Looking for things to do and places to go in Knoxville? Enjoy our Neighborhood Guide series where we share a part of town and cover food and drinks, nature and outdoors, arts and culture, attractions, and more!


Adventure Awaits - South Knoxville

If you find yourself looking taking in the surrounding views from the top row of Neyland Stadium, through the gold-colored windows of the Sunsphere, or over the edge of a cocktail at the Radius Rooftop Lounge, you’ll notice what appears to be an undeveloped patch of land across the Tennessee River. It’s a mecca for outdoor lovers of all kinds – Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, a spot that put South Knoxville (SoKno) on everyone’s radar. This 1,000-acre area boasts more than 60 miles of trails and greenways connecting to a beautiful nature center, pristine lakes, historic sites, dramatic quarries, adventure playgrounds, city parks, and a 600-acre wildlife area. What surrounds all of this is equally impressive, but let’s focus first on the activities.

The heart of the Urban Wilderness is Ijams Nature Center, a wildlife sanctuary that hosts everything from environmental education programs to outdoor movie nights. It’s also home to Navitat Knoxville, rated the #1 Outdoor Activity in Knoxville by TripAdvisor (insider/outsider tip: go at night for an extra thrill under the stars).

Nearby Baker Creek Preserve is a destination unto itself for mountain biking enthusiasts. The Baker Creek Bike Park features five multi-use trails, three downhill mountain bike trails, and a skill building area for all ages and skill abilities. Experiences range from a beginner/kids pump track to the most advanced trail – Devil’s Racetrack, the only double-black diamond downhill trail in the region. Its intense gaps and drops draw expert riders from around the world. Read more about Knoxville’s more than great outdoors on page 18 of this guide.

It should be noted that Civil War history lovers will also want to include SoKno in an itinerary, specifically Fort Dickerson and High Ground Park. More recent history (complete with VCRs and disco balls) can be found in two groovy places on Sevier Avenue – namely, Mood Ring Vintage and Fly By Night, a 70s themed cocktail lounge serving up Harvey Wallbangers and cocktail weenies from a decadent paneled bar.


All this activity is SURE to work up an appetite and, once again, South Knoxville has you covered! Scoot over to Baker Creek Bottoms at the Baker Creek Preserve trailhead to enjoy lunch or dinner at 71 South. You’ll find it right next to Crafty Bastard Brewery and Bear Paw Bikes, your go-to for mountain bike sales, service and rentals. Additional dining options are provided by SoKno Taco and the Landing House, serving up Cambodian cuisine with a kick. Red Bud Kitchen, SouthSide Garage Food Truck Park, and South Coast Pizza round out a few more favorites on Sevier Avenue. While you’re in that area, check out a few more local breweries: Printshop Beer Co. and Alliance Brewing Company (look for the cool biker sculpture out front). Trailhead Beer, an aptly named beer market, also provides a great selection. Over on Chapman Highway, look for Aretha Frankensteins – the Chattanooga foodie fave now in Knoxville! Of course, you can always order food to go and picnic at Suttree Landing Park alongside the Tennessee River.

Refueling spots between adventures include local favorites Honeybee Coffee, CommonPlace Coffee (one of the rooms is the former bank vault), and South Press, an LGBTQ+ friendly space that hosts trivia, drag shows, and on-stage jams. NOTE: South Knoxville is also home to SoKno Pride in June!

You simply can’t talk about South Knoxville without mentioning a few other notable locations, including the Candoro Marble Building. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Candoro celebrates the beauty of Tennessee Pink Marble with programming provided by Tri-Star Arts.  For a unique stay or simply a magical experience, consider Ancient Lore Village – an only-in-Knoxville retreat like no other place on earth. Immerse yourself in this quaint, whimsical village with adventures of its own. Where will you make memories in SoKno?

Like what you see? Pick up a FREE Visitors Guide here!