Nashville is an amazing city ideally located in the south. With a major airport, travel to and from Nashville is so easy. As the city and surrounding areas continue to grow, it’s not hard to see why Nashville has become one of the top cities of the south. But while so many transplants to area spend their time pursuing the “must-sees” of Nashville, it’s hard not to overlook the rest of the state. Tennessee is a beautiful place (I’m a little biased, I know), and it has so much to experience outside of its capital city.
Knoxville is one of those experiences. Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and less than three hours from Nashville, Knoxville is home to the largest university in the state. The history of Knoxville is robust. Established in the late 1700s, the city was incorporated in 1815. It was named for Henry Knox, the War Secretary for President George Washington. The city is home to the Tennessee Valley Authority headquarters started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. It was known as the Marble City in the early 1900s as a hub for marble distribution. Knoxville was also home to the World’s Fair in 1982. The iconic Sunsphere still remains from the World’s Fair and remains a trademark of the city’s limited skyline.
Now, Knoxville is still best known for the University of Tennessee and the hoards of Volunteers fans dressed in orange. Game day at Neyland Stadium is a sight to behold with the white and orange checkerboard. Beyond football, Knoxville offers the perfect weekend retreat. Within an hour of the city, you can be hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Seven lakes are situated around the city if you prefer water sports like skiing and tubing.
In downtown Knoxville, Market Square is the place to be. The most walkable part of the city, Market Square is home to restaurants, boutiques, and music venues. AirBnBs are easy to find and located throughout downtown. If you want a more unique experience, check out the Oliver Hotel, one of Knoxville’s boutique hotels. A historic building, the Oliver boast 28 elegantly designed rooms to enhance your stay. Within minutes, you can find yourself surrounded by some of the best restaurants. Cafe 4, Tupelo Honey, and Uncorked (with over 200 wines) will more than satisfy your appetite from travel. But our personal favorite is Tomato Head. A locally owned restaurant (there are only two), the food is amazing. The bread is baked fresh every morning. Many ingredients are sourced from local, organic farms. Whether you go for brunch, lunch, or dinner, you will not be disappointed. And please, get the Oh Boy sandwich. You can thank us later.
First Fridays in Knoxville allow you to view the Arts District. Local artists display their work in restaurants and galleries throughout downtown for a fun night of viewing. The Dogwood Festival, held in the spring, showcases the blooming pink and white dogwood trees in Market Square while featuring local vendors. And, there’s always football time in Tennessee.
There’s no place like home, and for us, that’s Middle Tennessee. But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. So before you make your brunch plans for next weekend, consider making them in Knoxville.