Knoxville, Tennessee is a wonderful and vibrant city with so much to do, see, and explore. I had the pleasure of visiting in the beginning of June before the true Tennessee heat kicked in and it was fabulous! Thanks to Visit Knoxville and their great team for offering such detailed itineraries for my trip which included great restaurant recommendations, hiking trails, dog friendly activities, and all the artsy things you could imagine.

Knoxville is an artistic town, maybe not like Chattanooga which is very eclectic, but Knoxville has a great art scene as well as history and was founded in 1791 and named after Henry Knox, a secretary of war. In the 19th Century The city grew rapidly due to its strategic location along the Tennessee River and became a key center for trade and transportation. The Civil War had a significant impact on Knoxville, with the city experiencing both Union and Confederate occupations, which led me to a day of history and exploring unique towns such as Mossy Creek! Post-Civil War, Knoxville saw industrial growth, especially in textiles, marble, and manufacturing, contributing to its economic development. Today you’ll find a great area called Market Square downtown with tons of great shops and restaurants as well as luxury hotels, and amazing small businesses.

In recent decades, Knoxville has revitalized its downtown area, fostering a vibrant arts and culture scene. The city is known for its historical landmarks, diverse culinary offerings, and thriving local businesses. The University of Tennessee, is also located in Knoxville, and is a major educational and research institution, contributing to the city’s dynamic and innovative atmosphere. Besides all of this, Knoxville is very LGBTQ friendly as well as pet friendly and they have so many fun things to do and support both communities. We brought our senior dog on the trip with us because the Hilton in downtown Knoxville is very pet friendly with a wonderful rooftop bar. Cali, our pup absolutely loved Knoxville, I think walking the streets made her miss the big apple she came from, so she pranced up and down the streets and commanded the attention of everyone in market square.

Now, onto the amazing sights we saw, upon arrival, hubby and I realized coming from Nashville we would have an hour time difference as Knoxville is on ET so we made it just in time to drop off Cali and head to Pretentious Glass Company for a Glass Blowing Demonstration! This place is really spectacular and you can even sign up to make your own glass or ornament,

Pretentious Glass Co is a unique glassblowing studio specializing in creating glassware for craft beer, wine, cocktails, and whiskey. It forms one half of the dynamic Pretentious Craft Co, the other half being Pretentious Beer Co, a craft brewery known for its experimental and one-of-a-kind brews. This innovative concept is the brainchild of glass artist turned brewer, Matthew Cummings. Located in the vibrant heart of downtown Knoxville, where both businesses are connected by a stunning beer garden! To my knowledge, this is the only place in the world where you can enjoy beer made in-house from glasses crafted in-house while witnessing the entire production process. His beer is as creative as his glass blowing and I had the pleasure of not only making my own drinking glass, but then tasting some of the delicious brews after. I was so impressed and Matthew walked us through some of the changing beers including the HelleYes, Can I Pet That Dog?, and Sticky Fingers which literally tastes like a drink-able PB&J (yes it’s delicious!). My favorite was the HelleYes, the Flirty Lime, and Tuxedo Bear… but then again they were all really good!

After our glass demo and beer tasting we walked about 8 minutes to a delightful Olive Oil store called The Tree & Vine! After having just completed my Olive Oil Sommelier Certification it was so nice to meet Terri Karlsson who had a very interesting career before this exciting endeavor and may I say, she is a true female powerhouse business owner. She not only owns this very successful and beautiful olive oil and balsamic shop, but next door she has a boutique dog accessories store. She knows everyone on the block and is so kind and friendly. I of course had to leave with some olive oil and balsamic which included: Lemon Cucumber Balsamic, Greek Herb Olive Oil, Harissa Olive Oil, and a White Cranberry Balsamic. She has such a big selection you will absolutely love this store, it’s must visit while visiting Knoxville!

To end the day we stopped a few doors down to visit Knox Brew Hub and Cajun Kitchen which is so fun, community oriented, and the owner is a beer expert, tour guide, and Cajun cuisine lover. These were some of his family recipes he decided to add in food to the brew spot and wow, the Cajun shrimp was out of this world; amazing! Paired alongside he took us through the lineup of beers which are local beers and the taps, are train stops. It’s a great concept and you can even get a Brew Pass to show how many you have tried including the Lager’s, IPA’s, Sour’s, and more. Joel is so friendly and knowledgeable and you will adore this stop when you visit Knoxville and get to know the local beer scene.

