Finding My "Cool" in Knoxville

Finding My "Cool" in Knoxville

A blend of music, nature, and a vibrant, ever-changing food scene, Knoxville is a sprawling city with any and every activity you could think of.

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A blend of music, nature, and a vibrant, ever-changing food scene, Knoxville is a sprawling city with any and every activity you could think of. Spend some time in the capital of Appalachia and by the end of your stay, you'll be in love with the local fare, historic buildings that hold some fascinating stories, and excellent entertainment only Knoxville can provide. Here are some of the places I'd hit up if given 48 hours in Knoxville:

Shopping: Get your Knoxville look


Everyone wants their own look. In Knoxville, you get it when you visit Marc Nelson Denim Jeans 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays on Depot Avenue. Small batches, 214 of each style to be exact, are produced along with tailoring to give customers the perfect fit. Legs get the luxurious treatment when wearing Marc Nelson Denim because Cone Mills, Italian, and Japanese fabrics are used. From boyfriend jeans to straight skinnies for women and straight, slim straight and slim for men, you're sure to find a jean that you'll be happy to rock day and night. You can also get denim aprons, canvas messenger bags, boots, and candles.

Get your fashion-spired look from days gone by at Nostalgia, where retro and vintage reign supreme. Mid-century modern clothing ranging from men's and women's fashions to shoes, hats, gloves and scarves fill the store. Home décor and vinyl records are also for sale. With more than 30 dealers, you'll find exactly what you're looking for.

Dining: From fine to family-style

Local and fresh is best and at The Tomato Head it's their belief "less processed food tastes better." They partner with local businesses like Saw Works Brewing Company, Three Rivers Market, Benton's Country Hams, and Hines Valley Farm to make sure produce is organic and fresher than fresh. Proteins are nitrate/nitrite free, antibiotic-free, and all natural. Try the black bean hummus with blue corn chips and then the pesto and sundried tomato pizza or the Southwestern salad with chipotle ranch.

The Tomato Head

Some of the finest Southern, seasonally-focused food can be found at Knox Mason. Eggs from Riverplains Farm, bacon from Benton's, and buttermilk from Cruze Farm are just some of the products the restaurant locally sources. The ever-changing cocktails hold their own or can be paired with a sumptuously delicious dinner by Chef Matt Gallaher. Start your dinner with the caramelized mountain meadows apple salad coupled with Asher blue cheese, Texas pecans, arugula, and Benton's Country Ham. You have to try the Mitchell Farm steak bordelaise in a rosemary, red wine, and bone marrow butter glaze.

Culture: Classy and cool

Wanna hear some of the best acoustics in the Southeast? Go to the Bijou Theatre for a night of music. The more than 100 year-old theatre has hosted many well-known artists like The Ramones, Dolly Parton, Dave Matthews Band, Moon Taxi, and Anna Pavlova. It's hailed as Knoxville's "Gem of the South" and is the city's fourth oldest building, opening in 1909. The house seats more than 700 and music fans and performers alike praise the Bijou for being the best-sounding room. It also houses the Bistro, which serves lunch and dinner as well as brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.


Verdi's Il Trovatore, Bizet's Carmen, and more operatic classics can be enjoyed thanks to the Knoxville Opera. With tickets at $13, it's an affordable way to spend a night taking in a bit of culture. The high-quality, locally-produced opera team also educates the community and keeps programs fresh and exciting with pieces that involve love, lust, betrayal, and the supernatural. The Knoxville Opera also hosts the annual Rossini Festival, voted as Knoxville's Best Festival. The international street fair and festival has been going on for 12 years, bringing music and family fun to downtown Knoxville.

If you want Americana roots music that ministers to your soul and gets your foot tapping, mark Rhythm N Blooms on your calendar. The music-focused highlight of Dogwood Arts' April celebration will once again rock April 10-12 with first-timers, chart-climbers, and famous acts from varied musical backgrounds. This year's lineup includes The Decemberists, The Dirty Guv'nahs, Delta Spirit, Apache Relay, and Alanna Royale to name a few. Many more artists will be announced as April approaches.

Where would you spend 48 hours in Knoxville? Let me know in the comments below!

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