32 Best & Fun Things To Do In Knoxville (Tennessee) (2024)

Knoxville is a beautiful, lively city that is famous for its football team, the Vols, and the fact that it is the site of the famous and influential University of Tennessee.

With delicious Southern food, historic sites, lots of natural attractions, and a love of sports, it’s a vibrant community with plenty to offer to you, as a tourist.

Here are our picks for 32 best and fun things to do in Knoxville, Tennessee!

Table of Contents

1. Ijams Nature Center

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Ijams Nature Center is one of the best things to do in Knoxville for nature-lovers, and it’s also completely free to explore.

It was originally developed as a bird sanctuary by Harry Ijams.

Since then, it has grown significantly, now encompassing 300 acres and dedicated to wildlife preservation and education.

It is part of the larger 1,000-acre Knoxville Urban Wilderness, created by the Legacy Parks Foundation.

There are numerous different things to do at this delightful location, ranging from sightseeing to enjoying the only outdoor rock climbing section in all of Knoxville, Tennessee.

There are more than 10 miles of trails to hike as you walk across the large preserve, 104 acres of a quarry, left abandoned, to find, and plenty of water sport options like canoes and kayaks to rent in the summer.

At the Ijams Nature Center, you’ll also find education displays about all sorts of birds, and there is also an exciting zipline adventure park within it named Navitat Canopy Adventures.

There is also a Visitor Center that sells useful trail maps and educates you on the park’s background, attractions, and events, often with exhibits and art shows held onsite.

Finally, if you’re looking to learn even more this weekend, you can join one of the Ijams Nature Center’s programs.

Classes, workshops, and other events are designed for all ages.

The Tennessee Naturalist Program (meant for adults) teaches about the state’s natural history, the Ijams Birding Series (meant for all ages) covers all sorts of bird behavior, and the Growing Alice’s Garden program (meant for children) is exciting for a family event.

Multiple Living Clean and Green! programs are also hosted, teaching you all sorts of things about how to help the environment.

Address: 2915 Island Home Ave, Knoxville, TN 37920, United States

2. World’s Fair Park

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The World’s Fair Park can safely be called one of the most popular and loved Knoxville attractions.

It climbed to fame as the World’s Fair host in the year 1982 and since then has become a common hangout and relaxation location for some more laid-back fun.

It’s also one of the many free things to do in Knoxville, which is a bonus for your wallet!

Renovations have turned the World’s Fair Park into a quality outdoor spot, with gorgeous lawns, delightful water features, and plenty of walkways to explore.

Geysers and fountains, made with creative design and innovation, are go-tos for visitors looking for a way to cool down in the warm summer months.

All sorts of performances and festivals are held on the lawns of the park, so depending on when you’re there, you might get to catch something exciting!

Streams, lakes, knolls, and paved accessible paths make for a great time, regardless!

Address: 963 Worlds Fair Park Dr, Knoxville, TN 37916, United States

3. Zoo Knoxville

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Zoo Knoxville is home to more than 900 different animals from across the globe, with so many things to see that make it an ideal spot to take your kids to this weekend.

The zoo has received awards for its work in the conservation of red pandas and is also home to a number of unique and exotic animals, including Komodo dragons.

Each animal at the zoo is grouped according to its habitat and they live happy lives.

You can participate in many activities related to them, such as by feeding giraffes, riding camels, playing at the splash pad (which is the biggest in the city), or viewing the endangered species.

Don’t forget to go to Keeper Chat or a Forest Theater Show to learn more about these delightful animals!

4. Tennessee Theatre

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Rob Hainer / Shutterstock

The Tennessee Theater was once called a movie palace upon its opening in 1928.

Since then, its iconic nature has only grown, making it one of the places to visit for entertainment and architecture!

It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places.

With a Spanish-Moorish design, the theater is made with stunning and beautiful pieces that add to its magnificent nature.

An Italian terrazzo floor of marble spreads across its expanse, Asian carpets, drapery, and textiles add a warm charm, and the Czech-style crystal chandeliers are nothing short of opulent.

