A leisurely and (almost) free afternoon in Knoxville

After worshiping this morning at Christ Church, we had a Fathers Day yummy Mexican meal at La Fiesta, a good illustration that the proof is in the cooking, not in their low prices and the unimpressive strip mall setting.

Then came the (almost) free touristy afternoon.

We headed over to the World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville. We wandered a bit before we found parking–we should have used the map at their website, but we finally found free parking in the municipal ramp on 11th at Cumberland.

The park is large and beautifully landscaped with a small lake and fountains of various sorts, including one designed for water play. I expect we’ll see more of the park another time, including perhaps the Knoxville Museum of Art, a gathering at the Knoxville Convention Center, or a concert at the Amphitheater in the park.


playing in fountainThis time our goal was the Sunsphere–Knoxville’s sunsphereiconic golden tower, built for that 1982 World’s Fair. The 4th floor within the globe is a 360-degree observation deck from which you can see much of Knoxville (with a golden glow) and far off into the mountains. We think we figured out which was the mountain we see from our front porch. Access to the elevator and the deck is free–always free.

(In case someone else needs to know, I believe the nearest rest rooms are outside the Sunsphere–walk under the Clinch Avenue overpass and to the left.)

A few blocks away is Market Square. We were hot and decided to drive, which was fine, because there wasn’t really anything to see or do until we arrived at Market Square, where there’s a pleasant park and a couple of blocks of pedestrian plaza with specialty shops and cafes housed in the old buildings of this part of old Knoxville and another fountain to play in. There are a couple of parking ramps nearby, but we parked on the street, where meters are free on the weekends.

fountain in market square market square market square

snake oil foot pump dentist drill see rock cityAfter we’d strolled the square, we discovered the East Tennessee History Center  on the other side of the park from the pedestrian plaza. Admission is inexpensive all the days of the week except on Sundays, when it’s free for everyone. Children 16 and under are always free.

This is an impressive one-level museum which walks you through eras of East Tennessee history, starting with the earliest Native American residents. My photos here don’t give any idea of the breadth and detail there. You can spend as little or as much time as you (or your children or your lower back) wish. We were there about an hour and a half, and look forward to returning again for more.

fathers daySo we spent about 3 hours starting to get familiar with Knoxville and the only thing that cost anything was a couple of Cokes.

Not a bad way to hang out on Fathers Day with a husband who’s glad for every occasion not to spend.

4 Comments on "A leisurely and (almost) free afternoon in Knoxville"

  1. Sue says:

    Noel, what a fun day.
    Another fun trip you should take this year is to Cumberland Gap state park. They have taken up the pavement and have replanted the original trees, etc. to be the same as when Daniel Boone first crossed. We were out there 11 yrs ago when they had just begun. I told James he had to take me back even if I was in a wheel chair when the area was restored and regrown. It may be as close to a time machine we get in our live time.

  2. Angela says:

    I went to the Knoxville World’s Fair years ago when I was a little girl. Good memories! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

  3. Trillia says:

    How fun, Noel!! You all are settling right in nicely! I look forward to being up there this weekend. Enjoy your exploring.

  4. Desiree says:

    Mrs. Piper,

    So glad you are enjoying Knoxville. I have lived here all my life (except for brief stints in Southeastern KY for college and China for missions.) I didn’t know if you knew about Shakespeare on the Square (formally Shakespeare in the Park). For several years, it was held at the amphitheater at World’s Fair. When the city revitalized the Market Square, it moved locations. I highly recommend their performances for a fun (and cheap!) evening outdoors.


    P.S. – We eat at La Fiesta EVERY Sunday after worship. It’s become a family tradition for us. :)

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