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:
More than 40 shops flank Knoxville's Market Square brimming with souvenirs, boutique clothing and chic shoes. Pop into Wild Honey Records for a music fix; and Westwood Antique & Design Market for gems of the past that you can repurpose with today's modern touches. Bliss is where you'll find the latest styles and Central Street Books is brimming with rare and used books for your enjoyment.
Dining: Fine and family-friendly
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.
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
WDVX Blue Plate Special celebrates all music from folk to funk, local and international noon every day but Sunday at the Knoxville Visitor Center. The show is always free and you're welcome to bring your lunch. Past performers include Jim Lauderdale, Marty Stewart, Blackberry Smoke, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sturgill Simpson and more.
Enjoy local songwriters compete Feb. 22, 2019 before a panel of judges for a spot to perform at The Bluebird Cafe March 31, 2019 during Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival in Nashville before an audience which includes music publishing professionals. The Open Mic Night celebrates Tennessee Songwriters Week, a week dedicated to celebrating the craft, recognize past and present songwriters and pave the way for future artists. Tennessee Songwriters Week is Feb. 17-23, 2019.
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 brought music and family fun to downtown Knoxville for more than 15 years.