January 21, 2020
When you first think of Knoxville, Tennessee, you may think of football, that it’s a college town or the color orange. What you can soon discover is Knoxville is a city that's dedicated to arts, music and the outdoors.
Knoxville is about three and a half hours from Nashville, and is a beautiful drive. The scenery alone is worth the trip! Once in Knoxville, you’ll experience a whirlwind of music, culture, delicious food and gorgeous landscapes. Here’s what you can see and do in The Marble City.
Dining in Knoxville
Coffee & Chocolate is a cozy spot next to Market Square. Like the name suggests, serve coffee and chocolate. Order a mocha and blueberry a muffin for breakfast and get some chocolate for later.
Wake up your senses with weekend brunch at Oliver Royale 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Start with a strong cup of coffee roasted locally by Honeybee Coffee Co. and a mimosa with your choice of orange, grapefruit, cranberry or pineapple juice. Choose your breakfast from local eggs, biscuit and gravy, diced potato hash, stone ground grits or applewood smoked bacon. Have your eggs Benedict a variety of ways from a pork belly Benedict to a crab cake Benedict. You'll leave ready to tackle the day.
Recently relocated to Knoxville's Old City, OliBea is flooded with natural light, eclectic decor and delicious food prepared with local and regional ingredients. Begin your day with breakfast tacos or burritos, eggs Benedict, pancakes or the savory chicken biscuit. Enjoy cold brew, espresso, a cappuccino or Cortado for a good caffeine kick.
After a morning of exploring and walking around Knoxville, you're bound to work up an appetite. We stopped in Sweet P's Downtown Dive and, boy, did it hit the spot. Dine on pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, mac n' cheese, tater salad, green beans and sweet tea. You’ll want to be a regular patron after one meal.
Yassin's Falafel House offers you a delicious, affordable lunch in a laid back environment. Order the chicken gyro with french fries and a coke. It will hit the spot on any given day! There's 30-minute street parking, so it's easy to drop by and pick up your meal to-go as well.
Emilia Italian is, hands down, some of the best Italian food you'll find. Start with an order of the Grilled Romaine Salad and Bruschetta as an appetizer. Then, order the Bolognese and Meatballs. Save room for dessert; you need Tiramisu.
The Bistro by the Bijou is a cute, intimate setting with delicious food. A lot of the ingredients served are local. The Bistro at the Bijou is located in one the most historic buildings in downtown Knoxville. The Bijou also has a speakeasy for specialty drinks and they host live jazz music. It's perfect for date night.
Bonus: If you want to grab coffee and a croissant sometime during your Knoxville stay as a mid-day snack, stop by Wild Love Bakehouse. This is a great place to hang out, check emails or catch up with a friend over coffee.
SHOPPING in Knoxville
Earthbound Trading Co.
Earthbound Trading Co. is a lifestyle shop for the nomadic spirit who embraces individuality and craves exploration. This boutique sells a bunch of different things from apparel and accessories to home decor. Each piece ignites adventure and celebrates diversity.
Bliss & Tori Mason Shoes
Bliss is will become one of your favorite places to shop, especially in their new location on Gay Street. Bliss sells trendy women's apparel with accessories and home decor. It's a light-filled, welcoming space where you'll want to spend hours.
Earth to Old City
Earth to Old City is such a fun boutique to visit. There are gems on every shelf and it’s the perfect place to get a lot of Christmas shopping done! From nick nacks to socks to cute home decor, you'll find yourself spending so much time in here laughing at the sassy and funny items you find and Instagram-ing them.
Fizz is another boutique in Market Square. They have tunics, hats and tons of jewelry made by the owner herself. It’s a great place for some souvenir fashion gifts for the special women in your life.
Nothing Too Fancy
Around the corner from Market Square is Nothing Too Fancy. This store had the coolest local tees and hats! If you want a UT or a vintage tee/tank top, stop by Nothing Too Fancy.
My Kind of Lovely
Drive 15 minutes outside of Market square and check out My Kind of Lovely. MKL is located next to Publix on the second floor of the shopping center. There you'll find sorority gifts, the cutest clothes and accessories.
