Knoxville, Tennessee – August 2015 Knoxville was another town we had simply passed through several times. We were very intrigued by our brief visit here and plan to stop regularly when we are in the area or possibly spend a week here someday.
Our first stop in downtown Knoxville was the Old Gray Cemetery. We enjoy visiting cemeteries for their history and beauty. This one was full of both, and quite possibly our favorite. It was founded in 1850 and was well planned. It is full of wonderful stonework. Like these beauties:
And this little lady watching over the grave of an 18 year old girl:
Across the street from the cemetery was this absolutely gorgeous church:
We stayed less than an hour because the bugs were eating poor Jim alive. No see ums, tiny mosquitos… I’m not sure what was lurking out there but Jim was spending more time swatting and itching than enjoying so it was time to go. We’ll visit again with some bug spray in our arsenal.
Our next destination was Market Square. The reviews I read were somewhat lukewarm about this area so I was pleasantly surprised by what we found. The square and the surrounding streets had block after block of beautiful old buildings.
And one very cool sculpture called Rowing Man.
We visited on a Saturday so there was a very nice farmers’ market to boot. I was impressed by the variety of vegetables. These farmers didn’t just have tomatoes, but many varieties of tomatoes large and small. Other vegetables were equally well represented. We found a variety of corn on the cob that we often can’t locate.
We were thinking about grabbing a light lunch at one of the many food trucks when it started raining. We reconsidered and instead started looking for a restaurant. Our first few choices had long, wet lines so we chose to visit the first restaurant that wasn’t too busy. Based on its lack of clientele we didn’t have very high expectations for Soccer Taco, a Mexican sports bar. Were we wrong! We were very impressed with the food and the service. The prices were very reasonable, $20 for two meals and an amazing appetizer.
The rain turned to a light drizzle so we continued to explore. As luck would have it we had arrived on the day of the East Tennessee Historical Society History Fair. This included so many events that we didn’t even realize how much we had missed until we got home and read the brochure. We did see some great musicians on the square courtesy of the event.
We took advantage of a free bus tour of historical homes. We hopped on a bus downtown and they dropped us off at several locations. Another bus would come along and pick us up every 20 minutes. We visited the Blount Mansion (I think they used the term mansion rather loosely here) and James White’s Fort, the founder of Knoxville.
Each were open free of charge when they are generally about $7.50. In each case I felt like we got our money’s worth but in all fairness I believe they usually include a guided tour in their price. We skipped the Mabry-Hazen home and Bethel Cemetery because our energy was flagging and it was still drizzling. I definitely want to see them on another visit.
Our final bus stop was at the Emporium Center, the home of the Arts and Culture Alliance. This stop promised us a glimpse into the Knoxville underground. We ended up enjoying this stop the most but not because the underground was particularly exciting. They had a great 15 minute presentation of how the underground came to be and the history of Gay Street. What was most intriguing was that the revitalism of the area has apparently occurred very recently and that so many downtown properties were all but abandoned just 10 years ago.
After a long and entertaining day we were happy to return to our camp just 13 miles north of Knoxville at Escapees Raccoon Valley RV Park just off Interstate 75 North. It was a pleasant little park with reasonable rates, less than $20 for full hookups after tax.