7-Day Knoxville Vacation

7-Day Knoxville Vacation

Day 1 You'll See:

Day 2 You'll See:

Day 3 You'll See:

Day 4 You'll See:

Day 5 You'll See:

Day 6 You'll See:

Day 7 You'll See:

Get ready for one whirlwind week-long adventure in Tennessee as you and your group spend some quality time getting to know Knoxville.

oak ridge bell

Day One

Sunsphere - Your first stop on the trip is within World’s Fair Park, the grandiosely stunning Sunsphere! The Sunsphere is a 81 meter high, or 266 foot, hexagonal steel structure that stands today as a glimmering culture icon and symbol of the 1982 World’s Fair. This amazing structure is topped with a 23 m. gold-colored glass sphere as well as 360 panes of exterior glass windows caked in 24 karat gold dust. That’s right, this building is gold! Head up to the observation deck on the fourth level to see a spectacular 360 degree view of the city, the original fair site, downtown Knoxville, the Tennessee River, and the Smoky Mountains strewn across Tennessee. Next head up to the Icon Ultra Lounge on the fifth floor and indulge in sultry southern inspired culinary creations matched well with eclectic metro decor and some of the most breathtaking city views. The Sunsphere is the absolute perfect place to take in Knoxville culture, Knoxville views, and unbeatable Knoxville seasonal cuisine and cocktails!

Sweet P’s Downtown Dive - Next stop, Sweet P’s Downtown Dive, a true southern treat located in the heart of Knoxville. This location was opened on Jackson Avenue in 2005 and has quickly grown through local praise, national attention, and even a spot on Travel Channel’s Man Vs. Food. Sweet P’s was born from Chris Ford’s love of dive bars and traditional BBQ joints and has thrived in the Scruffy City’s Art District as a southern family business quite well since then. Here you and your group will get authentic BBQ, great sauces, and out of this world sides! Sweet P’s specializes in the art of smoked foods and relies heavily on the southern motto of "slow and low." Get such southern classics as fried pickles, Tennessee Brisket, Smoke-n-Soul Chicken, Rib Plate, and the absolute best southern sides. If you fall in love with this Tennessee flavor that is as smoky as the surrounding mountains you can also purchase Sweet P’s Sauce (thick or thin), Soul Rub, or grab some highly popular Banana Pudding to go! 

Star of Knoxville Riverboat - End your first day of fun Knoxville adventures with a true star attraction, the Star of Knoxville Riverboat. This authentic stern wheel riverboat is USCG approved to fit 235 passengers comfortably and can be found/boarded on Neyland Drive off of the Tennessee River. Enjoy the enclosed and heated/air conditioned main deck, or scurry over to one of the two bars, the dance floor, or the band stage. The inside of the Star of Knoxville Riverboat has elegant and entertaining decor and was designed host a wide range of events, from black tie charity to weddings to simple football charters. On a simple Sightseeing cruise you will get to know Knoxville personally as well as fill up on all the regional Civil War history, and delicious Tennessee BBQ, you can. You will be eating such food as baked chicken, pulled pork BBQ, prime rib, and comfort sides and sweets during meal cruises, and you will be seeing such great sites as the Sunsphere, Neyland Stadium, Body Farm, and Sequoya Hills!

Day Two

Market Square Breakfast - Welcome to Market Square, a historic pedestrian mall that has developed over several decades, growing from a 1854 original regional market for farmers to a multi purpose meeting, commerce, and social space.This overall highly unique and highly enjoyable gathering place allows you and your group to do everything from playing to shopping, eating to enjoying an entertaining date night on the town. Take advantage of all the local live theater, music, performances, niche shops, gallery walks, and daily events here. During the Civil War Market House served as a barracks community and in 1984 this entire area earned the seal of the National Register of Historic Places. Enjoy the classical, revival, Italianate, and commercial architecture of the "most democratic place on earth," a place in which the rich and the poor can gather with perfect equality. Keep in mind that during the winter the area boasts a fun ice skating rink, in the summer a lively farmers market.

