Game Days and Getaways

Game Days and Getaways

There’s more to explore in Knoxville, Tennessee

Follow the Tennessee River to the eastern part of the state, and you’ll stumble upon hills of bright orange Butterfly Milkweed flowers. The star-shaped petals attract monarch butterflies, whose orange wings glisten as they flutter. As the sun sets into the mountains, its orange glow makes everything it touches look magical. According to color psychology, orange makes you feel excitement, enthusiasm, and warmth—fitting, for a city as lively and hospitable as Knoxville, Tennessee.

Knoxville is well known as the home of the University of Tennessee’s flagship campus. Each fall, tailgaters make their way through the winding mountain roads to set up tents and light their grills. But the truth is, Knoxville is a thrill to visit whether there’s a game or not.

The city’s appeal is apparent everywhere you look—the historic Old City houses hip restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in 19th-century buildings. More than 50 photo-worthy hiking trails meander through various parts of town. Downtown, the 266-foot Sunsphere is an icon left over from the 1982 World's Fair. Boats, kayaks, and canoes float along the river, while buskers provide a soundtrack to the city’s bustling Market Square. There’s something to explore around every corner. Keep your eyes peeled for murals and stunning art throughout town.

Outdoor adventurers can’t miss Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. With 50 miles of mixed-use trails, you’ll feel far away from the busy city—just minutes from downtown. For a less intense activity, the Knoxville Botanical Gardens provides 47 acres of beautiful flora. The gardens’ walking trails are a perfect place to let the kids burn some energy! Want a little history with your exercise? The Marble Springs State Historic Site was the last home of John Sevier, Tennessee’s first governor. Tour the historic grounds, including the Walker Cabin and the original two-story pine log house, then take a self-guided tour on the nearby trails.

Knoxville locals, students, and UT fans alike take advantage of the city’s lakes and rivers. On game days, fans bring boats out to “sailgate” on the water by Neyland Stadium, forming what’s lovingly called the Vol Navy—but the fun isn’t reserved just for football Saturdays. If you’re looking for fun, the water activities are sure to make a splash. Grab some bait and tackle and head to Fort Loudon Lake, home to the 49th Annual BASSMASTER Classic in 2019, for a little fishing. Rent a kayak or canoe, and spend the day floating on the French Broad. The water is calm, making it kid friendly. Wind down for the evening with a sunset dinner cruise on the Volunteer Princess. While you enjoy the mouth-watering three course meal, you’ll also be getting the best view in town.

When the mountain air gets chilly later in the fall, it’s the best time to explore the city’s thriving arts and culture scene. The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is packed with galleries, interactive exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia that honor the past, present, and future of the sport. You can learn about the city’s past at the Museum of East Tennessee History, then get an up-close look at history by touring James White's Fort, Blount Mansion, and Mabry-Hazen House. You’re likely able to catch a play, a live band, or a performance at the Bijou or Tennessee Theatres as well. If the kids are along, the Knoxville Children’s Theatre puts on performances the entire family will love. 

Though it’s hard to beat a tailgate spread, Knoxville has plenty of incredible restaurants. Start your morning with a latte from Remedy Coffee or sit down at OliBea for a breakfast menu full of fresh and local ingredients. Come lunch time, you’ll want to roam Market Square and nearby Gay Street for delicious options from tacos to shrimp and grits to pizza. Grab an afternoon snack and a brew while you’re bowling at Maple Hall, then head to Central Filling Station—a food truck park brimming with choices for everyone.

Craft beer connoisseurs can’t miss the Knoxville Ale Trail. The trail features over 20 breweries and one cidery—all with unique offerings. One favorite stop during Oktoberfest each fall is a German-style castle with a biergarten. There’s also a one-of-a-kind brewery and glass blowing studio. Wherever you end up, the good times and good brews are guaranteed!

Whether you’re visiting during the electric atmosphere of a game day or enjoying an autumn weekend away, you can always enjoy a cruise, a brew, and an amazing view in Knoxville.