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How to Spend a Day Trip in Knoxville

While many people use Knoxville as a base for exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in 2019, this eastern Tennessee city has plenty to offer of its own, whether you’re looking for historical, cultural, or outdoor attractions. 

There are lots of different ways to spend a day trip in Knoxville – in fact, while you’re here, you might want to check out some of the Knoxville real estate so that you can enjoy the city’s many delights year-round. If you’ve never been, this is one of the best ways to make the most out of your time.

Shop the Farmer’s Market

If your day trip is on a Saturday, start by visiting Market Square, which hosts the Saturday Farmer’s Market every week between May and December. It’s the perfect spot to pick up ingredients for a picnic or enjoy breakfast with everything from baked goods and homemade bread to coffee, herbs, honey, fresh produce, salsas, and artisan-made crafts. It’s also surrounded by restaurants if you want to enjoy a sit-down meal.

Explore James White’s Fort

History enthusiasts won’t want to miss James White’s Fort, a historical museum that provides an excellent glimpse into frontier life around the late 18th-century. The fort served as the living quarters for the founder of Knoxville, James White. You’ll not only be able to see the space in which he lived, but also watch demonstrations of everything from hearth cooking and blacksmithing.

Visit the Ijams Nature Center

If you picked up ingredients for a picnic, the Ijams Nature Center is a great place to enjoy it. Part of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness, it includes 1,000-forested acres along the south waterfront right downtown. There are trails to hike, 10 parks, civil war sites, and a wildlife sanctuary. You’ll see a turkey vulture and red-tailed hawk at the raptor exhibit, and while you’re out on the trails, listen for the hoot of an owl and the songs of a myriad of birds.

If you’re up for some outdoor thrills, Navitat Canopy Adventures is located here too. A tree-based zipline adventure park, it hosts ziplines, swings, bridges, elevated tunnels, nets, and more.

Knoxville Museum of Art

This art museum is family-friendly, sure to please the kids and adults alike as it includes an interactive play area for the younger ones. It also contains the world’s largest steel and glass structure, Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and Wonder of Infinity, which is more than 100 feet long and 12 feet high, made up of hundreds of detailed, individually blown glass components along with huge human figures consisting of cast black glass and steel armatures. Among the permanent exhibits are many impressive works of art from the region’s most talented artists.


Shop and Dine in the Old City

Conclude your day in the Old City, a historic downtown district with a fun alternative vibe. The 19th-century buildings are filled with cafes, restaurants, breweries, art galleries, and quirky boutiques. If you don’t have to hurry back home, you’ll find live music playing every night of the week.

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