Knoxville Walking Tour - Take some time to truly get to know the city with this fun Knoxville Walking Tour. This tour explores the unique Eastern Tennessee town of Knoxville and is led and directed by Laura Still. The extremely rich and colorful history of this city contains both famous and infamous figures, characters who have since their time inspired books, movies, and works of art. Use this opportunity to stroll along the beautiful scene of downtown Knoxville while also learning and hearing  harrowing, heroic, and heinous tales of local history (and trouble) makers. Your group will have the opportunity to choose from several different guided tours, each by Laura Still and each inspired by the facts of local author and journalist Jack Neely. Whichever informational adventure you decide to take we ensure that your group will get an absolutely excellent mix of Knoxville city history, culture, and regional beauty!

WDVX Blue Plate Special - While in Knoxville your group will have the unique opportunity to eat lunch at the WDVX Radio station, deep within the fun and informational Knoxville Visitor Center. With the WDVX Blue Plate special your group has the chance to relive an old local noonday classic, a live performance radio show! Economy booster, attraction of the year, and truly entertaining lunch option, the WDVX Blue Plate Lunch is an absolutely amazing dining option. This establishment is a bring your own lunch, a sort of picnic in style event. If your group didn’t plan on bringing your own lunches you can head over to the Visitor Center cafe and pick up some yummy treats. Listen to various themed broadcasts and live performances by local up and comers or visiting international artists. You can hear everything from blues to bluegrass, country to Celtic, folk to funk, or rockabilly to hillbilly. East Tennessee's only listener supported radio station even plays the occasional jazz, classical, and Tuvan throat singing!

Knoxville Museum of Art - The Knoxville Museum of Art is the rich visual legacy of eastern Tennessee located within the gorgeous campus of the cities World’s Fair Park. World’s Fair Park is a lively and highly popular local social gathering place well-known for hosting annual festivals, live performances, meetings and conferences, and all the great spots within for reflection and learning. One quick look around will show you acres of well-manicured lawn, cascading falls, placid streams, and several various "gifts of natural beauty." The Museum of Art within presents the influential visual legacy of eastern Tennessee alongside new art from the region and beyond. There are several exhibits of regional art within, as well as travelling shows, daily classes, and occasional live concerts. This modern four-story facility educates and serves a diverse community and strives to "enhance the quality of life and economic development" of the city. The structure of the museum itself plays hosts to several amazing features of architecture, a more modernly designed multi-level 53,000 square foot facility.

East Tennessee History Center - Welcome to the East Tennessee History Center, the prime place to find informational and even entertaining regional history, located in the heart of Knoxville. Here you will find regional history preserved in permanent and visiting exhibits, each containing authentic artifacts, art, and Civil War items. Explore such exhibits as Smokies Splendor, Life in Tennessee Art, Civil War Families of Tennessee, First Families, and the most popular, the award-winning Voices of the Land: People of Eastern Tennessee. Be sure to check to see if there are any special dinners, historic society meetings, holiday events, or even Civil War reenactments while you are here, each event fantastic ways to explore the three centuries of local life encapsulated within. Be sure to hit the Museum Shop on your way out and discover the wide variety of books, crafts, and various unique gift items and historical talismans within!

Tennessee Theatre - Welcome to the Tennessee Theatre, the 1920s era movie palace located in the historic Burwell Building in downtown Knoxville. This early 19th century (1928) hall has been restored to its former colorful grandeur and glory and today plays host to many local and international musical and theater acts. At this theater your group will find everything from classical music and Broadway shows to vintage films, dance, and popular music from today and yesterday! This theater is considered one of the South’s most beautiful theatres, if not the most beautiful. The theater incorporates many international features such as the Czechoslovakian crystals, French style chandeliers, Italian terrazzo flooring, and Asian influenced carpeting. All together these elements create a truly world-class performing arts center, and today the Tennessee Theatre is the official state theater as well as a member of the National Register of Historic Places.


