My Tennessee

I want to share my Tennessee. It may not be the most exciting and happening – but it is definitely fun and beautiful. To those of you visiting from today… welcome! I hope you find my Tennessee as beautiful as I do.

I am not from Tennessee. I have moved all over the world, including Europe and a good portion of the United States. I chose to go to college in Tennessee, mostly because that is where I got in-state tuition. Honestly, I wasn’t very excited about it to begin with, but this beautiful state has grown on me. So I am going to show you my favorite places and things about Knoxville, and then give you some suggestions of places to see and things to do. Ready?

When in Knoxville, do like the Volunteers! So just to get in the mood, I wanted to share some of the most popular SOUNDS of Knoxville.

Yes, for college kids, and anyone in Knoxville on any given Saturday in Fall… football is the biggest thing. Here is a map of Downtown Knoxville, and the University of  Tennessee campus. There are seven multi-colored stars, each corresponding with a picture from below.

Yellow Star:  To be honest, the University of Tennessee has been losing long enough that it’s not about the game, but the environment. It’s about seeing these people walk down Neyland Drive…

To feel the humming from the people filling the streets…

To the point where you can’t see the road, the parking lot, or the sidewalk… it all disappears into a mass of orange.

Watch our beautiful Neyland Stadium start, small, empty, humble…

And become a vibrating mass of excited and anxious fans.

“GOOOOOD OOOOL’ ROCKY TOP” ringing in your ears as 100,000 fans sing along with the Pride of the Southland Marching Band.

The roar of the crowd, and the fireworks let everyone for miles around know that the University of Tennessee just scored!

But my favorite part of UT football is after the game. The next day. Sunday. The fresh feeling of winning a game, having fun, enjoying time with friends, and the soft autumn breeze that carries the sent of dying leaves across campus.

This is my UT football experience. If you are ever in town on a Football Saturday, scalp some tickets and join the fun (or… prepare ahead of time and buy some tickets… whatever floats your boat). I promise you will not be disappointed. Just remember, everyone looks good in orange.

Orange Star: Just to the left of Neyland Stadium (on the map above), is Circle Park. At the entrance to Circle Park you will find this statue:

This is the torchbearer. He represents the University’s ideals. “One that beareth a torch standeth in shadow to give light to others.” We are the Tennessee volunteers, giving of ourselves – not for ourselves, but for others. The torch in his hand guiding the incoming freshman class to our school’s standard of service. In his other hand he holds the Goddess of Winged Victory – the symbol of success. The goddess stands on a globe in the hand of the torch bearer – symbolizing that your success in this world is in your own hands. Take it. Run. Live.

It is just a statue. But it means something. If you want to come and see it… do. Then walk to the left and visit the McClung Museum, which hosts different exhibits 3 or 4 times a year.

Pink Star: Northeast of Neyland Stadium is The Hill.

The oldest part of the University of Tennessee, The Hill encompasses the original buildings, most of which are beautiful, but lack decent air circulation. My freshman year we burned up during August, and then by December we had to have the windows open because the stifling dry heat in the building was unbearable!

Ayres Hall as seen from the west.

If you are interested in Civil War history, this part of town is steeped in it. Even The Hill has its own bit of fame.

If you are interested in seeing the other civil war marker, try this website. It’s usually a good source, but if it’s still having API problems, then just type “Knoxville Civil War Markers” into your favorite search engine.

Purple Star: If you are looking for another college experience, check out The Rock.

Best paint job ever - picture by me, painting by someone more creative than me.

The center of lots of late nights, The Rock is often painted multiple times a night, and is also painted by the Band for Game Days. I’ve also heard that a few people have tried to propose using The Rock – but the most popular messages are those of well wishes, birthday wishes, and luck on exams and during games.

I did paint the rock with my roommates junior year.

Because honestly, who doesn’t love the Beatles?

Red Star: This might not be a place to visit, per say, but it is a beautiful spot during the fall, when all of the leaves change colors to a perfect golden yellow

I no longer live on campus, but I would love to spend my days tromping through these crispy leaves.

Light Purple Star: Less than a mile Northeast of campus is World’s Fair Park. It is full of interesting statues, and our outdoor amphitheater, fountains to play in, and bench parks to spend the early days of autumn sitting on.

This is also where my darling husband proposed to me, just over two years ago! Such a beautiful sight to me. I especially love the multi-faceted Sunsphere. During the World’s Fair you could pay $2.00 to go up and look around, but now the elevator ride is free, and it has different boards and videos about Knoxville and the park.

Aqua Blue Star: All the way on the right of the map is a lonesome blue star. It is lonesome because… well.. it’s not in Knoxville, but it is something worth checking out. This little star is on a path that my husband and I did some geocaching on.

Geocaching with the dogs & B-man

The path leads to Ijams Natural Center, which aside from having plenty of geocaches, has lots of dog-friendly paths, picnicking areas, and a nature center that teaches about ways to go earth-friendly.

