Rocky Top...home sweet home to me.

We love the University of Tennessee. We really love the University of Tennessee. [go vols.] We also love Knoxville. Like every other city in the world, Knoxville has it's share of brokenness, but it also has its share of beauty, and there is plenty to appreciate. For all of us at the University, Knoxville is our home, even if we're only here for a few years. There are many ways we seek to love the city, whether that's volunteering, serving our neighbors, or just doing our part to keep it clean. But there's another great way to love Knoxville, and that's to enjoy Knoxville!

Campus is a very important part of town, but sometimes it's easy to forget that there is life outside "the Fort." We encourage you, whether you're a freshman or a senior, to get off campus every now and then and explore some of the great things our city has to offer. Trust us, there is plenty to see and do...and a lot of it is cheap (often free) and within walking distance from campus.

If you're not sure where to start, we've compiled a short list of basics. We're just barely scratching the surface here, but it's a starting point. Our emphasis is on stuff that's close to campus and won't break your college budget. 


Market Square

A good starting place for any exploration of Knoxville, this outdoor square in the heart of downtown is home to a wide variety of fantastic restaurants, shopping, and entertainment...all with a distinct local flavor. There's almost always something interesting going on.

You can walk there from campus, but you can also park in the Market Square garage for free on week nights and weekends. Check it out

Market Square Farmer's Market

Every Wednesday and Saturday from May to November, Market Square is packed with local vendors selling fresh produce, meat, baked goods, desserts, coffee, arts, crafts, and a whole lot more.  Even if you don't want to buy anything, the atmosphere is awesome!

Wednesdays, 11am-2pm; Saturdays, 9am-2pm. Check it out. (It's much bigger on Saturdays, and parking is free!)

First Fridays

Downtown is usually pretty active, but on the first Friday night of each month, downtown is filled with art and gallery openings, performances, concerts, and food tastings...a lot of which is free! It's a great way to experience the city and get a taste of what downtown Knoxville has to offer.

Check it out.

WDVX Blue Plate Special

WDVX is a nationally famous, award-winning local radio station that specializes in bluegrass, American roots, and traditional mountain music. Everyday at noon, Monday - Saturday, they have a free concert downtown at the Knoxville Visitors Center (corner of Gay and Summit Hill) that's broadcast live. Lunch is also available. 

Check out their schedule here.

Knoxville Museum of Art

Knoxville has an excellent art museum...and it's FREE. A very short walk from campus in World's Fair Park, the museum always has a new exhibition worth checking out.

Check out their hours and current exhibits on their website. Closed Mondays.

The Old City

This historic neighborhood right next to downtown still looks a lot like it did back in the 19th century. Once home to saloons, shoot-outs, and other shenanigans, its old brick buildings now house some pretty cool local shopping, restaurants, pubs, and coffee shops, but it definitely still maintains its old scruffy, off-beat vibe.

There's plenty of paid parking, but you can park for free under the James White Parkway overpass (well worth the short walk).

World's Fair Park

Sandwiched between campus and downtown, World's Fair Park is a great place to relax, take a walk, or play some frisbee. The park is also home to the Sunsphere, built for the 1982 World's Fair (and featured in a episode of "the Simpsons"...fun fact.)

It's free to ride the elevator up to the Sunsphere's observation deck for a great view of the city and campus.

The Great Outdoors

Knoxville and the surrounding area is home to an enormous variety of parks, greenways, hiking trails, and other outdoor recreation opportunities...not the least of which is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (about an hour drive from town, the only free national park in the USA).

There's far too much to list here, so...

Outdoor Knoxville

...check out this awesome website for information on all local parks, hiking, boating, jogging, climbing, etc. in the Knoxville area. This is a fantastic resource for exploring the stunning outdoor beauty of East Tennessee. 

OUTDOOR KNOXVILLE

More Restaurants and Activities

Looking for somewhere to eat or another activity while you're in town or now that you've moved to Knoxville? Click for more information. An Intro to Knoxville.pdf

The Sunsphere is NOT a Wig Shop

Interested in exploring Knoxville a little more off the beaten path? Check out this award-winning local blog, the sunsphere is NOT a wigshop. (referencing that previously-mentioned Simpsons episode). Some of the authors are RUF alumni and friends, it's all about our awesome, scruffy, [sometimes] weird, and yet much-loved city...Knoxville. Check it out.