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Take a video tour inside Dollywood's new Wildwood Grove expansion, which is now open to the public Brianna Paciorka, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
To help you keep your summer full and fun, we've compiled 100 things to do this summer in East Tennessee, so get out there and enjoy it!
You can go nearly 300 feet up – and 36 years back in time – to get a 360-degree view of downtown Knoxville and the site of the 1982 World’s Fair, for which this glass globe atop steel girders was constructed. You can visit the Sunsphere's fourth-floor observation deck for free from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Info: worldsfairpark.org/sunsphere.
Corporate donors underwrite admission to the Knoxville Museum of Art, so it’s free to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1 p.m.- 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum features art exhibitions, events, workshops and an outdoor sculpture garden to tour. Info: knoxart.org.
Through September, you can beat the summer heat for free at Knoxville area splash pads. They can be found at Carl Cowan Park, 10058 S. Northshore Drive; New Harvest Park, 4775 New Harvest Lane; Powell Station Park, 2318 W. Emory Road; and McFee Park, 917 McFee Road, Farragut. Zoo Knoxville also has an on-site splash pad, though you’ll have to pay zoo admission to use it. Info: knoxcounty.org.
Take paper and crayons to make rubbings of gravestones. Look up the history of the people whose monuments you see. Old Gray Cemetery, 543 N. Broadway, and First Presbyterian Church’s cemetery, 620 State St., are good places to find graves of notable people in Knoxville’s history. South Knoxville’s Mount Olive Cemetery, 2500 Maryville Pike, has an interesting monument dedicated to those killed on the steamboat Sultana. Or find a cemetery near you by looking at knoxvilletennessee.com/cemeteries.html.
Take a stroll through Krutch Park and enjoy downtown's bounty of public art and sculptures. Many of the pieces are part of the Dogwood Arts Festival's annual "Art in Public Places" installation. Also, don't miss the women's suffrage statue on Market Square, The Oarsman at the corner of Church and Gay streets, and the Alex Haley statue at Morningside Park. Info: dogwoodarts.com/art-in-public-places.
Win coupons for cool prizes just by reading books! And it’s not for kids only – the Knox County Public Library has summer reading programs for teens and adults, too! Info: knoxlib.org.
There are plenty of them! Pick one you’ve never visited and go exploring. Get a list/map of Knox County parks at knoxcounty.org/park. Find a list of Knoxville city parks and trails/greenways at knoxvilletn.gov.
South Knoxville’s Fort Dickerson Park has plenty to do. Pause at the overlook to see the 350-foot deep former marble quarry, full of swimmers and paddlers on sunny days. But the main attraction is 300 feet up, a well-preserved earthen fort used by Union troops from 1863-65, one of 16 built around Knoxville for protection from the Confederate army. There are plenty of walking trails, and the views are nice, too. The park is open from dawn to dusk. Info: outdoorknoxville.com.
As a stop while walking or biking a greenway or a destination on its own, the linear park has a lot to love: fountains to cool off in, historical markers for those who want to learn and stairs to climb for a view of the river. Or relax on a bench swing and watch the river and its aquatic traffic sail by. Info: outdoorknoxville.com.
Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is on 47 acres of the former Howell Nurseries in East Knoxville and has walking trails, display gardens, unique and historic horticulture and more than 2 miles of distinctive stone walls. Info: knoxgarden.org. The UT Gardens, 2518 Jacob Drive on the south side of campus, function as an outdoor lab for nearly every kind of plant. Info: ag.tennessee.edu. UT also operates a 250-acre arboretum with more than 800 types of native and exotic plants at 901 S. Illinois Ave., Oak Ridge. Info: utarboretum.tennessee.edu.
This powerful monument at World’s Fair Park features 32 granite pylons bearing more than 6,200 names of East Tennessee veterans who died in military service since the beginning of World War I. The East Tennessee Veterans Memorial Association is compiling a database of all veterans on the monument; look up their stories at etvma.org/find-a-veteran.
