Moving to Knoxville? Marble City is a wonderful place to settle down, thanks to its affordable living costs, access to the Great Smoky Mountains, numerous lakes and rivers, education opportunities, and more. Here are 20 things to know about living in Knoxville!
Affordable Living in Knoxville
Knoxville is one of the best mid-size cities in the U.S., thanks to its affordable cost of living, which is 17% lower than the national average and 6% lower than the Tennessee average. And the affordability doesn’t stop there—the median home value in Knoxville is $120,300, and the median monthly rent is $766. And because K-Town is one of the most recession-proof cities in the U.S., its local market is better-equipped for fluctuations!
The Job Market Is Steady
As one of the top cities in the U.S. for jobs, Knoxville has a lot to offer when it comes to employment. It’s not surprising that mining and quarrying are among the highest-paid industries in Knoxville—in fact, that’s how the city earned its nickname of “Marble City.” But those aren’t the only jobs in the area! Join the medical field at Team Health. Work for Regal Cinemas, which is headquartered in Knoxville and one of the city’s largest employers. Make a difference with innovative energy solutions at the Tennessee Valley Authority. Find jobs in Knoxville at Home & Garden Television, another large corporation headquartered in Knoxville. Or find employment with the headquarters of Ruby Tuesday Inc., headquartered in K-Town.
Ride Knoxville’s Unique Public Transportation
If you want to travel around Downtown Knoxville or the University of Tennessee campus, the Knoxville Trolley is free and available for rides Monday-Saturday, with the exception of game days and holidays. Knoxville public transportation also includes the Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) bus system, which even offers discounts for college students. For a more interesting mode of transportation, you can use Knoxville’s electric scooters any time using local apps. Or maybe you want to take a fun weekend trip outside of the city? A bus ride to Nashville will only take two hours and cost you $38!
Become a Tennessee Volunteer
The University of Tennessee was founded only eight years after the city itself was founded, so being a Tennessee Volunteer (or Vol, for short) is a significant part of living in Knoxville! Rated the #1 public university in Tennessee, the campus has a yearly impact of $1.7 billion on the state economy. The university is home to over 30,000 students—in fact, 78% of the student population is from Tennessee—and offers 900+ programs of study, including logistics and supply chain management, psychology, and nursing. So if you’re moving to K-Town, be prepared to cheer on the Vols and wear some orange!
Advance Your Education at Fantastic Schools
Colleges in Knoxville aren’t limited to the University of Tennessee. The city has many great colleges and universities to meet every student’s needs. Get your degree at Johnson University, which offers 40 accredited programs for almost half the cost of other private universities. Find your passion with popular majors like nursing, dental hygiene, criminal justice, and more at South College. Study ministry, pastoral leadership, or theology at Baptist bible college Crown College. Earn your bachelor’s or MBA degree at Bryan College, with online programs designed for working adults like business administration, applied psychology, communication studies, and more. Attend Tusculum University, a great school for those who prefer smaller class sizes. Or join Pellissippi State Community College to fast-track your career in fields like web design, culinary arts, and more!
Embrace Knoxville Sports
UT athletics are a big deal in Knoxville, so college sports fans are more than welcome. The University of Tennessee is one of the best colleges for football tailgating, as their football field is accessible by boat via the Tennessee River where participating fans, called the Vol Navy, party on their boats before the big games. Root for Vols football by sailgating before the game. Cheer on the Lady Vols, the university’s women’s basketball team, which is ranked 13th in the nation. Between all the college athletics, get out on the ice and watch the Knoxville Ice Bears (SPHL) play hockey! Holler for your favorite driver at Knoxville Raceway. Cheer on the city’s new pro soccer team, One Knoxville SC (USL). Or support the Hard Knox Roller Derby as they tear up the roller rink!
Spend Some Time Outdoors
There’s a reason why East Tennessee is called The Great Lakes of the South. With access to countless lakes, rivers, and parks, there are plenty of opportunities to get outdoors in Knoxville. Bird-watch in the morning at Seven Islands State Birding Park, located on the migratory path of multiple bird species. Hike, bike, swim, and climb at Ijams Nature Center. Paddleboard on Mead’s Quarry Lake, a popular activity at the Knoxville park. Get together with friends and play disc golf, sand volleyball, horseshoes, or soccer at Victor Ashe Park. Or take a stroll through the beautiful gardens at Knoxville Botanical Garden & Arboretum.