Gretel hanging out in the Tennessee River

And that is my little tour of Knoxville, Tennessee!

Tennessee River, Knoxville, TN

Lastly, I wanted to share a few of my favorite restaurants. I didn’t have the time to get out and take pictures, but if you are ever in Knoxville, and you’re hungry, check the following places out – yummm!

  1. Calhoun’s is one of my favorite restaurants. It is a small chain only in Knoxville. The prettiest one is right by campus on the Tennessee River. My favorite dish to get there… is actually a salad. But it is HUGE and you will not be disappointed. It’s called the Turkey Creek salad. I feel hungry just thinking about it!
  2. If you like to go organic and local, you should check out The Tomato Head. All of their ingredients are fresh, local, and mostly organic. They have pizzas, salads, soups and sandwiches, along with vegan desserts! Located in Market Square, it is the perfect place to stop during a day of walking around town. My favorite item here is The Tuscan Chicken sandwich. PS: The hummus is to die for. My husband doesn’t like hummus, but he likes the hummus here. Give it a try; it’s cheap, so if you don’t like it, you’re only out $1.75!
  3. Speaking of Market Square, not only is it home to an outdoor ice skating rink in December, lots of quaint little stores and a summer concert series – it is also home to the Farmer’s Market every Wednesday & Saturday. Wednesday is a small event, with plenty of stands to peruse, but Saturday is almost fest-like, with the different vendors and street performers. Definitely worth a visit!
  4. This last one is a diamond in the rough. King Tut’s Grill is a fun little place in South Knoxville. On the weekend it is a happening party with karaoke and fun, while during the week it is a little more laid back. Mo is the owner and host, while his wife does all of the cooking. It’s delicious, authentic Greek food – and worth a try. It definitely looks sketchy on the outside, but it’s all “win” on the inside. PS: Mo doesn’t take plastic, cash or check only.

And there you have it! My Knoxville. My Tennessee. I hope you’ve enjoyed my little tour, and if you’re ever in my neck of the woods, give me a shout!

Welcome to Big Orange Country!

Continue the fun!

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  1. Great tour of your state! I have been traveling to Tennessee from my homestate of Ohio since I was nine years old. We love it, but no place more than the mountains of the Smoky Mtn Nat'l Park. Sometimes we go to Gatlinburg and do all the cheesy touristy stuff, but mostly we find a cabin, do a lot of hiking and shopping and eating, then roll back home after a very fulfilling weekend 🙂

    There's nothing like Tennessee in the fall!

  2. Wow! What a totally fantastic tour! I went to a Tennessee/Notre Dame football game in Knoxville ten years ago, and I still have great memories! I'm not a Vols fan, but I loved the atmosphere and thought your fans were very hospitable. Hearing the whole stadium sing Rocky Top is something to experience.

    Your description of the falls Sundays after a football game has made me majorly nostalgic for my own (long gone) college days!

    Fantastic photos! Thanks so much for BlogTrotting.

  3. This post made me very VERY happy! I just love Knoxville, and I love that a transplant loves it, too! I didn't go to UT, but my blood runs orange 🙂

    I'd add Aubrey's to your list of must-visit restaurants. Hubs and I go there probably TOO often. I just love everything they serve there!

    The Oriental Chicken salad is my favorite thing to get at Calhoun's–I love it there, too! And have you had the nachos at Tomato Head? To die for. Now I'm hungry…

    I haven't been to King Tut's, but I've heard a lot about it. I'll have to put it on the list to try!

    Is it football season yet?????

    1. I've never been to Aubry's. I should've included the Silver Spoon too, but I was trying to only do things within a mile of campus. I'm glad you enjoyed my post – and I saw a billboard last night, 29 days till the first game!

  4. Great post for Tennessee! My husband and I are both OSU Buckeyes alumni and really have no use for the Vols, but I respect your allegiance. I know how it is. Buckeye Football is a religion up here in Ohio. We schedule our lives around the football schedule! I have very fond childhood memories of camping vacations with my family in Tennessee.

  5. One of my good friends went to college at Tennessee and man was a devoted Vols fan. Given that he grew up in New York and currently resides in Maryland, and he graduated 10+ years ago, I'd say he's pretty committed. Or maybe should be committed. Either way, he loves him some Vols football.

    How interesting that the rock is painted and repainted. There must be hundreds of layers of paint on it!

    Fabulous tour, thanks for being a part of BlogTrotting!

  6. I just found your blog, and I have no idea who you are but I LOVE YOU for this post. I'm from K-ville, and you just made me miss home, big time. I can't wait for fall, so I can visit, go to Neyland (hopefully win) and feel the way this post made me feel – all hopeful and in love with fall. 😀 THANK YOU for a piece of home. GO VOLS!

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