Riggs, a great Dane and Labrador mix, returns the frisbee to Nate Gibson while the two played at Concord Dog Park on Sunday, November 11, 2018. (Photo: Saul Young/News Sentinel)
Our furry friends like to have fun too, and area dog parks are the place to go to enjoy some quality time with them. Check out Outdoor Knoxville’s list of Knoxville and Knox County dog parks and their various amenities: outdoorknoxville.com.
If you haven’t been to a Blue Plate Special performance at the Knoxville Visitor Center, what are you waiting for? The free live-broadcast performances happen every weekday and Saturday at noon and feature some of the best musicians passing through Knoxville – and sometimes they’re literally just passing through, stopping off between shows in different cities. Take note, the Friday Blue Plate Special now takes place at Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria. Info: wdvx.com.
Throughout the summer, Market Square will be filled with free music on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Local jazz groups will perform from 8-10 p.m. on Tuesdays through Aug. 27. Variety Thursdays will feature artists of different genres from 7-9 p.m. For a full schedule, visit knoxvilletn.gov.
Fireworks burst over the downtown Knoxville skyline during the annual Festival on the 4th fireworks display on July 4, 2018. (Photo: Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel)
Celebrate the USA the Knoxville way. Food, family activities and music start at 4 p.m. July 4 at World's Fair Park with a fireworks display capping off the night. The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and other groups will provide the music. The event is free and rain or shine. Info: knoxvilletn.gov.
More free music courtesy of radio station WDVX, the 6 O’Clock Swerve serves up an hour of music at Barley's Taproom in the Old City from 6-7 p.m. on Thursdays. For a full schedule of upcoming shows, visit wdvx.com/calendar.
Climbers around the world know about the Obed, which has dozens of routes to the top where a beautiful view awaits. Climbing at Obed is free, and the nearby Lilly Pad Hopyard Brewery is a bonus. Info: nps.gov/obed.
Sure, most people seem to be getting their music from downloads these days, but there’s nothing like the magic of walking into a record store and flipping through vinyl albums. Take a day the check out Raven Records & Rarities, 1200 N. Central St.; Magnolia Records, 214 W. Magnolia Ave.; Lost and Found Records, 3710 N. Broadway; Wild Honey Records, 1206 Kenesaw Ave.; and Basement Records, 5009 Chapman Highway.
On June 22, Knox Area Rescue Ministries will host its 17th Annual Dragon Boat Festival. Complete with boat races and other family-oriented activities, you can watch and help competitors raise money to support the Knox area. The event goes from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. at The Cove at Concord Park. It is free for those who want to watch the races. Info: knoxarearescueministries.salsalabs.org.
The Kuumba Festival is one of Knoxville’s yearly treasures. It’s a celebration of African and African American culture and features a variety of food, music and activities. This year’s festival goes from June 28-30. Festivities will take place in Market Square on June 28 and at Morningside Park on June 29-30. Info: sites.google.com/site/kuumbafestival.
Rainbow colors will flood Knoxville on June 22 as the LGBT community hosts the annual PrideFest. The event will feature a parade at 11 a.m. and a festival with vendors from noon-8 p.m. at Mary Costa Plaza at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. Info: knoxpride.com.
The Legacy Foundation’s award-winning addition in South Knoxville includes 42 miles of natural surface trails and some challenging mountain biking at a course around Ijams Nature Center. Info: outdoorknoxville.com.
Knoxville New Sentinel urban life writer Ryan Wilusz attempts the Knoxville Bucket List in 12 hours. Brianna Paciorka, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
Hiking trails are just about everywhere in East Tennessee. For a getaway not too far away, try visiting Ijams Nature Center with its 12 miles of natural surface trails over 300 acres. Info: ijams.org.
OK, it’s not Fort Lauderdale, but the little sandy beach at The Cove at Concord Park sure draws a diverse crowd on a summer weekend. An awesome place to sit in the sun and people watch. Info: outdoorknoxville.com.
It’s a devoted legion who cart their discs to Victor Ashe, Admiral Farragut and Morningside parks to let it fly on some challenging courses. Give it a shot. Who knows? You could be a disc golf natural.
The small mountain in Corryton serves as Knox County's highest peak. With about 5 miles of trails, it's just the right size to do some exploring without the hour-long drive from Knoxville. Info: outdoorknoxville.com.