Boat on Knoxville’s Great Lakes & Rivers
Sailgating isn’t the only boating activity in Knoxville! With nine lakes and countless rivers in the region, Knoxville is a great place for those who like to get out on the water. Spend the weekend out on Norris Lake, one of the best boating lakes in the U.S. Go for an afternoon swim in Douglas Lake. Get on a boat and explore all of the islands scattered throughout Watts Bar Lake. Fish for trout and bass at Chilhowee Lake. Canoe on the Tellico Lake, then visit the Tellico Dam. Visit the incredible Northup Falls in Colditz Cove. Throw a few lines at Melton Hill Lake. Take your dog for a swim in Fort Loudon Lake. Try float fishing on Calderwood Lake. Or cruise the Tennessee River on The Star of Knoxville, an authentic paddle-wheeler that offers cruises for events, sight-seeing, murder-mystery parties, and more.
Make Your Way to the Great Smoky Mountains
A little over an hour away from Knoxville is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, known for its Appalachian views, black bears, wildflowers, waterfalls, and more. As one of the best national park vacations, there are endless things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains. Climb to the highest point in Tennessee at Clingmans Dome. Stand in awe of the gorgeous leaves in the fall and Smoky Mountain wildflowers in the spring. Venture to over 100 cascades and countless waterfalls throughout the mountain range. Roam Smoky Mountain hiking trails any month of the year. Feel like getting in the water? Try Smoky Mountain whitewater rafting!
Visit Knoxville’s Growing Downtown
Downtown Knoxville is home to a lively arts and food scene that continues to grow. Start in the heart of downtown, Market Square, where you can catch outdoor concerts and find a great selection of bars, restaurants, and shops. Shop the Knoxville Farmer’s market every Wednesday through Saturday from May through November—or every Saturday before Christmas for a special holiday market! Discover Strong Alley, a gallery of captivating murals and graffiti located in the alley between Union Ave and Wall Ave, right off Market Square. Or sip on $1 mimosas at Balter Beerworks, located between Market Square and Old City.
Check Out the Iconic Sunsphere Tower
Built for the 1982 World Fair, the Sunsphere Tower is Knoxville’s most well-known architectural feature. This tower located at World’s Fair Park in Downtown Knoxville is a sight to be seen, standing at 26 stories tall with each pane made out of 24-karat gold. There’s a lot to do at the downtown park it resides in, too! The Sunsphere Tower’s observation deck features a local image gallery and allows for a full view of the city and the Great Smoky Mountains. You can also take the kids to cool off at the splash pad and fountains, attend festivals and concert series like Sunsphere Sundays, or catch a show at the Tennessee Amphitheater.
Take a Stroll Down Gay Street
Running through Downtown Knoxville is Gay Street. Originally a headquarters for early political activity in Knoxville and Tennessee, Gay Street now houses historic theaters and art galleries in Downtown Knoxville and has been named one of the ten great streets by the American Planning Association. Find the WDVX studios inside the Knoxville Visitors Center to hear live music Monday through Saturday. Watch a movie, musical, symphony, and more at Tennessee Theatre. Encounter unique art and cultural displays at The Emporium Center. Support handmade art and find honky-tonk vintage pieces at the Pioneer House. Shop for old-fashioned candy, Vol tailgating gear, and more at Mast General Store, one of the last Southern general stores that has been in business since 1883. Or attend First Friday, a monthly art event featuring live performances, gallery shows, local food, and more from Gay Street all the way to Market Square!
Explore Knoxville’s Historic Old City
Located near the rail yard in the downtown area, Old City was once known for having the highest density of saloons, as well as being the city’s wholesale food district. Now, Old City is recognized as Knoxville’s “creative corridor,” with unique shops, restaurants, clubs, and galleries injecting energy into the area. Pick out made-in-house glassware designed specifically for your drink of choice at Pretentious Glass Co. Shop for goods from artists, crafters, and other creatives at the Old City Market every second Sunday. Jam with fellow Knoxville musicians at an open-music session at Boyd’s Jig & Reel. Sip on a Lavender latte at Awaken Coffee, and take a look at their gallery of local art while you’re there, too. Or tour the distillery and sample the locally made spirits at Knox Whiskey Works.
Expand Your Knowledge at Knoxville’s Museums
Knoxville has many great museums to visit! Appreciate beautiful paintings, sculptures, and more at the Knoxville Museum of Art in Downtown Knoxville. Learn about the Civil War and the first Admiral for the U.S. Navy, Admiral David Farragut, at the Farragut Museum. Dive into historical and cultural exhibits about Ancient Egypt or the geological history of Tennessee at the McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture. Absorb Tennessee history, heritage, and geography at East Tennessee History Center. Dedicate an afternoon to exploring the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, where you can learn about women’s inclusion in the sport and see the world’s largest basketball. Or familiarize yourself with contemporary art at The University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery.
