Many say that Knoxville is the perfect mix between Southern mountain charm and big city fun. Yes. Yes. Knoxville tops the list when it comes to livability, charm, and outdoor adventure, but “some” people are in for a surprise. Or two. As more and more people make Knoxville a destination for an exciting getaway, they just may discover for themselves—this is NOT what they expected.
1. It Stands out from the Crowd
With a rich history, unique soulful food, and historic music venues, Knoxville doesn’t hold a candle to the tourist traps and chain restaurants of other vacation spots. You may have to try something new on a visit to Knoxville. Where are all those kitschy experiences and overpriced, mediocre food that you’ve come to expect while traveling? Knoxville is just too quaint and hip for that sort of thing, so you’re probably better off in a large, unruly beach city.
2. Undeveloped Opportunities
What city dedicates nearly an entire district to undeveloped nature? Located just minutes from downtown, the Urban Wilderness features more than 50 miles of bike trails, boat launches, kid’s nature areas, and swimming holes, which take up valuable space that most cities would use for large retail operations. Do you really expect people to visit a city to enjoy nature? I mean really. Along the way, you’ll find taco joints, small breweries, independent gear shops, and quaint houses. Even the gravity mountain biking park at Baker Creek is free to anyone with a safe bike and a helmet. Who does that?
3. Insufficient Brewery Size
So you come to Knoxville despite all the warnings. You go to a cool little brewery like Hexagon,Crafty Bastard, or Alliance, and have a beer that you absolutely love. Now you have to go back home and realize that the great beer is hard to find anywhere else despite being the best thing you’ve ever tasted. Looks like you’re outta luck and have to come back to this city for another unique experience—or buy some to stock your fridge back home.
4. Too Much Water
Sure, you may like every form of kayaking, boating, fishing, and swimming known to man, but in Knoxville, you’re overwhelmed with options. Why not go somewhere that’s known for one great thing? Short of saltwater ocean kayaking, you’ll have to make the impossible choice of where to paddle among the nine lakes, three rivers, or hundreds of miles of mountain streams that you’ll want to explore, all within an hour or so of town. Whitewater rafters and kayakers will find that the city is bordered by world-class creeks and rivers to the north, east, and south of the city.
5. Free Americana Music
You read it right. Walk into the Knoxville Visitors Center downtown around noon, and you’ll hear some rising Americana artists playing for the Blue Plate Special, a show put on by the public-supported radio station WDVX. Sure, the music is great, and you might see someone like the Avett Brothers, Chris Stapleton, or some other guest who goes on to make major records, but six days a week in addition to all that’s happening on the evenings and weekends? Too much.
6. People are Annoyingly Friendly
Positivity is best taken in balanced portions, according to experts, but Knoxvillians give you a heaping helping of Southern friendliness. Perhaps it’s the lack of traffic, rainy weather, or general gloominess, but it wouldn’t hurt the locals to get a dose of reality every once in a while.
7. It’s Impossible to Match University of Tennessee Orange
Rated as one of the most loyal fan bases in all of college football, Knoxvillians will always wear that obnoxious orange color. I suppose that makes sense when one imagines how much every local has invested in orange clothing that can’t be matched with anything. From cycling kits to dress pants, you’ll have to buy clothes in the extremely unflattering color to fit in with the locals during the fall.
8. A Dizzying Amount of Sweets
So let’s say that you’re into the whole active lifestyle thing. You kayak down the Tennessee River, bomb singletrack in the Urban Wilderness on your bike, or enjoy some trail running. Is it wise to replace those calories burned with homemade pies, ice cream, and other local treats from ingredients in the Tennessee Valley? Of course not, but that doesn’t stop Knoxvillians. Whether it’s Cruze Farm Ice Cream, Buttermilk Sky Pie, or other indulgent treats, you’ll have no problem ruining your workout.
9. The Weird Selections at the Downtown Farmers’ Market
Knoxville has an absolutely massive farmers’ market that’s held on Wednesdays and Saturdays from May to November. It’s filled with an incredible variety of produce and prepared foods that make it all but impossible to decide what to eat. Everything is oddly hyperlocal, varied, and mixed among ingredients and varietals that you’ve never heard of. Unless you’re a recipe writer for the New York Times, you don’t need this kind of variety.
10. Authentic Food Trucks Without the Hassle
Half the fun of eating at food trucks is trying to hunt them down and stand in long and sweaty lines of city workers to get the latest fusion from the hippest food truck. Well, say goodbye to that whole experience in Knoxville. Just north of downtown during temperate weather, a rotating variety of food trucks are always open at Central Filling Station, a walking area that completely ruins the true fun of food trucks. Who wants variety for a group of picky eaters with different tastes?
OK. We’ve had our fun. Maybe this actually sounds pretty great to you. If you’re into the sorta things that Knoxville has to offer, you’ll find that it’s pretty easy to get to, pretty easy to explore, and pretty easy to love. So come check it out and see for yourself.
Written by RootsRated Media for Visit Knoxville.