Cozied in between the strong Tennessee River and the Great Smoky Mountains, Knoxville, Tennessee is an exciting and modern city known for its generous hospitality and regular cultural events.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Knoxville?
It’s hard to miss.
With an area of 269.8 km², there are plenty of things to do in Knoxville, TN — You just need to know where they are!
Dubbed as the Marble City and the Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, Knoxville offers both incredible architecture as well as outdoor splendor.
Whether you’re traveling with some pals or you’ve decided to make your visit a family road trip, there are many exciting things to do in Knoxville, TN for both groups and kids.
We’ve hand-picked our personal favorite things to do in Knoxville, TN for you to choose from.
Best 8 Things to Do in Knoxville, TN
No matter which activity or outing you choose, chances are you and your entire family will fall in love with Knoxville.
From museums and historical buildings to outdoor adventures and excitements, Knoxville has everything a group of pals or a family can enjoy.
In summary: Knoxville is straight-up fun.
Browse through our list of favorite things to do in Knoxville, TN to see what we mean!
Historic Market Square
This is one of the best things to do in Knoxville, TN. It’s basically the heart of downtown.
This central hub has a great overall vibe due to its many cool cafes, restaurants, and frequent live music shows.
You won’t run out of places to dine in the square. From fancy to casual, there’s grub for everyone and every taste bud.
Hop on over to the juice Bar for an acai bowl or fresh smoothie before pursuing your way around the fantastic square.
If you ever end up tiring of the Market Square, all you need to do it prance on over to the main street, Gay St., for more entertainment and dining options.
Knoxville Farmers Market
This market is unique to Knoxville and is one of the activities that make this area so special.
With all this hype comes some high expectations from visitors, and the Knoxville Farmer’s Market does not disappoint.
This open-air market focuses on community and local produce, with almost all its vendors serving produce harvested from the East Tennessee region.
The reason why this market is one of the best things to do in Knoxville, TN is because of its impressive range of products.
Treat your palate to an assortment of local food and coffee or check out the beautiful artisan crafts. Not only will you be grabbing some truly local takeaways, but the brimming community atmosphere will make you feel right at home.
Between May and November, the Knoxville Farmer’s Market will be open on Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. or Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.
World’s Fair Park
One of the most beloved attractions in Knoxville, World’s Fair Park was the venue for the World’s Fair in 1982.
This park is made of grassy hills, fountains and walking trails. When the weather is fine, you can take a dip in the foundations and geysers or check out some live music during the holidays.
Head to the sun sphere observation deck to look out towards the Great Smokey Mountains and the famous Tennessee River to finish off a perfect day at the park.
If you’re into vibrant city life, you’re going to need to head to Old City in Knoxville. As the historical downtown area of Knoxville and one of the most beloved corners of the city, Old City has everything a tourist craves.
Check out the unique coffeehouses or art galleries, slurp up some traditional Tennessee dishes at one of the local restaurants or wait until the sun sets for some top-notch nightlife.
You’ll be able to find a wide range of live music venues in some of the most historically significant buildings in the entire city.
Ijams Nature Center
If you’re a nature lover, you have to check out Ijams Nature Center. Although you won’t fully understand until you experience it, we will try to explain why.
This center is the lovechild of Harry Ijams, who originally opened it as a bird sanctuary. He has now opened up to 300 acres of land as a wildlife preserve and educational center.
If you’re into rock climbing, there’s also a section in the center where you can practice and learn. Or, if you’re more into water adventures, this area also provides relaxing canoe rides on the river.
Knoxville Museum of Art
What’s a best-of list without an awesome museum?
This museum is one of the best things to do in Knoxville, TN as its been in operation for nearly 25 years, celebrating and promoting Tennessee art.
The museum’s building is art in itself, made entirely from marble which was mined in Tennessee. It also has a claim to fame of owning the largest glass installation in the world, the Cycle of Life.
Here, you’ll be able to find artists’ work from all over Tennessee as well as art pieces from up-and -coming talent in the region.
A slice of inspiring art and a true sense of Tennessee itself.
If you make your way behind the University of Tennessee, you’ll find a 2.5-acre bit of land that’s surrounded by a fence made of razor wire.
If you think that’s creepy, just wait to hear what it’s keeping.
This land is the body farm, a place where forensic scientists and researchers can learn about human body decomposition.
The bodies are placed in a number of different situations to mirror various crime scenes. The list of different types of dead bodies is long.
While this may be traumatizing or freaky to some, the Body Farm has revolutionized the field of forensic anthropology.
On top of this continual, in-depth research, the body Farm also contains one of the world’s largest collections of skeletal remains in the world.
It’s probably safe to say that this trip wouldn’t be a great choice for families with younger children. However, the Farm is an active research center for students, so it would be great for any families with older children who have an interest in anthropology.
Check out the school’s site for more details.
The Navitat Canopy Experience
This outdoor treetop experience is one of those rare adventures that the entire family will honestly love.
...Unless you’re afraid of heights of course.
Even so, don’t let your fear turn you off completely. This experience is extremely safe, and the staff and equipment will make you feel secure and confident the entire time.
Not only is this high rope challenge fun, but it offers a decent level of difficulty for mom and dad to enjoy as well.
As part of the Ijams Nature Center, Navitat has 6 courses which consist of 10 to 12 challenges each, all with varying levels of difficulty. Pick which one you want to try depending on your experience level — or bravery!
Best Things to do in Knoxville TN at a Glance
Whether you’re a sucker for cities, an adventure junkie, or if you’re a lover of learning, Knoxville has something for you.
Locals in Knoxville know how awesome it is living in a huge city with a wide range of activities and excitement in every corner. In Knoxville, you can live like a local for a day, a week or even a month, soaking up everything this bustling and dynamic city has to offer.
Make the perfect plan to capture all the best things to do in Knoxville, TN: start the day by visiting Knoxville Farmers Market for fresh local food to build a picnic, then head on over to World’s Fair Park to enjoy your purchases in the sun while watching a live show or the fountains.
Peruse the wonders of Knoxville Museum of Art for a bit of inspiration, then make your way to the treetops for some exercise and climbing adventures.
Finish it off with a fine meal and live performance in Knoxville’s Old City before making your way to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.