The oldest dam built by the Tennessee Valley Authority, Norris Dam is a site to behold. There are great trails to hike and picnic areas in and around Norris Dam State Park. So make a day of it. Info: tnstateparks.com/parks/info/norris-dam.
Seven Island State Birding Park has become popular not only with birders but all outdoor enthusiasts. The best way to go here is in a kayak around the big bend in the French Broad River. Info: tnstateparks.com/parks/seven-islands.
A pretty waterfall isn’t hard to find around Knoxville. Take a trip to Frozen Head State Park after a good rain. Ozone Falls at Cumberland Trail State Park is a real hidden treasure. For a further drive, check out Cummins Falls State Park in Cookeville.
The Lawn Chair Concert Series will feature free shows on June 15 and July 20 at Founders Park in Farragut with several local and regional artists. The events will also have food trucks on site. Info: facebook.com/lawnchairconcertseries.
The University of Tennessee’s McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture shows a variety of exhibits with subjects from freshwater mussels to ancient Egypt to the Civil War in Knoxville. The 1327 Circle Park Drive museum has free admission and is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m Sundays. Info: mcclungmuseum.utk.edu.
The 18th-century Fort Loudoun was manned by British soldiers during the French and Indian War from 1756 to 1760. The area, 338 Fort Loudoun Road, includes a visitor’s center and museum, gift shop and bookstore, hiking trails, fishing pier and picnic area. The park is open 8 a.m.-sunset; the visitor’s center is open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily. Admission is free. Info: tnstateparks.com/parks/fort-loudoun.
The University of Tennessee Physics and Astronomy Department hosts telescope observations of the sky on the first and third Friday of each month, weather permitting. The free observations begin at 9:00 p.m. from the roof of the Alvin H. Nielsen Physics and Astronomy Building on UT’s “Hill” off Cumberland Avenue. Info: phys.utk.edu/trdc/telescope.
Two miles south of Gatlinburg, the Sugarlands Visitors Center is one of the primary points of entry into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The center has natural history exhibits, a free 20-minute film on the park and also has ranger-led programs, which vary based on the season. Souvenirs, maps and backcountry permits are available here, and well-versed staffers can help answer questions. Info: nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.
Get a jump on the patriotic celebration at Gatlinburg's Fourth of July parade, which takes place at midnight on July 3. Billed as the nation's first Independence Day parade, more than 100,000 people attend this event that features floats and bands, and honors military veterans and war heroes. Info: gatlinburg.com/event/midnight-parade.
The Ocoee River in Polk County draws 250,000 rafters each summer to challenge the Class III and IV rapids on the best whitewater in the Eastern United States. Assemble your team and get a raft at area outfitters.
The Ocoee is always great, but a shorter drive gets you to outfitters along the Pigeon River. The rapids up to Class IV await just off Interstate 40 by Bluffton near the North Carolina state line.
Colton Warner, a certified paddle boarding instructor for River Sports Outfitters, gives a demonstration about how to get started paddle boarding at the Cove at Concord Park. Andrew Capps
Take a trip down Knoxville's waterways and view the scenery around them on a paddle board. Several area outfitters offer rentals during the day and in the evening.
OK, Dunlap and Chattanooga are a drive, but it’s worth it to take to the air. Dunlap calls itself “The Hang Gliding Capital of the East” for a reason.
Experience the Tennessee River in a different way via hydrobike, where you pedal your way on a floating structure across the water. You can rent them at Billy Lush Boards and Brew, 900 Volunteer Landing Lane.
Tubing on the Little River in Townsend has become an East Tennessee summer tradition. A few tubing attractions include Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing, 205 Wears Valley Road, Townsend, and Smoky Mountain Outdoor Center, 209 Wears Valley Road, Townsend.
Explore Knoxville from the water on a canoe or kayak. Rentals at River Sports Outfitters locations and the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center.
The first settlers came to Cades Cove in the 1820s, and people have camped there ever since. The payoff is a ride around the Cove at sunrise or sunset or both. Make reservations at 877-444-6777. Info: www.nps.gov/grsm.
