Before You Go
Coordinates | 35.96068° N, -83.92103° E
Baton Rouge to Knoxville | 654 miles
Driving Time | 9 hours, 53 minutes
Flying Time | 1 hour, 38 minutes
Why Knoxville? | This beautiful city is known by many names–Heart of the Valley, Queen City of the Mountains, and Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains. But no matter what you want to call it, Knoxville is a beautiful, vibrant city that offers captivating cultural events, tantalizing cuisine, stunning natural adventures, and downright friendly folks. Your entire family will find plenty to do–and more–in this eastern part of the Volunteer State.
Where to Stay
We’re always on the hunt for unique places to rest our weary heads, and we’ve found a winner in The Oliver. The Oliver is tucked inside an 1876 building that once housed the Peter Kern Bakery, Kern’s Ice Cream Parlor–even a dance hall! Beautifully-appointed rooms offer king and queen-sized beds, and charming suites with high ceilings and plantation shutters. Dine on site at Oliver Royale or the Tupelo Honey Café. The Oliver is also located close to many downtown attractions and amenities.
Where to Eat
The French Market Creperie
The French Market Creperie is a marvelous choice for any time of the day. They serve both sweet and savory crepes that will please everyone. For sweet, dig into their chocolate, strawberry, S’mores, French caramel, or cherry cheesecake crepes. For savory, enjoy the grilled cheese and tomato, roast beef and Swiss cheese, or the mushroom, spinach and bacon crepe. Your taste buds will scream ‘magnifique!’
SoKno Taco Cantina
It’s always a treat to find authentic Mexican cuisine on our travels, and you’ll discover some of the best at SoKno Taco Cantina. The Nasty Nacho appetizer has plenty of tasty ingredients piled high on crunchy tortilla chips, with your choice of meat, pico de gallo, queso and cilantro. Adult entrees include the delicious taco platter and tamale platter, and you can munch away on pint-sized nachos, quesadilla or tacos. Top off your meal with warm, crunchy churros, served with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream.
Central Filling Station
It happens all the time. Everyone wants to eat something different when dinnertime rolls around. So, next time Dad is in the mood for a burger and the kids are craving a delicious pizza for dinner, head to Central Filling Station, Tennessee’s first full-service food truck park. This family and Fido-friendly neighborhood hangout features a rotation of the food trucks. Almost any kind of food can be found here, including ice cream, tacos, hot dogs, Asian, and Italian cuisine. Everyone will find just what they’re craving on this menu.
Things to Do
Zoos are always a great place to start your adventure, and Zoo Knoxville is a winner. Besides showcasing a beautiful collection of exotic and domestic creatures, such as Hamadryas Baboons and North American black bears, the zoo has a long menu of experiences the family will enjoy, like Animal Encounters, Bedtime with the Beasts, and Night Safaris.
Explore the gorgeous Ijams Nature Center, the crown jewel of the Urban Wilderness in South Knoxville. The entire family will find loads to do–hiking, mountain biking, animal education, and paddling in their quarry. There are tons of events, too, including scavenger hunts for animals, plants and birds.
She shoots–she scores! The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, the only facility of its kind in the world dedicated to the sport of women’s basketball, is located here. See the world’s largest basketball measuring 30-feet tall and weighing in at an impressive 10 tons! Test your basketball skills in one of the three different courts on site.
For more sporting fun, check out Maple Hall where you can eat, drink, and go bowling! Their kitchen conjures up a winning menu using fresh, local ingredients that are quite delicious and they have two bars on site serving craft cocktails, wine and beer. The 11-lane bowling alley offers leather couches, HD-TVs and a superb lounge area.
Catch a 360-degree view from the observation deck of the magnificent Sunsphere, the iconic structure built for the 1982 World’s Fair, located in World’s Fair Park. There’s no charge to ride up to the observation deck, and the best viewing time is during the sunset hours.
Check out the McCLung Museum of Natural History and Culture on the campus of the University of Tennessee. Kids of all ages will marvel at exhibits that showcase everything from the history of Tennessee to Egyptian artifacts. Special events for families happen monthly, and there are stroller tours where the littlest art enthusiasts are welcome to attend. ■