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> Knoxville Starter Kit
post Feb 10 2009, 09:38 PM
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Knoxville Starter Kit

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Knoxville, TN

General Information
Get in
Entering Knoxville from abroad is best done by plane. More adventurous international travelers (or domestic visitors) may choose to drive , but it is the major population center in East Tennessee, so any drive will be 2-3 hours from the next major airport. (Nashville is a 2.5hr drive, Atlanta 3hrs) As with most of inland America, train travel is sporadic at best.

The weather in Knoxville is comparable to most of the Upper South with mostly mild winters (lows around 15oF) and hot, humid summers (highs in the upper 80's). As such, the best time to visit is probably the Spring or Fall. The Fall is a truly unique time to visit because the trees have started to change color and the views are truly spectacular!

As with most American cities there are a wide range of lodgings. Budget hotels cost in the range of $30/night yet some of the most expensive can run as high as $250 or $300/night. Most hotels are in the $70-100 range. Again, as with most of American, hostels are far less common.

For those that enjoy the great outdoors, camping is always a viable option, however, most campgrounds are far from the city itself and can only be reached by car. There are several State and National Parks within a half an hour to an hours drive from Knoxville. (See Great Smoky Mountains National Park post, coming soon)

Once you are in Knoxville, the best option for travel is by car. There is a local public transportation system (buses only) and it may be a more economical option, but if you prefer to set your own schedule and travel beyond the range of the buses, a car is a must. Most of the local bus routes concentrate on the downtown area and only service the surrounding suburbs sporadically.

Cell phones: Knoxville is on par with most US cities in that there is fairly ubiquitous cellular coverage by the American carriers. European cell users should follow guidelines for traveling to the US in general when considering using a cell phone. (Note: Cell coverage in rural areas can be sketchy at best, consult your carrier's coverage map)

Internet: There is some public wifi in the local libraries, parks, and cafe's, but on the whole be prepared to pay for internet service through your hotel. Some internet cafe's exist, but they are rare.

Things to do
Football (or American Football as you foreigners call it)
Knoxville is best known for being home to the University of Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols (as they are more commonly known) are a college football team and local fan devotion can border on the level of hysteria. Visitors to the University should consult the Admissions department for a tour of the campus. One important note: Visitors who are not interested in the local football scene are strongly warned to avoid Knoxville on game day. Traffic in and around downtown will reach a standstill before and after the game. The football season runs in the Fall. Please consult the University's website for a game schedule.

Camping/Outdoor Recreation
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
2. State Parks (East TN State Parks)
3. Obed Wild and Scenic River (Great for climbing and day hikes!)
4. There are also plenty of city and county parks to enjoy

1. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), where they made part of the first atomic bomb (see the American Museum of Science and Energy)
2. Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park (near Chattanooga, 1hr 45min drive)

Sundown in the City
Sundown in the City is a free music concert series hosted in Knoxville's Market Square throughout the Spring. Acts include various up-and-coming artists from around the region. It is a local favorite, so be sure to arrive early to get a good spot! Entry is free and there are food and beer vendors in the square.

World's Fair Park
Knoxville proudly hosted the 1982 World's Fair. The World's Fair Park still stands and hosts a variety of concerts and events throughout the year. See their website for details.

Eat & Drink
As part of the American South, Knoxville has a great tradition of good home cooking and hospitality. There are many local restaurants that serve family style meals true to their southern roots. One will often find fried chicken, fried catfish, or a Southern staple, quality barbecue.


"Be a traveler, not a tourist."
"Chance favors the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur

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My upcoming trips:
1. A week at the Outer Banks, NC; June '10
2. Somewhere in South America, Early 2011
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post Feb 18 2009, 02:19 PM
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Rolling Stone

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Awesome! Thanks for that, Matt.

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