Sometimes you just have to get away to a nice little city tucked in the mountains.
Sometimes it’s best to toss your travel plans out the window on the drive down or forget to make them.
What we liked best about Knoxville, Tennessee is how unassuming it is. It’s not trying to be cool or the best. It’s a country music town but no where near as crazy as Nashville.
It’s a dog town. It’s a good retirement spot and a young couples spot. It’s a great place to start a business and an even better place to relocate if you’re looking for a change according to the Huffington Post.
Stumbling into the city over the summer without a travel plan this is what we found to be fun and refreshing, as vacations go.
We stayed at the Hilton Knoxville which was walking distance to Market Square, museums, cute boutique shops and fun food. Since we didn’t plan this mini-break and were using points from one of our many travel loyalty programs the proximity perk was an added bonus. We also adore the Peter Thomas Roth bath products the Hilton offers in the hotel room so we always try to stay at a Hilton when we’re faced with last minute decisions and haven’t packed shampoo.
What we did
Art Walk: You don’t have to enter the museum to get up close and personal with this modern art walk through Knoxville Tennessee’s Market Square District, but do be sure to stroll about and appreciate it. No money necessary.
Museum: If you are looking for a more substantial art experience by all means check out the museum. The Knoxville Museum of Art is perfect if you’re interested in whimsical sculpture and serious art from East Tennessee. The museum offers workshops and programs in addition to Richard Jolley’s Glass and Steel Cycle of Life ongoing exhibition, the Thorne Rooms; miniature dollhouse room dioramas of by Mrs. James Ward Thorne and Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee.
Where we shopped
We love Mast General Store so always make a trip whenever there is one nearby. Also downtown was a small shop selling Tennessee proud gift items called Nothing Too Fancy. The whole square is pretty much filled with cute vintage shops, boutiques and places to just window shop. Take an afternoon and walk around, you’ll love it.
Where we ate:
Worlds Fair Park Sunsphere: Built for the 1982 World Fair the sunsphere houses a restaurant on the 5th floor called Primo. It’s Italian. Being Italian ourselves we always make a point to try out the Italian restaurants in cities we visit to see how authentic it feels. Definitely pricey, but the desserts are worth the trip. Of course if you can’t justify the price and still want a sweet treat you can try the Chocolate Monkey at the West Town Mall.
Soccer Taco: Strange name we agree, but we’re always craving Mexican so when we saw this Mexican Sports Bar we ventured in and we not disappointed! Voted Best Mexican, Best Nachos and Best Margaritas we’re obviously not the only ones who feel this way. It is, in essence a mexican restaurant that just plays soccer games all day. Serving everything you can think of on a mexican menu we liked the enchiladas the best and the super bowl nachos. The Chocolate Snicker Bar Chimichangas are also hard to pass up.
While there is surely some qualitative history in Knoxville that deserves our attention what we liked best was the architecture of the Regal Riviera Stadium 8 Movie Theater. This is what happens when you just happen upon a town without any planning. You don’t really know what historical monuments you’re missing.
Ijams Nature Center was a perfect getaway spot for some green time. This place is 300 acres so you can canoe, zipline, walk on the boardwalk, hike, go birding or see the quarry. The Tennessee weather was mild through the summer so being outdoors in nature was a perfect way to finish up our mini-break.
What we would do differently
While we usually have a list of things that we’d do differently that was the lovely part about not planning this trip. Even now, we couldn’t tell you what we missed or felt bad about not doing. If you have any tips of what we should be sure to see next time let us know!
Hint: We’ve already tried to rock climb at Ijams Nature Center.