Baker Creek Preserve in Knoxville
Photo Credit: Plan A

Friends Weekend Getaway in and Around Knoxville

Plan your friends weekend getaway trip to Knoxville, a great destination for a group vacation. View our guide for your group here.

Featured in this Article:

Knoxville Things to Do with a Friend Group
Knoxville Restaurants for Groups
Large Group Logistics and Tips

Knoxville is the perfect city for a friends weekend getaway. Full of culture, outdoor adventure, expansive restaurants and attractions, your friend group will love this creative city. We have tips on where to go in Knoxville and how to plan a group vacation. Continue reading below for how to plan a weekend getaway with friends in Knoxville.

Knoxville Things to Do with a Friend Group

The Sunsphere

Scurry up to the top of The Sunsphere for incredible views of Knoxville and a bit of the city’s unique history. In 1982, Knoxville hosted the World’s Fair, a large, global exhibition designed to showcase nations’ accomplishments. To celebrate the fair, the Sunsphere was built. This one-of-a-kind structure has become an iconic landmark for the city with an observation deck that has 360-degree views of downtown, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Tennessee River and the University of Tennessee campus. 

Zoo Knoxville

Did you know Zoo Knoxville is the Red Panda Capital of the World? More red pandas have been born at the zoo than any other zoo in the world. Book a private, behind-the-scenes tour with animal staff for you and your friends to get up close to these adorable animals as well as giraffes, elephants, penguins and giant tortoises. Feed a red panda or giraffe and have your picture taken with exotic creatures. Learn about the nutrition programs at Zoo Knoxville and the conservation efforts to help preserve and protect endangered species.

Urban Wilderness

Start your day with an outdoor adventure on more than 60 miles of trails and greenways where you can hike, climb, paddle and wander in the woods. See pristine lakes, quarries, city parks, a 600-acre wildlife area and historic sites. Get an adrenaline rush mountain biking at Baker Creek Preserve. See stunning rock formations at the Ijams Nature Center & Quarries. Go paddling on the lake of Mead’s Quarry at Ijams Quarry. Whatever outdoor excursion you want to pursue, Urban Wilderness can help you.

Knox Brew Tour

Photo Credit: @nelly.brew_review

Grab your friends for a three-hour, four-stop brewery tour with Knox Brew Tours to get a taste of Knoxville’s craft beer culture. The Original Bus Tour will transport you to each brewery to learn the brewing process and each brewery’s unique history as well as provide 12 different styles of beer to sample. Snacks, tunes and trivia are provided during your trip making for a fun afternoon or evening activity. Tours are 6:30 p.m. Fridays and noon and 3 p.m. Saturdays. 

Live Music in Knoxville

Photo Credit: @sethmarker

If you’re wanting to discover your new favorite artist or jam with one of your favorite touring artists, there’s plenty of live music to be enjoyed. Live music is everywhere in Knoxville – streets, Market Square, stages like Tennessee Theatre and the Bijou Theatre as well as music venues like Mill & Mine and regular jam sessions at Boyd’s Jig & Reel. Check out the unique WDVX Blue Plate Special hosted Monday-Thursday and on Saturday at Visit Knoxville’s Visitor Center featuring blues, bluegrass, folk, rockabilly, Celtic, country and more.

Maker City Tour

Get a look at the creative energy pulsing in Knoxville on a self-guided Maker City Tour. Download your map and drop in to see glass blowers, silk screen printers, metal works, chocolatiers, potters and fashion designers. Be inspired by these artisans and take home a piece of crafted Knoxville treasure with you.  

Maple Hall Bowling Alley

Have some friendly competition with bowling at Maple Hall. Eleven lanes are equipped with leather couches and HD TVs and offer food and cocktail service. The upstairs cocktail lounge has plenty of lounge space, life-sized board games, full bar with top-shelf alcohol and a beautiful patio space. Maple Hall is the perfect place to hang out after a day of adventure.

Pretentious Glass Co.

Make your own art at Pretentious Glass Co. during one of their glass-blowing workshops. Bring your friends to the hot shop where seasoned staff teach you the basics of glassblowing. Make your own paperweight, ornament or drinking glass. Then, sample some of Pretentious Beer Co.’s craft brews, the only place where you can drink beer made in-house, out of glassware made in-house, and watch everything being produced.

James White's Fort

Knoxville’s first home, James White’s Fort was built in 1786 by James White, the founder of Knoxville. He enclosed the log cabin and other structures. Take a tour to learn the full history and see the many structures including the main house and kitchen, the well, smokehouse, guesthouse and blacksmith shop where you can see local blacksmith demonstrations. 

Knoxville Museum of Art

Spend a slow morning at Knoxville Museum of Art. The free museum is beautiful during the morning hours (open beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays) as light streams into the giant windows. Marvel at the artwork on display from photography to paintings, glassworks and even miniature diorama groups in the permanent collection, Thorne Rooms. Catch traveling exhibits to see work from acclaimed artists and make your own work of art by posing for a selfie on the second-story balcony, the Sunsphere making a beautiful backdrop. 

Knoxville Restaurants for Groups

The Plaid Apron

Start your day on a happy note with brunch at The Plaid Apron. Locally sourced ingredients are the foundation for this restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and sweet confections in their bakery. Fuel up for a full day of exploring with eggs benedict, gluten-free almond cakes, salads, biscuits and patty melts.

Stock & Barrel

Get ready to dig into giant burgers and creamy milkshakes at Stock & Barrel. Burgers are all-natural and a house brisket blend topped with a flour-dusted bun from Flour Head bakery. Try The Hurt Locker featuring pimento cheese, local bacon, fried green tomato and bourbon onion rings or The Big Nasty loaded with a double serving of bacon, crispy onions, tomato jam and mayo and cheddar cheese. 

SoKno Taco Cantina

Photo Credit: @caitsplatez

If you’ve been exploring Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, SoKno Taco Cantina is a great pitstop afterwards. Dig into southwest nachos, tamale platters, quesadillas, the black bean salad and the flat iron burrito stuffed with cast iron beans, fiesta rice, onions, cilantro and any protein tossed in house-made queso. You’ll want to stop in for their Friday-Sunday brunch as well for breakfast empanadas, sunrise scramble bowl and churro waffles that will satisfy any sweet tooth. 

Balter Beerworks

Experience the scratch kitchen brewpub at Balter Beerworks with a pint of their award-winning beer brewed in-house. Perfect for groups if you’re looking for any meal, Balter Beerworks serves delicious dishes like blackened fish street tacos, hot chicken sliders, made-to-order guacamole, burrito bowls, shrimp rigatoni, burgers, salads and desserts from banana pudding to skillet cookies. 

Large Group Logistics and Tips

Knoxville is a great place to visit if you’re traveling with a large group of friends. There are so many attractions, cultural spots and outdoor adventure to explore. Make travel planning a breeze by contacting Visit Knoxville’s Visitor Center. They’ll share all the tips and tricks you need for how to plan a group vacation. The team can assist with hotel negotiations, provide expert recommendations on attractions, shops and unique restaurants as well as arrange customized tours, educational and performance itineraries. Give them a call at 800-727-8045 or 865-523-7263. 

If you're looking for even more places to see, check out our Knoxville page for tips on where to eat, stay and explore.

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