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Game on in Knoxville - UT Campus

For most of its existence, Knoxville has been known as a college town. That’s due in part to the fact that Blount College, the institution that would become the University of Tennessee, was founded in 1794 – just eight short years after Knoxville was established (and before Tennessee became a state in 1796).  Suffice to say, the stately walls of old UT truly are a defining part of the town’s history and landscape. So is its famous stadium that sits on the banks of the Tennessee River. Whether you love that “gaudy shade of orange” or not, it’s a bucket list destination for sports enthusiasts around the world.


Neyland Stadium lies at the heart of Knoxville both figuratively — and geographically. On game days, this proximity creates a fluid sea of all things Tennessee football.

—Sports Illustrated

The geographic heart of Knoxville includes downtown’s Market Square, a pedestrian friendly area filled with shops, restaurant and rooftop bars. Over the past several years, foot traffic to and from campus has elevated Knoxville from a college town to a college city — and not just on gameday. Its convenient location makes a trip to one of the nation’s most beautiful college campuses an experience unto itself.

From downtown, head down to the river to Volunteer Landing and follow the Neyland Greenway to UT Gardens, one of the three statewide sites of the State Botanical Garden of Tennessee. This outdoor learning laboratory is open year-round and is free to the public. Along the way, watch the Star of Knoxville Tennessee Riverboat cruise alongside leisure boats, fishing boats and kayaks. Another fun route to campus includes a stroll through World’s Fair Park. From downtown, take the pedestrian footbridge at Clinch Avenue. As you make your way toward campus, look for one of Knoxville’s many hidden gems — a statue of Sergei Rachmaninoff, commemorating the composer/performer’s last public performance held at the University of Tennessee on February 17, 1943. The statue is a bronze casting sculpted by Russian artist, Victor Bokarev.

Once on campus, take a self-guided walking tour to appreciate historic architecture and signature highlights like “The Rock,” an iconic UT landmark and a place of free expression. Make your way to the corner of Lake Loudoun Boulevard and Phillip Fulmer Way to Pat Summitt Plaza, a space that honors the beloved coach of the Lady Vols basketball team. During her 38 years as head coach, Summitt led the Lady Vols to eight NCAA championships and 32 combined Southeastern Conference titles. The court at Thompson-Boling is named in her honor.

Of course no trip to campus is complete without a visit to Neyland Stadium. Even if it isn’t a gameday, you can appreciate the stately architecture of a stadium named for “the man most responsible for the growth and development of Tennessee’s proud football tradition.” Forever known as General because of his military prowess and rank, Neyland built the Volunteers into the most impenetrable program in the nation. As much as football was a part of Neyland’s life, so was the military. After a stint at Texas A&M, he earned an invite to Army, where he starred in baseball. He had a chance to pursue a professional baseball career but decided to serve in World War I instead. Years later, while coaching the Vols, the country came calling — again — and a General never leaves his men behind. A statue in his honor can be found between gates 15A and 17.

While outside the stadium, take time to wander over to Gate 21 to admire larger-than-life bronze statues honoring Tennessee football trailblazers and VFL lettermen Lester McClain, Jackie Walker, Condredge Holloway and Tee Martin. These men represent significant “firsts” and forged a path for generations of minority student-athletes to follow in their footsteps on Rocky Top.

Extend your time on campus with a visit to the McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture, a free Smithsonian affiliate museum with permanent and rotating exhibits. And look to see what’s playing at the Clarence Brown Theatre. The theatre is named after the UT graduate and accomplished film director whose films gained 38 Academy Award nominations and earned nine Oscars. Being a member of the League of Resident Theatres enables the CBT to bring the best professional talent to perform.

Before you leave, make the trip up “The Hill” to see the stunning architecture of Ayers Hall. Then stop by the Student Union and check out the torch glass sculpture, made by Knoxville’s Pretentious Craft Co. artist Matthew Cummings whose glassware and brews can be found in the Old City. On the way, make a quick stop for coffee at the Golden Roast on Melrose, Capybara Coffee at University Commons or Coffee Underground on 17th Street. Additional fun stops include the UT Creamery, a new storefront ice cream shop and boutique at 2712 Neyland Drive, and Saloon 16 at Graduate Knoxville. This western-inspired watering hole was created in partnership with Peyton “The Sheriff” Manning and is filled with memorabilia from Peyton’s personal collection. Stop in to watch the game, enjoy a laid-back meal or start your Sunday Funday early at its popular Sunday brunch.

More dining options include Sunspot, Fieldhouse Social and Gus’s Good Time Deli, a popular lunch spot that opened in the early 80s and has been a fixture on campus ever since. Experiences are always a win on campus!


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