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[box] Getting there
The city is situated at the crossroads of three major interstates: I-75, I-40 and I-81 and within a day’s drive of about half the United States’ population. It’s 2.5 hours from Nashville and 3 hours from Atlanta.
Flying: McGhee Tyson Airport is about 20 minutes outside the city and one of the prettiest airports in the region.[/box]
In 1982 the World’s Fair brought 11 million people from across the globe to Knoxville, Tennessee. Today the sunsphere, an iconic golden orb standing 266-feet into the air, a remnant from the fair, marks the city’s skyline and the crossroads of America.
Knoxville is located within a day’s drive of nearly half of the country’s population. And with live music, southern cuisine, outdoor adventures, historical sites and OWAA’s 2015 conference, Knoxville should be at the top of your travel list.
Your trip should include a visit to that golden orb you see in the sky. Topped with a 75-foot sphere with glass panels layered in 24-karate gold dust, it’s unlike any other structure in the world and it’s open to the public — for free.
Take a trip up to the newly renovated observation deck on the fourth floor and take in an incredible 360-degree view of the city or scoot up to the fifth floor and enjoy that same view with dinner and drinks at the Icon Ultra Lounge.
While at World’s Fair Park (where the orb is located) check out the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial, a public plaza with a formal arrangement of granite pillars. The pillars bear the names of fallen heroes from 35 East Tennessee counties who died in military service during named conflicts since World War I. The names of East Tennessee’s Medal of Honor recipients are inscribed and honored on the reverse side of the pillars.
Overlooking the festival lawn is the Knoxville Museum of Art. The museum celebrates the art and artists of East Tennessee. Since its opening in 1990, the museum has presented a lively and engaging schedule of exhibitions and is home to the monumentally scaled sculpture by Knoxville resident and internationally acclaimed artist Richard Jolley, Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity. The sculpture is one of the largest figurative glass-and-steel assemblages in the world and will remain on permanent view at the museum.
No matter where you go in Knoxville, music is around every corner. The city is known as the “Cradle of Country Music” and some say the home of Americana music. Knoxville is one of America’s most vibrant cities for hearing live music. It’s on streets and stages, and free at noon every day (except Sunday) on the WDVX stage at the Knoxville Visitors Center at the corner of Gay Street and Summit Hill Drive. Known as the Blue Plate Special, the noon concerts showcases travelling and local artists and has fans listening online all around the world. From classical to bluegrass, country to rock, this city is like a jukebox full of options. It even has a jazz orchestra. Put simply, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste in Knoxville.
And speaking of taste, if you like southern cuisine, Knoxville will have you eating out of its hand. Calhoun’s on the River has an abundance of BBQ and craft beers, Café 4 has comfort foods with flair and CRU has small plates for everyone to share. Outdoor dining is the way to go on Market Square where the people watching is as enjoyable as the food.
Since the 1860’s Market Square has been one of Knoxville’s most popular places to shop, work, play, eat, drink and live. Market Square is home to outdoor concerts and movies, the local farmers market, Shakespeare on the Square and much more. From housewares to handbags, the stores here hold rare and unique finds. This kid- and pet-friendly area is also an ever-changing anchor for a variety of festivals.
If you like the great outdoors, you’re going to love Knoxville. The city’s Urban Wilderness is a 1,000 acre playground located just five minutes from downtown. Hiking, biking, fishing and boating are just some of the things you’ll find. The trails are as easy or as hard as you want to make them safe to travel alone, but more fun with friends. The quarries offer a lovely view for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. There’s even a night set aside for trail bikers that includes food trucks and frosty beverages. It’s the perfect way to relax after an adventuresome ride.
Knoxville is a city rich in history. The community is proud of its heritage and committed to preserving it. Visitors come to Knoxville to see Civil War sites in our area and tour battle sites and historic homes. Many stop by the East Tennessee History Center to learn about their own history available through the center’s premier genealogy research library. You can learn more about Knoxville on one of our walking tours, many of which include sites and structures featured on the National Register of Historic Places. Seven historic homes dot the landscape and together, exemplify and celebrate the continuing pioneering spirit that created Knoxville.
Knoxville’s largest attraction, the Knoxville Zoo, invites you to come face-to-face with more than 800 of the world’s most fascinating animals. You can even ride a camel and feed a giraffe.
For those guests who want to explore downtown and don’t feel like walking, bike rentals and free trolleys are available. Simply ask your hotel concierge or stop by the downtown visitor’s center for information. ♦
What’s in a name? Knoxville: Also known as …
The Marble City
Knoxville has frequently been called the Marble City because of the number of quarries in the area that produce Tennessee Marble. The pink marble is actually fossiliferous sedimentary limestone with a crystalline structure and differs from the traditional definition of marble. You can find Tennessee Marble in the Knoxville Museum of Art, and East Tennessee History Center (formerly the Customs House) as well as the National Museum of Natural History, the Lincoln Memorial and Grand Central Station.
The Scruffy City
When chosen to host the 1982 World’s Fair, Knoxville was described as a “scruffy little city” by a national publication. The city wore the badge with pride, hosting what would become the last successful World’s Fair held in America. The nickname can be found around town still today.[/box]