Try a Food Tour! A food tour you say…what exactly is that? This business model hasn’t exactly been around forever, but locals who decided they want to share their city's great food with the masses have been starting to do these in an effort to let outsiders know how great the food is where they live! Here at East TN Tours, we pride ourselves on taking you to local, “non chain or big box” restaurants, so you can get a true taste of what our city offers. We also specialize in a Chef’s Table Tour experience, where on your tour, restaurant owners, managers and chefs will actually come out and talk to you personally, explain their culinary inspiration and even give a history about their location and establishment. Now East TN Tours may be a “baby” in the food tour industry, but we have worked diligently for months preparing our presentations and tour information. You will experience five hand picked restaurants and we have worked closely with them to make sure you NEVER leave hungry. We want you to walk away saying, “wow, that was one of the best things I’ve ever done!” We have a Grand Opening Special going on right now, and ALL tickets throughout the month of August are just $59.99, so book before time runs out!
Take a ride up the elevators to see the view from the Sunsphere. This golden beauty was, of course, constructed for the 1982 World’s fair, and at that time it had an observation deck and restaurant. After the fair ended, it remained mostly closed and unused, and it and the Tennessee Amphitheater are the only two remaining structures left from the actual fair. The city tried to reopen the observation deck in 1999, but it was quickly taken back and used as space for the Public Building Authority to oversee the construction of the Convention Center. In 2005, the former Mayor of Knoxville and now Governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam announced that the Sunsphere and Amphitheater would be renovated to be open for the public. Then in 2007, he announced that he could do it without any taxpayer money (heck yes!). In 2008, many businesses took up residence in the 5th-8th floors, and in May 2014, the 4th level observation deck was updated with a new look and feel thanks to the efforts of many throughout Knoxville. You can only get up to the 4th floor via elevators, but once you get up there, you will have a 360 degree view of World’s Fair Park, downtown, UT, the Tennessee River and the Smoky Mountains. Trust me, this is something you don’t want to miss out on when you’re here.
Walk around and enjoy the food and shopping in Market Square. From experience and living here, I can tell you, Market Square has something for everyone. It hosts the International Biscuit Festival, the Dogwood Arts Festival, Gallery Walks and Shakespeare on the Square. East TN Tours will even take you through Market Square. It is a great place to take some photos. There are also several statues and monuments to enjoy. The first Market House bell is displayed where the old Market House once stood and, one of the coolest things in Market Square is the EXACT geographic center of the city of Knoxville. Unless you’re really looking for it and staring at the ground, you may miss it. But have you ever wondered when you’ve typed in a map or GPS system to get to “Knoxville” where exactly it takes you? Well, basically right smack dab in the middle of Market Square is a plaque marker on the ground that tells you you’re on it! There’s so much fascinating history just in this small area, and you’ll hear all about it when you’re on one of our tours!
Take a stroll through Krutch Park. Now, this isn’t a park you go take a hike through or anything serious like that, but it’s nice if you’re planning on being in Downtown Knoxville and want to take a pretty stroll in what feels like a secluded area, but still be right next to everything you want to do. The park features a small cascading waterfall, a gentle stream, gardens, art sculptures and benches where you can relax and take it all in. If you work downtown or are just visiting, Krutch Park is a wonderful place to enjoy lunch, visit with friends, take a break or read a book. You can access the park from Union Ave, Clinch Ave, and Market St, and East TN Tours will take you right by it!
Visit the impressive Bijou Theatre. This particular location holds tons of history and early forms of the building even date back to the early 1800’s. They are known for having some of the most perfect natural acoustics and has hosted many notable names like the Marx Brothers, Dolly Parton and Dizzy Gillespie. Their website can be found HERE
Try an Escape Room. These are a new concept that seems to be springing up everywhere. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, the establishment will have one or several themed rooms, examples could be a casino heist, a kidnapping, or stopping a ticking time bomb. Generally, you get 60 minutes to escape the room by solving numerous clues that lead you from one step to the other. I have done many of these rooms myself, and they are great for team building or getting a little extra “quality time” with your family. I mean, unless you press the emergency “LET ME OUTTA HERE” button, you’re stuck with your fellow humans in the room for 60 minutes, unless you escape sooner! Knoxville has several businesses to choose from, like Breakout Games Knoxville , Escape Game Knoxville, and Which Way Out Knoxville.
Check out the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Fun fact: it’s home to the world’s largest basketball! It’s called the Baden Ball, and is 30 feet tall and weighs 10 tons! The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame opened in June 1999 in Knoxville, Tennessee and it is the only facility of its kind dedicated to all levels of women's basketball. It’s also a great space to have wedding receptions, birthday parties or family reunions. You can visit their website HERE.
Visit the Knoxville Zoo, which is number one in the world for Red Panda conservation. The zoo offers all sorts of fun activities for adults and especially children. They have a carousel, camel rides, and indoor play area and even a splash pad. For all the info, visit their website HERE.
Now let’s take a break from indoors, and visit beautiful House Mountain State Park. Only 30 minutes from Downtown Knoxville, overlooks from the 2,100-foot crest of House Mountain scan the parallel ranges of the Unakas and Cumberlands some 30 miles away. The trails leading to Knox County's highest point are fairly steep through heavily wooded terrain dotted with impressive rock outcrops. Great things to do while you’re there include bicycling, bird watching and going on the trails.
Take the family or go on a date to the Fruit and Berry Patch. Their goal is to provide you with nature’s best in fruit and berries, and I think they hit the mark! The smaller fruits, such as strawberries and blackberries, are at a “pick your own” basis only” and larger tree fruits are pick your own or already picked. Their website has a full list of produce and their harvest seasons, and they even offer a petting zoo and opportunity for school field trips.