Though Knoxville becomes the beloved home of around 30,000 students each year from August to May, one fact still remains the pride of every Knoxville native — this is more than a college town. Full of unique attractions that have earned the UT’s home nicknames such as the Marble City, the Scruffy City and more, Knoxville holds an endless amount of fun opportunities for students to enjoy.
Here are 10 local attractions that make Knoxville unique.
Blue Plate Special
WDVX’s Blue Plate Special is the perfect opportunity to watch live music on a college student’s budget: it's completely free. The live performance radio show happens six days a week inside the Knoxville Visitors Center, and anyone is welcome to come and enjoy the tunes and their lunch. Many famous artists have graced the Blue Plate Special stage, and there is no telling who might be next.
UT was nicknamed “Rocky Top” for a reason. Located about 25 minutes from campus, hiking House Mountain offers a breathtaking view of the thriving natural beauty of Knoxville. A 3.7-mile loop to the highest peak in the county, this hike is a workout friendly to both beginners and experienced hikers.
Bowling at Maple Hall
A fun experience with both new friends or visiting family, Maple Hall is an upscale bowling alley with delicious food and an exciting atmosphere. Conveniently located on Gay Street in Downtown Knoxville, Maple Hall is the perfect place to bowl in style.
Without a doubt the most noticeable part of the Knoxville skyline, the Sunsphere simply cannot be ignored. The observation deck of the one-of-a-kind 1982 World’s Fair structure offers a 360-degree view of the city of Knoxville and a look into the city’s eventful past. The origin of Knoxville’s Scruffy City nickname even lies within.
The Knoxville Ice Bears at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum
Hockey fans might be interested in the Knoxville Ice Bears, Knoxville’s very own professional hockey team. A member of the Southern Professional Hockey League and four-time SPHL champions, the Ice Bears are a delight to watch.
The Tennessee Theatre
The Tennessee Theatre has been an iconic part of the Knoxville community since it first opened its doors in 1928. Full of historic beauty and home to the Mighty Wurlitzer organ, the theater has something for everyone. The theater hosts countless shows and performances throughout the year, and students can purchase tickets to see everything from Broadway shows to symphonies to concerts to movies.
The Blount Mansion
For those interested in Tennessee history, the historic home of William Blount, territorial governor of Tennessee and the first man to ever be impeached by the House of Representatives, stands within sight of UTK’s campus. Blount even played a role in the formation of the University of Tennessee: it was his Blount College that evolved into the great university that stands today. Tours are offered four days a week.
When it comes to soft serve ice cream, nothing beats the delicious flavors swirled at Cruze Farm. Both the downtown and Asbury locations of the ice cream shop spawned by a local dairy farm serve up a rotating menu of ice cream. The Asbury location, though farther from campus, is especially exciting, as the ice cream shop often hosts drive-in movies throughout the year.
Another unique opportunity in the Marble City for those wishing to enjoy the outdoors can be found at Mead’s Quarry. Once valued for its marble, Mead’s Quarry is now home to swimming, paddling, and more in its waters. Mysterious and beautiful, Mead’s Quarry is a place no student should leave Knoxville without visiting.
Ice Skating in Market Square
Though Market Square may be well known among the student body by this time of year, there are countless hidden gems within the square and the surrounding area. One special winter tradition that will grace Market Square soon is ice skating. Typically opening the day after Thanksgiving, skaters can bundle up and ice skate on the rink nestled between the bustling shops and cozy restaurants the square is home to.