Getting out and about in Knoxville is more about “quality” than the “quantity” of greenbacks you dole out in the process. Fortunately for us all, there are oodles of free or inexpensive things to do in Knoxville, regardless of the season. These options don’t even require a drive outside the city limits.
World’s Fair Park
We tend to take World’s Fair Park and its 266-feet-high tower for granted, but have you ever really stopped to consider all there is to do there? For zero cost? At Volunteer Landing, you can hang out for the entire day, slipping around geysers, fountains and waterfalls on your way to the waterfront. Stroll or jog the lively urban path along the water and pick up some fixin’s for a picnic on the grassy circle. You can also shoot up to the fourth-floor Observation Deck of Sunsphere Tower for sweeping 360-degree views of downtown, the Smokey Mountains, University of Tennessee and the Tennessee River. It’s open until 10 pm for some magical urban twinkle-time, above and below the deck.
Ijams Nature Center
Hikes, bikes, docks and paddles – it’s all at play when you enter Ijams Nature Center. In this 315-acre protected wildlife habitat just three miles from downtown Knoxville, you’ll find at least 12 miles of mixed-use trails for jogging, skating, cycling and scooting along on just about anything. Drop a line from the dock and angle for your dinner, or glide along the river currents on a kayak or canoe. The nature center is free to all and is open daily from 8 am to dusk. If you feel like shelling out $8, you have several options: join an adventure with a Bird’s About naturalist; take a Nature at Night sunset stroll; or stay over for summer concerts with food trucks and a beer garden.
Ancient Egypt and Figurative Glass: Knoxville’s Free Museums
For more than 50 years, McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture has given the University of Tennessee-Knoxville a cutting edge in the worlds of geology, history and eclectic art. For starters, you’ll find 2,000-year-old artefacts in the Ancient Egypt: The Eternal Voice exhibit. Fast-forward a few hundred years to re-live Knoxville’s Battle of Fort Sanders in The Civil War in Knoxville, and dive into pearls of knowledge with “Tennessee Freshwater Mussels.” On your next day of culture clashing, head over to the free Knoxville Museum of Art for two spectacular glass exhibits: the Facets of Modern and Contemporary Glass and the Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity, considered the world’s largest figurative glass-and-steel assemblage.