Situated in eastern Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and home to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is not as large as Atlanta or Memphis, but is definitely not a small town either. In fact, Knoxville is the third largest city in the state of Tennessee, except during home games of the University of Tennessee football team, when the crowds converging on Neyland Stadium turn it into the second largest city in the state.
Coming into Knoxville by car (Knoxville airport is a 40 minute drive from the downtown area) one immediately spots a huge gold ball on the skyline. Said ball is the infamous Sunsphere, immortalised in an episode of The Simpsons where Bart knocks it down. Contrary to the show's interpretation of recent history, it still stands in the midst of the site of the 1982 World's Fair.
You may wonder about the purpose of the Sunsphere. Admittedly, the observation deck gives a wonderful view of the city, but the restaurant once at the top has long since been shut down. Its sole purpose now seems to be for it to exist as a decorative, distinctive part of the skyline.
Restaurants abound in the Knoxville area. Knoxville has the most restaurants per capita of any American city. Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, American - even Hungarian cuisine can be found there. Unfortunately, public transportation in Knoxville rarely takes you exactly where you need to go, which is a problem, as most good restaurants are in rather obscure corners of the city. Travelling can quickly become a nightmare of transfers, waiting, more transfers, and finally the realisation that it would have probably been quicker to walk descends on the hungry traveller. Furthermore, pubic transport in Knoxville stops after 7pm on Sundays on all but a few corridor routes
Driving in Knoxville
If you travel to Knoxville by car, remember several things. Firstly, it lies at the intersection of two major interstates. Road construction is a way of life around Knoxville and traffic jams are nothing new even along secondary routes: only so many people can be squeezed on the interstate.
Knoxville drivers also tend to regard the speed limit as something that simply decorates the side of the road. Conscientious drivers in the area may take it on board as a suggestion, but nothing more. The exception, of course, is the Sunday driver, who journeys along at a constant maximum speed of 30 miles per hour. If you are tempted to drive speedily, beware the Cumberland Avenue strip on a Saturday night, as it is heavily populated by University of Tennessee students in various stages of drunkenness.
One of the most annoying features of Knoxville is that there is hardly any parking downtown. Mostly, you have to settle for a place three miles from where you want to go and walk from there. And don't even think about going downtown on a Sunday, except to join a church service.
In conclusion, Knoxville is a pleasant place, especially with its close proximity to the breathtaking beauty of the Appalachian mountains. People generally tend to be friendly and you can always find something to eat. It's just getting there that will take you some time.