Take a tour through Lost Sea caverns and lake in Sweetwater. Remember the temperature in the cave is always 58 degrees. It’s America’s largest underground lake and a must-do at least once. Info: thelostsea.com.
Knoxville's outdoor public pools will open on Memorial Day Weekend. Inskip Pool is at Inskip Park, 4204 Bruhin Road, and costs $4 per person per visit. Splash passes are available for frequent visitors. Info: 865-687-9919. Ed Cothren Pool is at Malcolm-Martin Park, 1737 Reynolds St., and costs $3 per person per visit. Splash passes are available for frequent visitors. Info: 865-544-7840.
A great place to learn the game, Williams Creek is an 18-hole par-3 course just east of downtown Knoxville at 2351 Dandridge Ave. It also has a 3-hole loop course for kids. Info: williamscreekgolfcourse.com.
Catch a movie in the comfort of your own car or outside on a summer night at Maryville’s Parkway Drive-In movie theater, 2909 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway. The theater has concessions and features new releases. Movies change every weekend. Info: parkwaydrivein.com.
Get your arcade, tabletop and video game fix at Token Game Tavern, 213 N. Seven Oaks Drive. Token also has a bar, restaurant and weekly events. Info: tokenrestaurant.com.
Jump to your heart's content at one of Knoxville's trampoline parks. They include Max Air, 229 East Emory Road, Powell, and Jump Jam, 11284 Threadstone Lane.
Three fan conventions will bring celebrity guests, panels, cosplay and other activities to Knoxville this summer. Marble City Comicon will take place June 1-2 at the Knoxville Expo Center; Fanboy Expo will go from July 12-14 at the Knoxville Convention Center; and Bubba Fest will take place Aug. 23-25 at the Knoxville Convention Center.
Mini-golf courses come in several shapes, sizes and colors, and East Tennessee has plenty to choose from. You could try out the course in Knoxville or venture to Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg and make it a day trip.
Go skating either indoors or outdoors with Knoxville-area skating rinks and parks. For a list of skate parks, visit outdoorknoxville.com/play/skateboarding. Some area skating rinks are Skatetown, 5713 N. Broadway, and Roll Arena Party Zone’s locations at 2801 E. Broadway, Maryville, and 1215 E. Tri County Blvd., Oliver Springs.
Brush up on your basketball skills and knowledge with a visit to Knoxville’s Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, 700 S. Hall of Fame Drive. The venue has exhibits, a gift shop, basketball courts and more. Info: wbhof.com.
The Star of Knoxville presents a variety of cruises as it takes you down the Tennessee River. Some of its themed events include murder mystery cruises, country night dinner cruises, gospel dinner cruises and others. Info: tnriverboat.com.
Bowling can provide a much-needed break from the summer sun and inspire some friendly competition with family and friends. Knoxville bowling alleys include downtown’s Maple Hall, Western Avenue’s Strike and Spare, Fountain Lanes Strike and Spare, Family Bowl Strike and Spare and Main Event Entertainment's bowling alley.
Each summer brings the Tennessee Stage Company’s outdoor Shakespeare on the Square to downtown Knoxville’s Market Square. This year’s selections are "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" and "The Comedy of Errors." Performances will take place July 11-August 11, Thursday-Sunday, at 7 p.m. The outdoor shows are, free but there’s a suggested $10 per person donation. The theater company also offers VIP seating with a bottle of water and goodie bag for $15. Info: tennesseestage.com.
Ijams Nature Center and Central Cinema are teaming up to host "Movies Under the Stars" at Ijams, 2915 Island Home Ave. Movies start at dark, and include "Alice in Wonderland" on Aug. 16 and "Edward Scissorhands" on Sept. 20. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to watch the outdoor features. Local food trucks and a beer garden will offer food and drink. Info: ijams.org.
The Tennessee Smokies’ busy schedule provides plenty of opportunities to see baseball games and enjoy hot dogs and other stadium foods throughout the summer. A schedule, tickets and info are available at milb.com/tennessee.
Enjoy vintage baseball in the field of a historic home. Tennessee Association of Vintage Baseball teams play at the field of the 1797 Ramsey House, 2614 Thorngrove Pike. The free games are played by rules set up in 1864 and will take place June 15 and Aug. 10. Bring a lawn chair and blanket. Ramsey House is open for tours 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. House admission is $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens age 55 and older, $5 for children ages 6-12, free for children under age 6. Info: ramseyhouse.org.
