Here’s a list of places, events, and websites I recommend:
- Ijams Nature Center — I’ve been a volunteer here for the last five years; it’s a great place. Lots of trails to hike, activities all year long, canoeing and kayaking (in season), and lots of other stuff. Part of South Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.
- Big Ears — A yearly music festival held in downtown Knoxville, with world-class musicians from all over. An impossible event to categorize, the musical offerings include jazz, world music, Appalachian, electronic, and on and on. Plus movies and cross-genre collaborations. It’s incredible.
- Blue Plate Special — Local radio station WDVX hosts a daily free hour of live music at the Knoxville Visitor’s Center. Some local talent, some from out of town. Noon to one six days a week.
- Market Square — Downtown Knoxville offers places to eat, shop, or sit and relax. Ice skating on an outdoor rink for the Christmas season, Shakespeare on the Square in the summer, a farmer’s market, concerts, movies, hotels, and more.
- Tennessee Theater — On Gay Street close to Market Square, restored to its 1928 glory, it hosts plays, concerts, comedy, dance, and movies. One of the venues used by Big Ears. Not a bad seat in the house.
- Three Rivers — A local food co-op and my favorite place to shop. Fresh organic produce, a hot bar and seating if you want to eat there, local meats and cheeses, and a great staff.
- Four Leaf Peat — There is a wealth of musical talent in this area, covering a wide variety of musical genres. I like these guys a lot. Traditional Irish music and some modern stuff as well, they’ve been making music in this area for about fifteen years. Their annual St. Patrick’s Day concert at the Bijou (just down the street from the Tennessee Theater) shouldn’t be missed.
- Laurel Theater — Just off the UT campus, the Laurel has been around long enough to be the place Suzanne and I got married (38 years and counting). It’s small, about 200 seats, and hosts music all year long, mostly traditional Appalachian.
- TVUUC — Love is the spirit of this church. A strong community voice for social awareness and justice, this congregation welcomes everyone and works to translate the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism into practice. I’ve been a member since just after the shooting ten years ago, and I am reliably fed, and challenged, and surprised by what I find there.
This could, of course, be a much longer list if I tried to include all the restaurants, sporting events, interesting shops, and so on. Knoxville is a great place to visit or live.