is one of the most unique experience I have ever had. It’s certainly unlike any other petting zoo I have ever been to. It is a “drive thru” zoo, so you actually get to take your car on a drive through the zoo and feed the animals outside of your window. Emus, camels, donkeys, cows, and sheep come running up to your car and will stick their heads in your windows to get their food if you let them. I suggest you just throw the food on the ground, trust me, it’s safer that way! Click on the video below to watch our experience.
The Sunsphere & World’s Fair Park
The golden ball towering over Knoxville is known as The Sunsphere. Once a symbol showing the location of the famous World’s Fair Park, it now stands as a beautiful and historical reminder of Knoxville’s past. It’s free and open to the public to take the long elevator ride up to the observation deck. From there, you can have a bird’s eye view to see all of Knoxville’s beauty. The remaining floors of the tower are offices for local businesses. World’s Fair Park still serves as an area for special events and concerts. It is also a beautiful place to have a picnic or lounge around on a lazy Sunday. At World’s Fair Park you will find an amphitheater used for special events as well.
Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoy one or all of these fun and exciting day trips. Have any other amazing activities you’ve done in Knoxville and want to let us know? Please comment below! We love reading your feedback.