© Visit Knoxville/Bruce McCamish

Knoxville

Dubbed a 'scruffy little city' by the Wall Street Journal before the 1982 World's Fair, Knoxville is strutting its stuff these days as an increasingly prominent and polished destination for outdoor, gastronomy and craft-beer enthusiasts. Knoxville is also home to the University of Tennessee and its rabid college-football fan base.

Knoxville is a handy base for visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Sugarlands Visitor Center is just 29 miles away, and Knoxville is a far more enticing spot to eat and drink than other cities near the park. For hikers and mountain bikers, the city's ever-expanding Urban Wilderness is becoming its own reason to visit.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Knoxville.