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ideal towns >> knoxville, tn

Bluegrass & Green Grass — in Knoxville

by Nancy Gross

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Located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Knoxville is the perfect blend of Southern hospitality, abundant nature and a thriving world of culture. The Tennessee River provides a stunning backdrop to this diverse and historic destination that was originally the state’s first capital.

Settled in 1786, Knoxville finally enjoyed an economic boom following the arrival of the railroad in 1855. After a varied history riding the waves of both loss and success, Knoxville hosted the 1982 World’s Fair and its rejuvenation has been on the rise ever since.

Downtown Knoxville offers a mixture of architectural styles, ranging from the 1786 hewn-log James White House to the modern Knoxville Museum of Art that was completed in 1990. Its 53,200-square-feet of display space honors regional talent with its permanent exhibits that are complemented by temporary
exhibits celebrating both national and international artists.

Art Deco buildings stand side by side with Victorian representations in this hubbub of business, culinary delights and artistic expression. Having access to food from around the world is one of the many treats that Tennessee’s third largest city has to offer, alongside an abundance of live music.

Bluegrass has its roots in east Tennessee as the early settlers from Ireland, Scotland and Wales added their musical spice to the burgeoning American music pot. Knoxville is packed with live music venues and hosts year-round festivals, proudly supporting this acoustic tradition.

Heading out of town just a few miles lies another great reason to check out Knoxville and it comes in the shape of the Ijams Nature Center. Developed by Harry Ijams who was a leading bird expert, and his wife Alice Yoe Ijams, the Ijams has been home to numerous species of birds for over a century. These two former quarries that once provided Tennessee Pink Marble have been transformed into a nature haven. Key spots include a 25-acre lake, stunning overlooks, unique boulder fields and an amazing man-made stone structure known as the Keyhole.

So if you’re looking for the cultural buzz of the city, a wide choice of cuisine and the beauty and adventure of nature, Knoxville, TN, has it all.


Savory Eateries

  • Cocoa Moon Market Square provides the best in Asian-fusion cuisine, Mexican and Latin American options and is located in the heart of downtown.
  • Just Ripe boasts local, regional and independently-owned products in each of their made-to-order meals with plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
  • Nama Sushi Bar is a unique dining experience for the sushi lover. A fusion of Japanese/Korean/Spanish/American flavors are created from the freshest ingredients.
  • Oodles Uncorked’s motto is, “Keep it fresh,” and this restaurant offers 60 types of wine by the glass and a limited liquor bar.

Top Things To Do

  • Alive After Five One of the many live music venues that provide quality live music every Friday evening after 5 p.m.
  • The Climbing Center Fun for every age and ability, try out indoor rock climbing in a safe and guided environment.
  • Knoxville Museum of Art The museum is host to a beautiful display of local, national and international artists, with a number of ever-changing exhibits.
  • Knoxville Zoo Hundreds of animals roam within their natural habitats in this well-run and educational zoo.
  • Sharp’s Ridge Memorial Park Get a great view of the city and the Smoky Mountains at sunset from this superb lookout point.
  • Solway Observatory Enjoy the majesty of the stars from this state-of-the-art observatory.

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