In 2005, the theater was restored, and it is now outfitted for all the fun shows and performances your heart desires.

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and Knoxville Opera both call this theater their home, and you can watch concerts, classic films, and even Broadway shows here.

Check their schedule out – there may be something that interests you playing tonight!

Address: 604 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

5. East Tennessee History Center

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East Tennessee History Center

The East Tennessee History Center is probably one of the best sites for what to see if you’re interested in learning more about American history.

Its exhibits have won multiple awards and the center takes you back more than three centuries, chronologically telling you the story of the state up to the current day.

The displays at the history center are made so that even children can be engaged and educated by them, and there are many events held throughout the year that may interest you.

There is a big History Fair in August, a Blue and Gray Reunion between April and May, and even student outreach groups.

To learn more, check out some of the free workshops and lectures!

Address: 601 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

6. McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture

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McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture

It’s easy to spot the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture from a distance.

A large dinosaur stands at the front, affectionately named Monty, ready for photo-taking on the lawn.

Entry into the museum has no charge at all and coupled with its high educational value, that makes it one of the top things to do in Knoxville.

Situated on the campus of the University of Tennessee, the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture is dedicated to the preservation and showcasing of archaeological and historical finds from both the state and across the planet.

You’ll see things ranging from dinosaur bones and fossils to period-based exhibits, such as showcases dedicated to the Civil War, ancient civilizations, and eclectic finds.

Research is always ongoing at the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture lab.

A wide range of educational offerings are available for people of all ages and backgrounds, so check the museum’s schedule to see when they have something planned.

Address: 1327 Circle Park, Knoxville, TN 37996, United States

7. Blount Mansion

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Lee A. Ratledge / Shutterstock

Want to learn all about the city’s history and how it came to be the state capitol?

Head over to the stunning Blount Mansion for a fun way of glimpsing the past through the lens of today.

U.S. Constitution signer William Blount, also the Governor of the Southwest Territory, owned the home, as it was built in 1792, the same year that the city was made his capitol.

The historical tales contained here are often fascinating and sometimes just a little scandalous, with the Blount Mansion’s nickname being “the house with many eyes”.

In 1926, the home was scheduled to be demolished, but the Blount Mansion Association saved it and it is now one of the city’s most intriguing tourist attractions.

Part museum and part historical preserve, the Blount Mansion teaches the history of the city in engaging ways.

If you’re here in October, check out the Legends, Costumes, and Myths tour.

If you’re here in December, then check out the Merry and Bright Celebration!

Address: 200 W Hill Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

8. Market Square Farmers’ Market

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Market Square Farmers’ Market

One of the best things to do in downtown Knoxville is undoubtedly taking a trip to the Market Square Farmers’ Market.

It is a part of Nourish Knoxville, which is a lovely citywide program designed to promote farmer and community collaboration.

It helps provide support to farmers and artisans while providing healthy options to consumers in the city.

Every week, the Market Square Farmers’ Market sets up shop, with numerous vendors preparing to sell all kinds of wares with local charm.

Every single sold product is made by the vendors themselves, whether you’re purchasing raw ingredients, fresh produce, baked goods, cooked dishes, handmade gifts, or clothes.

It’s undoubtedly one of the most authentic options for what to do to get a taste of true Tennessee!

Address: 500 Howard Baker Jr. Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

9. Knoxville Museum of Art

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, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

For 25 years, the Knoxville Museum of Art has done its best to promote local art from the state, focusing on Southern Appalachian culture and artists from the region.

With no admission cost, it’s among the free things to do in Knoxville that is a great way to occupy yourself this weekend.

The Museum of Art is housed in a beautiful building made from state-mined marble, racking up a $6 million renovation bill.

It also has the world’s biggest glass installation, which is known as the Cycle of Life.

But there are more reasons it’s one of the city’s places to visit that aren’t to be missed!

Artists from all over the state have their work displayed here.

There is also a fascinating miniature diorama collection from some of the most renowned artists of the niche genre in the country.

