Creative Things To Do In and Around Knoxville
Snuggled between the Great Smoky Mountains and the mighty Tennessee River, Knoxville is a modern, exciting city, famous as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, sure to spark your creativity with nature, history, art and more.
Be sure to see the World’s Fair Park (954 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-254-1534) which was home to the World’s Fair in 1982. The park is made up of grassy areas, walking trails, fountains and geysers. The newly renovated Sun Sphere’s observation deck provides panoramic views of the Tennessee River and Great Smoky Mountains. You might even catch some live music!
The Knoxville Museum of Art (1050 World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-525-6101) promotes the work of artists from the state of Tennessee and emerging talent from the region. It is home to the largest glass installation in the world, the Cycle of Life. The building is a work of art itself; made of marble mined in Tennessee, the two large eyes looking over the landscape. Alive After Five brings some of Tennessee’s most accomplished musical talents to provide a fun evening of dancing, food, and spirits.
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners. Your purchases via these links may benefit Create Whimsy. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.
The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture (1327 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-974-2144) is located on the UTK campus. The museum showcases local history including the Civil War and archeology, including fossils and dinosaur bones. The museum maintains an eclectic collection of special exhibits from around the world. The Civil War and Human Origins exhibits are visitor favorites. Be sure to visit Monty the dinosaur on the front lawn.
Have great memories of being a Girl Scout? Visit the Daisy Center to reminisce about your experiences while browsing through over 500 vintage uniforms and have some fun with the hand-on exhibits.
Interested in genealogy? Or like to do gravestone rubbings? You need to take the time to visit the Old Gray Cemetery. The cemetery was founded in 1850 and includes 13 acres of park-like setting, with beautiful huge old trees.
As you travel around Knoxville, enjoy the Art in Public Places you’ll find all around town. The large sculptures are rotated to new locations each year, and murals are commissioned to bring art and color to normally drab walls.
The Tennessee Theater (604 S Gay St, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-684-1200) opened in 1928, and at that time the theater was called a ‘movie palace’. It was meticulously restored in 2005 and is part of the National Register of Historic Places. The theater is an exemplar of Spanish-Moorish architecture, with period antiques including the original Czech crystal chandeliers, Italian terrazzo floor, and Asian details in the drapery and carpets. You can watch classic films, musical concerts and Broadway shows, or enjoy the Knoxville Opera and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra here.
The Clarence Brown Theatre (1714 Andy Holt Ave, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-974-5161) provide a bit of Broadway on the UT Knoxville campus. Opening in 1970, he venue was inspired by the work of theater teacher Dr. Paul Soper in the 1940’s and completed through the efforts filmmaker Clarence Brown in the 1960’s. The Clarence Brown is a theatre of national distinction; housed in three impressive facilities, the theater offers a rare Broadway experience in East Tennessee.
Bijou Theater (803 South Gay Street, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-522-0832 features performances ranging from full jazz ensembles to small choruses in perfect acoustics in a downtown location. The landmark building survived war and fire and has been a hotel, bar and fruit stand. The fourth oldest building in Knoxville, the theater received a $2.6 million renovation in 2006 to make it an essential part of Knoxville’s revitalization. Catch a bite to eat at the award-winning Bistro At The Bijou.
The Mabry-Hazen House Museum (1711 Dandridge Ave., Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-522-8661), on the National Register of Historic Places, this Victorian home built in 1858 contains one of the largest collections of original family heirlooms in the country. It served as headquarters for both the Union and Confederate forces at different stages of the Civil War. The home and nearby Bethel Cemetery offer a display detailing Knoxville’s role in the Civil War. A must for history buffs and antique lovers alike!
Knoxville Zoo (3500 Knoxville Zoo Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-637-5331) is home to over 900 animals. Awarded for its red panda conservation efforts, the zoo displays exhibits of many endangered and threatened animals. It is open every day. Species from all over the world are displayed according to their habitats. Be sure to see exotic animals like Komodo dragons and Khaleesi. Enjoy special animal encounters that let you get up close to the wildlife. In addition to a traditional zoo, be sure to experience the splash pad, carousel and performances at the theater.
