Obviously, travel isn’t essential right now so if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, definitely stay home. But in terms of places that are safe to visit right now, Knoxville, Tennessee is among them.
Masks are required in city-run buildings and encouraged throughout Knoxville. All major attractions also require face coverings and have timed entry to control crowds. Most restaurants are taking measures like takeout meals, distanced tables, mask requirements, and temperature checks.
For more information about the precautions in place, go to Visit Knoxville’s Coronavirus page. All information is accurate at the time of publication.
Art Museums and Public Art
The Knoxville Museum of Art focuses on the people and work of East Tennessee. Paintings and sculptures are on display and it’s free to visit. Strict protocols are in place and reservations are required.
If you’d rather stay outside, Knoxville has plenty of free public art to admire in just about every neighborhood. Check out our guide to the best murals around town.
The East Tennessee Historical Society is also open to visitors. Here you can learn about the region from the early settlers to the work of the Tennessee Valley Authority that continues today.
The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is the only museum in the world devoted to women’s sports. Touch panels have been closed off to avoid the spread of germs, but you can still see incredible exhibits like early uniforms and trophies. Masks are required.
Trails and the Great Outdoors
Knoxville is surrounded by nature so there are plenty of places to spread out. Head to the Ijams Nature Center, a 10-mile park with trails for hiking and mountain biking and a quarry for kayaking.
Downtown’s World’s Fair Park is set beneath the iconic Sunsphere and was the site of the 1982 World’s Fair. The public park is the perfect spot to go for a walk or enjoy a takeout picnic.
The city also has miles of greenway, including a stretch that follows the Tennessee River. Here, you can tie up your kayak or lock up your bike to grab a bite before continuing on your way.
Knoxville sits at the confluence of the Tennessee, French Broad, and Holston rivers so there are endless water experiences to enjoy. Knoxville Adventure Collective rents bikes, kayaks, and paddleboards and also offers guided excursions.
Virtual and Drive-In Experiences
Like many other cities, Knoxville has offered drive-in and socially distanced experiences. The drive-in movies that were offered at the library may be over for the season, but neighboring Gatlinburg hosts distanced concerts.
You can also join virtual experiences like streaming performances and behind-the-scenes videos. There are self-guided tours you can do at your leisure.
Where to Eat
Knoxville has plenty of outdoor and socially distanced dining for to-go or dine-in. Central Filling Station is a former gas station turned food truck park that brings a rotating selection of cuisines.
Emilia is ideal for Italian food with pasta made in-house daily. They also have wine on tap along with craft cocktails. Masks are required while not seated inside.
Chow down on the patio at Kaizen, a pan-Asian eatery in the Old City with buns, dumplings, noodles, and rice bowls. Pair with a local craft beer from neighboring Pretentious Beer Co.
The patio at The Tomato Head is great for a meal in Market Square. They have contactless ordering and payment and a menu with pizzas, sandwiches, and vegan baked goods.
Knoxville’s breweries are also socially distancing with outdoor seating, masks while indoors, and cashless transactions. Pretentious, Printshop, and Alliance are a few of our favorites.
Where to Stay
Knoxville has an abundance of great places to stay that are doing their part to keep you safe. Hyatt Place Knoxville has to-go breakfast, deep cleaned rooms, and hand sanitizer throughout the building.
The Oliver Hotel Knoxville in Market Square was built in the 1800s and has been transformed into one of the city’s online boutique hotels. Masks are required indoors and enhanced cleaning is in place.
Rentals are another great option for safe travel since you can heat up to-go meals. Check out Airbnb rentals like in this light-filled loft or a charming cottage.
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