What Are Your 100 Things To Do In Knoxville Before You Die?

Regas Square Condominiums, Unit 618, Design by Paula Clancy, Depot Street, Knoxville, June 2019

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?

Knoxville Skyline from the South Knoxville Bridge, June 2017

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.

So, what do you have, Knoxville?


  1. Bob Fischer says

    I’ll take shopping and fashion for 1000 Alex.

    I want a pair of those Duluth Trading Company flannel lined blue jeans that fits. I’m 61. It’s time I started trying stuff on before I buy it.

    One down. The longest journey starts with one small step.

  2. Under culture: a mural tour.

  3. Also in history: A Walking Tour through Knoxville History Project and a visit to The East Tennessee History Museum.

  4. Tommy Smith says

    Watch a sunset from Maybry-Hazen House

  5. Food and Drink-Knox Mason, Kaizen, The Library
    Music and Entertainment-Bijou and Tennessee concerts/off Broadway plays
    Sports and Recreation-Professional baseball, hockey and football games,
    Culture and History-summer festivals including Asian, Beer, etc.
    Shopping and Fashion-Old City stores and West Town shopping. Visit Chattanooga and Nashville for weekend getaways

  6. Maggie Carini says

    How cool! Just the jolt I needed to start my own list. Thanks for including us.

  7. William Walker says

    Visit Sharp’s Ridge. Visit and understand the Ramsey House. Visit and understand the cemetery of Lebanon in the Forks Presbyterian Church. Identify and visit Native American sites in Knoxville.

    • Downtown Worker says

      I just read up on the Lebanon in the Forks Presbyterian Church after your comment. What an interesting read, and perspective on Knoxville’s early history!

      • William Walker says

        Thanks for your note. The Forks were the site of one of the first settlers — the Ramsey family. They came from Gettysburg, PA, where they owned.a mill and were related to the town’s founder. Their PA house still stands near Fairfield, PA. Tennessee’s first historian, Dr. James McG. Gettys Ramsey, lived in a house constructed on an Indian mound at the Forks. He was a minister and physician. His father built the Ramsey House.

  8. A Jack Neely walking history tour of Knoxville is certainly a top 10 must.

  9. Visit the historic houses like Mabry- Hazen

  10. Sports and Recreation – kayaking on the Tennessee. The Third Creek Greenway. Lady Vols soccer at Regal Stadium.

  11. Kara Remingtonq says

    Go up in Sunsphere and walk all the greenways.

  12. Watching the wiener dog race at an Ice Bears game absolutely has to be in your Sports and Recreation category.

  13. Brittany Bentley says

    For the activities section of the list:
    Take a hike around Ijams
    Go white water kayaking or rafting on the Pigeon or Nantahala or Ocoee
    Go Mountain biking at Baker Creek Preserve
    Follow the dogwood trails through the historic neighborhoods in the springtime

  14. Music and Entertainment: GO! Contemporary Dance Works, Dirty Guvnah’s, any of Andy Wood’s projects.

  15. Under sports and recreation – volunteer at STAR – Shanghai-La Therapeutic Riding Academy as a family

    Visit George at the Knoxville Zoo. When you call his name, he will come to you and chatter with you.

    The Aquarium at Pigeon Forge and in Chattanooga

  16. Ain’t nothing wrong with doing absolutely nothing on a beautiful East TN fall day!

  17. alice.mercer@gmail.com says

    Any tour or program offered by Jack Neely!

  18. Tour of the Tennessee theatre, go inside as many of the historic buildings in downtown!

  19. Are we allowed to make the city a base of operations? If so, we could expand categories like Sports and Recreation to all of east Tennessee! Hiking, bicycling (road and mountain), motorcycles on the Tail of the Dragon, whitewater paddling — the list goes on and on just in that one category! Some of our nearby towns, like Tellico Plains (not Tellico Village) have been named “Trail Towns”, and Knoxville could join the growing effort to attract outdoor enthusiasts to east Tennessee.

  20. Susan Byrne says

    Visit the Knoxville Botanical Garden on Wimpole Ave. Two miles of stone walls break up the 47 acre into delightful garden vignettes.

  21. Shopping – If you fancy cooking and something unique, one must stop by the olive oil and balsamic tasting bar at The Tree and Vine

  22. Eli Sunrise Morse says

    Artist’s Alley. TN Theatre. Jump at Dickerson Quarry. Kaizen. King Tut, not necessarily for the food, but for performance value and the disco ball, it’s a hoot!

    • We visit Knoxville quite often. Here is a list of our favorite places thus far. Cruise Farm, Schulz Brau Brewing Company, Southeast Salvage, the Zoo, Pizza Palace, Mast on Gay, the Bijou, Market Square, & Pete’s Dinner. Also Instep Grill before they moved. Their new location is too commercial. Flats & Taps at Happy Holler. Looking forward to your list of 100. Thanks & Go Cats! 😊

    • Unfortunately I’m pretty sure King Tut has been closed for some time.

  23. Walk through the UT Gardens
    Kayak or Paddle board at Mead’s Quarry
    Play in the trees at NAVITAT at Ijam’s
    Visit the East TN Historical Society’s History Fair
    Tour the Museum of Appalachia

  24. Attend the Tennessee Valley Fair, visit the Knoxville Museum of Art, It’s All So Yummy Cafe, attend an event at the Clarence Brown Theatre, take your kids to the Muse, eat at Yassin’s, go to the free McClung museum, Lakeshore Park (walking trails, kids playgrounds, sport stuff), Calhoun’s on the river (as much about the location as the local food which isn’t what it used to be and the owner isn’t the greatest person), Lady Vols game / Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Beck Museum, Lakeside Tavern, Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House

  25. LGBTQ Ideas for the list: Attend a Drag Show (at a Brunch or at one of Knoxville’s fine LGBTQ establishments), Attend a Pride Parade and Pridefest (largest free Pride in the state!), Go see the Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus perform (the only one in the state!)

  26. DAVE ZANDSTRA says

    Watch a movie at the Tennessee Theatre

  27. Disc golf at Admiral Farragut park – Damn the torpedoes!

  28. Tha311Bliss says

    They are still open

  29. Simpl for food. Tomato Head is a classic staple. And the Peter Kern Library.
    Mid Mod Collective and Rala for shopping
    Big ears festival for entertainment ( when that’s possible again)
    Ijams to do activities. Hike. Bike. Explore.

  30. You gotta do a Knox Brew Tour… maybe more than once. You have to do the SoKno pub crawl and you have to eat at Emilia and Kaizen. You have to hike House Mountain and visit Ijams plus take a riverboat tour. You most certainly should go to a UT game, but be sure to get there early enough to watch the Pride of the Southland open the T. Bonus points for watching the band march down to the stadium before the game. You have to have the wings at Chivo and Southcoast Pizza followed by cocktails at Public House AND the Library. See a show at the theatres of course but also at Scruffy and The Mill and Mine. You MUST check out Greekfest and all of the multicultural festivals for that matter and at least one Farmer’s Market. Brewer’s Jam is also requisite and/or BrewFest depending on the time of year. You should do at least one First Friday in each of the four seasons. Union Jack’s made craft beer popular in Knoxville so you should be sure to pop in there for a proper pint and while you’re out west you might as well do some hibachi at Wasabi. Okay I’m gonna stop there for now. I could keep going for days I’m pretty sure, but that’s what’s great about this town. The more you think about it the more you realize how many great things there are about it. Joey’s Jumbo Burger at Pete’s for example would be an easy one to overlook, but you should definitely not overlook it. Geez Alan, what have you done?! :-))

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