We might be biased, but we think Knoxville is a pretty city, nestled in the foothills of the Smokies and spanning the Tennessee River. It’s a photographer’s dream with so much to capture – calm reflective water in a quarry, Victorian cityscapes, an iconic skyline, botanical gardens bursting with blooms, modern architecture, and so much more. Some of these are obvious helpful hints, and others are secrets – but not for long. Today we’re giving you 10 shots to serve on the ‘gram!
*you’ll notice none of these are by drone. We wanted to share something that any visitor (or local) could do easily with nothing but iPhone in hand – read more on drone laws here.
1. Tennessee Theatre
2. Fort Dickerson Quarry
3. Bike Sculpture
5. Gay Street
6. House Mountain
7. Cityview Sunset from SoKno
8. Bridge Sunrise
9. Greetings from Knoxville Postcard Mural
10. A View from the Bluffs
A decent percentage of shots are taken from the northwest corner of Gay Street and Clinch Avenue – very common for locals and visitors alike. Perfect for proposals, wedding pics, besties, and more. This one is from a bit further north on Gay Street. Vertical shots from the opposite northwest corner showcase the marquee and blade best, but shots from the other side can highlight more of Gay Street. Book tickets for a show so you can enjoy the completely refurbished splendor of its 1928 interior!
To get to it: Stand on the opposite side of Gay Street, about at Krutch Park north of Clinch Avenue. This can be a difficult capture with phone, as those lights are very bright – but it is just as beautiful in daytime!
Even locals are not familiar with this park, so it’s a bit of a hidden gem. Fort Dickerson is one of the best-preserved earthen forts from the Civil War era. This city park has a pristine quarry lake and more than four miles of multi-use natural trails. There are two shelters for enjoying a picnic after walking the interactive trail around the fort, which includes three authentic replica cannons.
To get to it: Enter the upper entrance to the park off Chapman Highway, then park in the lot at the top and walk up to the small observation area.
There are loads of cool sculptures all over town, but this one is permanent and a bit off the beaten path. We have seen many creative shots of people jumping under the arch, posing with their bikes, doing handstands, and other cool moves. This is another one to bump up the contrast and try to capture a sunset against the wheels and spokes. If you continue under the archway, you’ll hit an elevator that will take you down to Outdoor Knoxville. Lots of opportunities to kayak, SUP, and hydrobike (easy rentals from Knoxville Adventure Collective) or ride your bike along the greenway.
To get it: This arch can be found adjacent to the parking lot that is across the street from James White’s Fort. Think about the shadows and background – cross your fingers for a nice sunset!
There are a million angles to capture of our beloved Sunsphere, so we’re gonna give y’all only one on this list and create a separate top 10 of JUST the Sunsphere (insert gif: Jonah Hill excited)! This angle may go unnoticed, but is a common one to pass if you’re coming from downtown and going to a UT football game. It might not be the best for selfies as the angle to achieve this is pointing up *double chin alert*.
To get it: Stand on the north side of Cumberland Avenue, just west of Poplar Street.
5. Gay Street
Lots of angles to experiment with here as we’re talking the whole street. Gay Street is lined with buildings from the 1890s, if you take a look you’ll see historical plaques left and right. Enjoy all kinds of food, bevvies, shopping, and entertainment await after you get your shot.
To get it: You can set up shop really anywhere along Gay Street – ask yourself what you want to focus on? This one has an added bonus of light reflection from the wet streets. To get a similar angle, stand outside our Visitors Center on Gay Street on the sidewalk.
You’re gonna have to work for this one. The trail to the summit is only about a mile, but it’s considered moderate to strenuous as it is quite steep. But the view is worth it! The West End Overlook presents views of the Cumberland Mountains to the north, the Smoky Mountains to the south, and a glimpse of downtown Knoxville on the horizon. The views from the East End Overlook feature the Clinch Mountain range which runs northeast all the way into Southwest Virginia.
To get it: Hike that mountain! Play around with the angles up here to get more of the hiker (you, if you’ve got a tripod and use self-timer) or more of the landscape. Profile shots look great up here too.
Looking for a sunset shot? This might be the ticket. Suttree Landing Park is the City of Knoxville’s newest park in South Knoxville and is only a mile from the heart of downtown. Enjoy walking along the river as you wait for the light to be timed just right.
To get it: Head to Suttree Landing Park and walk up and down the riverfront to find the spot that works best for you and the lighting conditions as the sun goes down.
Who doesn’t love the contrast of stark crisp architecture paired with the warm glow of a sunrise? Throw in a reflection off super calm water and you’ve got yourself a winner.
To get it: Get down to the waterfront at Volunteer Landing early. Avoid days where it’s been windy or there’s been more activity on the water than normal (like UT Football game days when the Vol Navy is at full force) so you can have a better chance of nabbing that glasslike surface.
We could easily fill this whole list with murals, but we’ll give you two and a link to a list of them for you to find on your own instead. This is possibly the “most Knoxville-esque” of the murals, and easy to get (no parking issues, traffic, or other obstacles). Plus it’s right next to K Brew so you can reward your amazing shot with an iced latte while you relax in a hammock chair.
To get it: Head to K Brew in North Knoxville. If you came from the south on Broadway you’ll see it on the right before you hit K Brew. This mural is technically on the site of Nothing Too Fancy’s printshop. Stand in the parking lot so you can capture the whole thing!
Explore this primitive park featuring Civil War history, two lakes and inspiring views of downtown Knoxville from the bluffs high above the Tennessee River. If you get lucky and time it right, you might have a chance of nabbing a boat like the Tennessee Riverboat in your photo!
To get it: Park at the Cherokee Trail Trailhead and access the unmarked trail from Scottish Pike.
These shots barely scratch the surface of all the fun you can have taking pictures in Knoxville. Whether simple selfies with your friends from an iPhone to major photography gearheads, you’re going to love finding so many Instagram-worthy possibilities!