A musical act called Alive After Five – one of the state’s most loved – often provides evening excitement with music, dancing, and drinks!

Address: 1050 Worlds Fair Park Dr, Knoxville, TN 37916, United States

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10. Old City

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The Old City is a historical portion of downtown Knoxville, filled with points of interest that you can explore as you walk around its expanse.

Many fun hidden gems are scattered throughout Old City, from coffee houses and restaurants to galleries and shops.

At night, the live music scene brings this portion of the Tennessee city to life with independent performances for the greatest talents in the state.

Vibrancy, diversity, and historical significance make the Old City a place not to be missed.

11. Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is one of the fun things to do in Knoxville, Tennessee.

On its rooftop, you’ll see the biggest basketball in the world, making it easily spotted from far away.

It’s a great place to get inspired and a spot in the city that sports lovers shouldn’t miss.

139 athletes have been inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, each one with dedicated information provided to their contributions to basketball and their unique backgrounds.

The hall of fame has a mission of celebrating the current sport, honoring its past, and promoting a stronger future for women in the field.

An interactive basketball court lets you test out your skill and further engaging, hands-on displays make for an interesting experience.

One of the most loved showcases here is the All American Red Heads collection of memorabilia, and numerous events are also held throughout the year with a wide range of target audiences.

Address: 700 S Hall of Fame Dr, Knoxville, TN 37915, United States

12. Mabry-Hazen House Museum

Situated on Mabry Hill, Knoxville, the Mabry-Hazen House Museum is a beautiful location that was once the home of an incredibly famous and memorable local family.

Finished in 1858, the Mabry-Hazen House is a part of the National Register of Historic Places and takes most of its architectural influence from Victorian design.

Within the Mabry-Hazen House Museum, you’ll find a large antique collection that once belonged to the titular Mabry-Hazen family, all heirlooms.

The house would go on to be used in the Civil War as a Confederate and Union Headquarters in turn, playing an incredibly vital role in the historical event.

The Mabry-Hazen House Museum is also one of the best ways to gain insight into the ways of life of old.

It’s one of the most renowned Knoxville attractions for history lovers and hosts special annual events like the Lineage and Legacy program and the special Christmas Tour.

Address: 1711 Dandridge Ave, Knoxville, TN 37915, United States

13. Knoxville Children’s Theater

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The Knoxville Children’s Theater can be found in the city’s downtown area and has the goal of providing fun shows for children, performed by children!

It’s one of this Tennessee city’s most wonderful things to see, with diverse show options that introduce kids to the arts in friendly and exciting ways.

A big of a hidden gem, the unassuming buildings of the Children’s Theater holds a multitude of whimsy within.

Shows range from comedies to musicals and go from everywhere from silly to serious.

Activities include workshops and classes that can help hone the talents of your little ones.

Productions are award-winning, featuring high-quality acts by local youth.

There are always productions being put on so check out the theater to see what’s playing while you’re in the area!

Address: 109 E Churchwell Ave, Knoxville, TN 37917, United States

14. Muse Knoxville

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Muse Knoxville

Another one of the places to visit for kids, Muse Knoxville is chock full of exciting and engaging activities.

Spanning 4,000 square feet of space, it provides a harmonious blend of science and art, educating through showcases and galleries all the way.

Among the topics kids will learn about here are nutrition, construction, science, and other similar subjects.

Education is done via interaction, making it an effortless, hands-on learning experience for all.

The city’s only planetarium is also housed here, so those who love space will get a kick out of learning more about the universe and solar system here.

Address: 516 N Beaman St, Knoxville, TN 37914, United States

15. James White Fort

The founder of Knoxville was a man named James White, so it’s no surprise that one of the best options for Tennessee attractions is the James White Fort itself, especially if you’re looking for historical stuff to do.

The James White Fort is essentially the former home of James White.

White earned a large grant of land after the Revolutionary War, which he used to lead an expedition to find a fort site.

He would find one in the Southwest here, in the city that would be known today as Knoxville.

