UT & The Volunteer Navy, Concord Park & Great Cheese Awaits Visitors To K-Town
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Travel Blogger & Knoxville native
I saw a question posted on Quora inquiring about places a tourist should visit in Knoxville, TN, and figured as a native of this fine city it was my moral if not professional obligation as a travel blogger to respond to it.
But rather than just answer the question to the person who asked it, I thought I would share my inside knowledge and do this post on PubClub.com.
So first of all, I’m glad you asked! Here’s my top places to see while you’re in K-town, a mid-sized Southern city that’s surrounded by lakes and the Tennessee River, an hour (give or take traffic) from the gateway to the Great Smokey Mountains and home to the University of Tennessee.
PubClub.com’s top picks for best sites to see in K-Town are:
• Visiting The University Of Tennessee
UT, as locals refer to it, is located near downtown K-town and is the home to the blinding-orange Volunteers. Neyland Stadium is one of only three college football stadiums located on a river. The Volunteer Navy consists of houseboats docked side-by-side for games and the “Salute to the Hill” and the “splitting of the ‘T’ ” are two of college football’s great pre-game traditions. Unfortunately, there’s no “hill” anymore; it’s full of concrete and buildings; be sure and see Ayres Hall, the oldest building on campus. You can drive around Volunteer Blvd., and stop at not just the stadium but also get a selfie in front of “the rock,” where students paint to mark special occasions. Such as Lane Kiffin leaving for USC after one year.
Location: University of Tennessee Map
• The Women’s Basketball Hall Of Fame
Because of long-time coach Pat Summit, women’s basketball is a big deal at UT and Knoxville is home to this HoF for the women’s game. It’s located next to downtown and the hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. from May 1 thru Labor Day and 11 a.m.-5 p.m., the rest of the year (10 a.m. on Saturdays). Admission is $7.95 for adults.
Address: 700 S Hall of Fame Dr.
• Walk Along The Tennessee River
Start at Calhoun’s On The Water (a good place for food & drink, especially on the large outdoor deck for Happy Hour on Fridays) and walk down past where the Volunteer Navy docks for UT games then head in the the other direction to the area near the Hyatt and see the James White Fort on E. Hill Street, the birthplace of Knoxville.
Calhoun’s On The Water Address: 400 Neyland Dr,
• Concord Park In West Knoxville
Want to get away from downtown to an area that really showcases Knoxville? Then head south to this massive area for picnics along the water where there are parks, a Par 3 golf course and even a beach volleyball court. There’s also a lot of big houses. In fact, Knoxville has a lot of these places and another cool area is Tellico Lake at the dam (take the Loudon exit off I-75; this is near the Sweetwater Valley Farm mentioned later in this post).
Concord Park Address: 10960 Concord Park Dr.
• The Dragon & The Tail Of The Dragon
Yes, there’s a dragon in Knoxville! Not a real one, of course, but a wooden one on U.S. 129 near Chilhowee Dam along the Little Tennessee River at the Harley Davidson shop. This is a scenic drive through woods and by the water outside of Knoxville.
Address: 5908 Calderwood Highway
Keep driving and you’ll run into the Tail of the Dragon on U.S. Highway 129 on the way to Fontana Dam. This one of America’s most puke-inducing scenic drives; it has 318 curves in 11 miles. Motorcycles love it and there are several accidents. But you don’t have to go that far to see the silver metal dragon with a long tail at Deal’s Gap, the mascot, as it were, of the Tail of the Dragon.
Yet another scenic road to explore outside of Knoxville is the Foothills Parkway.
• The Sweetwater Valley Farms Cheese Store
You may not think of Tennessee – and certainly not Knoxville – when it comes to cheese but if this isn’t among some of the best cheese you’ve had in your life it will certainly be among the most creative. It has how-do-they-come-up-with-this selections such as Fiery Fiesta, Tomato Herb and Italian Pesto (a personal favorite, along with the smoked gouda). It’s about 45 minutes south of Knoxville off I-75 in Philadelphia (TN).
• Address: 17988 W Lee Hwy, Philadelphia, TN
More Things To See In Knoxville: There were some other good suggestions on the Quora post: Go to the top of the Sunsphere built for the the 1982 World’s Fair (between UT and downtown but the area really could use a good beer & wine festival to give it some life), the Mabry-Haven House which housed both Confederate and Union soldiers during the war and one place I’ve not been to but sounds great, a downtown speakeasy called the Peter Kern Library.