Despite the chilling weather, I decided to venture out of the house to explore the amazing town of Knoxville. The weather in middle TN has been downright difficult. We don’t get much snow but the cold will chill you to the bone. Knoxville is a great day trip from Nashville because they have an assortment of free activities you can enjoy. Granted, it would be more enjoyable during warmer weather but it was perfect to check out their local spots and attractions while keeping it warm. The cold weather will definitely give you the opportunity to enjoy a lot of spots intimately since the majority of the folks are deterred by the cold. Take advantage of it and scope out places to visit later on.
But First Coffee
Wild Love Bakehouse was our first stop to refuel and grab a delicious treat once we arrived in Knoxville. Aside from being on our way to the Knoxville Museum of Art, I longed for some coffee to warm me up and a place to stretch my legs. Do we ever really need a reason for coffee? Didn’t think so! Their selection of baked goods are on display and I could not stop staring at them as I waited to place my order. Next thing I knew I was ordering a
Peanut Butter Oat Bar with Valrhona Chocolate. Hello. They had me at chocolate but the fact that it was flourless just blew my mind. I am not one to resist anything that has chocolate and peanut butter. Ever. Peanut butter and chocolate are my jam! There is just something special about pairing chocolate with nuts. Each type of chocolate and nut combination will bring out different notes in each other. Ok, getting off track, off subject and kinda craving some chocolate right now.
Coffee and Chocolate was another spot we just had to stop at after lunch. Coffee and Chocolate. Need I say more? Didn’t think so! Two of my favoritevices under one roof. Stopped in to grab a latte and a quick treat for later before venturing back into those freezing temps outside. Their coffee was great to stay warm as we continued to explore downtown Knoxville. Trust me when I explain how much we needed to amp up the warmth factor considering the fact that our gloves were not helping keep us warm on such a cold day.
No need to go into detail on what they offer considering their name is self-explanatory. The artisanal chocolate is delicious. They make all of their treats in-house and boast a health inspection rating of 100. Definitely worth stopping by this small shop. Curious about what I purchased? Dark chocolate peanut butter cup! Surprised?
The Knoxville Museum of Art is a great museum that gathers great collections of contemporary art and treasured classics. You can’t get lost exploring their 3 floors of exhibits because they’re neatly spaced out on each floor. We definitely took our time to explore all the galleries because it was nice and inviting. There was so much to see. The friendly and helpful volunteers at the Knoxville Museum of Art helped guide us around the museum and even provided some helpful suggestions on what else to see in Knoxville. Admission and parking are free but you are welcome to leave a donation to keep this beautiful institution able to serve others.
My favorite exhibition was the Currents: Recent Art from East Tennessee and Beyond. The large oil on canvas “Mirage” by Tomory Dodge is an amazing piece. The simple yet complex patterns definitely drew me in to enjoy the intricate colors. Another piece that stood out was the lifelike sculpture of a man by Evan Penny. The intricate skin discolorations, scars, hair pattern will leave you speechless. You can almost see him breathing!
The exhibit Higher Ground : A Century of Visual Arts in Tennessee explored the vast and lush countryside that is unique to this state. 2 pieces stood out from all the rest “Moonlight Seashore” painted by Hugh Tyler in 1923 captured an idyllic twilight scene while the gelatin silver print titled “Dawn, Autumn, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee” by Ansel Adams caught my attention.
I also enjoyed the East Tennessee Regional Student Art Exhibition. A great collection of young artists from local schools in a wide variety of mediums. Love how they are able to express their creativity at such a young age. Such talent should definitely be nurtured! This collection will be on display until January 14 if you are interested in stopping by.
Knoxville touts an array of murals around town that add to the eclectic charm of the city as it reminds me of the murals in Nashville. I love the creativity that went into crafting all of these beautiful murals. Art and expression should not be limited to a museum or gallery but for all to enjoy. Murals can have such an impact on the community and visitors at large. They capture the local love and the details that make their community unique. These murals have become landmarks for locals and tourists.
