Knoxville in Under 24 Hours.
This past weekend Andrew and I took a whirlwind trip to Knoxville, Tennessee. My closest friend, Lacie, who lives in Ohio, was going to be there visiting family and I thought what a great way to catch up and spend my birthday weekend exploring a new city. With Knoxville being just under two hours away it was a no brainer and an easy enough drive to just spend one night away from Asheville. We packed a lot in to our quick trip, and there is still endless other things to do and places to eat than I’ve covered here, but here’s how we spent our 22 hours in Knoxville.
We arrived in Knoxville at about 11 am on Saturday morning, and with it being just a bit too early for lunch I thought a good activity would be checking out a vintage store I had on my list. About a mile and a half from where we were staying in Market Square, we drove over to Restrospect Vintage on Central Street to look for some treasures. Knoxville has a handful of great vintage stores, I opted for this one, due to its’ vicinity to where we were staying and being unfamiliar with the cities layout seemed easy enough to navigate. We didn’t walk away with any goodies, but I’m still brainstorming a place I can set up three, rattan bar stools they had for sale. (May be planning a trip back sooner than we think?!)
From there we headed back towards Market Square to find a bite to eat. Unfortunately it was pouring down rain and continued to rain for the remainder of the day, so it made venturing too far a little more difficult, however Market Square has plenty of options if you choose not to stray too far from the block. We decided on brunch at Myrtle’s Chicken + Beer, where I had a deliciously fiery hot chicken biscuit, and Andrew went with a fried chicken version of eggs benedict. After brunch we were looking for a casual place to meet Lacie for a drink so walked around the corner to The Casual Pint for a beer.
As we approached 3pm it was time to check into our hotel, The Oliver. Located right in the heart of Market Square this vintage style, boutique hotel was perfect for our little getaway. With easy access to all the shops and restaurants in the area our cozy suite could’t have been in a better location. Our room at The Oliver Hotel welcomed us with Tennessee Whiskey and house baked cookies, and opened to the cutest living area. My favorite part of the room was definitely the tiled black and white bathroom and huge, walk in shower.
On my list of places to see in Knoxville was the Peter Kern Library, a hidden speakeasy in the area. I had read about how you access it down an alley off of Union Ave, with a door that’s illuminated by a single red light. MUCH to my surprise it was located right inside our hotel. With alley access well known to Knoxville folks, there is also a hidden barn door through the lobby of The Oliver that leads you directly to the bar. We spent a while there sipping on one of their literature inspired signature cocktails, the Holly Golightly, and chatting the afternoon away.
After a couple of cocktails at the Peter Kern Library it was time to venture back out into the rain to find some dinner. I’m a firm believer in dessert before dinner so we walked over to 29 Market Street to get some goodies to go from Knoxville Chocolate Co. Our dinner plan was to eat down the street from our hotel at J.C. Holdway a farm to table restaurant with a James Beard winning chef, but the intimate space was fully booked with reservations, so it’s on the list for next time. We instead ended up at Not Watson’s Kitchen + Bar, a casual spot with a wide variety on their menu, but for me it really left something to be desired. The fried pickles we started with were tasty but I found my ahi tuna sandwich difficult to eat. After dinner we really wanted to go to Maple Hall to bowl but they too were booked up til midnight so we opted for two games at Strike and Spare Lanes about two miles away.
I think my favorite part of the visit (besides of course spending time with Lacie) was Sunday morning. The rain cleared up on Sunday and we headed over to The Old City for breakfast at OliBea. A recommendation by Lacie from a previous visit, this breakfast only joint offered a seasonal menu with fresh and local ingredients and blew me away with that day’s spicy grits special topped with a poached egg and the most delicious mushrooms I’ve ever tasted. The Old City is a cute little neighborhood and can easily be walked to from Market Square being only about a half mile away.
Before jumping on I-40 to head back to North Carolina we drove a couple miles over to Wild Love Bakehouse for some treats to go. With bakers baking on site we knew their pastries would be delicious so grabbed some cookies, an almond croissant and some homemade pop tarts for our nieces before heading out of town. For warmer months they have a huge patio where you can hang with friends or get some work done and they’re located in the same parking lot as Mid Mod Collective so you can hit two great spots at once.
Overall we had a great little ‘day’ trip to Knoxville. I would definitely like to go back when it’s a little warmer out and of course less wet. There is still so much city we didn’t get around to exploring like the Arts District and outdoor activities, but it’s such an easy trip from downtown Asheville, we can easily plan another weekend or even a half day trip to continue exploring this Tennessean town. Have you been to Knoxville? What should we put on our list for our next visit?