The fort was made in 1786 and is home to much information regarding life on the frontier.

More than 10,000 people come to the James White Fort annually to learn more about this old-fashioned life.

Blacksmith workshops, old-fashioned pioneer cooking, and even spinning are all performed here.

Special events occur during holidays, like a Christmas Open House, ghost tours for Halloween, and Cherokee Heritage Day.

Address: 205 E Hill Ave #2514, Knoxville, TN 37915, United States

16. Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum

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Knoxville Botanical Garden & Arboretum

The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is one of many cool things to do in this lovely Tennessee city – and, better yet, it’s 100% free!

Termed as one of the most beautiful places in the USA, the property spans 47 acres and can be dated back to 1786 when it was a horticultural business privately owned by a family.

The patriarch of the family was David Howell, a veteran of the Revolutionary War.

Howell made an orchard here and sold vegetables, fruits, seeds, plants, and trees to locals and sellers heading west.

The Botanical Garden and Arboretum was founded in 2001 as a way of preserving his history and legacy.

The Botanical Garden and Arboretum is fun to explore, with a peaceful atmosphere and beauty all around.

Eight different display gardens, 2 miles of stone walls, winding walking trails, historic horticulture, a butterfly meadow, and a visitor center with well-informed staff make for an exciting and relaxing visit!

Address: 2743 Wimpole Ave, Knoxville, TN 37914, United States

17. Historic Ramsey House

The Historic Ramsey House was built for one of the very first families to come to the city and settle.

Colonel Francis Alexander Ramsey arrived as the house was finished in 1797 and his family was very much involved in the local community.

Few other homes dating back to the 18th century are among the open tourist attractions in the region, so this is a real find.

The Historic Ramsey House was built by Thomas Hope, the first builder in the city, using blue limestone and pink marble.

It rests on more than 101 acres of land and restoration has it as close to its initial appearance as possible, reminiscent of how it was when the Ramseys still lived within its walls.

Within the Historic Ramsey House, you’ll learn about the area’s history, Ramseys’ legacy, and the way the world was back then.

You’ll also get to marvel at the construction, enjoy a picnic outside, and walk through the stunning gardens.

Address: 2614 Thorngrove Pike, Knoxville, TN 37914, United States

18. Neyland Stadium

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The University of Tennessee Volunteers is a football team representing the university of their title, and it calls Neyland Stadium its home.

It is the fifth biggest in all of America, capable of housing a whopping 102,000 audience members, earning its rightful reputation as a college football landmark.

Neyland Stadium is named after General Robert Neyland, a legendary coach who worked from 1926 to 1952 as head coach for the Volunteers.

He is also said to be the person behind the Volunteer football tradition.

On the west entrance, his statue stands guard over its legacy.

The stadium has undergone three different renovation phases since its conception, leading to what is now a fun, accessible, and comfortable situation for fans.

If you seek entertainment, catching a game at Neyland Stadium is definitely on the list of what to do in Knoxville.

If watching football isn’t your thing, you can book an appointment for a tour of the magnificent building!

Address: 1300 Phillip Fulmer Way, Knoxville, TN 37916, United States

19. The French Market Creperie

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The French Market Crêperie

The French Market Creperie is a restaurant in the downtown area of this city.

It is a French bistro-style location, as its name suggests.

It’s one of the surefire places to visit for a good breakfast or brunch.

It’s as close to authentic Parisian as you can get, and the onsite gift shop even sells genuine French products!

The French Market Creperie serves some of the best authentic French fares you can find in the city, including croissants, baguettes, and hot soups.

The most famous offering, though, are the delicious crepes, arriving in savory and sweet options, whipped with buckwheat or wheat directly imported from France!

There are so many different choices for these crepes, including Swiss cheese and ham, salmon with cream, and many more light and delicious fillings.

Address: 412 Clinch Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

20. Knoxville Food Tours

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Knoxville Food Tours

What better way to indulge your foodie cravings and get some sightseeing done than by visiting all the top eateries and specialty food stores that downtown Knoxville has to offer?