Popcorn, air-conditioning and classic movies. The Tennessee Theatre's annual Summer Movie Magic begins June 21 at the theatre, 604 S. Gay St. Tickets for each movie are $9 for adults and $7 for children under age 12 or seniors 65 and older. Tickets are at the box office, ticketmaster.com or 865-684-1200. Some of this year's films include "The Breakfast Club" on June 21, "Jaws" on July 12 and "Ghostbusters" on Aug. 2. Info: www.tennesseetheatre.com.
The object- and fact-filled exhibit “Voices of Our Land: The People of East Tennessee” tells 300 years of East Tennessee history in a permanent display at the Museum of East Tennessee History, 601 S. Gay St. The museum is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, free for ages 16 and younger. Everyone gets in free every Sunday. Info: easttnhistory.org.
Zoo Knoxville includes habitats for animals from tortoises to tigers to African elephants to black bears to river otters. Zoo activities include viewing red pandas, camel rides, a free-flight bird show, and the Pilot Flying J Wee Play Adventure Indoor Play Area – which is created around a trip to the Indonesian island of Komodo – and the 5,000-square-foot water play area Clayton Safari Splash. Zoo admission is $19.95 for adults, $16.95 for children ages 4-12 or senior citizens 65 and older. Children under age 4 are admitted free. The zoo is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Info: zooknoxville.org.
Mabry-Hazen House has sat atop a hill east of Knoxville since 1858. Three generations of the same family lived there for 130 years, leaving the house filled with furniture, dishes, paintings and other objects. Now the house is open for tours 11 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for students with an ID and free for children younger than 13. Info: mabryhazen.com.
Interested in working with clay? Learn to craft your own ceramics at Knoxville art studios. A few places offering classes include Mighty Mud, 127 Jennings Ave., and Knoxville Arts and Fine Crafts Center, 1127 N. Broadway, Suite B.
The Museum of Appalachia in Clinton features a display barn and pioneer village that shows guests what it was like to live in Old Appalachia. The museum also holds seasonal events and is open seven days a week. Admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and military, $10 for ages 13-17, $6 for children 5-12 and free for kids under 5. Info: museumofappalachia.org.
Take in the rest of Knoxville’s historic homes for a summer field trip. James White’s Fort, 205 E. Hill Ave., home to Knoxville founder James White, is open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday in summer. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children. The 1890 Westwood, 3425 Kingston Pike, is open for free tours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Blount Mansion, 200 W. Hill Ave., was home to Territorial Gov. William Blount before Tennessee was a state. The wooden frame house is open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; admission is $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens over 65, $5 for ages 6-17, free for children age 5 and younger. The 1834 Crescent Bend House & Gardens, 2728 Kingston Pike, is open 10 am.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; admission to tour the house and gardens is $7 for adults, $5 for students, free for ages 12 and younger. Marble Springs State Historic Site offers the chance to tour the last remaining home and farm of Tennessee's first governor, John Sevier. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Tours cost $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, military members and children (5-17) and free for children 4 and under. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.
Grab your smartest friends and enjoy an evening of Singo or Trivia at one of Knoxville’s favorite eateries while enjoying an appetizer and a brew. Groups like the Knox Trivia Guys and Geeks Who Drink host trivia nights weekly.
Want to express your creative side this summer? Take an art class or two at an area studio. A few Knoxville area studios include Basement Community Art Studio, Fountain City Art Center, AR Workshop and others.
At the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, children can explore a rainforest in the Rainforest Room, play in the Dollhouse Room’s playhouse, explore a nature walk and take part in other activities. Summer hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays (open Mondays starting in June), 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for ages 62 and older, $6 for ages 3-18, free for children younger than 3. Info: childrensmuseumofoakridge.org.
When the sun goes down, haunted excursions begin in downtown Knoxville for those wanting to get their paranormal fix and play the role of a ghost hunter. Check out Haunted Knoxville Ghost Tours and Knoxville Walking Tours for several tour options and experiences.