We then enjoyed a walk through market square while we walked Cali where we listened to some live music and met some friendly locals. There is so much great history in Knoxville and the city during the day is nice and alive but at night it really awakens with parties, bar hoping, fine dining, and so much more. After a good night sleep we woke the next day and walked all over downtown exploring the local art scene, enjoyed brunch at Not Watson’s Kitchen + Bar which had one of the best Steak Caesar Salad’s. After we walked to a new area of Knoxville about 11 minutes away where we stopped by Knox Whiskey Works a local distillery crafting some amazing spirits including Vodka, Coffee Liqueur, Gin, and Whiskey. I really loved their Orange Vodka, Coffee Liqueur, and Rye Whiskey but when they made us some cocktails, the Habanero Whiskey and Maple Rum really shined. They produce in small batches and distill with love and care and you can really taste it in their spirits. They offer tours you can reserve a spot on as well as cocktail flights in small format which really help you pick the spirits you want to bring home; because if not, you’d be taking them all!

After this fun spot we found a local Cigar and Cocktail Lounge called Alchemy which blew us away. The owner is so friendly and wonderful and the aesthetic of the bar is charming and elegant. We were so impressed with the cocktail menu and the mixology team won my heart making a perfect sidecar to pair with our cigars. My husband had one of their craft Mules before moving to whiskey and Blanton’s bourbon. I kept at it with whatever the mixology team recommended and what was supposed to be a simple “stop in” turned into a 2 hour hang out session with the team and some great locals who recommended more spots for us to try. If you’re a cigar lover please do come here it’s absolutely phenomenal and I know anytime I am in town, this will be a place I visit. They also offer cocktail classes which is amazing and they’re all about cigar and mixology education so it’s a dream to those who enjoy this side of life. After our cigar bar we headed to dinner at The Brass Pearl. This seafood centric spot is TO DIE FOR especially because coming from NYC the one thing I miss living in Tennessee is fresh seafood. The seafood here is so fresh they have a daily fish special and we were so impressed with everything here from the menu to the taste! Their wine list is small but works and we really enjoyed the Albariño by the bottle and the by the glass sparkling rosé. If you enjoy great service, a casual dining setting with upscale menu offerings, and just down right deliciousness, you’ll be disappointed if you don’t come here! The Fish Dip, Grilled Oysters, Sea Bass, and the local Market Fish we enjoyed, devoured, and I am still thinking about, and salivating as I am writing this post! 

Now, if you’re planning a trip to Tennessee, I absolutely recommend Knoxville. They also have other amazing spots if I had time I would have loved to check out including Post Modern Spirits: a distillery and cocktail lounge with tours and real, natural, botanical driven spirits. This is a great spot to visit and their tours book up so be sure to book in advance to secure a spot. Because this blog is all food and booze and travel that’s what I mainly did while in Knoxville however don’t worry I am including some top destinations I learned from the awesome team at Visit Knoxville as well as what locals said. Three Rivers Rambler is a vintage steam engine train that takes you through some of the beautiful countryside. It came highly recommended by some of the guests at the cigar bar and I think next time it’s something I would absolutely do. There’s also a Civil War Driving Tour, Historic Downtown Walking Tours, Food Tours, Ghost Tours, and outdoor adventures including Baker Creek Preserve, World’s Fair Park, Tellico Lake, the Knoxville Zoo, and a Botanical Garden!

If you bring your dog, there is a wonderful pet friendly site called Barxville where they have a list of dog friendly activities, dog parks, restaurants that allow dogs, the War Dog Memorial, and of course Terri’s store CitiFid-O. Now that you’re planning your trip… know that Knoxville, Tennessee, is a city that effortlessly blends rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty together in one perfect package. With a welcoming atmosphere and a multitude of attractions, it promises an unforgettable experience for every visitor. From exploring the charming streets filled with unique shops and eateries to enjoying the great outdoors in nearby parks and trails, Knoxville offers endless activities to suit all interests.

The warmth and friendliness of the locals make you feel right at home, and the city’s commitment to inclusivity ensures that everyone is welcome. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie, or a lover of the arts, Knoxville has something special for you. It’s not just a place to visit; it’s a place to fall in love with!

So, pack your bags and get ready to discover the hidden gem of East Tennessee. Knoxville is waiting to enchant you with its Southern hospitality and boundless opportunities for adventure. This is one city you absolutely must see to believe!

Want to see all these activities in action? Check out my Instagram Reels, TikTok, and Youtube!