Downtown Knoxville offers more than just activities for the nine to five set. There are a surprising number of options for families. (That number is growing all the time!) You can find activities based on your child’s interests like art and sports. Or you can play tourist and see the sights. Did we mention each season brings new events in downtown? One of my family’s favorite parts of exploring downtown Knoxville is striking out on foot and seeing what we discover. You can park at one of the easily accessible parking garages. (Parking is free there on nights and weekends.) Then start walking! The downtown area is compact with Market Square at the center so it’s very easy to get around. Knoxville Moms has polled our families, friends and fellow contributors to get you started with this Downtown Knoxville activity guide. We hope this list will help you create fun memories in downtown Knoxville!
25+ Things to Do in Downtown Knoxville
Line Gay Street to watch some of the biggest and best parades in East Tennessee. You can celebrate the holidays with the WIVK Christmas Parade or the Knox St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Cel-O’bragh-tion. Salute our military men and women at the Veteran’s Day Parade and celebrate Juneteenth with the Juneteenth Memorial March & Parade.
No question the heart of downtown Knoxville is Market Square. It is the backdrop to lots of great (and FREE) events like Movies on the Square, Shakespeare on the Square and even ice skating! But sometimes people-watching and splashing in the Market Square play fountain is all you need!
Enjoy a First Friday at least once during the summer.
Meet some farmers and buy some goodies at the Market Square Farmers’ Market! The area’s largest farmers’ market is held every Wednesday from May to November.
Sports & Recreation
Shoot some hoops and then take a tour around the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Even if you don’t like bowling, you’ll still have a great time and a good meal at Maple Hall Bowling Alley. There’s even a separate parlor for board games.
Experience the hard-hitting, fast-paced action with Knoxville’s own Hard Knox Roller Derby!
This is one time it’s okay to throw a sharp object! Craft Axe Throwing gives anyone a chance to play (and win)!
Cheer on our hometown hockey team the Ice Bears! The games often have special themes like Disney princess night that add to the fun on the ice.
Take advantage of free admission to the Knoxville Museum of Art!
Watch a classic movie or take in a Broadway show at the Tennessee Theatre. There’s always something to see at this beautiful piece of history. You can also see performances at the Bijou Theatre also located in downtown Knoxville.
Pick up a paint brush and create your very own piece of art. Painting with a Twist provides the supplies and does the cleanup so you can find your inner artist.
See the Sights
Take a free trip up to the observation deck of the Sunsphere. (Currently closed, stay tuned!)
It doesn’t have to be Halloween to get spooked on one of Knoxville’s haunted ghost tours! If getting scared isn’t for you (or your kids), there are plenty of other walking tours ranging from history to food.
Go on a self-guided walking tour of all the Insta-worthy murals in downtown and beyond.
Take a stroll through Krutch Park and marvel at the artwork and beautiful water feature. (Kids love to toss leaves in and watch them go downstream! Did we mention there is another play fountain?) Everyone should attend the big Christmas tree lighting at the Krutch Park Extension at least once!
Splash in the World’s Fair Park fountain! Or enjoy a festival or concert on the lawn.
Learn about the area we call home at the Museum of East Tennessee History. Award-winning and interactive displays make it interesting for all ages.
Explore McGhee Lawson Library. It’s the largest library in our area with an impressive children’s section with lots for kids to do beyond books. Be sure to check out the various programs, including story times.
Admission AND parking are free at McClung Museum, so family fun days are an absolute must.
Grab your bicycles and scooters and head over to Safety City Knoxville! Kids love peddling around this miniature town made just for them. Parents love kids are learning about safety at the same time! Did we mention it’s FREE?
Land & Boat Tours
Ride the trolley! Kids will love climbing aboard for this FREE trip all around downtown Knoxville.
Train lovers who are young (or young at heart) will enjoy a ride on the Three Rivers Rambler. The tourist train is located in the heart of Knoxville at a charming depot.
Go for a cruise on the Volunteer Princess. You’ll see the beautiful Tennessee River and all the sights on these one and two-hour cruises. Special events are often held with families in mind like the “Mother Son Superhero Party” and the “Royal Father Daughter Ball Cruise.”