Knoxville Skyline from the South Knoxville Bridge, June 2017
I’ve been tasked with listing 100 things to do in Knoxville before you die. I love my city, as you all know, but it’s an interesting exercise. It’s even more specific: I have to list twenty in each of five categories: Food and Drink, Music and Entertainment, Sports and Recreation, Culture and History and Shopping and Fashion.
It’s been an interesting exercise and one that has been more challenging than I first thought. Some things are obvious to me, like checking out the Sunsphere, attending a UT game, attending a concert at the Tennessee and the Bijou theatres, experiencing the Urban Wilderness, the Tennessee River, visiting some of our historic homes and parks, but then it gets trickier.
For example, which restaurants do you pick and do you favor great food, great atmosphere or unusual cuisine? Do you list multiple spots to get a craft cocktail, since there are several great places and they are somewhat different from each other? What do you do about craft breweries? And what about bars? Which ones would you say are must hits for visitors or residents?
The other categories are similarly tricky. Music and entertainment could mean venues or it could mean musical organizations like Knoxville Opera, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra or the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra. Which and how many theatre companies would you include? Do you include multiple trails under sports and recreation or pick out the best? And what would that be? Outside of UT and our trails, what other sports and recreation experiences do we have that are critical for a local or a visitor?
As for culture and history, we have a number of walking tours, historic sites, but what would constitute the critical experiences that would open a window into the heart of our culture? As for shopping and fashion, what is uniquely Knoxville? I have my favorite shops, but there are probably some really special spots I would never consider. What says Knoxville fashion to you? Where would you be proud to take an out of town guest that would be different than what they might find in their hometown?
Obviously, I’m much stronger on downtown than the surrounding area. What are the most amazing restaurants outside of downtown? Where is the unique shopping and fashion experience outside the center city?
I would love to hear from you in the comments. List a few things or list a hundred. List only one category or give me your top from each category. It’s a challenge and I would love your help. I’d like to make this list the very best I can make it. Leave your lists in the comments and eventually I will reveal the final list. I suspect once I’ve taken a deep dive and heard from you I’ll have more than 100 and will be forced to make some painful decisions.