Knoxville is the heart of East Tennessee. Not only is it centrally located, but it’s also the social, cultural and business center of the region. It's the largest city in the Tennessee Valley, and the perfect base for exploring East Tennessee. The meandering Tennessee River passes through the city, adding its scenic beauty and recreational opportunities to the mix.
Knoxville has no flashy major attractions, but it does have a lot of amenities that make it a cozy and charming place to spend some time. It boasts a lively cultural scene, including symphony, opera and ballet companies as well as live theater and numerous music venues. Museums, art galleries and historical sites are plentiful.
Indeed, history buffs will find much to explore, including James White Fort, home of the city's founding father and Blount Mansion, home of territorial governor William Blount. These two historical sites are located near Volunteer Landing, where you can take a stroll along the riverfront, rent a boat to explore on your own, or board a riverboat for a sightseeing or dinner cruise.
If you prefer a bit of fun with your history, head to the Old City, where you’ll find shops, art galleries, restaurants and nightspots housed in restored late 19th century and early 20th century buildings.
The Knoxville Zoo is always worth a visit, with its many new exhibits and shady walkways. The Kids Cove at the Zoo is a good spot for the young 'uns to burn off some energy. The zoo is the perfect size for a pleasant day's outing.
The city hosts several annual festivals and many special events, but the Dogwood Arts Festival in April is the premier event. You'll find Dogwood Trails throughout the area marked with pink lines down the center of the roads. Homeowners outdo themselves designing their landscapes for spectacular springtime displays.
Knoxville is also the home of the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee, which is a rich cultural resource and a focal point for rabid football fans. The Tennessee Vols are big news here, as are the Lady Vols basketball team. If you plan to visit during football season, you'll want to steer clear of the traffic congested UT area on game days, unless, of course, you're actually going to the game.
Knoxville is, perhaps, as notable for what’s around it as what’s in it. Within a 30 mile radius from the city, you’ll find the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the resort towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. You'll also find numerous lakes, scenic rivers, parks, and historical sites. Just to the east of Knoxville is Oak Ridge, where the Manhattan Project during World War II developed the first atomic bomb.