Postcard from Knoxville is the most colorful mural and part of a nationwide project that seeks to paint murals in all 50 states. The Greetings Tour team is a visionary labor of love and art by Victor “Ving” Fung and Lisa Beggs. You can see a recap of how the Postcard from Knoxville mural was created and pictures to show the progress.
Greetings from Knoxville also encompasses the history and the iconic landmarks that distinguish city. It is conveniently located in the Visit Knoxville offices where you can obtain more information or just enjoy the WDVX live radio show broadcast. This mural was designed by Bobbie Crews who is an accomplished artist in her Knoxville community.
The Weaving Rainbow Mountain is another colorful mural that adorns the landscape in Knoxville. It stands out for its beautiful bright colors and location. Apart from the other murals, The Weaving Rainbow Mountain was designed and created by Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn This is the only one that is not located on a wall. You will be able to appreciate a unique view, either from the top or the bottom. It may even entice all those fitness tracking folks to work on getting your steps in for the day.
Local Eats and Treats
We enjoyed lunch at The Tomato Head, a locally owned and operated spot. The decor is open yet cozy which can cause you to overstay your welcome but who is counting, there are plenty of tables for everyone. It was so nice and warm in there that we really took our time to enjoy each part of our meal. Aside from the great service and ambiance, they have a rating of 100 on their health inspection. This just made this local spot even more amazing!!!!
Their cheese pizza would give any traditional pizza a run for it’s money. Instead of the traditional red marinara sauce base, it has an olive oil infused with garlic base that complimented all the cheese. Seriously, isn’t it just all about cheese? Mozzarella, a provolone blend, fontina, and parmesan can entice just about any cheese lover out there. This cheese pizza is far from boring so don’t be deterred from sticking to the basics. Nothing basic about this cheese pizza! You should always expect to be mind blown when the basics are done correctly with quality ingredients.
The perfect pairing was a light pilsner that was locally brewed and on tap. I enjoyed a very refreshing Schulz Bräu from Schulz Bräu Brewing, a local brewery in Knoxville. My husband enjoyed the Sexy Cat, an American Pale Ale, from Hexagon Brewing Company. Did you know that there are over 12 breweries in Knoxville alone? Looking forward to returning soon so I can go on that beer trail to try them all.
The Tomato Head is located in the most adorable spot downtown known as Market Square. Definitely, a place to be when the weather permits to enjoy the locally owned stores, restaurants, and pubs. I can see why Market Square has been so popular since the 1860’s and can’t wait to return during warmer weather. Must admit I was tempted to actually ice skate at the temporary rink that was set up but preferred to stroll along the different stores in the area.
Strolling along Market Square we came to another adorable chocolate shop and had to stop in. The Knoxville Chocolate Co did not disappoint! They recently opened their doors in this prestigious location on December 29, 2017, but this spot seems to have been made for them. Knoxville Chocolate Co offers an array of delicious chocolate created in-house in all sorts of fun shapes and sizes. Aside from being amazing treats, they are pretty adorable to look at! They even offer fun gifts to give if you decide on keeping the chocolate for yourself.
Road trips are a great alternative to hanging around the same old, same old spots in your town. They offer a great opportunity to explore new destinations that are just around the corner and within arms reach. You don’t need to jet set away for an exciting adventure. The most important step is to be prepared for any situation, especially during Winter. A beautiful but harsh season to get caught in an easily avoidable situation. I can’t stress enough the importance of planning ahead even if it is the night before.
As always make sure you check up on your safety bag to make sure you have updated with winter essentials. I would add an extra pair of socks, a blanket, hand warmers and perhaps a comfy sweater. The last thing you want to endure is being unprepared in freezing temps like the ones we have been experiencing this winter. You can find more road trip hacks in my post The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Road Trips.
As always I would love to hear about your experiences in Knoxville or upcoming road trips.
Join me on my journey!