Old City (Start at the corner of Central St. and Jackson Avenue) holds secrets from Knoxville’s past and is the place to enjoy local restaurants, coffee houses, and art galleries. Coined as “Knoxville’s independent alternative,” the area comes alive at night with music that showcases East Tennessee’s talents. The area’s beautiful historic architecture has been refurbished to house a blending of Knoxville’s diverse history and cultures.
Ijams Nature Center (2915 Island Home Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-577-4717) began as a sanctuary for birds built by Harry Ijams. The area has now grown to include 300 acres of wildlife preserve, including an educational center. It is 3 miles outside of Knoxville, and the perfect place to explore creeks, climb the wall and hike the many trails.
Blount Mansion (200 W. Hill Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-525-2375) belonged to William Blount, signer of the U.S Constitution and Governor of the Southwest Territory. The house was built in 1792 and William Blount’s presence here is why Knoxville became the capitol of Tennessee. The Blount Mansion Association saved the home in 1926 to display Knoxville’s rich history. Visitors can enjoy stories of the mansion’s intriguing and sometimes scandalous history as “the house with many eyes.”
The Museum of East Tennessee History (601 South Gay Street, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-215-8824), operated by the East Tennessee Historical Society, exhibits an array of artifacts and stories from 300 years of life in Tennessee. The signature exhibition, Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee, shows original artifacts from the region’s past and first-person accounts about early life in the region. The East Tennessee History Center is also home to a research library and genealogy magazine.
The Market Square Farmers’ Market (Market Square, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-805-8687) is the place to visit local vendors and buy their wares in the historic Market Square of downtown Knoxville. All produce sold here comes from the region; buy fresh ingredients or pick up special cooked dished and baked goods.
Oliver Royale (5 Market Square, Knoxville, TN — 37902, Phone: 865-622-6434) in Market square, is located in the luxurious Oliver Hotel on Knoxville’s Market Square in one of the oldest buildings in Knoxville. Oliver Royale is an Art Deco jewel with cozy black banquettes along white brick walls and a long bar. It is popular with local foodies. Enjoy the freshest ingredients sourced from local farmers.
James White Fort (205 East Hill Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-525-6514) was the home of Knoxville’s founder, James White. The 1786 log cabin was Knoxville’s first permanent building. White earned a land grant in the Revolutionary War. He later led the expedition to the site for the fort that became the capital of the Southwest Territory and later the city of Knoxville. In 1970, the fort was reconstructed in the downtown area. Experience interactive exhibits and try out pioneer cooking, blacksmithing and spinning.
The Muse Knoxville (516 N. Beaman Street, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-594-1494), located in Chilhowee Park next to the Knoxville Zoo, is a favorite of children. The Muse is organized into interactive educational sections like construction, nutrition, and science. Be sure to visit the 4000 square feet of art and science exhibits including the only Planetarium in the area.
The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (700 Hall of Fame Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-633-9000) displays memorabilia from 139 inductees into the hall of fame; learn about them and their contribution to basketball. Be sure to experience the Basketball Courts interactive display and see the All American Red Heads memorabilia. Look up to see the world’s largest basketball extended over its rooftop.
The Knoxville Children’s Theater (109 E. Churchwell Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-208-3677) is located in the downtown historic area; its mission is to provide quality theater experiences for children, by children. The building is tucked away, but what happens here is pure magic. Enjoy a diverse range of shows, from more serious pieces to musicals all year round. You can even attend a class or a workshop.
Neyland Stadium (1600 Phillip Fulmer Way, Suite 201, Knoxville, Tennessee, Phone: 865-974-1205) is home to the University of Tennessee Volunteers and is the fifth largest football stadium in the nation. It is named after Coach General Robert Neyland, head coach from 1926 to 1952 who built the tradition of Volunteer football. His statue now graces the west side entrance. The stadium underwent three phases of renovations from 2004-2010. Tours of the stadium can be arranged by appointment during operating hours.
Plan your own shop hop visiting some (or all) of these fabric shops in and around Knoxville!
There’s always room to take home a skein of yarn for your next knitting or crochet project. Visit these yarn shops in and around Knoxvile.
And, beads take hardly any space! Browse through these bead shops in and around Knoxville to find the right bling for your next project.