Knoxville is a city with significant outdoor adventure possibilities due to its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Continue reading to find more things to do in Knoxville Tn.
While the Great Smoky Mountains are a big lure, outdoor enthusiasts also travel to Knoxville to mountain bike along the 50 miles of surrounding nature trails and walk to the top of House Mountain, which is close by. With attractions including museums, history centers, parks, fairs, and theaters, in addition to a variety of historic structures and monuments, Tennessee is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the state.
Also, Knoxville was a significant place during periods like the Civil War, this history is highlighted throughout the city through a variety of lovely historical attractions that will pique the interest of history enthusiasts.
With its impressive Knoxville Zoo, educational exhibitions, and museums, Knoxville is a great destination for families. Even a special theater managed by kids and for kids is called the Knoxville Children’s Theater.
1. Things to Do in Knoxville Tn
Knoxville, a well-liked city in Tennessee, is renowned for its Market Square neighbourhood, old houses and structures, and distinctive museums. For every age range and interest, Knoxville has a ton of attractions.
The fact that Knoxville is a very centrally positioned city in Tennessee is one of its best features. It’s a terrific city in Tennessee to explore because of the exciting day trip alternatives available from Knoxville and the things to do there.
There is something on this list for everyone, whether you’re taking a family vacation, planning a romantic break, or just seeking fun things to do. So, let’s look at the top 29 activities in Knoxville Tn that you shouldn’t miss!
1.1. Knoxville Museum of Art
The museum is one of the most renowned and well-known tourism sites. The Knoxville Museum of Art is an authority on both ancient and modern artwork.
The majority of the museum’s collection, in particular, comes from East Tennessee. As a result, you’ll get to see some works that you might not even be familiar with. Various collections are always on show at the museum. You can view their ongoing exhibits whenever you go because they are permanent. However, they also have changing displays.
The duration of the rotating exhibits will normally be limited. So be sure to visit the art museum if there is a changing exhibit you want to see. One of the best free activities in Knoxville, Tennessee, is visiting the Knoxville Museum, which offers free entrance.
1.2. World’s Fair Park
The World’s Fair Park is located in the heart of Knoxville. In 1982, the World’s Fair Park was constructed. It served as the venue for the World’s Fair that Knoxville hosted in 1982.
There are still two World’s Fair structures, which are now used as a community park. The Tennessee Amphitheater and Sunsphere Observation Deck are the two original buildings that are still standing. The Sunsphere Observation Deck has four levels, and the top level provides an unobstructed view of Knoxville.
Live performances are frequently held in the Tennessee Amphitheater. Even if nothing is happening, World’s Fair Park is still a fantastic location to relax after a day of visiting the city.
1.3. Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
In Knoxville, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame debuted in the year 1999. Since it first opened, it has grown to be a well-liked sports enthusiasts’ destination in Knoxville.
The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is the only organization of its kind oriented to women’s basketball at all categories. Thus, it is an attraction that is truly special to Knoxville. The museum has a little entrance price, but it is worth it.
You may see a Lady Vols game when they are in action because they are the neighborhood women’s basketball team. After seeing the museum and learning everything about the top women’s basketball players in the US, you’ll enjoy getting to attend a basketball game up close.
1.4. Knoxville Food Tours
Foodies will adore Knoxville Food Tours, particularly if you’re trying to figure out things to do in Knoxville. You can also arrange a personalized tour or travel in a group.
You’ll have a guide on every tour who will share some background information on each destination. You can sample food at each establishment while learning more about East Tennessee’s restaurants and culinary traditions.
They provide a bus trip if you’d want the chance to check out even more eateries in the neighborhood. Knoxville Food Tours is one of the trendiest adult activities in Knoxville.
1.5. Ijams Nature Center and Park
Unbelievable as it may seem, Knoxville is home to a sizable Ijams Nature Center. It is located a little beyond the downtown area. You’ll find lovely wetlands and unusual rock formations when you arrive there.
More than 10 kilometers of trails allow you to explore the park. You could even rent a bike and ride it around the park if you’re feeling adventurous.
You may find exhibits about Knoxville-specific flora and wildlife in the nature center. You can learn what to watch out for on your nature excursion by strolling through the exhibit hall.
Ijams Nature Center is another breathtaking activity of Knoxville, Tennessee’s best free activities. You won’t pay anything unless you buy something at the gift store, rent a bike or canoe, or have no entrance fee.
1.6. Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum
It is one of the main attractions in Knoxville Tn city. There are 47 acres of trees, gardens, and lawns for you to explore, and entry is free.
The environment is littered with outdated structures and walls. You can explore the property’s pathways and take in the botanical garden’s magnificence. Bright, vibrant blossoms will be available for you to enjoy in the spring.