Well, for that purpose, Knoxville Food Tours has you covered.

As you head to hidden gems, historic locations, and tiny stores and restaurants, you’ll learn about the region’s history and its specialties.

Tours range from brunch to lunch to evening options, allowing you to get exactly the meals you want.

Each tour takes approximately three and a half hours, bringing you to approximately 6 different locations.

The exact places you’ll head to change often so you get to learn about new culinary delights each time you go!

Address: 402 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

21. The Sunsphere

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Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock

Looking for some cool places to travel to?

You can’t go wrong with The Sunsphere!

In 1982, the city of Knoxville hosted the World’s Fair, sloganed Energy Turns The World.

The organizers worked together with architects local to the area to create an impressive structure that would thematically bring the sun – the greatest source of energy – down to earth and into what we now call World’s Fair Park.

The result of this project was The Sunsphere, a huge round object fitted with reflexive glass pane panels, layered with dusted gold, balanced on a tower of hexagonal shape.

The sphere itself measures 75 feet while the tower reaches 226 feet into the air, or 26 stories, with an Observation Deck ripe for viewing inside the sphere.

After the World’s Fair was over, The Sunphere sat unused, but it was officially opened again for visits in 2014.

Back in the day, a cafe on the Observation Deck with Sun-themed food offerings was wildly loved, and it remains there now, reopened to former glory, for all to try.

Other floors of the large tower also have new offerings, like offices, event spaces, and even an Italian restaurant.

From the deck, you can view many attractions and spots near to the city, including the Tennessee River and the Smoky Mountains.

Only two structures remain from the World’s Fair of 1982, and The Sunsphere has the honor of being one of them.

Its uniqueness, from appearance to architecture to novelty, has made it quite famous, and visiting it is one of the best things to do in Knoxville.

Address: 810 W Clinch Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

22. Mead’s Quarry Lake

If you’re looking for Knoxville attractions that will help you blow off steam or relax after a long morning spent having fun exploring the city, Mead’s Quarry Lake is a great place to go.

Tourists and locals alike enjoy this spot for its tranquility, and you’ll find many people spaced out here, resting and chilling out.

On a hot day, Mead’s Quarry Lake is ideal for swimming.

Pack a towel, your swimming gear, and some snacks and you’ll get to lounge by the lakeshore, dive into the lake, or even try some water sports.

Hiking is also possible in the vicinity, and it’s a wonderful way to get close to nature in a relaxing and peaceful way.

23. Strong Alley (Graffiti Alley)

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Strong Alley (Graffiti Alley)

Strong Alley, known also as Graffiti Alley for reasons you’ll realize in a bit, is a haven for street art in Knoxville.

If you love strong, unique art like that, this should be added to your list of things to see!

Located near Market Square, Strong Alley is absolutely packed with murals, tags, and other kinds of artwork that provide an avant-garde urban charm to the area.

The graffiti changes regularly as street artists add to it, and twinkle lights hung in the alley come on when it’s dark to provide a magical sort of atmosphere to the alley.

Address: Strong St, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

24. Knoxville Chocolate Company

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Knoxville Chocolate Company

The Knoxville Chocolate Company is one of the places to visit that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if you’ve got an active sweet tooth.

It was originally called Bradley’s Chocolates when it first opened in 1995, but when they purchased a candy manufacturer locally, the company earned its new name.

The chocolate company is owned by Brad and Joy Hamlett, a husband and wife couple.

It sells all sorts of delightful sweet treats, trending from Tennessee themed designs (like the shape of the state or walking sticks), chocolate popcorn, and assorted boxes to try.

With over two decades of experience, you can definitely trust that each fun offering will be delicious and made with high quality.

Choosing the variety you want to buy most may be your biggest dilemma!

Address: 29 Market Square #100, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

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25. Stock and Barrel

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Stock & Barrel

Looking for an all-American meal tonight?

Look no further than Stock and Barrel, a restaurant and bar which offers some of Knoxville, Tennessee’s top burgers!

