Knoxville, Tennessee is exactly what people declare it to be: a hidden gem. You'll be amazed by the city's unique location where mountains meet music—art meets adventure and culture meets cuisine with a walkable downtown that allows you to explore and discover local music, historic architecture, art museums, parks and more through a sophisticated mix of culture served up with genuine hospitality.
1. THE ARCHITECTURE
With nearly 100 historic properties and districts, a self-guided walking tour features 60 historic buildings throughout downtown Knoxville. Amongst the hustle of busy Market Square, you'll find the historic Peter Kern Bakery Building. Built in 1876, the Peter Kern building has housed a bakery, ice cream parlor, drugstore, dancing hall, as well as a hotel that offered it’s rooms to VIP guests for the World’s Fair. Today, the Oliver Hotel is the only boutique property in Knoxville with a style that pays tribute to downtown’s colorful history—while offering modern amenities and stylish sophistication.
2. THE THEATRE
Opening in 1928, the Tennessee Theatre was built to impress. Movie palaces—dripping with crystals, wrapped in velvet, and glittering in gold were all the rage in the flapper era, designed to make patrons feel like royalty from the moment they entered. Today, with over 150 yearly events, the theatre has something for everyone from broadway shows, classic films, opera, concerts, dance and more!
3. THE COCKTAILS
After a day of exploring Knoxville, head over to the Peter Kern Library—if you can find it. Nestled behind the sliding door in the Oliver Hotel’s lobby, the original speakeasy (with a lingering red light in the alleyway) offers an atmosphere of secrecy and seduction by celebrating the art of the cocktail. Try "The Petrucio" concocted with gin and green chartreuse. Getting hungry? Head to one of Knoxville’s leading “chef-driven” restaurants.
Lead by local Executive Chef Jon Gatlin,Oliver Royale steeps into its Southern-influence by utilizing seasonal favorites combined with nouvelle cuisine and traditional French techniques. With creativity running through every dish, it's hard to try only one. But if you must, we recommend the signature Braised Lamb Shank with locally harvested root vegetables enveloped in a decadent Vadouvan sauce.
4. THE HIKING
Just minutes from downtown, Sharp's Ridge Memorial Park affords spectacular views of the Knoxville skyline and rolling mountain peaks. The trail makes an approximate 3-mile loop winding around lower and upper trails across the wooded hillside.We suggest catching your next sunset here.
5. THE ART
The Knoxville Museum of Art celebrates the art and artists of East Tennessee and is home to the monumental sculpture by Knoxville resident and internationally acclaimed artist Richard Jolley, Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity. The sculpture is one of the largest figurative glass-and-steel assemblages in the world and will remain on permanent view at the museum.