Courtesy of City Traveler
Walk in the footsteps of Cormac McCarthy, James Agee and Peyton Manning.
Knoxville, Tenn., birthplace of famous writers like Cormac McCarthy and James Agee, and a hive of college football activity, is currently experiencing a major revitalization. The downtown Market Square District is thriving with chic hotels, restaurants and shopping, enticing football visitors to stay awhile beyond game day. Outside the city, enjoy roaming the many surrounding lakes, rivers and trails that transform your idea of the city into an outdoor mecca, especially with the Great Smoky Mountain National Park poised less than an hour away. Your Knoxville itinerary should include a day dedicated to football revelry and then graduate to the great outdoors for autumn excursions.
Where to stay
Knoxville plays the perfect host for its out-of-town visitors. You’ll easily select a nice hotel to get you close to the football action. We recommend booking a room at the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park, or Four Points by Sheraton. Occupying a building constructed in 1876, the newly renovated Oliver Hotel is a chic option situated squarely in the lively Market Square District.
Where to eat/drink
Cumberland Avenue, otherwise fondly referred to as “The Strip,” entertains with dozens of college bars and restaurants. Try drinks at the New Amsterdam, then spring for a set of live music at Tin Roof. Hard Knox Pizzeria gets points for their wood-fired pies, and all of their ingredients are made from scratch, even the mouthwatering crust. Knox Public House, only a short distance from Old Town, features a diverse array of local flavors on its menu, American favorites tossed with Southern spice. The Tomato Head is a favorite, where you can find local organic ingredients whipped into delicious, made-from-scratch delicacies.
Game day tips
Courtesy of Knox News
Set up tailgating the traditional way around the stadium or pursue another completely acceptable option: boating on the Tennessee River. Whatever your preference, game day festivities are a hot commodity in Knoxville where spotting a sea of orange-clad individuals means you’re heading in the right direction. The team begins three hours before kickoff and fans are encouraged to line the sides of the ride to usher the home team into the stadium.
What to do
The reflective globe atop the Sunsphere, a lingering reminder of the 1982 World’s Fair, makes for a fun photo opportunity to launch your weekend of adventure in and around Knoxville. Outdoor Knoxville is a great source for plotting the best trails for local and regional hiking, providing recommendations based on the area you prefer to stay in. Shopping is plentiful in the revitalized Market Square District, where you can also visit the Knoxville Farmer’s Market through the end of November. Venture beyond town about an hour away to explore the grandeur of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Strap on your walking shoes and take to some of the 800 miles of trails that wind their way through the dense green forests and scenic ridge views.