Knoxville, TN – A local’s guide

Knoxville, TN – A local’s guide

Oh Rocky Top, you'll always be, home sweet home to me

Known for a variety of different things, Knoxville, Tennessee is the perfect place to visit or stay. I’ve attended college at the university of Tennessee and have fallen in love with Knoxville. Below are some of my favorite things to do while in town and some suggestions for you.

The Great Outdoors

Ijams Nature Center

This place is the go to outdoors location. With a variety of trails running close to the river, a quarry to swim, kayak, or paddle boat in, and a full nature center, Ijams is a great place to spend your sunny days. 

This place is great because there’s a equipment rental shack right next to the water. Bring a couple of dollars and enjoy a day out on the water in a kayak. There’s also plenty of trails through the woods to explore as well.

  • 2915 Island Home Ave, Knoxville, TN 37920
A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Ijams
Photo Courtesy of kseniyaegor of Pixabay

UT Gardens

Definitely a good place to stop by and see. Being close to the University of Tennessee, you can find UT gardens right across the street from the river. 

There’s not too awful much here. But it’s definitely worth a walk through the flowers if you’re in the area.

  • 2518 Jacob Dr, Knoxville, TN 37996
A Local's Guide to Knoxville - UT Gardens
Photo Courtesy of Capri23Auto of Pixabay

Best Places to Eat

Best Burger:

Downtown Grill & Brewery

At the heart of downtown Knoxville, DGB is located on the historic Gay street. They have all kinds of things on the menu, including their own speciality house beers. I recommend their burgers and pasta. Their pasta is great, but their burgers are the best in town.

  • 424 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902
A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Downtown Grill & Brewery
Photos Courtesy of @hendog_dslr of Instagram
Best BBQ:

Dead End BBQ

Along with some of the best BBQ you’ll ever eat, they also have some pretty great sides. Their mac and cheese is fantastic. They offer a sandwich called the Dead-End Mac Attack which is my personal favorite. BBQ and mac and cheese between two pieces of sourdough bread.

  • 3621 Sutherland Avenue, Knoxville, TN, 37919
A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Dead End BBQ
Photo Courtesy of SkitterPhoto of Pixabay
Best Pizza:

The Tomato Head

Tomato Head offers some of the best pizza in town. There’s plenty of quality pizza places, but the atmosphere and location of Tomato Head – located in market square – adds to the experience. They also offer dairy free options which are equally as good for your lactose intolerant friends.

  • 12 Market Square
    Knoxville, Tennessee 37902
A Local's Guide to Knoxville - The Tomato Head
Photos Courtesy of @hendog_dslr of Instagram
Best Mexican Cuisine: 

Tie: El Burro Flojo & La Palma De Oro 

Both of these restaurants are great. El Burro Flojo offers a salsa bar with all kinds of different salsas that you are free to go and get to eat with your chips throughout your meal. La Palma De Oro gives you free cheese sauce with your meal along with salsa.

Both have amazing entrees and I’ve never been disappointed with either. 

El Burro: 8079 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919

LA Palma: 6631 Clinton Hwy #105, Knoxville, TN 37912

A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Mexican Food
Photo Courtesy of samuelfernandezrivera of Pixabay

Coffee Shops

Best Specialty Coffee:

Awaken Coffee

Awaken is a church on Sundays and Wednesdays and an amazing coffee find every other day. Great customer service, down to earth people, and definitely a great place to go and hangout or study. It’s located in a great spot in the historic old city.

  • 125 W Jackson Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902
A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Awaken Coffee
Photos Courtesy of @hendog_dslr of Instagram
Best Daily Run Coffee:

Dunkin Donuts of Chapman

This Dunkin Donuts location is everything you want it to be – fast, convenient, and great tasting. 

After having years of this locations coffee to get through college, I still enjoy drinking it. 

  • 2800 Chapman Hwy, Knoxville, TN 37920
A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Dunkin Donuts
Photo Courtesy of DizzyRoseBlade of Pixabay

Enjoying Knoxville Night Life

Old City Hanna’s

If you enjoy older, classic music – we’re talking like Mr.Brightside, Brittney Spears, etc – then Hanna’s is your spot. The crowd is slightly older compared to that of what you would find in Hanna’s on the strip or Southbound – due to the older music. 

  • 102 S Central St, Knoxville, TN 37902
A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Hanna's Cafe
Photos Courtesy of @hendog_dslr of Instagram

Southbound plays a lot more rap and dancing music than any other club in Knoxville. So if you’re looking to club and dance to actual dancing music hit up Southbound. If you don’t like it, Hanna’s in the old city is right next door.

  • 106 S Central St, Knoxville, TN 37902
A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Southbound
Photos Courtesy of @hendog_dslr of Instagram
Maple Hall

Bowling alley by day, bowling alley 21+ by night. This place has some great memories for me. Bowling is awesome – but will usually have quite a wait depending on the night. 

But there’s still plenty of fun to be had! With an entire upstairs, with an additional bar, boardgames, and just an overall great atmosphere – you will have a great time here. 

  • 414 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902
A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Maple Hall
Photos Courtesy of @hendog_dslr of Instagram
Suttree’s Tavern

Suttree’s another great place to enjoy the night life in Knoxville. It’s styled as an arcade bar with an entire side room full of old arcade games. Best part is that they’re all pretty cheap to play. Not to mention that the bartenders are super friendly and the drinks are great. Definitely a place to spend some time playing pool or pinball with friends. 

A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Suttree's Tavern
Photos Courtesy of @hendog_dslr of Instagram


UT Football

I wouldn’t be from Knoxville if I didn’t put this one first. A game day in Neyland stadium is truly something special. The atmosphere, the people, the volwalk, and everything else about UT game days come together to create a truly amazing experience for everyone. 

People get discouraged about records, wins & loses, but just getting the chance to be in Neyland, win or lose on the field, is a victory. 

A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Neyland Stadium
Other UT Athletics

Football is great and all, but if you want to watch competition, UT has plenty of other sports teams which will always be dominate. 

This definitely includes our softball, women’s basketball, soccer, and track team. Each of these teams have historically been powerhouses and deserve the ticket price. 

The men’s basketball team is currently on the rise too. 

A Local's Guide to Knoxville - UTK
Image Courtesy of The University of Tennessee
Knoxville Ice Bears

Seeing an ice bears game is something fun to do on an off night. They’re pretty good and there’s usually a theme to the night which makes it even more fun.

They do all kinds of events. One of the ones stuck in the front of my mind are the Weiner dog races. They also do a lot of cool stuff for kids – a great experience to have. 

A Local's Guide to Knoxville - Icebears
Image Courtesy of Knoxville Icebears

The University of Tennessee has no shortage of sporting events to attend. Most of the time, they’re super fun too. The students really add an energy to the atmosphere of all these events. Developing student sections for each sport has been a goal of several students throughout my time in college. You’ll find the Rowdies everywhere – soccer games, softball, basketball, and football. 

Hidden Gems

McKay’s Books

McKay’s is something all the locals of Knoxville know about. It’s a large book store which buys and sells books, video games, vinyls, and more. 

Everyone loves McKay’s here and it’s not uncommon to drive past a full parking lot every time you drive down their street. 

  • 230 Papermill Pl Way, Knoxville, TN 37919
A Local's Guide to Knoxville - McKay's
Photo Courtesy of Ninocare of Pixabay
The Beauty of Knoxville

Knoxville is undoubtedly a great place to be. I hope this article has shifted your perspective of all there is to do in Knoxville. As always, feel free to comment and let me know of the many things I missed in writing this article! 

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