Throughout the summer, there are numerous festivals to keep the fun going. They also hold fall and winter festivities with seasonal themes.
1.7. Muse Knoxville Tn
Muse Knoxville, another fantastic family activity in Knoxville is to visit Knoxville. Children will enjoy exploring the interactive exhibitions and games.
Youngsters have several opportunities to play and directly engage with science and daily science presentations. Although there is a little admission charge, it is completely worthwhile.
A further goal of the museum is to make it handicap accessible. For children who require fewer stimulating situations, they offer quiet rooms and sensory assistance like earmuffs without charge. One of the top things to do in Knoxville with kids is Muse Knoxville for a variety of reasons.
1.8. James White’s Fort
The James White Fort is where Knoxville, Tennessee, was founded. It was constructed in 1786 and is regarded as Knoxville’s first house.
James White founded Knoxville before William Blount contributed to the formation of the state of Tennessee. It is a medieval log cabin that exemplifies the city’s modest beginnings.
It is one of the biggest attractions to do in downtown Knoxville because it is located right in the center of the city. While taking a historic house tour, you will witness original furnishings, decorations, and historical relics.
1.9. Knoxville Zoo
Visit the Knoxville Zoo to see some of the city’s most stunning fauna up close. There, you can find over 900 different species.
You can see unusual animals like Komodo dragons and Khaleesi here since the species are categorized according to their habitats and originate from all over the world. There are also wildlife encounter sessions where you may get up close to the animals.
1.10. Market Square Farmer’s Market
This square was first established in 1854 as a marketplace for the local farmers. It has evolved through time into a multi-use location that can host events like festivals and performances.
To that purpose, local vendors set up shop here each week to sell their items, all in the historically significant Market Square neighborhood of Knoxville.
You can purchase fresh raw ingredients, delectable, cooked dishes, or baked goodies here. All of the produce is local. Experience the seasonal ice rink, biweekly farmer’s market, and water play fountain on the plaza. It is considered as one of the best things to do in Knoxville Tn.
1.11. Tennessee Theatre
The Tennessee Theater was affectionately referred to as a “movie palace” when it initially began operating in 1928.
Thanks to its Spanish-Moorish construction, the theater is still iconic today. You can come here to witness historical artifacts from that era, such as the antique iron chandelier, as well as Asian textiles and marble flooring.
This is one of the best venues in Knoxville Tn to find culture, as you can expect to see Broadway performances, musical concerts, and vintage movies here.
1.12. East Tennessee History Center
You may find a variety of exhibitions here, such as interactive galleries and first-person narratives that transport you back in time by 300 years before bringing you up to the present.
If you’re looking for a drizzly activity in Knoxville, this is a fantastic place to go because many of the exhibits were made with youngsters in mind to provide a stimulating educational experience for young brains.
1.13. Blount Mansion
The Blount Mansion may be found in Knoxville’s downtown. Tennessee was supposedly founded at the Blount Mansion. William Blount, who signed the U.S. Constitution, lived there.
It was constructed in 1792. Blount was appointed by President George Washington to lead the Southwest Territory, and he started the process of establishing Tennessee as the 16th state.
It served as the family’s residence as well as the territorial capital. It is currently a house museum that you can visit. You may find out more about Tennessee’s early history as a state in the Blount Mansion.
Additionally, you’ll discover more about William Blount, the Blount family, and how Tennessee came to be what it is today as a result of its contributions.
1.14. Maple Hall
The bowling alley Maple Hall, which is opposite the aforementioned Phoenix Pharmacy, can transport you back in time. It’s a fully-fledged old-school, slick, sparkly spot for pleasure, with hip activities like a bar, restaurant, and boutique.
You’ll think you’ve left the present and stepped into the past! The JC Penney building, which is significant in and of itself, houses Maple Hall. There are eleven lanes, a live stage, two VIP-only lounges, a full-service bar, and many other amenities.
Additionally, there are areas for both private and public gatherings, a patio, and a cocktail lounge with plenty of board games. Therefore, Maple Hall is one of the best things to do in Knoxville Tn.
1.15. Haunted Knoxville Ghost Tours
We recommend taking a haunted Knoxville ghost tour if you’re seeking entertaining things to do in Knoxville for grownups. Numerous organizations provide ghost tours of the city. Keep in mind that many of them are walking tours while making your advance plans.
We suggest performing one on a day when you have not been on your feet all day. You’ll go by some of Knoxville’s most recognizable and allegedly spooky residences and structures. Many ghost tours also provide you with some background information about the city and its buildings.
