If you’re looking for Knoxville outdoor activities, Ijams Nature Center is the place to go. Just three miles from downtown, Ijams contains 318 acres of beautiful forests, meadows, wetlands and creeks. Nature lovers of all ages can hike the trails, play at Jo’s Grove and even get your cardio fill at the Ijams Primal Playground. Ijams is also home to Knoxville’s only outdoor rock-climbing area, called the Crag. Plus, grounds are open from 8 am to dusk every day, so you have plenty of time to squeeze in some fresh air.
Nearby Attractions in Knoxville
With a rich history of local musicians, artistry and a plethora of beautiful parks, there’s plenty of museums and open spaces to explore in Knoxville.
From paddle-boarding at the Ijams Nature Center, to the largest glass art installation in the world at the Knoxville Museum of Art, to Broadway shows at the Tennessee Theatre, you’ll never run out of things to do.
Simply walk our streets, with local artists playing in the background, or bring some cheese and crackers to one of our local parks. Whatever you’re into, here’s six of the best museums, music venues and outdoor attractions in Knoxville, TN.
Ijams Nature Center
Rent a paddleboard on Mead’s Quarry Lake and get an up-close look at the historic marble quarry.
Knoxville Museum of Art
In need of an exciting rainy-day activity while you’re in Knoxville? Pay a visit to the Knoxville Museum of Art. All about celebrating East Tennessee’s diverse arts culture and connection to the rest of the art world, the KMA places a huge emphasis on local artists. The 53,200 square foot facility’s permanent collection includes over 1,500 objects featuring everything from mixed-media works to paintings and sculpture. One of the most notable sculptures being Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity, a permanent larger-than-life glass installation by Knoxville artist Richard Jolley, which also happens to be the largest in the world.
Admission is always free for all ages.
Soak up the bright lights of Broadway at the Tennessee Theatre, one of Knoxville’s most beloved performing arts venues. If it happens on stage it’ll likely take place here, whether that’s a classic cinema night or a performance from a big-name artist.
Though the show does take place on stage, you’ll have as much to soak in off stage, from the red velvet seats to the red and gold satin curtain to the ornate detailing along the walls and ceiling. Treat yourself to a night at the theatre as it would have been when the Tennessee Theatre first opened in 1928.
Check the event calendar before your trip to make sure you don’t miss a great show!
Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
Immerse yourself in the past, present, and future of women’s basketball. The Hall of Fame opened in June 1999 in a sprawling, 35,000 square-foot complex dedicated to women in basketball. It’s the only facility of its kind.
171 inductees currently sit in the Hall of Fame, though within you’ll find the world’s largest basketball, three different courts where you can test your skills, and the 17-foot bronze Eastman Statue that celebrates women in basketball. Don’t miss the photo area where you can catch a glimpse of yourself as if you were an important figure in women’s basketball history.
They have special admission hours during the Lady Vols basketball season. Check them out before heading to Thompson Boling.
Maple Hall Bowling
You heard it here first: bowling (at least at Maple Hall) is cool again. Reclaimed wood beams, exposed brick and funky mid-century décor are just a few of the things that set Maple Hall Bowling in Downtown Knoxville apart. Swing by for full-service bowling with a twist – excellent cocktails, locally-sourced bites and even a vibey upstairs lounge and patio area. If strikes and spares aren’t really your thing, don’t worry – Maple Hall has plenty of comfy spots to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.
Order up the Memphis charcuterie and baked pretzel bites. Trust us.
Muse Children’s Museum
If you came to Knoxville with kids in tow, Muse Children’s Museum is an absolute must. A science and education center with hands-on exhibits, play spaces and even a planetarium, the little ones in your group will have the time of their lives. Muse’s engaging and educational experiences range greatly, with everything from an augmented reality sandbox and book nook to an outdoor music garden for aspiring young musicians. The museum is open every day from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and often hosts special family-oriented events, too.
The whole family plays free from 5-7 p.m. on the 4th Friday of the month.
Stay on The Strip
Just steps from The Strip and with Big Orange around every corner, Graduate Knoxville is as Tennessee as it gets. Whether you’re bursting with Vols pride or simply want to experience the Marble City for yourself, Graduate Knoxville will keep you close to everywhere you want to be. Never stay more than a stone’s throw from kick-off at Neyland Stadium or the best barbeque in town.See Rooms