There are tons of things to do in downtown Knoxville, and many of those things are great for kids! But if you want to make plans for just one day, here’s what my sister and I recently took our kids to do.
A Day In Downtown Knoxville With Kids
We started with Safety City.
Would you believe me if I said I had never been before? Up until this past year, I had always been a working mom and Safety City hours are usually on weekdays. So when summer hours were announced, my sister and I loaded up our kids and babies, bikes and strollers, and headed downtown! You would never know Safety City was actually there as it’s totally surrounded by trees and fenced in. I also didn’t know it had a great playground. I think my five-year-old son would be hard-pressed to choose a favorite attraction: he loved the small-scale Neyland stadium and the fire station with fireman pole so much! He was fascinated with the small buildings that he recognized from around town. He was absolutely convinced the city must keep the little doors locked because they store important things or use the buildings once all the kids leave! After one more pass through the working car wash, we played for a while on the playground.
By the time we were finished at Safety City, it was lunchtime and we were all starving! But where could we go downtown that was kid-friendly, quick service, and affordable? I hadn’t been there since I was a younger working professional, but I suggested we try Pete’s Coffee Shop! Pete’s has been a Knoxville breakfast and lunch diner staple for almost 40 years! We parked at the Market Street garage and walked over, arriving close to 1pm. (They close at 2pm!) Most of the lunch crowd had cleared out by then and to our grateful surprise, they had a far back corner where our tired kids wouldn’t bother anyone. We were able to order immediately and our food came quickly. With basics like fries, chicken tenders, and bread, it was easy to share with the kids. My son even loved the fried okra on special that day! The other plus is that their prices are super reasonable and the food is just plain tasty. I was so glad we tried it!
You can probably guess where we went for dessert before heading home for the day: Cruze Farm for ice cream!
I highly recommend getting the cheesecake as a topping. A fellow tired parent we met there suggested that next time we try the affogato. Ice cream and espresso? Say no more! Now, as good as the ice cream and free paper hats are, the highlight of the Gay St. Cruze Farm location for my son and niece weirdly enough was the bathroom which is next door in the historic Miller’s Building. Walking through that building and having to use a key pass for the bathroom apparently makes that a top of the line experience for a five- and three-year-old! Sometimes it truly takes so little y’all.
That sums up our day in downtown Knoxville with a five-year-old, a three-year-old, and two babies! Fun, adventurous, and as all parents know, exhausting. The great thing about Knoxville is that this day could have gone a hundred different ways and still have been awesome. We could have splashed in the fountains at World’s Fair Park and stopped at Coffee and Chocolate, or shopped the old fashioned candy barrels at Mast General Store, etc. So next time you’re wondering what to do with the kids, take them downtown and see what fun you can get into!