Hidden Gems: 8 Unique Things to do in Knoxville, TN


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Whether you’re visiting, looking to buy a house, or planning on renting an apartment in Knoxville, TN, this city has numerous hidden gems worth discovering. From historic homes and museums to delicious culinary experiences, Knoxville caters to a variety of interests and tastes. Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Knoxville is a charming city that’s often overlooked in favor of its larger neighbors. But for those in the know, Knoxville is full of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. From quirky local shops and restaurants to off-the-beaten-path museums and hidden natural wonders, this city is full of places to explore. In this article, we’ve rounded up eight of the best hidden gems in Knoxville that locals will love. So whether you’re a born-and-raised local or you just started living in Knoxville, these hidden treasures are sure to surprise and delight.

Seller handing the shopping bag to a customer at a street market

1. Market Square

“Make Market Square in downtown Knoxville your first stop when visiting,” suggests Julie Graham of the Tennessee River Valley. “Not only will you find restaurants, small shops, and nightlife, this is the hub of community and artist activity with free outdoor events.” Graham recommends stopping by the “weekly farmer’s market, splash pads, or mural alley.” During the holiday season, experience the “multi-block area as it magically transforms with millions of twinkling lights and an ice skating rink.”

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2. The Happy Envelope 

Looking for a dose of happiness, look no further. Frances King, Owner and Editor of The Scout Guide, recommends visiting The Happy Envelope, a custom letterpress and stationery shop. This charming store is a must-visit for anyone seeking unique and cheerful paper goods. From whimsical greeting cards to stylish journals and planners, the Happy Envelope has everything you need to brighten your day and spread joy to those around you. And don’t forget to stock up on their signature “happy mail” stickers and stamps to make all your correspondence even more delightful.

woman shopping in a stationery store

3. Culinary delights

Knoxville may still be a hidden gem on the national food scene, but locals know that it’s a treasure trove of innovative and mouth-watering dining options just waiting to be discovered. Frances King from The Scout Guide suggests a trip to A Dopo, a pizzeria that sources local, farm fresh ingredients for wood-fired sourdough pizzas. 

Paige Koldys of Paige Koldys Photography recommends checking out Central Flats and Taps. “The casual vibe and outdoor seating area are perfect for a weeknight date,” says Koldys. “Start with their trio of dips served with stone-fired flatbread, and you won’t regret it.”

close up of pizza and other light appetizers being shared amongst a group of people

4. World’s Largest Rubik’s Cube

Are you ready to experience a mind-boggling wonder in Knoxville? Head to the Knoxville Convention Center to witness the world’s largest Rubik’s Cube. Standing at a whopping six feet tall, this impressive work of art will leave you in awe. Watch as the colorful cubes spin and twist, challenging you to solve the puzzle in a new way.

5. Pretentious Craft Co.

Craft beer enthusiasts will have a unique experience at Pretentious Craft Co. This innovative brewery combines art and science to create unique and delicious beer flavors you won’t find anywhere else. With a constantly rotating menu of small-batch brews, there’s always something new and exciting to try.

Craft Beer Sampler Tray

6. Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

Knoxville, is home to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, an absolute must-visit for anyone who loves the game. Step inside this impressive museum and learn about the history and evolution of women’s basketball, from its humble beginnings to its status as a global phenomenon. Marvel at the memorabilia and artifacts on display, including game-worn jerseys and championship trophies.

Basketball on court

7. Mabry-Hazen House

Step back in time at the Mabry-Hazen House. This stunning historic home, built in 1858, offers visitors a glimpse into life in the 19th century. Explore the beautifully preserved rooms and admire the original furnishings and decor. Learn about the fascinating stories of the Mabry and Hazen families, who called this home for generations. Remember to wander through the gardens, which are just as impressive as the house.

8. Tennessee Theatre 

Prepare for a night of elegance and entertainment at the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, TN. This beautiful venue, built in 1928, has been a beloved landmark in the city for nearly a century. The theater is a sight to behold with its ornate decor, intricate plasterwork, and stunning chandelier. But the performances truly make the Tennessee Theatre a must-visit destination.

To learn more about life in Knoxville, check out these 10 pros and cons of living in Tennessee.

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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