Day Three

The Museum of Appalachia - The Museum of Appalachia is located just 20 miles north of Knoxville, along Andersonville Highway in Norris, Tennessee. This museum was created in 1969 by founder John Rice Irwin as a local living history museum that interprets the pioneer and early 20th century period of the Southern Appalachian region of the United States. The museum strives to preserve the physical artifacts of these early regional times as well as instill a greater knowledge and overall appreciation for this period/setting of history. Be sure to check to see if there are any special events the day of your visit, ranging from fun activities such as the Barn Dance, Student Heritage Day, Sheep Shearing,Anvil Shoot, and Old Town Christmas. Take advantage of the group tour options while here, an approximately 3 hour long (completely customizable) tour that takes your group through the grounds, the delicious banquet hall buffet, and even through some live old-time music!

Blue Slip Winery - You're truly in luck, you have just been handed a blue slip. Not a pink slip for the day, but a blue slip for the entire weekend! That was the baseline concept behind this stop at Knoxville’s Blue Slip Winery, the city’s first winery, created in 2009, and Tennessee’s first ever 'urban' winery. Blue Slip is located in the 1903-built historic Southern Railway Station, deep within downtown Knoxville. Your group will love the meticulously restored floors and fireplaces, the entire structure containing a type of southern rustic chalkboard and wine cork charm, both stunningly historic and elegant. This winery brings the farmer to the city, allowing customers to really have a relationship with their Tennessee growers. Try such unique and delicious local flavors as Little River Red, Old City Red, Big Blue Blueberry, and Dogwood White. Before you go be sure to check out the dizzily tasteful tasting room, exciting live music stage, entertaining gift shop, and on-site informational Railway Museum.

Knoxville Chocolate Factory - Welcome to the Knoxville Chocolate Factory, located right next to the Museum of Art within the sprawling and stunning World’s Fair Park. Under the name of Bradley's Chocolate, this small production chocolate facility sells wholesale delicious confections and local handicraft gifts and decor, all within an absolutely great location to continue shopping, eating, and sightseeing. This is truly a ‘chocolate lovers must-stop’, the entire establishment selling highly popular Tennessee chocolates, Tennessee Walking Sticks, assortments of chocolate confections, chocolate corn pops, and even wedding event goodies! There is no way you can walk away from this stop without first trying a Tennessee Walking Stick, a deliciously over-loaded pretzel stick covered in chocolates, pecans, and even caramel! During a visit to the factory you and your group can take a tour of the facility and production room and see how the company uses 6,000 pounds of sugar annually and in turn produces 32,000 pounds of delicious chocolate goodies!

Day Fouramse

Oak Ridge - Oak Ridge is the famous "secret city" located in Eastern Tennessee, just about 25 miles west of Knoxville. This quaint town has a history "born in war and rich in natural beauty," a fairly small city with a fairly large story to tell. Exploring the streets here is as informative as it is interesting, not to mention as aesthetically pleasing. A quick look around Oak Ridge will show you and your group that this city and its dedicated citizens are highly involved in the water sport rowing, getting down and dirty with dirt bikes and ATVs, and also in boasting some of the most impressive scientific and technological innovations in the region. Walk around downtown to explore all this region's local culture through the windows and shelves of the shops and eateries, or explore the city on foot to search for all the major landmarks, such as the Friendship Bell, Alexander Inn, or Jackson Square.

The American Museum of Science and Energy - Welcome to the American Museum of Science and Energy, the science museum located in Oak Ridge that was designed to teach both children and adults all about energy! Not only does this museum cover the science of energy, but more specifically it focuses on nuclear power, as well as the city of Oak Ridge’s role in the famous Manhattan Project. This museum was created in 1949 in a wartime cafeteria under the first name of the American Museum of Atomic Energy and taught locals and guests all about the more friendly uses of atomic energy. The name was changed, as was the facility, in 1975 and today this interesting museum is full of different educational and interactive displays exploring energy and nuclear power. While here your group will have to check to be sure there aren’t any annual events or education days going on, as well as save plenty of time to enjoy all the onsite research opportunities, exhibits, and even gift shop!