Its menu is quirky, fiery, and unique, with all the classics plus yummy twists that will have you craving more.

Some of the best meal options here are the classic burger and the huge chicken waffle burger.

You can also order co*cktails or beers to go with your meal.

Just make sure you’re coming in with a nice, big appetite so you can sample all of Stock and Barrel’s scrumptious offerings!

Address: 35 Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

26. Three Rivers Rambler

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Alissala / Shutterstock

Riding the Three Rivers Rambler is one of the more unique things to do in the city of Knoxville in terms of activities.

It is an excursion train located at the city’s University and opened seasonally, allowing you to take a trip through historical sites near the area.

The Three Rivers Rambler takes you through a bunch of different locations, from farmland to the very first settled place in the city.

It earns its name as it is the site where the Holston, French, and Broad Rivers merge, becoming one and the same Tennessee River.

It’s been operating since the year 2000 and is made of genuine, historic parts.

Along the way, you’ll learn about the United States’ train system and its history, why that history is so important, and a little bit about the river you’re heading to.

It’s a fun way to spend a day!

Address: 2560 University Commons Way, Knoxville, TN 37919, United States

27. UT Gardens

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Yuan Yue / Shutterstock

The UT Gardens are the official Tennessee botanical gardens, so it’s natural that they’re among Knoxville’s tourist attractions.

Over 4,000 annuals, herbs, trees, perennials, tropical plants, vegetables, shrubs, and ornamental grasses live on the beautiful grounds, maintained by the UT Institute of Agriculture.

The UT Gardens are wonderfully kept, carefully noted with signs that provide useful information about each plant you may see.

The overall atmosphere is breathtaking and the sights are phenomenal as you walk through weaving, winding walking trails and visit each greenhouse and garden.

Occasionally, special events will be held at the UT Gardens.

Plant sales, art exhibits, lectures, and more keep things fresh and exciting.

Check their calendar to find out what they have planned!

And don’t worry about prices – admission to the UT Gardens is free!

Address: 2518 Jacob Dr, Knoxville, TN 37996, United States

28. Phoenix Pharmacy

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Phoenix Pharmacy

Phoenix Pharmacy is located in the heart of Knoxville, Tennessee on Gay Street.

It’s a classic attraction that’s a fun option for what to do that’s more laid back in the city.

As its name suggests, it’s a “pharmacy” type store, complete with 1950s charm.

A mirrored counter, chrome stools, and classic American sodas will take you right back in a blast from the past.

There are plenty of options for what to order in this pharmacy.

Ice-cream sodas, root beers, egg creams, milkshakes, malteds, and more come in deliciously frosty cold glasses.

For sweet treats, try their Smokey Mountain sundae for something extra sinful and delicious!

Address: 418 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

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29. Girl Scout Museum

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Girl Scout Museum

The Girl Scout Museum is situated at the Knoxville Service Center, right on Daisy’s Place, Tennessee.

It showcases the history, mission, and legacy of the girl scouts, with hands-on exhibits, guided tours, showcases to browse, vintage uniforms, and lots of the coolest memorabilia you can find.

The Girl Scout Museum is also home to an Archival Library that houses over a century’s worth of records and publications related to the organization.

They date back as early as 1912.

A Mabel Pain doll is on permanent loan here from the Smithsonian Museum, as well as the Girl Scout Triumph book that talks about its interesting history.

Reserving a tour in advance of the Girl Scout Museum can give you additional perks, allowing you to try on a vintage uniform and even showcase it in a fashion show.

You can also bring something to leave in the Small Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere (SWAPS) basket and take something from within it to bring home with you!

All in all, whether or not you’ve been a Girl Scout, this is one of the places to visit in the city that you shouldn’t miss.

Address: 1567 Downtown W Blvd, Knoxville, TN 37919, United States

30. Maple Hall

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Maple Hall

Maple Hall, which is right next to the aforementioned Phoenix Pharmacy, is a bowling hall that will take you back in time.