SAMPle SPIRITS in knoxville
Start at the Blue Slip Winery. This winery is located at the Historic Southern Railway Station in downtown Knoxville. It’s the city’s first winery and Tennessee’s first urban winery. The wine is made from all locally-grown fruit from Tennessee growers. Blue Slip also makes all of their wine on-site. Blue Slip also has fun events like Train Car dinners on Valentine's Day, Food Truck nights, events, parties and more. You can walk the train cars housed at the railway station as well.
After the winery, go to Knox Whiskey Works. Knox Whiskey Works is Knoxville's first (legal) distillery. Established in 2015, they craft award-winning Old City Heirloom Corn Whiskey from local corn. Once distilled, it is placed in new charred oak barrels to rest until it becomes bourbon. Along with corn whiskey, Knox Whiskey Works produces Jackson Ave Gin, barrel-aged Marble City Pink Gin, Cold City Old Brew Coffee Liqueur, Fleur de Vie Liqueur, Tennessee Tailgate Orange Vodka and new products are always "in the Works." Take a tour of their distillery to learn how each drink is made and then test each drink. You’ll definitely want to try the Marble City Pink Gin and Fleur de Vie. The staff was knowledgeable and so much fun to get to know.
If you're up for a walk, leave your car in the parking lot across the street from Knox Whiskey Works and walk 5 minutes to PostModern Spirits down the road. PostModern Spirits is a distillery with a cocktail bar in a fun, modern setting. You can sit at the bar, a table or in a comfy chair and enjoy a signature cocktail. Or, try all their spirits. The Cacao Liqueur is a standout and could be a great hit for the holiday season.
Culture in Knoxville
Knoxville is full of places that offer you to take in art for free. Take a day to hit up all of the great museums in Knoxville. The Knoxville Museum of Art has a vast collection of artwork. You could easily spend a few hours examining the pieces. Ongoing exhibits include modern and contemporary glass pieces, recent art from East Tennessee artists, an historical account of the visual arts in East Tennessee, The Thorne Rooms - a collection of well-known miniature diorama groups, and the beautiful installation "Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity." Some exhibition spaces are always rotated out with new pieces, so be sure to stay updated on all the Museum of Art is offering.
The Art Market Gallery is around the corner from Market Square and down the road from the Tennessee Theatre. If you're looking to buy or see some local art, you can do all these things at the Art Market Gallery. The Art Market Gallery is Knoxville's one-stop shop for local art, ceramics, jewelry and other mixed media.
A five-minute walk from the Art Market Gallery on South Gay Street is the Knoxville Emporium Center. The Emporium Center is free, self-guided and a part of the Arts & Culture Alliance. The bottom level is an office and studio space for local artists and photographers, the second and third levels house exhibits and office spaces. The Emporium has an open house each month as part of the citywide First Friday with music and light bites. It's a great way to spend an evening marveling at all the great local and regional art on display.
MUSIC in Knoxville
One of the most iconic landmark in Knoxville is the Tennessee Theatre, turned 90 years old in 2018. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and honored as the Official State Theatre of Tennessee, the theatre hosts classical music concerts, vintage films, dance, Broadway, and stellar performances by today's hottest musicians and legendary musicians. Also, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and the Knoxville Opera use the theatre throughout the year.
If you have an hour to spare, the WDVX Blue Plate Special is a great music show to check out, located inside the Visit Knoxville Visitors Center. WDVX is a local radio station and every week day from noon to 1 p.m. and have two artists perform music for half an hour each. Snacks are available for purchase there or you can bring your lunch. A word of advice: get there early because seating goes quickly! There's also a cool and colorful mural outside of WDVX. Stop and see it for yourself!
OUTDOOR Adventure in Knoxville
This time of year, the outdoors are irresistible. Set some time aside to hike at Ijams Nature Center. Ijams has anything and everything for the outdoor lover; hike, bike, paddle, climb, shop, relax. No matter your time limit, there's a hike and a trail for you to enjoy.
WHERE TO STAY in Knoxville
Located next to the Knoxville Convention Center, you couldn't find a better location to stay. The Tennessean used to be a state government office and is now a chic, boutique hotel. The hotel is near the University of Tennessee and Neyland Stadium, making it an ideal urban getaway with the added bonus of scenic mountains and park vistas. Authentic East Tennessee folkways are found in every detail. The carpets depict Tennessee waterways, the logo portrays the state flower, and the room furnishings are designed by Tennessee craftsmen.
This is just a sampling of what you can experience in Knoxville. Discover these and more on your next trip to this awesome city.