Geared toward kid scientists, children can explore interactive exhibits ranging from an obstacle course and building structures to organic crops and garden areas. The Muse Knoxville is at 516 N. Beaman St. and has a new location, Muse at the Mall, at West Town Mall, 7600 Kingston Pike. Info: themuseknoxville.org.
Summer may offer you more free time, and why not use it to learn to dance? Knoxville has several places that offer dance classes, including Circle Modern Dance, Backstage Dance Company, Studio Arts for Dancers and others.
Saute, stew, baste and braise. Those are just a few techniques that you can learn at some of Knoxville’s fun cooking classes. Some locations to check out are The Cutting Edge Classroom,The Glass Bazaar and The University of Tennessee noncredit programs.
Scenes from opening day of downtown Knoxville's Market Square Farmers Market on May 1, 2019 Brianna Paciorka, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
East Tennessee farmers markets are in full swing. Markets take place in Market Square, Ebenezer United Methodist Church, Oak Ridge's Jackson Square, New Harvest Park, downtown Maryville, Main Street in Morristown and Hardin Valley Church of Christ.
Knoxville has two food tour companies that offer delicious downtown dining opportunities. Find out more about the featured restaurants and costs at knoxvillefoodtours.com and easttntours.com.
The craft brewery business continues to grow in Knoxville. Stop by Alliance Brewing Company, 1130 Sevier Ave., on your way to Suttree’s Landing in South Knoxville or visit the Old City where you can enjoy a beer at Pretentious Glass and Brewery while watching beer glasses being made. Those are just two of many breweries in the greater Knoxville area.
Want a taste of more than one brewery? Knox Brew Tours is happy to oblige. Pre-planned bus tours occur Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The company also offers private tours. It’s a great way to enjoy an array of beer samples and not have to worry about driving. Info: knoxbrewtours.com.
Ice cream is a sweet way to cool down on a hot summer day. Knoxville has plenty to offer. Downtown locations include the Phoenix Soda Fountain, Cruze Farm and Kilwin's. More sweet treats can be found at Long’s Drug Store, Sonic Drive-in and other locations.
See a piece of Knoxville history and have a hot dog, cheeseburger or a frozen lemonade at The Original Freezo, 1305 N. Central St. The outdoor eatery with its giant smiling ice cream sign and walk-up windows has operated in Knoxville for more than 50 years. Info: facebook.com/The-Original-Freezo.
There’s only one thing better than enjoying a cocktail while people watching, and that’s doing it from a rooftop. On Market Square you can do just that at Scruffy City, 32 Market Square, or Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square. Another spot includes downtown Knoxville's Hyatt Place hotel, which also has a rooftop bar.
Looking for a good shot of gin? Knox Whiskey Works offers distillery tours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Post Modern Spirits Distilling has them on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Knoxville has an array of wonderful chef-owned restaurants, like the Plaid Apron in Sequoyah Hills, Holly’s Gourmets Market in Bearden, J.C. Holdway, Kaizen, A Dopo and Stock & Barrel in the downtown area, just to name a few.
A weekend rarely goes by without an organized wine dinner or beer pairing. The Oliver Royale, The Plaid Apron and Bistro by the Tracks are three eateries that routinely hold wine dinners. Check out Elkmont Exchange and Pretentious Beer for beer pairings.
Sample more than one food truck at a time at Blue Slip Winery's Food Truck Park, held the third Thursday of each month. Central Filling Station is another local food truck park that is open 4-9:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.
Celebrate the creation of the Buffalo wing at Knoxville's Big Kahuna Wing Festival. This year's event will take place a little later in the year on Sunday, Sept. 1, and feature evening fireworks. The festival will open for VIP ticket holders at noon and general admission ticket holders at 1 p.m. in World's Fair Park. It will feature wing eating and cooking contests, bobbing for wings and live music.
Sunday brunch is a thing of praise. The Copper Cellar, 7361 Kingston Pike, has been filling bellies with a buffet spread since 1975. There’s also an array of menu-item brunches including downtown’s Bistro at the Bijou, the Tomato Head and Oliver Royal, just to name a few.
