As a student at the University of Tennessee and an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at Visit Knoxville I have had the opportunity to learn more about life in the diverse city of Knoxville, Tennessee.

When I was applying to colleges I was worried that Knoxville was a daunting six hours away from my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Sure, it is a straight shot down I-40, but did I really want to be that far away from my family? I contemplated not even applying to UT, but after I came to tour the campus I was sold on not only the college, but also the city.

 UT is unique because you can enjoy college life and living on campus while also having Downtown Knoxville in your back yard (unlike many other SEC schools in small college towns). After having the opportunity to explore this city, I learned of some local favorites and places that every student should experience during their time in Knoxville.

The place that students should explore first is Market Square. Market Square boasts some of the best restaurants, shopping, and nightlife in Downtown Knoxville. I mean, where else can you can grab dinner at Café Four and then walk over to Preservation Pub for a live performance and drinks? There is also a local farmer’s market every Wednesday and Saturday that offers students a unique market experience.  Market Square is the perfect place to unwind after a long week of classes.

Are you craving a more outdoorsy exploration? Downtown Knoxville is only a three minute drive to Ijams Nature Center, one of the gems of the city. Ijams is a wildlife sanctuary where student have the opportunity to hike, swim in the quarry, or learn more about local wildlife. I recommend trying out the paddle boards in Meade’s quarry… just make sure to wear your bathing suit!

Music lovers of all kinds have a reason to celebrate in Knoxville. Live music and performances are everywhere! The Blue Plate Special at the Knoxville Visitor Center is a great place to see new and upcoming artists perform without having to break you college budget. There are also free live shows in Market Square every Tuesday and Thursday night all summer long.

Knoxville has so much to offer students outside of campus life, and there are plenty of reasons to head downtown. I would encourage every student to get out of campus and explore the city- you will not be disappointed!