Nestled in a mountain valley about an hour away from Great Smoky National Park, Knoxville, Tennessee offers an active downtown and a variety of activities for visitors and residents. Read about five free things to do in this small mountain city.
1. The Sunsphere, a 24-story structure topped with a gold sphere, is one of the most recognizable and unique structures in the city. The Sunsphere, built for the 1982 World’s Fair, sits downtown in World’s Fair Park. An elevator at the bottom of the structures takes visitors up to the free observation deck inside the gold ball. Up here you can enjoy the view and watch videos of the 1982 World’s Fair. The Sunsphere is located near Clinch Avenue between 11th Street and Henley Street.
2. Explore East Tennessee history at Marble Springs. This free historic site, located at 1220 E. Governor John Sevier Highway, sits at the home site of Tennessee’s first governor, John Sevier. The grounds offer several buildings to investigate, including a tavern and Sevier’s home. Explore the buildings, including some original furnishings, and learn about life on the frontier in the late 1700s. A visit to Marble Springs is a great thing to do with kids.
3. Visit Market Square in the heart of downtown Knoxville. The pedestrian block boasts benches, a fountain where kids can frolic, shops and restaurants. The area is also home to a number of events such as festivals, outdoor movies and the farmer’s market.
4. Visit Knoxville radio station WDVX, at the corner of Gay Street and Summit Hill Drive, for a free live music event, the Blue Plate Special, held each weekday at noon.
5. Take a hike in Ijams, a 100-plus-acre nature reserve just a few minutes from downtown Knoxville. The park offers a number of wooded trails, including one that winds along the Tennessee River and a trail to an old marble quarry. Ijams is located at 2915 Island Home Avenue.