One Day in Knoxville: Must-See Attractions for Smoky Mountain Visitors

One Day in Knoxville - Must-See Attractions for Smoky Mountain Visitors

Nestled amidst the gently rolling hills and lush farm fields lies Knoxville, the state’s first capital and a hub for innovation as well as preservation. This vibrant city is brimming with history, art, natural beauty, and all sorts of new opportunities to enjoy as a visitor to the Smokies. While Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg offer their own charm and bounty of excitement, a day trip to Knoxville promises the chance to make new memories unique to this more than 200-year-old municipality. Join us as we embark on a journey to explore the best of Knoxville in just one day.

Market Square: Where History Meets Modernity

One Day in Knoxville - Must-See Attractions for Smoky Mountain Visitors

At the heart of downtown Knoxville, Market Square stands as a testament to the city’s ability to blend rich heritage with an eye-catching, contemporary flair. When stepping onto its cobblestone streets you’ll suddenly be immersed in a world where history has melded with the modern world to create a unique atmosphere perfect for enjoying great entertainment, food and shopping.

Market Square has been a beloved gathering place since the 1860s, retaining its historic character beautifully, while incorporating the region’s penchant for colorful art, bright flavors and lively music. Cobblestone streets and charming architecture, make for the perfect backdrop for unique experiences such as the Market Square Farmers’ Market, held every Wednesday and Saturday from May through mid-November, where fresh produce, artisanal goods, and local crafts can be purchased and enjoyed. Surrounding the square are independent restaurants and cafes offering a diverse culinary selection to choose from, from classic diner-styled breakfasts at Ruby Sunshine to gourmet burgers and craft beer at Stock & Barrel. Market Square hosts outdoor concerts, movies, theatre and festivals year-round, making it a great place to start your Knoxville daytrip, no matter the season!

World’s Fair Park: A Legacy of Innovation

One Day in Knoxville - Must-See Attractions for Smoky Mountain Visitors

World’s Fair Park sits on the former fairgrounds of the 1982 World’s Fair – a massive event hosted by the city all those years ago. Today, the only legacies of this attraction long since shuttered, that remain standing are the towering 266-foot-tall Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater. However, while it’s been 50 years since the Fair was in town, the World’s Fair Park offers current day visitors with a chance to unwind, soak in the sun and see Knoxville from a whole new perspective!

Take an elevator to the observation deck for panoramic views of the city with the Smoky Mountains as its lush backdrop. Explore the sprawling lawns and walking paths along serene lake, cool off on the splashpads, have a picnic or attend one of the many events happening during the warmer months. Please note that to enjoy the views from the observation deck of the Sunsphere, there is an admission charge of five dollars for adults and only one dollar for children under 12.

Knoxville Museum of Art: A Cultural Gem

One Day in Knoxville - Must-See Attractions for Smoky Mountain Visitors

If you’re a lover of fine art – whether it be modern, abstract, classic, and so on – you’ll want to dip your toe into the vibrant arts scene of Smokies, as seen at the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA). The Knoxville Museum of Art celebrates the rich and diverse visual culture of East Tennessee and is free to the public to enjoy.     From contemporary works to historical pieces, the museum showcases art that reflects the local spirit and its connections to global artistic currents. With four galleries to explore, each offering a unique experience, the KMA offers a captivating journey through the visual culture of East Tennessee. Whether you’re exploring cutting-edge works by new-age artists or marveling at meticulously crafted miniature historical interiors, the KMA promises to inspire and enlighten.

Urban Wilderness: Nature Within the City

One Day in Knoxville - Must-See Attractions for Smoky Mountain Visitors

Escape the hustle and bustle of urban life and immerse yourself in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. This one-of-a-kind oasis spans 1,000 acres of natural and recreational land and offers over 60 miles of trails and greenways, perfect for hiking, biking, climbing or wildlife viewing. Amidst the cityscape, discover pockets of picturesque wilderness, where the tranquility seems untouched by the metro landscape surrounding it. Despite its proximity to the city, Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness is a place where you can reconnect with nature, breathe fresh air, and leave the hustle and bustle behind. From enjoying watersports and fishing on one of the numerous, sparkling lakes to chasing adrenaline highs via ziplining and mountain biking – the possibilities are almost endless. Lace up your hiking boots or rent a bike —with this much to explore, there’s no time to wait! Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a casual wanderer, there’s a trail suited to your pace and preferences.

Old City: Historic Charm and Nightlife

Knoxville Must-See Attractions for Smoky Mountain Visitors
As the sun sets, venture into Knoxville’s Old City, where a colorful legacy meets that Smoky Mountain charm to make for an electric nightlife. Wander along streets lined with restored Victorian buildings, housing eclectic boutiques, art galleries, and stylish restaurants. Indulge in some gourmet eats, sip on craft cocktails, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this dynamic and historic neighborhood.

With seventeen restaurants and more than twenty nightclubs and bars to explore, you’re guaranteed to have a good time, especially after the sun goes down. However, if you have kiddos in tow, there’s some adventures you’re little one’s would enjoy as well. First visit the Gay Street-Jackson Avenue Stairwell Mural to begin a visual scavenger hunt through history. After that, be sure to browse the twenty shops in the area before making your way over to Curious Dog for a customizable hot dog or deli-fresh sandwich, perfect for even the pickiest of eaters. Though, if everyone in your party is old enough to drink – you’ll want to stick around for dark when the Old City comes alive with live music, flowing libations, and a dazzling atmosphere.

After a Day of Adventure Beyond Pigeon Forge

One Day in Knoxville - Must-See Attractions for Smoky Mountain Visitors

After a day of adventure in Knoxville, you’ll be ready to retreat to the comfort and luxury of your very own slice of Smoky Mountain paradise. At Parkside Resort, our fully equipped cabins offer our guest a spacious yet private refuge, complete with a seemingly endless list of amenities, unmatched customer services and (most importantly) breathtaking mountain views. By choosing Parkside for your accommodations, you’ll have the perfect home-away-from-home to return after a busy day of exploring everything Knoxville has to offer and making countless new memories to remember it by!Top of Form


Call us today at 888-908-6066 or visit our website to learn more about our amazing accommodations!