It’s a full-blown old-school, sleek, shiny place for fun, with a cool bar, restaurant, and boutique added to its activities.

You’ll feel like you’ve left the world of today and entered the past!

Maple Hall lives within the JC Penney building, which is historic in its own right.

It boasts 11 lanes, a live stage, two private VIP rooms, a full-service bar, and much more.

There are also spaces for private and public events, a patio, and a co*cktail lounge packed with board games.

It’s no surprise that it’s one of the points of interest for unwinding at the end of a long day of exploration!

Address: 414 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

31. Star of Knoxville Riverboat

The Star of Knoxville Riverboat is a pretty interesting vessel.

It is United States Coast Guard approved and is a genuine old-fashioned paddle wheeler.

Good for a total of 235 passengers, its main deck is completely enclosed with heating and air conditioning, seating 144 passengers there alone.

The riverboat isn’t just a boring sailing ship, either.

It is equipped with a band stage, dance floor, and two different bars, and it is meant to host all sorts of elegant and entertaining dinners, ranging from reception black-tie events and casual parties.

Its conforming rules for passenger safety requirements means you’re always in good hands, no matter what you step on the riverboat for.

But what, exactly, is the Star of Knoxville Riverboat’s destination?

It provides gorgeous views of the city while bringing you along the Tennessee River, teaching you about its history and providing serene relaxation all around.

Trained and friendly staff, all capable of providing medical care, fighting fires, and providing high-quality customer service, add to the experience.

It’s undoubtedly among the fun things to do in Knoxville that you should make time for!

Address: 300 Neyland Dr, Knoxville, TN 37902, United States

32. S.S. Sultana Memorial

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Miller17CU94, Copyrighted free use, via Wikimedia Commons

The S.S. Sultana Memorial is dedicated to a ship, and its story is a tragic one.

As the Civil War drew to a close and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the year 1865 was an eventful one for Americans.

One event that few recall easily due to the chaos that occurred alongside it was the sinking of the S. S. Sultana, and its memorial, made of stone, sits in Tennessee.

The S. S. Sultana reached Vicksburg Mississippi on the 24th of April that year in order to bring released Civil War prisoners back to their homes.

Hundreds of prisoners, relieved, rushed onboard.

The ship was only legally approved for 376 people, but those who got on it are said to have totaled closer to 2,300.

It was also not properly repaired – a boiler leak was fitted over with a metal patch instead of fixed correctly.

On the 27th of April, two of the boilers on the S. S. Sultana exploded, causing the ship to be ripped in half as soldiers and newly freed individuals were thrown from their sleep and into the cold, icy water below.

Hours passed as men tried all that they could to hold onto debris and trees if they managed to get to the water.

Many were stuck onboard and burned to death, and many more drowned in those cold depths before help arrived.

The death toll was a shocking 1,700.

Despite the tragic nature of the sinking of the S. S. Sultana, the previous day’s death of John Wilkes Booth meant attention didn’t really get to it.

It’s a sad thing to think about such a catastrophe being largely ignored, but this memorial lives on to remind us of it.

It was built more than five decades after the S. S. Sultana’s tragedy, and the memorial sits in the Mount Olive Cemetery.

Though not a typical choice among Knoxville attractions, it’s worth visiting to pay your respects!

Address: Cemetery Road, Knoxville, TN 37920, United States

Doing a road trip around Tennessee? Why not check out some of the things to do in Franklin, TN?

Start Planning Your Trip To Knoxville

If you’re looking for some of the best things to do in Tennessee, Knoxville is a fantastic place to go to for a holiday!

With some of the most delightful and fascinating attractions you’ll find in the state all gathered in one bright, sporty, and historic location.

Hopefully, this list has helped you pick your top options for where you’ll head to while you’re in the city!

Happy travels!

32 Best & Fun Things To Do In Knoxville (Tennessee) (2024)


What is Knoxville most known for? ›

Knoxville's known as the Cradle of Country Music, due to its role in nurturing the early careers of Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Flatt & Scruggs, Dolly Parton, and several other major figures. However, Knoxville is also home to the oldest symphony orchestra in the South.

