Eat, See, Do: Knoxville, Tennessee
3 min

Looking for some adventure outside of the well-trodden attractions of Gatlinburg, Memphis or Nashville? Enter: Knoxville, Tennessee. If you’re looking for a less-busy, equally artsy, and exciting destination, this is the place! As Tennessee’s third largest city, located on the state’s namesake river, the town has under 200,000 people and is nestled into the Great Appalachian Valley. If you’re looking for delicious eateries, memorable attractions, and the best vacation rental deals in North America, read on and see why you should add Knoxville to your bucket list.


Fin-Two Ale House at 122 South Central Avenue is a haven for fans of sushi, ramen, and craft beer. The tavern features food that pairs well drinks like rosemary sweet tea (honeysuckle vodka with sweet tea) and the pink lotus (blood orange gin, elderflower, and lime). Choose from small plates like Japanese fried chicken, yakitori, and sushi rolls. Fin-Two Ale House is open Monday Through Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Head to 127 South Central Street to dine at Kaizen Knoxville. This Old City favorite specializes in the Izakaya Way – serving small plates like an intimate Japanese pub, but with Szechuan and Thai inspiration. The menu includes classics like steamed buns with hot miso chicken and house specialties dan dan noodles. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

Central Filling Station at 900 N. Central Street is Knoxville’s first food truck park! Trucks rotate daily, with cuisine like tacos, BBQ, smoothies, donuts, ice cream, ramen, and American. This spot is also dog-friendly! The park is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Check the website for the truck schedule to browse menu options ahead of time.

Looking for outstanding woodfired pizza? Go to A Dopo Sourdough Pizza at 516 Williams Street. The dinner-only establishment serves 15-inch sourdough Neapolitan pizzas with ingredients like spicy greens and soppressata. A Dopo is open from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Seating is limited, so make reservations or order to-go. 

Then soak up more Knoxville charm with a last minute vacation rental stay at the historic Boyd Harvey home. This Federal-style farmhouse represents one of the 12 pre-Civil War brick homes still standing in Knoxville.


Step back in time by visiting the Sunsphere at 810 Clinch Avenue. This 26-story-tall, disco ball-esque structure was built for the 1982 World’s Fair. At the time, it featured a restaurant and observation deck. Today, the fourth-floor observation deck is open to the public for free. It offers 360-degree views of Knoxville and the surrounding World’s Fair Park. Here, you’ll also find the world’s largest Rubik’s Cube. The Sunsphere is closed Mondays, and open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Did you know Knoxville played an important role in women gaining the right to vote? Take a self-guided Women of the Suffrage Era tour starting at 1 Market Square. The route includes statues, buildings, streets, and outdoor areas critical to advancing women’s rights. Make sure to stop at the Mary Boyce Temple House – former home to the Knoxville president of the League of Women Voters circa 1922. The house is now a private residence, but it’s worth stopping by to see the beautiful exterior and imagine life as the former owner.

Bijou Theatre at 803 South Gay Street is one of the oldest theaters in the state and one of the oldest buildings in Knoxville. Built in 1909, it has been home to opera, comedy, vaudeville, and musical acts. Today, you may stop to see the Knoxville Symphony fill the space with music, catch a rock show (like Ani DiFranco and The Wallflowers), or laugh at comedians such as Craig Fergeson. Open hours vary.

Street photo at night with cars driving past Tennessee sign downtown

Street photo at night with cars driving past Tennessee sign downtown


Need to get out of the car/off the plane and get moving? Head to Navitat at 2195 Island Home Avenue. Your family can whiz through the canopy at the Treetop Zipline Adventure Park, breaking to cross bridges, do climbs, traverse nets, and more! People age seven and over will love the six adventure zipline options rated from easy to extreme. Navitat is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., depending on the season, with the last guests starting courses by 4 p.m. Please note: hours of operation are weather dependent. 

You won’t have to go far to visit the Ijams Nature Center – it’s at the same site! The nonprofit nature preserve has 12 miles of trails and features hiking, biking, and paddling opportunities! Learn about getting active and local wildlife by attending educational programming here. The Center has regular special events like yoga, kayaking trips, or art workshops, so check the events page in case there’s a fun gathering during your trip. The grounds are open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.

You can’t visit Knoxville without heading out into Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Head to Cades Cove, a valley in the park with an 11-mile trail loop perfect for biking and wildlife viewing! There are also many opportunities to hike (including trails that are kid-friendly), view waterfalls, go fishing, and attend ranger-led events like wildflower walks. Operating hours change by the season, so check the park website to plan your visit.

Once you’ve filled yourself with all the sights and sounds of the South, whisk away to this 4,000-square-foot lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains! Here you’ll get the best last minute deal on a stunning vacation rental complete with an indoor pool, hot tub, and game room.

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