Desperate for a doughnut? No worries. This city is full of places to buy the O-shaped pastry. Locally owned businesses include Status Dough on Bearden Hill and Pops Original Donuts on Northshore. Duck Donuts, Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts have locations in town, too.
Cortney Roark and Brenna McDermott tried local doughnut shops Duck Donuts, Dippin Donuts, Status Dough and Pop's. Cortney Roark, USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont features programs and camps all summer long, where attendees can learn about science, the environment, hiking and other subjects. Find a calendar of events at gsmit.org.
Take a historic Hiwassee River Rail Adventure scenic train ride from Etowah. Trips begin at the restored L&N Depot & Museum in Etowah. The ride rolls through parts of the Cherokee National Forest and Hiwassee River Gorge. Info and schedule: tvrail.com.
It wouldn't be summer if we didn't make the trek to Dollywood for a funnel cake and a ride on the Wild Eagle. New to this year is the theme park's largest expansion, Wildwood Grove, which has 11 themed attractions. More info, rates and ticket prices are available at dollywood.com.
At Dollywood's rollicking waterpark, folks will want to jump on slides or experience the lazy river and wave pool. Splash Country opens May 18, according to Dollywood's website. More info, rates and ticket prices are available at dollywood.com/waterpark.
With plenty of animals and themed exhibits, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies provides visitors with a chance to experience and learn about the ocean and its inhabitants. Highlights of the aquarium include Shark Lagoon, where visitors travel through an underwater tunnel to get an up-close view, and Touch a Ray Bay, where guests can reach out and touch rays as they swim by. Info: ripleyaquariums.com/gatlinburg.
Anakeesta, a mountaintop attraction in Gatlinburg, offers guests a host of activities. Once you take a ride up its chair lift, Anakeesta features a tree canopy walk, zip lines, a mountain coaster, shops, and restaurant and bar. New additions are coming this spring and summer, including the expanded Vista Garden Walk, a new play area for kids and more. Info: anakeesta.com.
The Little Ponderosa Zoo in Clinton is an interactive zoo habitat that is dedicated to helping critters of all stripes live a happy, healthy life. Animals at the zoo include goats, llamas, camels, kangaroos, monkeys, macaws, snakes, sheep, alpacas, water buffalo and more. Tickets to the zoo are $15 for adults, and $10 for children and seniors. Kids ages 2 and under are admitted free. Info: littleponderosazoo.com.
Located in Townsend, this mile-long cave is estimated to be 20 million to 30 million years old. The system features well-formed stalactites and stalagmites, high waterfalls and several large, open areas. The cavern was first discovered in the mid-19th century and was opened to the public in 1953. Info: tuckaleecheecaverns.com.
See how Mayfield milk gets from the cow to your fridge in this informative behind-the-scenes tour in Athens. Plant tours last approximately one hour and feature the history of Mayfield Dairy and show how milk is bottled and ice cream is made. Tours end at a gift shop where folks can purchase a scoop of Mayfield ice cream. Info: mayfielddairy.com.
While it's known for skiing and snow tubing, Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area features a host of activities in the summer. New this year is summer tubing, where guests ride down a hill on slippery lanes. Other activities include mini-golf, ice skating, a mountain coaster, a rock wall and others. Info: obergatlinburg.com.
More than a dozen ziplining companies are scattered throughout East Tennessee. From Navitat in South Knoxville to a host of companies in Gatlinburg, Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, these companies invite participants to clip in and hang on as they glide through the trees.
Anybody up for some zorbing? At Outdoor Gravity Park in Pigeon Forge, that means crawling in an air-cushioned ball that's encased inside a giant transparent ball and then being rolled downhill. Wet zorbing is available in the summer, and swimsuits are recommended. Dry zorbing is available in the fall and winter. Visitors can zorb by themselves or with others. Info: outdoorgravitypark.com.
3 Layers Broiler Breeding Cage
Located in New Market, What's Up Ballooning offers bird's-eye-view rides of the Smoky Mountains and East Tennessee for around an hour. Rides begin at dawn and are (obviously) weather-sensitive. Info: 865-556-7217 or visit whatsupballooning.com/index.
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