Summer things to do in Knoxville Tennessee
Photo Credit: Journal Communications Inc/Jeff Adkins

Two Days in Knoxville: Summer Edition

Find lots of things to do in Knoxville with this two-day itinerary.

For easy travel planning, take a look at this two-day itinerary full of things to do in Knoxville, some are even free. Bring your family to the city and you'll find plenty of fun things to do like kayaking on the Tennessee River and savoring delicious food. Read below for a full list of fun things to do in Knoxville.

Day 1

Stay at The Oliver Hotel

The Oliver Hotel is a modern boutique hotel located in an historic 1876 building. Enjoy spacious rooms that are beautifully decorated to welcome you after a full day of adventure. Rumor has it there's even a discreet sliding door in the library that opens up to a speakeasy. 

Breakfast at Old City Java

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Order up one of Meg's, the owner's wife, freshly baked croussants with your steaming or iced cup of coffee at Old City Java. Enjoy the rich wood finishes and the Van Gogh's "Starry Nights" ceiling painting. It's the perfect place to start your morning before jumping into all the fun things to do in Knoxville.

Explore Ijams Nature Center

One of the free things to do in Knoxville is to visit the Ijams Nature Center and explore the trails that'll lead you to stunning rock formations and awesome views. Spend the morning hiking, biking or doing what we like best: kicking back and taking in the epic views.

Lunch at Potchke Deli

Photo Credit: @juliaeatsthings

Start your day with the colorful, Instagram-worthy dishes at Potchke Deli. You'll love the menu of Jewish and Eastern European favorites like tartine, blintz, matzo ball soup, babka and bialy. Many items are vegetarian and/or vegan and there are gluten-free options as well. 

Tour World's Fair Park

Let those sandwiches digest with a leisurely walk through World's Fair Park. Look for the Sunsphere and mile-high water geyser while you're there. Make your way up to the top of the Sunsphere to see views of downtown Knoxville, the Tennessee River and the Great Smoky Mountains beyond.

Dinner at The Tomato Head

With a motto like "Food gotta cook. Don't come out of a can," The Tomato Head is anything but shy about the freshness of their organic ingredients. Lunch is made perfect with their sandwiches, hand-tossed pizzas, salads packed with nutrients and so much more. 

Catch a show at Preservation Pub

The first floor of Preservation Pub is a concert venue. The second is a speakeasy and the third floor is a rooftop garden complete with colorful, glowing trees. You'll find a different vibe at each level, so be sure to explore the full venue. When it's time for some live music, head back to the first floor to dance the night away.

Day 2 

Breakfast at Status Dough

Status Dough does things the traditional way here, like baking limited batches of donuts. Make your day special with one of their giant cinnamon rolls, Boston cream or jam-filled paczkis. Or, enjoy the seasonal fruit iced yeast donut along with cold brew coffee, Cubanos, cortados, lattes and a variety of teas. 

Tour The Historic Tennessee Theatre

The Historic Tennessee Theatre opened its doors in 1928 and has been home to some of the area's biggest live music acts and theatric performances. You have to sign up for a tour on its site before visiting, but it's worth it to see the behind-the-scenes operations and learn the history of Tennessee's official state theatre.

Paddle the Tennessee River

Photo Credit: @bjolly

Whether kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding, take to the Tennessee River for a different vantage point of the city and one of the most fun things to do in Knoxville. If you're new to water sports, don't worry. Knoxville Urban Wilderness can give you pointers. 

Eat at Holly's Gourmet Market & Cafe

Photo Credit: @hollysgourmetsmarket

You never know what will be on the menu at Holly's. That's because the menu is made fresh every day, offering one of the most diverse dining experiences around. 

Visit Market Square

One of the can't-miss things to do in Knoxville is to explore Market Square. The epicenter of Knoxville and one of the most popular places in town, Market Square is where you can shop, eat, catch live music or just people watch from one of the restaurant patios, drink in hand.

Dinner at The Bistro at the Bijou

Many of the vegetables served at Bistro at the Bijou are grown by the head chef's husband in their family garden. Order the chicken fried steak. It's a game changer. After dinner, be sure to catch live music at the Bijou Theatre, a historic and intimate venue right next door to the Bistro.

Catch a show at Pilot Light

Pilot Light is an intimate venue where you're practically standing on stage with the band. This is the city's hot spot for young, under-the-radar indie rock acts. 

For even more itineraries and trip ideas, visit our Trip Inspiration page for local tips and travel hacks.

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