1.16. McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture
The Museum is visible from a distance, at the entrance, Monty the big dino is waiting for you to take his picture on the lawn. Due to the museum’s completely free admission and great educational value, it is one of the best things to do in Knoxville.
It is specialized in preserving and showcasing historical and archaeological artifacts from all over the world and is situated on the campus of the University of Tennessee.
You’ll discover everything from dinosaur fossils and bones to Civil War, ancient civilizations, and diverse finds in the period-based exhibitions. People of all ages and educational levels can choose from a variety of educational opportunities, so check the museum’s calendar to see what events are coming up.
1.17. Mabry-Hazen House Museum
The Mabry-Hazen House Museum is in a stunning location on Mabry Hill in Knoxville. It was originally occupied by a remarkably well-known and noteworthy local family.
Victorian design is prominent in the 1858 Mabry-Hazen House, which is preserved on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside the Mabry-Hazen House Museum, you can browse a sizable antique collection, all of which were heirlooms of the Mabry-Hazen family.
The house would later play a pivotal role in the Civil War, acting as both a Confederate and a Union headquarters. One of the best places to learn about past lifestyles is the Mabry-Hazen House Museum.
One of the most well-known tourist destinations in Knoxville for history buffs, it regularly conducts special events like the Lineage & Legacy program and the unique Christmas Tour.
1.18. Mead’s Quarry Lake
It’s a terrific place to go if you’re seeking for Knoxville attractions to help you unwind or rest after a full morning of having fun touring the city. Both visitors and residents appreciate this area’s tranquility, and you’ll see a lot of people relaxing and hanging out here.
Mead’s Quarry Lake is great to swim on a hot day. If you bring a towel, your swimming gear, and some refreshments, you may relax by the lake, swim in it, or even engage in some water sports. Also, possible nearby is a hiking, which is a terrific way to unwind and peacefully get in touch with nature.
1.19. Girl Scout Museum
The Knoxville Service Center, located directly on Daisy’s Place in Tennessee, is where the Girl Scout Museum is located. It explores the history, purpose, and legacy of the girl scouts through interactive exhibits, narrated tours, showcases to wander, antique uniforms, and a ton of the nicest collectibles you can find.
The Girl Scout Museum also has an archive library with books and documents about the organization dating back more than a century. They were created as far back as 1912. Both a Mabel Pain doll and the Girl Scout Triumph book, which details the organization’s fascinating history, are on permanent loan from the Smithsonian Museum.
You may be able to try on a historic uniform and even display it in a fashion show if you reserve a visit in advance of the Girl Scout Museum. Alternatively, you can bring something to put in the SWAPS basket (Small Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere) and pick something from it to take home with you.
1.20. Old City
Old City, which is situated in the city’s historic center, is one of Knoxville’s most adored areas.
Here, you can find odd places like little coffee shops and bustling art galleries, or you can eat at one of the local eateries and experience classic Tennessee cuisine.
You won’t get bored in the evening because this region has a thriving live music scene and many of the city’s oldest and most culturally important structures are located here.
1.21. Beck Cultural Exchange Center
The Beck Cultural Exchange Center was founded in 1975 to preserve local heritage. But as time went on, the organization’s mission gradually grew. Its primary objective today is to share the history, culture, and life of the Black people who helped to shape the city.
These days, the stories and history of Black East Tennesseans predominate. The Beck, as it is frequently referred to, is free and accessible to everyone. A range of exhibits that highlight Knoxville’s Black history may be found inside the museum.
From local artists’ works, a library for research, archives, and other historical relics. The Beck Cultural Exchange Center is a fantastic choice if you’re trying to decide what to do in Knoxville.
1.22. Star of Knoxville Riverboat
It has been given the go-ahead by the US Coast Guard and is an actual historic paddle-wheeler. Its main deck, which can accommodate 144 passengers and is entirely contained with heating and air conditioning, can accommodate a maximum of 235 passengers. The riverboat is more than simply a dull sailing vessel.
It is designed to host a variety of beautiful and entertaining dinners, from big black-tie events to informal gatherings, and is furnished with a band stage, dance floor, and two different bars.
No matter whether you walk onto the riverboat, you are always in good hands thanks to its compliance norms for passenger safety requirements. But where is the Star of Knoxville Riverboat going exactly?
It leads you all the way along the Tennessee River and provides spectacular views of the city, all the while illuminating you about the region’s past and promoting a festive attitude of calm relaxation.
The experience is enhanced by the knowledgeable and welcoming crew, who are all capable of providing first aid, putting out fires, and offering excellent customer service.
1.23. Phoenix Pharmacy
The Phoenix Pharmacy is situated on Gay Street in the center of Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s a traditional attraction that’s a good choice for something to do in the city that’s more leisurely.
