People visiting Tennessee usually make a beeline for Nashville and Memphis while often missing out on the underrated and underappreciated Tennessee gem – Knoxville! With so many things to do in Knoxville (many of which cater to the entertainment needs of the children!), you are sure to have the time of your life here. Most Knoxville attractions are close to the downtown and can be covered on foot, giving tourists a chance to experience this place like a local.
To help you make the most of your trip to the “Marble City”, we’ve put together a list of 18 things to do and places to visit that you simply must not miss.
McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture
Among the various fun things to do in Knoxville, visiting the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville should definitely be on your list. While there, you will be welcomed by ‘Monty’, a 24–feet tall bronze skeleton of a duck-billed dinosaur known as hadrosaur weighing 2,400-pound!
Though the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture is small the exhibits here are fascinating. Most items on display are over 2000 years old, including animal mummies, hair combs, shoes, ceremonial pieces, etc., and give the visitors insight into Tennessee’s culture and historical background.
Address: 1327 Circle Park, Knoxville, TN 37996 | Timing: Tuesday – Saturday: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm, Sunday – Monday: Closed | Google Map Location: https://g.page/mcclungMuseum?share | Phone Number: +18659742144
World’s Fair Park
This is the Park where the historical World’s Fair was hosted in 1982. Two major structures from the exposition at the park are the Tennessee amphitheater still being used for public events and the Sunsphere observation deck, which offers sweeping views of the local landscape of Tennessee.
The park also has beautiful, paved walkways, verdant grassy knolls, and numerous fountains. It is also home to the fun, water-themed feature called the Splash Pad, a great place to chill, particularly during summers. The Festival Lawn here hosts several events and festivals around the year.
(P.S.: The park has free entry. however, the events and festivals organized at the park may charge an entry fee.)
Address: 525 Henley Street, Knoxville, TN 37902 | Timing: 06:00 am to 12:00 am | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/U75dmyn5dXBdWx1N8 | Phone Number: +18652151158
Located on Mabry Hill, the Mabry-Hazen House was once the residence of one of the most well-known families in Knoxville. Now turned into a museum and a venue for weddings, it was originally built in 1858 and has an extensive collection of antiques belonging to the Mabry-Hazen family.
A look at the items on display will give you a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of its owners and the famous Tennessee lifestyle of the time. In addition to that, it also holds historical significance as it provides valuable insights into the defining Civil War in which it played a key role. No wonder then that history enthusiasts find this place extremely fascinating!
Address: 1711 Dandridge Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37915 | Timing: Monday – Friday: 11:00 am to 05:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday: closed | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/xSryfa2HFsraAN7JA | Phone Number: +18655228661
Catch a Show at Historic Tennessee Theatre
The Tennessee Theater is a historical building with a breathtaking Spanish-Moorish style of architecture. Built in 1928, this almost a century-old theater with marble floors, original crystal chandeliers, and Asian textiles exudes an old-world charm.
You can catch some vintage film screenings, touring Broadway shows, classical music performances, and dance performances at the theater. The Knoxville Opera and Symphony Orchestra also perform at the theater regularly. Watching a show at this historic theater is truly a spectacular experience – one that you will cherish for life.
Address: 604 S Gay Street, Knoxville, TN 37902 | Timing: Monday – Friday: 10:00 am to 05:00 pm, Saturday: 10:00 am to 02:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/c9YkGCJXSWm7njZw5 | Phone Number: +18656841200
East Tennessee History Center
If you are interested in the rich and varied history of the USA, you must visit the East Tennessee History Center! The range of exhibits at the Center is extensive. Along with personal accounts and original documents, they also have interactive galleries that make learning about history fun and interesting.
Even when you have children to engage and entertain, the East Tennessee History Center is a great choice. There are several exhibits here that are specially designed with children in mind. They present a fun and engaging way to learn history for children and make for an enjoyable day activity for them.
Address: 601 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902 | Timing: Monday – Tuesday: 08:00 am to 08:30 pm Wednesday – Friday: 08:00 am to 05:30 pm, Saturday: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm, Sunday: 01:00 pm to 05:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/hnxngAEyfHvjWaV17 | Phone Number: +18652158801
The zoo is one of the major Knoxville attractions, especially if you are looking for things to do in Knoxville this weekend and you have children to entertain. It is spread over 53-acres of land and is home to almost 700 animals – children and animal lovers will simply love this place!
