Words by Sarah DeLoach
As the first capital of Tennessee, Knoxville is proud of its heritage. It’s a vibrant city with an unlimited amount of activity from one side of town to the other – a great reason to consider Knoxville for your next weekend trip.
Knoxville happens to be in a very convenient geographic location for road trips, intersecting at major expressways I-40 and I-75 with I-81 not too far away. For those flying in, Mcghee Tyson Airport (TYS) is minutes away from the city. Once you’re here, you’re within 20 minutes of all kinds of adventure.
From the heart of Knoxville, head west and you will eventually hit the Town of Farragut. Named after Civil War hero, Admiral David Farragut (he of the famous phrase, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”), it is an affluent neighborhood with a love of water, fun, and history. Visit the Farragut Museum for a one-of-a-kind collection of the Admiral’s artifacts.
In northeast Knoxville you can hike the rugged trails of House Mountain. 5.8 miles of twisting trails reaches Knox County’s highest point, featuring an overlook from the 2100-foot crest with breathtaking views of the mountain angles. Some of the trails can be steep, so it is perfect for the experienced hiker and adventure seeker. Additionally, there are species of birds that migrate through and offer a once-in-lifetime spectacle of nature, and a great location for cyclists to ride the scenic back roads.
Speaking of birds, fall is the perfect time to visit Seven Islands State Birding Park, the only state birding park in the state of Tennessee. This east Knoxville gem features aquatic and grassland habitats that 190 species of birds call home. Explore 416 acres of protected land that has paved and natural trails, rolling hills, and views of the Smoky Mountains.
Take the backroads back towards downtown and you’ll come to Ramsey House, one of Knoxville’s Seven Historic Homes. This 1797 treasure was built for one the earliest settlers of Knoxville and constructed out of beautiful Tennessee pink marble and blue limestone. It is one of the most intact historic homes of its era, including several original furnishings such as furniture made by Tennessee’s earliest cabinetmakers – perhaps centuries-old artistry supporting Knoxville’s modern-day moniker of “The Maker City”.
A trip to this part of town would be incomplete without a stop at the Cruze Farm Asbury House. This ice cream shop features fresh churned ice cream made with milk from the Jersey cows on their dairy farm. It’s served by gals in iconic red and white gingham dresses with cherry-red smiles. Besides their famous ice cream, they also make butter, regular milk, chocolate milk, coffee milk, and seasonal flavored milk – of course pumpkin spice is the fall favorite.
If your trip includes a visit to the Smokies, head towards Townsend as you leave Knoxville for one of the most gorgeous drives of your life. This scenic route is honestly indescribable and something you just need to see for yourself.