It is a “pharmacy” type store, as its name would imply, complete with all the charm of the 1950s. Retro décors like a mirrored counter, chrome stools, and vintage American sodas will transport you back in time.
In this pharmacy, there are numerous possibilities for what to order. Pleasantly icy cold glasses are available for ice-cream sodas, root beers, egg creams, milkshakes, malted, and other beverages.
1.24. Three Rivers Rambler
One of the more distinctive things to do in Knoxville takes a ride on the Three Rivers Rambler. It is an adventure train that is located at the city’s university and is open seasonally so that you can go via nearby historical places.
You can go through a range of landscapes on the Three Rivers Rambler, from farming to the city’s early settlement. The Holston, French, and Broad Rivers come together here to form the Tennessee River, giving it its name. It was built with original, vintage parts and has been in use since the year 2000.
Along the route, you’ll discover more about the history of the American railroad system, the significance of that history, and a little bit about the river you’re going to.
1.25. Knoxville Chocolate Company
If you have a strong sweet taste, you shouldn’t miss The Knoxville Chocolate Company while you’re looking for things to go. When it first launched in 1995, it was known as Bradley’s Chocolates; but, after buying a nearby candy producer, the business acquired its current name.
Brad and Joy Hamlett are the owners of the chocolate business. It offers a wide variety of delicious, sweet snacks, including chocolate popcorn, varied boxes, and designs with Tennessee themes.
You may be sure that each enjoyable product will be delicious and well-made thanks to our more than 20 years of experience. Your hardest challenge might be picking the sort you want to buy most of all!
1.26. UT Gardens
The UT Gardens are among Knoxville’s top tourist destinations since they serve as the state’s botanical gardens. Start exploring the numerous gardens and greenhouses’ strolling paths. On your stroll, find out more about the 4,000 annuals, beautiful grass, shrubs, tropical plants, and herbs.
The UT Gardens are beautifully maintained, and each plant is identified with placards that provide you with vital information. As you go along the meandering, weaving walking pathways and stop by each greenhouse and garden, the overall setting and the sights are magnificent.
On occasion, the UT Gardens will host unique events. Events like plant sales, art displays, talks, and others keep things interesting and novel. Hence visiting UT Gardens is one of the best things to do in Knoxville Tn.
1.27. Forks Of the River Wildlife Management Park
It is one of the urban wilderness places. There are numerous different hiking trails in the park, one of them combines the Ijams Nature Center.
The Will Skelton Greenway is the main path. The Greenway is slightly longer than the 6.5-mile trail which is moderately simple to hike. If you’d like, you may also bike it.
The French Broad River and the Tennessee River both have stretches of their banks that are paralleled by the paved trail. Consequently, while you walk, you’ll enjoy some stunning vistas of the rivers.
1.28. Historic Cherokee Caverns
To preserve it, the historic site is only accessible a few times a year. However, the volunteers make up for it by hosting some fantastic events. Usually, they are open on special occasions like Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas.
Trick-or-treating on Halloween, carolers in the caves and anthropologists speaking about forensic cases have all previously taken place. Additionally, they show movies in the caverns a few times a year.
They include both family-friendly and more mature classics. If the Cherokee Caverns are open and you’re contemplating what to do in Knoxville, we highly recommend going!
1.29. Stock and Barrel
The best burgers in Knoxville, Tennessee, may be found at Stock and Barrel, a restaurant and bar. Its menu is eccentric, fiery, and one-of-a-kind, with all the classics as well as delicious variations that will make you want more.
The traditional burger and the enormous chicken waffle burger are two of the better dining options available here. Additionally, you can order beer or cocktails to go with your meal.
Just be sure to arrive at Stock and Barrel with a hearty appetite so you may try all of their delectable fares!
2. Wrapping Up
Knoxville is a terrific vacation destination if you’re seeking some of the best things to do in Tennessee. Knoxville wouldn’t have made much of an imprint on the wandering traveler a few years ago. The city’s vibrant downtown, varied nightlife, an abundance of outdoor recreation, competitive sports, and family-friendly activities, on the other hand, are currently becoming more and more well-known.
After Nashville and Memphis, Knoxville is the third-largest city in Tennessee, although it still has a small-town atmosphere. With a collection of some of the state’s most wonderful and fascinating attractions in one vibrant, active, and historic place.
The most well-liked activities in Knoxville include historic sites, museums, theatres, parks, and shopping, and since many of these attractions are close to one another, the city is also walkable. Hopefully, this guide has assisted you in narrowing down your top destinations while you’re in the city.
Also check out: A Guide Through 15 Best Beach Camping in Southern California