I’ve heard several discussions recently about our identity or identities as a city. Are we the home of the Vols? The guardians of the Sunsphere? We’ll always be those things, for sure, but we’ve got so much more going on and Visit Knoxville invites you to get outside and enjoy some of the things Knoxville is increasingly known for. The weekend of June 4 and 5, Visit Knoxville invites you to get to know our bikeways, enjoy the river, discover our breweries and, by all means, bring your canine friend along in a sprawling Bike, Boat, Brew and Bark event.
It’s centered on the river at Volunteer Landing. The Knoxville Powerboat Classic runs both days and the landing offers the best seat in the house to watch these amazing boats run upwards of 100 miles per hour on the river. It’s an annual event which puts Knoxville’s section of the Tennessee River on display for a massive audience on Fox Sports South.
Come watch the races for two days, come and go or come enjoy it for a while and move on. You’ll find plenty of entertainment options. And as you consider how to arrive: Do you own a boat? Why not boat down. There is plenty of room for watching from the water and boats are encouraged.
Riding your bike to the riverside is another great option. There are flat routes – even from downtown (via World’s Fair Park/Second Creek Greenway). Other options include biking the greenways from West Knoxville – it’s really not that far and it’s pleasantly flat. Don’t think you have that much fire-power in your pistons? Put your bike on the front of a Kat Bus and bus into downtown with your bike. It’s easy and this is a great time to see how it works.
Once on the water-front, there will be far more to do than simply watch the boat races, though that would be fine if it’s your thing. You’ll also have the chance to try free paddle-boarding after the races end each day. And guided bike-rides will be available. Want to ride your bike around, but you aren’t sure where to go or how to travel about downtown safely? They’ve got you covered.
And here’s where the beer and beasts enter the picture: River activities will also include not only a human flyboard performance between races, but also canine acrobatics on the water with the Dock Dogs. Also featured will be a pet photo contest, so trick-out your furry friend and maybe take home a trophy.
The beer? How about hopping on your bike for a guided, slow ride to a couple of the local breweries? It’s easy riding and you’ll find new routes to the places you’d like to re-visit – and have some great beer as you go. Tours go to Balter and Alliance on Saturday and Saw Works and Last Days of Autumn on Sunday.
You know how to drive into downtown and park in a garage, right? If not, here’s your chance to practice on a laid-back weekend as opposed to doing it with tens-of-thousands for a festival or football game. Come practice. Visit Knoxville has a handy guide to parking options, but please, my suburbanite friends, be aware that some lots require payment all the time – even on weekends. How about a garage? They really aren’t scary and we’ve got lots of them. Some are near the river. Try a new one out so you have a new trick in your bag the next time you come to downtown.
So, you’ve parked, maybe you’ve enjoyed the Market Square Farmers’ Market: How do you get to the river? Since we’re on the topic of alternative transportation, how about a Trolley ride? Just a block further down Market from Krutch Park you can catch the Blue Route at the intersection of Market and Church. Why the Blue Route? Because it includes a stop at the Waterfront Connection – the elevator which will safely deliver you to the main floor of the Outdoor Knoxville building, located just a few yards from the river. It’s easy.
While you are trolleying about, you might want to consider walking over to Locust Street to the block between the Lawson McGhee Library and the Convention Center. It’s a hub of sorts and you’ll find you can catch any or all of the three lines. Try out the others before you catch the Blue Line to the Waterfront Connection. Also on tap for the day is a Trolley Talk with Jack Neely leaving from the trolley stop in front of The Market at Union and Gay. He’ll give you the history of trolleys in the city as you enjoy your ride.
And, of course, you can walk. There are several walking routes to the river from downtown and TVA is sponsoring an urban hiking experience starting at the towers, crossing the river and going as far as the Island Home area. That’s a great walk and it’s just one of many you’ll find downtown.
It’s about as much fun as you can pack into a day. And it’s also important. Kim Bumpas, Director of Visit Knoxville told me, “We want to teach people, with a focus on this weekend, that they can do these things year-round.”
The point is, we have so many options to be active in our downtown and we need to take advantage of them. Learn how to navigate these options and take your out-of-town visitors or more reluctant suburban friends on an active downtown adventure. Are we all about the Vols and the Sunsphere? Sure. But we are increasingly about an active lifestyle supported by over 70 miles of greenways, a waterfront and urban wilderness options unheard of other places. Being active is what we do. It’s who we are.