Picnic at Haw Ridge Park - End your fun Oak Ridge day at one of the most popular and locally loved parks, Haw Ridge Park. Haw Ridge Park is actually a riverfront park located on a peninsula, a truly scenic and immersive outdoor experience. Here you and your group can take advantage of wildlife observation, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and even trail running and equestrian recreation. Here there are several different terrains and trails to choose from, the difficulty levels ranging from moderate to strenuous across the close to 30 miles of single-track dirt road trails. Enjoy the five miles of Clinch River Shoreline alongside the anglers and paddlers, hit the trail with your mountain bike or geocacher, paddle the four-mile east Solway river run, or just sit back, eat your sandwich, and watch the sunset as the backdrop of some of the most gorgeous eastern Tennessee scenery.

Norris Dam spillway. A hydroelectric dam in East Tennessee.

Clinch River Dam

Day Five

Dollywood Theme Park - Start your day at a park as unique as the famous country singer’s name, Dollywood theme park! This world-class theme park located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains is famous for its down-home Southern charm and live entertainment, as well as its thrilling roller coasters and refreshing water rides. At this 150 acre park your group will have the chance to see award-winning shows, educational craft demonstrations, or ride ground-breaking rides and attractions. Some of the most thrilling rides include the Thunderhead roller coaster, the Barnstormer, the wet and wild Smoky Mountain River Rampage, as well as the SkyZip aerial adventure and children’s carousel. Enjoy the finest southern cuisine in any of the many on site restaurants, as well as over 30 daily performances featuring country, bluegrass, rock and roll, and southern gospel. The live entertainment here is amazing, currently featuring The Band Perry. There are also five seasonal festivals throughout the year that attract thousands of guests from around the world, so don’t miss out on a second of this exciting Tennessee stop!

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community - The perfect opportunity to see the largest group of independent artisans in North America is here, on this historic eight mile loop known as the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. Established in 1937, this location is dedicated to Tennessee heritage of arts and crafts, and even has a National Heritage Trail registered officially. This community highlights cultural heritage and the natural talents of the local people by displaying their art and teaching others through constant demos the art of their handicrafts. While here your group can check out the galleries containing oils, watercolors, sculptures, and lithographs. You can also watch the artisans at work as they whittle, paint, sew, cast, weave, and carve to make some of the best and most unique crafts. Take a look at all of the original collectibles made here, such as candles, willow baskets, quilts,  jewelry, ceramics, stained glass, clothing, and much more. Any arts and crafts lovers in your group will flip for this opportunity, and the cultural and historical information your group will receive along the way will make it worth the stop for anybody!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - This massive and amazing natural wonder is found on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, technically in the city of Gatlinburg. The ridges of forest within the mountain are world renowned for diversity of plant and animal life, as well as for the beauty of the ancient mountains and quality of remnants of the Southern Appalachian culture. The mountain itself is around 200-300 million years old, making it among the oldest ranges in the world. While you are here you will have the opportunity to camp, fish, picnic, auto tour, or perhaps the most popular activity, view the wildlife. The biodiversity in this temperate forest area is incredible, housing over 17,000 documented species. Enjoy over 800 miles of trails, ranging from short leg stretchers to overnight back country camping treks. Whatever your group decides to do here, you aren’t going to regret your stop!

Sky Lift -  End your night with one of the absolute best views in Gatlinburg, atop the Smoky Mountains aboard the popular Gatlinburg Sky Lift. This open-air chairlift ride to the top of the 1,800 foot overlook will provide your group with some of the absolute best views of the Smoky Mountains, this stop actually rated Gatlinburg’s number one scenic overlook. From the top you will see spectacular views of lush forests and majestic mountains, the lift surrounded on three sides by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The views from the top are truly amazing during the day, but if you come during the night they are even more unbelievable! See the gathering of dazzling lights in downtown Gatlinburg from the top of the mountain, the views being some of the most memorable views of the city you will get while here. Be sure to bring a jacket for the cool Tennessee night breeze, as well as binoculars and a camera for optimal viewing experiences!

Day Six

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum - Created in 1961, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum features a historical collection meant for the presentation, operation, interpretation, and display of railroad artifacts in an authentic setting. This museum experience will take you on a short ride on your choice of train that is packed full of historical facts and interesting stories. Learn about the first rail line, Western and Atlantic, in the 1850s all the way to the demise of the track after introduction of interstates and air travel in the 1960s during your very own train ride!  Your group will be drowned in facts about the use of the railroad during the Civil War, the famous beginning of that catchy Glenn Miller Song, as well as the economic advantages of having this industrial hub in early Chattanooga. Buckle up and enjoy the afternoon as you ride the rails of essential Chattanooga history!

