Experience 8 Free Things to Do in Knoxville, TN


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Living in Knoxville, also known as The Marble City, offers numerous opportunities to immerse yourself in the city’s culture and picturesque backdrop without spending a dime. From natural parks that offer hiking trails to artistic and cultural experiences, this Tennessee city has it all. 

Whether you’re considering buying a home for sale in Knoxville or are searching for apartments to rent, this Redfin article will be your guide to finding something budget-friendly to enjoy while settling in. 

1. Explore Ijams Nature Center

Nestled on 315 acres along the Tennessee River, Ijams Nature Center offers a serene escape from the urban hustle of Knoxville. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with over 12 miles of hiking and biking trails. Visitors can kayak or paddleboard in Mead’s Quarry Lake, spot diverse wildlife, or participate in educational programs. Ijams also features a nature playscape for children, making it an ideal place to connect with nature and learn about East Tennessee’s ecosystems.

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2. Experience the Knoxville Botanical Gardens

The Knoxville Botanical Gardens, spread across 47 acres, features lush greenery and themed gardens. This spectacular free thing to do in Knoxville offers a tranquil experience within native flora like the Rose Garden and Historic Garden. For those seeking a more elevated experience, the Knoxville Botanical Gardens also offers events, workshops, and seasonal displays.

Woman with grapes at farmer's market

3. Stroll through Market Square

Market Square stands as the vibrant heart of Knoxville. Lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants, it’s a hub of activity. Live music and a lively atmosphere often fill the square, creating a welcoming environment for locals and tourists alike. Remember to explore the Market Square Farmers’ Market on weekends, where you can find fresh produce, crafts, and a taste of the local culture.

4. Tour the Sunsphere Tower and World’s Fair Park

The iconic Sunsphere Tower, a remnant from the 1982 World’s Fair, is a sight for the eye. Located within the World’s Fair Park, this 266-foot-tall structure invites you to gaze upon its stunning architecture and design. Stroll around the grounds of World’s Fair Park, where you’ll find yourself immersed in the history of the fair and the city’s evolution. 

5. Trek through the House Mountain State Natural Area

The House Mountain State Natural Area offers another opportunity for avid hikers and nature lovers to immerse themselves above the city’s skyline for breathtaking views. The park boasts challenging trails, but once you reach the summits, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Appalachian landscape.

6. Discover the Knoxville Museum of Art

The Knoxville Museum of Art is a great free thing to do in the city. The museum showcases an impressive regional and national art collection. Visitors can explore diverse exhibitions spanning contemporary, modern, and historical pieces. The museum’s commitment to promoting local artists and fostering a deeper understanding of art’s cultural significance makes it a phenomenal free thing to do in Knoxville for those seeking intellectual stimulation.

portion of henley bridge knoxville

7. Learn at McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture

The McClung Museum enriches your understanding of East Tennessee’s history and culture. With a diverse array of exhibits, including Native American artifacts, Civil War memorabilia, and geological wonders, it offers a comprehensive journey through the region’s past. Educational programs and rotating exhibitions ensure there’s always something new to discover.

8. Experience the birth of Knoxville at Blount Mansion

Step back in time to the Blount Mansion, the former home of William Blount, a signer of the United States Constitution and the territorial governor of the Southwest Territory. This historic site allows visitors to explore the mansion and its gardens, gaining insights into the early days of Knoxville and the nation.

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.
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