Children can also enjoy camel rides, feed giraffes, and go on a fun adventure aboard the Zoo Choo train. Apart from that, there are exotic animals like the Khaleesi and Komodo dragons, a theater, a splash pad, and a carousel.
Fun fact: Over the years, more than 1000 red pandas have been born in this zoo!
Address: 3500 Knoxville Zoo Dr, Knoxville, TN 37914 | Timing: 09:00 am to 04:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/NZcM4G73q99CKAbx8 | Phone Number: +18656375331
Ijams Nature Centre
If you are confused about what to do in Knoxville, visit Ijams Nature Center – one of the most interesting Knoxville things to do! Spread over an expansive 300 acres of land, this center is an adventure lover’s paradise.
For biking and hiking enthusiasts, there is a 10-mile-long trail, winding through the wilderness. But if you’d rather relax, the beautiful Mead’s Quarry Lake at the Center is ideal for kayaking, canoeing, paddle boating, or even a picnic by the lake. Ijams Nature Center has also become a favored destination when it comes to nature-themed weddings.
Address: 2915 Island Home Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37920 | Timing: 10:00 am to 06:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/IjamsNatureCenter?share | Phone Number: +18655774717
The historical downtown area of Knoxville is known as the Old City. From cozy little coffee shops to the vibrant art galleries of the Old City that showcase the talent of budding local artists – every nook and cranny of this part of the town has hundreds of years’ worth of history to tell. Some of the oldest and the most historically significant buildings also call the Old City their home.
Restaurants in the area serve amazing local Tennessee cuisine and signature dishes that you must try. Every evening the Old City comes to life with exquisite live music filling up the evening air.
Address: Knoxville, TN | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/va5Djw1NESFUTrNN9
Knoxville’s Market Square
Visiting the Market Square area is easily among the top five things to do in Knoxville, TN. It is a busy town center with restaurants, bars, shops, cafes, etc., attracting locals and tourists alike. A great place to hang out with friends, you can shop to your heart’s content and indulge in a variety of foods and drinks here.
Live concerts and other entertainment events organized here lend this area an upbeat and lively vibe. The two water play fountains are a favorite with children. From May to November, on Saturday and Wednesday, you can find good quality local produce at the open-air Farmer’s market.
Address: Market Square. Mall, Knoxville, TN 37902 | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/AN98zS7HJNdi5Q578 | Phone Number: +18652154248
Explore the Graffiti at Strong Alley
A trip to Knoxville is incomplete without paying a visit to one of the most stunning Knoxville attractions – the graffiti at Strong Alley. Also known as the Graffiti Alley, here, as the name suggests, you can witness beautiful street art that will have you awe-struck!
Hundreds of street art lovers from across the world visit Knoxville, especially for the artistic magnificence of the Strong Alley. Located near the bustling Market Square, it is best visited around dusk after it is illuminated with small lights that lend the graffiti on the wall a surreal feel.
Address: Strong Street, Knoxville, TN 37902 | Timing: 24/7 | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/XJES4WGLdGfedaxx8
Knoxville Museum of Art
If you appreciate art in its many forms, visiting the Knoxville Museum of Art should top your list of things to do in Knoxville. Located at World’s Fair Park, it is home to the work of various East Tennessee artists, and it celebrates the state’s culture and heritage with elan.
Two permanent exhibits – “Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee” and “Throne Rooms” – are very popular here. Both these pieces focus on artists and their careers in the area. Another major attraction at the museum is the huge, beautiful figurative steel and glass sculpture of the world called the “Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity”.
Address: 1050 World’s Fair Park Dr, Knoxville, TN 37916 | Timing: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 am to 05:00 pm, Sunday: 01:00 pm to 05:00 pm, Monday: Closed | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/MSNFLMb9A3eWUyMc9 | Phone Number: +18655256101
James White Fort
James White Fort is a museum, named after the American soldier and founder of Knoxville. In 1783, he went on an expedition to Upper Tennessee Valley and established the site where Knoxville stands today. A few years later, the fort he built was selected as Southwest Territory’s capital. But within a year, White sold his land donated the proceeds to build a permanent city.
James White Fort is White’s original home. Some of the highlights include the original map and layout the town, White’s desk, the outhouse, kitchen, weaving house, and a blacksmith shop. Several special holiday events are also hosted here.
