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Your guide to downtown Knoxville

Maybe it's not so scruffy after all.

Knoxville may be known as the Scruffy City, but it's also world-class. With plenty of museums to explore, restaurants and bars to try, and festivals to attend, visitors and residents alike are never left without something to do in downtown Knoxville.

You can fuel up your foodie friends with more than 75 restaurants to choose from all within a walking distance of one square mile or gather your history buffs for a little bit of learning in a city center filled with historic buildings and tall tales. Even simply taking a walk through downtown will provide a cultural experience, with murals covering the walls, sculptures lining parks and art galleries featuring locally-made creations. And when you're all done trekking across the city, kick your feet up and relax with a drink at one of the many bars and breweries that dot the cityscape.

Ready to explore all these different local locales? Check out our guide to city below as we update it throughout the week with the latest spots on our list. There may even be a few places you never knew existed (ever heard of an essential oils cocktail bar?).


Untapped and Unknown

Whether it's a hidden bar and event space above Gay Street, a small but savory Asian pub a few blocks away from Market Square or a "bar" that serves up essential oils cocktails, we are willing to bet there are several sites you haven't visited in Downtown Knoxville. Click here to discover what places you do-- and don't-- know in the heart of the Scruffy City.

Rising Art Scene

Photo Courtesy Art Market Gallery

Downtown Knoxville has transformed from a quiet and gray area to a vibrant and colorful place to be, thanks to a rising art scene in the city. Art has taken over-- from murals on city walls to sculptures dotting public spaces, you can't hardly go anywhere around town without feeling an artsy influence. Click here to explore the art world of downtown Knoxville.

Haunted Tales of the Bijou

The Bijou Theatre is more than 200 years old.

An iconic piece of the Gay St. strip, the Bijou has been part of downtown Knoxville for generations. But before the building became a theater, it was a hotel that saw plenty of visitors go in and out of its doors.

"Any building that has been here awhile is going to have a few shady things happen," storyteller Laura Still explained. "Plenty of time for people to get shot, killed, die of disease, fall down stairs."

The Knoxville ghost tour guide and author of A Haunted History of Knoxville said the Bijou is likely the most haunted building in town. She's come to know the history of the haunted hallways well. Click here to delve into the haunted history of the Bijou and hear a few ghost stories too.

Fun for Foodies

Downtown Knoxville has become a destination for foodies. And with more than 75 restaurants in less than a square mile from Market Square, it's not hard to see why. Award-winning chefs, recognition from travel magazines, and all kinds of eclectic foods to choose from make for a fabulous food experience in the heart of the city.

With top chefs bringing unique fare to downtown, we profiled several cool spots that are worth the hype. Click here to see where and what we taste-tested.

Views of the city

The rooftop of the Hyatt Place Hotel may be 10 stories up in the air, but it feels a world away from the streets below. It's become a new destination for bar hoppers and sight-seekers alike since it opened its bar late in the summer of 2018.

The bar serves up various cocktails and views from 10 stories above Gay St., with an expansive southeastern view of the city. Click here to check out the views and atmosphere 10 stories up above.