Skip to main content

Knoxville’s History

Knoxville is an ideal city to see a snapshot of U.S. history, ranging from the time of Spanish encounters with Native Americans to frontier settlers in log cabins to the U.S. Civil War to the 1982 World’s Fair. Take a guided tour of one or more of the seven Historic Homes of Knoxville, which showcase eras in the city’s past from an original fort settlement to an opulent Victorian mansion. The East Tennessee History Center tells the stories of both determined pioneers and country music musicians. Be sure to visit the Sunsphere, a sister structure of the Eiffel Tower and the Seattle Space Needle. This iconic symbol of the 1982 World’s Fair offers a stunning 360-degree view of the city from its observation deck.



Downtown Excitement and Outdoor Adventure

Knoxville’s vibrant and walkable downtown beckons with a variety of fun and unique entertainment. Start your explorations in and around Market Square to take advantage of local shops and more than 90 eateries. This popular gathering spot regularly hosts live music, outdoor movies, festivals and other events. Also in the heart of the city is Knoxville’s popular Urban Wilderness, located only 4.8 kilometers from downtown. This gorgeous stretch of nature includes more than 80 kilometers of walking, hiking and biking trails, which connect parks, nature centers, Civil War sites and recreational amenities.



Cultural Scene: Food, Artisans and Music

Thanks to a group of talented chefs, the Knoxville culinary scene is receiving national attention. It includes a growing number of distilleries and craft breweries on Knoxville’s Ale Trail. Music lovers will find that Knoxville is one of the USA’s most active cities for live music. From classical to bluegrass, country to rock, live music can be found on the streets, the square and stages of famous venues like the historic Tennessee Theatre, the Official State Theatre of Tennessee. Stroll the Cradle of Country Music Walking Tour downtown to spot sights mentioned in Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary, or take a trip to Everly Brothers Park to see what Graham Nash, Joan Baez, Paul McCartney and others had to say about this famous duo with Knoxville roots.

Fun Fact

It's possible to travel by boat from downtown Knoxville to either the Gulf of Mexico or the Great Lakes.
View more

It's possible to travel by boat from downtown Knoxville to either the Gulf of Mexico or the Great Lakes.

A photo of Dolly Parton who played in Knoxville, Tennessee
View more

Musical legends Roy Acuff, Dolly Parton and The Everly Brothers all played early in their careers at several Knoxville sites featured in Ken Burns’ “Country Music” documentary.

An archive photo of Oak Ridge National Laboratory near Knoxville, Tennessee
View more

Knoxville’s neighboring city, Oak Ridge, is home to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which provided instrumental research to allied efforts during World War II.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located about an hour from Knoxville, Tennessee
View more
Nearby Experiences