When you’re planning a trip to Tennessee, it’s never complete without a stop in Knoxville! Whether you have a few hours or a few days, the “Marble City” is worth adding to your schedule.
Knoxville is also known as the “Gateway to the Smoky Mountains.” It’s the original home of many music legends, like today’s famous country artists Kenny Chesney, Kelsea Ballerini, and Rodney Atkins.
There’s something sure to please everyone, from social distant activities to scheduled cultural events. On your trip to the third-largest city in Tennessee, add one or all of these popular destinations!
1. The Tennessee Amphitheater
Built for the World’s Fair in 1982, the Tennessee Amphitheater is a marvel of architectural engineering that’s a “can’t miss” on your trip.
In its heyday, it was the site of many classical, rock, and country music concerts. The structure closed in 1998 and was scheduled for demolition at one point. In 2005, the major of Knoxville had the amphitheater and the Sunsphere renovated to be open to the public.
Today, you can book both sites for your big event or see concerts there. But only these two great building masterpieces remain of what was once the massive World’s Fair Park.
2. The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
Even if basketball isn’t your game, it’s impossible not to be amazed and awed by this dedication to women in the sport. The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame houses the world’s largest basketball. At 30 feet tall and ten tons, it’s definitely worth a picture!
The structure was created in 1999 to honor previous women players and celebrate the sport. As the only building with a focus on women’s basketball of all levels, it quickly became a popular tourist and local destination.
As of 2017, there had been 157 inductees added to the Hall of Fame in the categories of Coach, Veteran Coach, Player, International Player, Veteran Player, Contributor, and Official.
Guests enjoy learning about the history of women’s basketball and exploring the present and future goals of the sport. Amateur players can practice in a time dribbling course or practice their passing skills.
3. Ijams Nature Center
Looking for something fun and safe to do while you’re visiting Knoxville? The Ijams Nature Center is the place to go!
Ijams is a free-admission nature center where visitors can get up close and personal with animals and plants from the local ecosystem. The facility is dog-friendly in all but the Visitor Center.
Visitors enjoy checking out the local artwork in the hallway gallery before or after they embark on the 12+ mile hiking trails. If you prefer biking or paddling, you can rent the equipment on-site. Swimmers enjoy the clear, beautiful waterscapes, too!
Make sure you call ahead before you plan your visit. There are social distancing limitations and the swimming and paddling are seasonal.
4. Knoxville’s Market Square
The shopaholics in your group will love a short stop at Knoxville’s Market Square. This hub right in the center of the community has been a favorite of locals and tourists since the 1860s.
The square is full of shops, restaurants, and bars that keep the atmosphere upbeat and fun. Throughout the year, events are scheduled, so you might be visiting during an outdoor concert or movie.
As you meander through the square, you’ll see quaint shops and cafes and some of the more famous chains, too.
When it’s warm, kids can play in the fountains and parks. There is also a Farmers Market open seasonally from May through November. Visitors love the fresh produce, meat, baked goods, and crafts sold by the local residents.
5. Zoo Knoxville
A delight for children and adults of all ages, Zoo Knoxville is a treat you should add to your itinerary.
You’ll fall in love with the lions, tigers, and bears that call this zoo their home. Hundreds of different animals are taken care of here, and you can experience some of them hands-on with the animal adventures offered.
Due to social distancing and for everyone’s safety, some of the adventures are on hold. However, you can still enjoy the behind-the-scenes tours, night safaris, giraffe encounters, and so much more.
Check with the zoo ahead of time if there’s a limited experience you don’t want to miss!
As you plan your trip, it’s easy to forget about Knoxville when there are bigger cities that are more popular. But Knoxville holds its own as a place where there is something for everyone and more to do than you can pack into a short stay.
These five popular destinations are favorites for locals and tourists. Add one or all of them to your itinerary. Then come back to see some more of the Marble City!