What food is Knoxville known for? ›

A: Knoxville is best known for a variety of southern classic dishes, including fried chicken, barbecue, ribs, fried green tomatoes, okra, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese.

What is the famous street in Knoxville Tennessee? ›

Since the 1790s, Gay Street has played a primary role in Knoxville's historical and cultural development. Gay Street is home to art galleries, historic theaters, the East Tennessee History Center and more – with many buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Is Knoxville, TN worth visiting? ›

Explore Knoxville

Today you can visit the house and other historic homes in this eastern Tennessee city. Among Knoxville's other attractions are museums, a zoo and World's Fair Park, site of the 1982 World's Fair. University of Tennessee sports draw lots of fans, as does the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Is Knoxville a white city? ›

Race and Ethnicity

In 2022, there were 4.52 times more White (Non-Hispanic) residents (138k people) in Knoxville, TN than any other race or ethnicity. There were 30.6k Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) and 8.07k Two+ (Non-Hispanic) residents, the second and third most common ethnic groups.

Why is Knoxville called scruffy little city? ›

It's a tongue-in-cheek response to a slight from a Wall Street Journal reporter writing about Knoxville's ultimately successful bid to host the 1982 World's Fair. When he referred to this locale as “a scruffy little city,” residents decided to wear the insult as a badge of honor – and still do.

What fruit is Tennessee known for? ›

Tomato. The Tomato, scientifically known as the Lycopersicon lycopersicum, was designated as Tennessee's official state fruit in 2003.

What is the official food of Tennessee? ›

Tennessee to add 'hot slaw' as official state food

A bill making the vinegary and mustardy dish the first official state food got its final approval on Thursday, Feb. 22. Hot slaw will be joining the ranks of other official state symbols, such as the tomato as the state fruit and the raccoon as the state wild animal.

What TV shows are filmed in Knoxville TN? ›

  • The Evil Dead. 19811h 25mNC-17. 7.4 (234K) Rate. ...
  • Road Trip. 20001h 33mR. 6.5 (179K) Rate. ...
  • October Sky. 19991h 48mPG. 7.8 (99K) Rate. ...
  • WWE Raw. 1993– TV-PG. 7.7 (9.9K) Rate. ...
  • Walking Tall. 19732h 5mR. 6.9 (6.8K) Rate. ...
  • Purity Falls. 20191h 30mTV-14. 4.6 (587) Rate. ...
  • Last Night on Earth. 2024. ...
  • Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. 2006– TV-G.

Where is the nice part of Knoxville? ›

South Knoxville

The neighborhood has plenty of affordable and luxury homes, condos, and apartments, and it's just minutes from downtown across the Tennessee River, making for a convenient daily work commute.

What is the number 1 tourist attraction in Tennessee? ›

1. Graceland Building. Even if you aren't an Elvis fan, Graceland is a must-visit. It's the second most visited home in America, and when you check it out, you'll understand why.

Is it safe to walk downtown Knoxville at night? ›

I've walked all over downtown at night for the last fifteen years (and quite a bit for the twenty-five before that) and I've always felt safe.

What is a fun fact about Knoxville? ›

Knoxville was settled in 1791 and established in 1792. The City of Knoxville was incorporated in 1815. Knoxville was named after Henry Knox, President Washington's War Secretary. William Blount selected the name for the City of Knoxville.

Why do people visit Knoxville? ›

Situated at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Knoxville provides abundant opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts with activities like hiking, biking, and exploring the nearby national parks.

What industry is Knoxville known for? ›

Knoxville is a vibrant city located in the eastern part of Tennessee. The city is known for its diverse range of industries, including advanced manufacturing, healthcare, technology, and tourism.

What major is UT Knoxville known for? ›

UT Knoxville is a major research institution that attracts more than $130 million in research awards annually. Nationally ranked programs include supply chain management/logistics, nuclear engineering, printmaking, accounting, the master of business administration, law, and social work.

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