Address: 205 E Hill Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37915 | Timing: Monday – Friday: 10:00 am to 04:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday: Closed (December to March); Monday – Saturday: 09:30 am to 05:00 pm, Sunday: Closed (April to November) | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/muFinCJp9i3sxgTF6 | Phone Number: +18655256514
Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is a must-visit destination for all basketball fans and enthusiasts for a quick lesson about the history of the game along with the stories of prominent players over the years. It is spread over an area of 35,000 square feet, and special features of the place include the world’s largest basketball that is 30 feet tall and weighs a whopping 10 tons.
There is also a ‘Hall of Honors’ where names of popular and important players from the Hall of Fame are displayed. Apart from that, there are three different courts where players can test their basketball skills.
Address: 700 S Hall of Fame Dr, Knoxville, TN 37915 | Timing: Monday – Saturday: 10:00 am to 05:00 pm, Sunday: Closed (May to August); Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 am to 05:00 pm, Sunday – Monday: Closed (September to April) | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/V32WXm17qFiX9pKW8 | Phone Number: +18656339000
The Muse Knoxville is a place dedicated to children. There are science and art galleries in the place, spanning over 4,000 square feet, and many exhibits in the museum focus on teaching children about science, engineering, technology, mathematics, arts, and culture with several hands-on activities.
It also has themed educational sections with interactive exhibits that make learning fun for children by combining it with play. But the planetarium remains the major attraction at the museum which enables curious minds to explore and learn more about the solar system. It is a perfect day out for the children!
Address: 516 N Beaman Street, Knoxville, TN 37914 | Timing: 09:00 am to 04:30 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/MuseKnox?share | Phone Number: +18655941494
Peter Kern Library
If you want to spend an evening sipping on cocktails and making merry, head to the Perter Kern Library. The place can be identified with a red ball light, and it is a cozy oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
Upon entering, you will find a huge bar on your left, and a great speakeasy will greet you. Known for the old-fashioned cocktails on its menu, this is a speakeasy that you must not miss at all. It is a great place to spend some time with your friends and drink the night away!
Address: 407 Union Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37902 | Timing: Monday – Thursday: 05:00 pm to 12:00 am, Friday: 05:00 pm to 01:00 am, Saturday: 04:00 pm to 01:00 am, Sunday: 04:00 pm to 12:00 am | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/emg83srmHmytny4F7 | Phone Number: +18655210050
Thinking about what to do in Knoxville? Visit the Bleak House! With its long and interesting past, the Bleak House has been termed as a historic property and categorized under the United States Register of Historic Places. In the Battle of Knoxville between Confederates and Unionists, it became a prominent battle point. Even today, there are two cannons embedded in its walls.
But now that there aren’t any canons balls being flung around (phew!), you can go on a tour inside the Bleak House and learn a great deal about its history as well as that of the Battle of Knoxville.
Address: 3148 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919 | Timing: Friday: 01:00 pm to 03:30 pm, Saturday – Thursday: Closed | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/yoGMB8KP2Th23f4X7 | Phone Number: +18655222371
Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum
The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum in Knoxville, Tennessee is spread over an area of 47-acres and makes for a great day excursion for people who love the outdoors. This property was initially a part of a horticultural business, owned by a private family in 1786 and it was only in the year 2001, that it was converted to a public space.
As of today, there are eight display gardens at the property with a beautiful network of walking trails, a butterfly meadow, and distinctive stone walls running for almost 2 miles. The garden is well-maintained and the staff working there is courteous and knowledgeable.
Address: 2743 Wimpole Ave #B, Knoxville, TN 37914 | Timing: Daily from dawn to dusk. Call the Garden directly to confirm timings. | Google Map Location: https://g.page/knoxgarden?share | Phone Number: +18658628717
Stock & Barrel
Want to taste the best burgers in town? Head straight to Stock and Barrel in Market Square. This is an all-American-style bar and restaurant, serving various kinds of lip-smacking local delicacies. The quirky and fiery menu is loved by people in all age groups, particularly the young lot. A must-try item on the menu is chicken-waffle burgers in which the typical burger bun is replaced by two huge waffles and the patty is replaced by fried chicken as the filling!
Just make sure that you work up a good appetite before you enter this awesome restaurant!
Address: 35 Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902 | Timing: Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 am to 10:00 pm, Friday – Saturday: 11:00 am to 11:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/tGPt7iKKgq4w5ZTY6 | Phone Number: +1 865 766 2075
Knoxville played a pivotal role in the Civil War and shaping the future of the United States of America. Centuries later, it continues to charm its residents and visitors alike. With this extensive list of things to do and places to visit when in town, you are sure to have a great time here too!