How to Plan a Summer Getaway to Knoxville
Updated: Mar 16
Everyone has one thing on their minds as the weather heats up: roadtrip! Whether you’re bringing your better half, a group of besties, or riding solo, we’ve got the perfect weekend for you in Knoxville, Tennessee. Bonus – I-40 and I-75 intersect through the city, and it’s less than a 4-hour drive from many cities like Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, and more, which means less time on the road and more time for fun!
Cruise into your hotel and freshen up from the drive. Surround yourself by University of Tennessee inspired décor at The Graduate, live the life of luxury at THE TENNESSEAN, or choose something with a rooftop bar like the Hyatt Place on Gay Street. Speaking of rooftop bars, Knoxville has several – from the nearly 360° view at Radius atop the Embassy Suites, or the bohemian hippy chic vibes at Bernadette’s Crystal Gardens. Watch the sun set on the iconic Sunsphere and the nearby Great Smoky Mountains (home of East Tennessee’s beloved Dolly Parton) in the distance. Cheers!
It’s a busy day, so fuel up at South Press – a community space in SoKno built on locally sourced products, eco-friendly business practice and great hospitality. Expect to be “greeted with love and affirmation”! Owner Joslynn Fish welcomes all people and caters to an alternative crowd: “The queer, punk, goth, artist, or any misfit could easily find themselves at home in the South Press space.”
Once caffeinated, get in loser, we’re going shopping! Pop into local boutiques or go on a treasure hunt for new-to-you digs at places like French Fried Vintage. Lunch calls for a patio, no? Relax in any number of places downtown, like Café 4 in Market Square or Kaizen in the Old City.
Spend your afternoon getting to know Knoxville’s history and arts scene. Blount Mansion (one of Knoxville’s 7 Historic Homes) was where 55 delegates put quill to parchment and boldly declared that Tennessee was a state 225 years ago this year. They basically told Congress “hey we’re a state now” and Congress was like “well that’s technically not illegal so ok” and voila – Tennessee became the Union’s 16th state! Cap off your afternoon with a visit to the Knoxville Museum of Art.
Grab some dinner somewhere like South Coast Pizza and snag a beer from across the street at Alliance Brewing Co. Don’t get too full though, because you’ll be spending the evening navigating the aerial course at Navitat at Night – an adventure under the stars! If you’d rather stay closer to the ground, consider a sunset paddle on the Tennessee River.
Sundays – the day built for brunch. The Oliver Royale is a great choice, with an elevated farm-to-table menu filled with items like K-Town Hot Chicken + Grits, Pork Belly Benedict, and the Hangover Helper if you were particularly naughty last night. After you’ve designated a driver (the rest of your crew are free to get mimosas!), drive home with plans to return soon. Like peeling skin after that summer sunburn, you’ve only scratched the surface of things to do in Knoxville.