K-Town Has Activities for All Ages
You can find plenty of things to do with kids in Knoxville, from interactive pirate ships to splash zones and children’s theatre! Spend the day at Sir Goony’s Family Fun Center with activities like paintball, go-karts, mini-golf, and a splash zone. See exhibits like an interactive spaceship and science garden at Knoxville children’s museum, Muse Knoxville. Observe red pandas and other animals at Zoo Knoxville, known as the “Red Panda Capital of the World.” Check out the waterfall, gardens, and sculptures at Krutch Park. Teach your kids to appreciate the arts at Knoxville Children’s Theatre, where plays are put on by children for children. Or set aside time for the kids to play at Smart Toys and Books‘ interactive playground.
Your Dog Will Love It Here
If you like bringing your dog everywhere you go, you’ll love living in Knoxville. Even the University of Tennessee mascot, Smokey, is a Bluetick Coonhound! Named among the best city for pets, Knoxville loves its furry friends, especially dogs. With nearly 30 boarding facilities and 93 vet practices, the city is equipped to handle all your pet needs. Try out all seven dog parks in Knoxville so your pooch can find their favorite one. Purchase a “dogs on patios permit” for a one-time fee that will allow you to take your dog to participating outdoor patios in Knoxville. Enter your pup in contests for best costume, dog couple, pet/owner look-a-like, and more at Mardi Growl. Head to the patio at Merchants of Beer, where your pup can hang out or cool off inside while you live it up with beer, snacks, and a DJ. Or partake in Bark in the Park, where your dog can get vaccinated and washed at a low price, as well as compete in fun competitions like a peanut butter lick-off!
Take Part in Knoxville Festivals
The K-Town community loves to celebrate local food, music, and more at festivals in Knoxville. Taste test beers from the best breweries in Knoxville all day long at Knoxville Brewfest. Attend Big Ears Festival, the music festival in Downtown Knoxville The New York Times called “one of the world’s greatest music bashes.” Check out Big Ears Festival, a four-day music festival known for featuring eclectic artists from all genres. Fill up on wings at the Big Kahuna Wing Festival, where you can watch a wing eating competition, see fireworks, and sample chicken wings from local restaurants. Hit up the Tennessee Valley Fair for live music, carnival rides, a beer garden, and plenty of fair food. Celebrate the best parts of Knoxville at Bike Boat Brew & Bark, a day filled with biking, sailing, or brewery tours. Or support the arts at Dogwood Arts Festival, where you can shop vendors featuring mixed media, pottery, painting, photography, and more.
Head to Dollywood for the Day
Only 45 minutes from Knoxville is Dollywood, a unique theme park nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains and owned by famous country singer Dolly Parton! Ride the Dollywood Express through five miles of Smoky Mountain foothills. Go 73 miles per hour on the Lightning Rod, the world’s fastest wooden rollercoaster. Pick up some delicious cinnamon bread at Grist Mill. Admire the U.S. national bird at the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary. Cool off at Dollywood Splash Country with over 23 slides and water rides. Attend a Dollywood dinner show like Dolly Parton’s Stampede or Pirates Voyage. Or stay in the Dollywood cabins for breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains, outdoor hot tubs, game rooms, and more.
The Food Scene Is Incredible
The restaurants in Knoxville have a little something for everyone! Start your day off right with a Nutella Crepe at The French Market Creperie‘s downtown or West Knoxville location. Savor the Churro Waffles at Farmacy, where the Southern dishes and decor are equally Insta-worthy. Try the Thunder Road burger at Litton’s, and don’t forget to grab a slice of cake for dessert! Chow down on The Barbed Wire Wood-Fired Pizza at Hard Knox Pizzeria. Experience Knoxville’s friendliness and delicious falafels at Yassin’s Falafel House. Indulge in authentic Italian dishes like the Veal Marsala at Altruda’s and make sure to get your fill of homemade garlic rolls. Find new Southern favorites like the Pimento Buttermilk-Fried Chicken Sandwich inside a 1950s-era auto garage building at Abridged Beer Company. Sample the Fried Green Tomatoes and flights of whiskey at Not Watson’s Kitchen + Bar in Market Square. Or satisfy your sweet tooth with unique ice cream flavors like Mango DoleWhip or Ice Lemon Cookie at Cruze Farm Ice Cream.
Activities for Every Night of the Week
Knoxville nightlife offers tons of ways to unwind during the week and on weekends! Enjoy a wine barrel-aged sour at The Oak Room by Abridged, located in the Happy Holler Historic District. Head next door to Central Cinema to settle in for a screening of a classic or indie film. Dominate the bowling lanes at Maple Hall Bowling, and catch some live music or trivia night while you’re there. Relax with wine, tapas, and local jazz at Water Into Wine in Farragut. Hang out with friends at Open Chord, where they host open mic night, live music, and karaoke. Elevate game night at Token Game Tavern with their vast collection of arcade and board games. Or grab a cocktail at bank-turned-lounge The Vault in Downtown Knoxville.
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