November 16, 2012

Knoxville, TN

Tennessee was our 33rd state on this trip and the last state we visited before coming back to Arkansas. After visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park we got back on interstate 40 and drove into Knoxville for an evening. Since we had promised back home that we’d be back by Thanksgiving, we had a somewhat tight schedule to work with and after allotting our other destinations (Nashville and Memphis) their days, we only had one night left over for Knoxville.  It was good to be back in Tennessee, we were excited to be back in the South!

I have to admit that what people say about the South folks being nicer is very much true. It seems as soon as we crossed that state line between Maryland and Virginia, Sky and I noticed a difference in the facial communication on the street. All of a sudden people we didn't know were smiling at us and making direct eye contact. The pleasantries were even more noticeable once we crossed into Tennessee. One of the biggest examples of this is people holding the door for us. On the East coast I was lucky if someone didn't hit me in the face with the door as they were barging through. Here in the Tennessee, people (men and women) go out of their way to hold the door for us. I even had a moment where I was more than four steps away from the door, a gentleman (who had already walked through the door) saw me coming, backtracked and opened it for me. Now that’s nice! Once back in the South we realized just how welcoming it feels to be here. This was something we didn't even realize we’d missed until we got to experience it again.

So, Knoxville was our first stop in this great wide state of Tennessee. The city sits on the Tennessee River and is just about an hour outside of the Smoky Mountains. Knoxville is the home to the University of Tennessee’s primary campus and was also home to the 1982 World’s Fair. The World ’s Fair Park is near downtown, but the only leftover visual artifact from that fair there is the Sunsphere, a 266 foot tall tower topped with a golden globe. We walked by the Sunsphere to Market Square. Market Square is a pedestrian shopping square with cafes, restaurants and stores on both sides and an open space in the middle. This space hosts the Knoxville farmer’s market as well as the First Friday art gallery walks. We walked around the square, mostly window shopping for a dinner option and then decided to stroll over to Gay Street, just a few blocks over.

The World's Fair Sunsphere in Knoxville, TN
The World's Fair Sunsphere
Market Square in Knoxville, TN
Walking on Market Square 
Market Square in Knoxville, TN
A restaurant on Market Square
Gay Street is the main street in Knoxville. There we found the Tennessee Theater and also the city’s Christmas tree. We stumbled on a local movie theater and Sky noticed that the new James Bond movie was playing. We made our way next door to the theater for a quick dinner of sushi and then to a general store a few doors down to buy up a candy stash. Even though it was a Wednesday night, the movie theater for Skyfall was almost packed. We spent the rest of the evening watching the movie and munching on gummy worms. On our way home after the movie we spotted the lit tower of Ayres Hall, the Hall on the Hill for the University of Tennessee, so we swung by and walked a bit by it on the university campus.

The Tennessee Theater on Gay St. in Knoxville, TN
The Tennessee Theater on Gay St.
Ayres Hall on the Hill in Knoxville, TN
Ayres Hall on the Hill
To see more pictures of Knoxville, click here.

Happy Friendly South,


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