Knoxville is Tennessee’s third-largest city and was the state’s first capital city. Knoxville is notable for the flagship University of Tennessee campus located there, and for its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains. A number of famous people were born or lived in the city of Knoxville, such as Dolly Parton, who began her career in the city, or Quentin Tarantino, who was born in Knoxville and makes mention of the city in each of his films. If you plan on visiting the city of Knoxville, here are some of the attractions in the area that you won’t want to miss.
- The Knoxville Zoo. The Knoxville Zoo is known as one of the best zoological parks in the Southeastern United States. The zoo’s preservation and breeding program is internationally recognized, and the zoo houses more than 800 animals from more than 250 species. Popular attractions and exhibits within the zoo include the Animal Encounter Village, where visitors can interact with various animals, and Black Bear Falls, where visitors can get an up close look at the zoo’s one female and two male bears. At the zoo, you can also take a ride on a camel and watch chimpanzees play in their outdoor environment.
- World’s Fair Park. The 1982 World’s Fair was held in downtown Knoxville, and the World’s Fair Park showcases landmarks from that event. Here you can visit the Sunsphere, a 266-foot structure topped with a 75-foot gold-colored sphere, which was the symbol of the World’s Fair. The Sunsphere’s observation deck is open to the public at no charge. You can also see the Tennessee Amphitheater, which was constructed for the 1982 World’s Fair and used for concerts. The Amphitheater was closed to the public for some time, but was reopened for public use in 2007.
- University of Tennessee Athletics. Sports are a popular pastime for both participants and spectators in the Knoxville area, and the University of Tennessee’s teams and facilities draw fans of college level sports to the area year-round. You can watch men’s and women’s basketball at the Thompson-Boling Arena, the second-largest college campus basketball arena in the country. Other events, from NBA exhibition games to concerts and conventions are also held at the arena. Football fans will enjoy visiting Neyland Stadium, home of the University of Tennessee’s football team, the Tennessee Volunteers. The stadium seats over 100,000.
- Ijams Nature Center is great for hiking, picnics and birdwatching.
- Market Square is a great place to hang out and people watch. You’ll find lots of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. During the winter there is an ice skating rink open.
Take some time while you’re in Knoxville to explore the theaters, arts center, shops, and restaurants located in downtown Knoxville. If you happen to be visiting in April, the city’s Dogwood Arts Festival is a fun treat for the whole family with arts and crafts, music, and food to enjoy. Knoxville has plenty to offer a visitor looking for fun.