Hiwassee Loop - As a part of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum experience your group will now get the chance to continue on the railway of history with a three and a half hour long round trip! The Hiwassee Loop is just one of several different authentic train rides available while here. This family friendly excursion is a 50 miles round trip from Etowah that happens between April and November, typically on the weekends. This ride will take you and your group through the beautiful lower Hiwassee River Gorge and through the famous Hiwassee Loop in which the tracks cross over themselves as they corkscrew up the mountain near Farner. The cabins are enclosed and climate controlled, pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive, and offer on-board snacks and souvenirs for sale, so be sure to bring your camera and a little bit of money for a candy bar or book about the Tennessee railway system you just can’t live without!

Boathouse Rotisserie and Raw Bar - We have included this eatery as one of many delicious dinner options around the city of Chattanooga. The Boathouse Rotisserie and Raw Bar was chosen to be included in particular simple because of its long-standing Chattanooga tradition for neighborhood camaraderie, as well as long standing choice dining destination in the area. This gorgeous, both decor-wise and scenery-wise, riverfront dining establishment is actually located right on the Tennessee River, in the heart of the Chattanooga Riverwalk just one and a half miles from downtown. Though Boathouse Rotisserie isn’t exactly a seafood exclusive eatery, it is, in fact, one of the busiest and most successful oyster bars in the country. While at Boathouse your group can choose to either dine in the main dining room, eat outside on the covered patio and get the full effect of a seafood meal riverside, or call ahead and grab the 46+ person party room with patio space.

market square fm Knoxville

market square in Knoxville

Day Seven

Knoxville Farmer’s Market - Nourish Knoxville! and the Market Square Farmers Market have come together in the heart of downtown Knoxville to provide a seasonal full blown local farmers market. The Knoxville Farmers Market is a seasonal (May -November) market, established in 2004, located in the city’s Historic Market Square. This open-air gathering of local vendors is a producer-only market, with each product sold here being made, grown, or raised by vendors within a strict 150 mile radius of Knoxville. The products vary by season, but typically include ornamental plants, vegetables and herb starts, produce, dairy, eggs, honey, meats, baked goods, jams/jellies, coffee, and several different artisan crafts. Your group will not only enjoy the shopping options, but you will also love the scenery and landscape around the Market Square. Enjoy the interactive fountain features, live entertainment, delicious and fresh local grocery samples, and tasty and quick lunch options!

McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture - Welcome to the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, a locally loved Knoxville museum located on, and as part of, the University of Tennessee campus. You and your group will delight in the opportunity to discover various exhibits on local Knoxville history, decorative arts, human history through anthropology and archaeology, and more. Once here it will be easy to see why this Natural History Museum is one of only 18 museums in Tennessee accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Save plenty of time to explore the various interactive and highly interesting permanent exhibits such as Ancient Egypt, Peoples of Tennessee, Decorative Exploration, and Edmontosaurus Annectens, each spanning subjects from dinosaur fossils to local farmers. Save some time to check out the McClung Museum Store, selling local art, jewelry, books, gifts, educational toys, and stationary, each created by local artists.

Old Gray Cemetery - The last stop in your epic Knoxville adventure can be found off of Broadway Street, at the Old Gray Cemetery. This historic and highly scenic local cemetery is actually the second oldest cemetery in Knoxville, established in 1850 and holding the graves of some of Knoxville’s most influential citizens, such as William Brownlow and Charles McClung. Explore all the history, culture, and natural beauty within these 13 acres of cemetery land as you take in an important example of cemetery planning and design during the garden movement in this state. Stroll or drive through the winding avenues of Old Gray and admire the outstanding Victorian art and architecture seen throughout the area. Enjoy the eclectic yet relaxing mixture of unmarked graves, massive monuments, and honorable massive mausoleums. Old Gray was named after Thomas Gray, and English poet whose particular poem of inspiration included the fitting line "Now fades the glimmering landscape on this sight."

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