In West Knoxville, just along the riverfront, this sprawling, 87-acre park is situated in a quiet, residential neighborhood. The park has three different entrances, as well as three baseball/softball fields and numerous jogging trails. A 1,000-year old Indian mound can be found and the surrounding suburban neighborhood is full of 1920s historic homes. The park also features two blueways, concession stands, and picnic tables and is peaceful place to relax away from the typical tourist trail. It is especially scenic in the fall. The nearby Whitlow Logan Park also offers basketball, tennis, and a playground and Talahi Park offers a beautiful fountain.
Recommended for Parks because: In a scenic suburban neighborhood, this is a quiet alternative to downtown and a local's favorite.
Amber's expert tip: Restrooms are only open during events and ballgames.
This under-the-radar gem is located about a 30-minute drive from Knoxville. While the Great Smoky Mountains National Park hogs the spotlight, the Big Ridge State Park is a quieter alternative for campers. The 3,687-acre park is located in the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Range, with more than 15 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy to extremely rugged. There are 50 campsites surrounding Norris Lake, a sandy beach next to Big Ridge Lake, volleyball, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a basketball court and a softball field. A number of historic log cabins, cemeteries, and houses can be found throughout the park.
Recommended for Parks because: This peaceful park offers plenty for visitors and is a great family option.
Amber's expert tip: Each August they host the Bluegrass festival.
Knoxville was the host of the 1982 World's Fair that drew 11 million people, making it the last successful World's Fair. Decades later, the area where the fair was held is still a top draw for visitors. Attractions include The Candy Factory, a conglomeration of Victorian homes hosting arts and crafts shops, and Fort Kid, which is a large playground. The world-class Knoxville Museum of Art is also located here, as is the memorable symbol of the World's Fair, the 26-story Sunsphere. Take the elevator up for sweeping views of the city and the amphitheater below. It's a good choice for a first stop in the city to help visitors get their bearings.
Recommended for Parks because: The World's Fair Park is a Knoxville icon in the heart of the city.
Amber's expert tip: On a hot day, the fountains at World's Fair Park are a great way to cool down.
Located 50 miles southeast of Knoxville, this vast 625,000-acre national forest offers great outdoor opportunities to people for miles around. It is the largest tract of public land in Tennessee and adjoins other national forests in Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. This is a hikers and photographer's paradise, with more than 105 well-marked trails that lead to some incredible vistas. Trails are also available for horseback riders and mountain bikers. Visitors may camp in tents or several cabins, or hunt, swim fish, and pan for gold. In the winter it is virtually untouched, making it ideal for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
Recommended for Parks because: Much of this stretch of public land is untouched so it's a great place to spot wildlife.
Amber's expert tip: Don't miss the Tellico River Zone.
This historic park covers 21,000 acres, making it the largest National Historic Park in the country. Located 60 miles north of downtown, this is still a popular destination because of its numerous offerings, such as scenic picnic areas and trails for running, biking, and horseback riding. This park also features numerous examples of Native American history. The famous mile-long tunnel through a mountain, which must be traversed to reach the park, is a thrill for the kids and adults alike. At the Hensley Settlement, visitors can wander down fence-lined lanes, peek into the blacksmith's shop, or sit in the one room school.
Recommended for Parks because: This park infuses quite a bit of history together with a natural setting.
Amber's expert tip: Ranger led tours are available of Gap Cave, but it is advised to make reservations a month in advance.
This 3-acre, paved waterfront park on the banks of the Tennessee River is a picturesque stroll past the Three River Rambler near Calhoun's restaurant (which serves amazing barbecue). Kids will love the small playground and splashing in several of the fountains or behind the man-made waterfall (you can see right through it). Pack a picnic lunch - tables are available - as well as a concession stand, restrooms, and fishing docks. Both the Neyland and James White Greenways connect to Volunteer Park, and the Blount Mansion is just steps away - making this a perfect way to spend a day outdoors.
Recommended for Parks because: This is an overall nice place to go for a quiet stroll along the waterfront.
Amber's expert tip: Parking is a bit limited, but you an park on the other side of the river and walk over the bridge.
As one of Knoxville's newest dog-friendly parks, Concord features water fountains for pets, four acres for them to play, and even a dog shower. There's also a dock and idyllic boat marina, restrooms, picnic areas and plenty of space for a leisurely walk or your favorite athletic pursuit. Tennis courts, roller hockey, a playground for the kids, an outdoor swimming pool, and 9.4 miles of trails for running or in-line skating let you enjoy 500 acres of Tennessee's great outdoors. There's also a beautiful cove and swimming area, and par 3 golf course that offers camps and clinics for kids, as well as a convenient golf clubhouse.
Recommended for Parks because: Although part of Concord Park is for the dogs, this 500-acre jewel can be enjoyed by everyone.
Amber's expert tip: The cove is a great place for a family barbecue - there are grills, sand volleyball, and picnic areas.
This 111-acre park boasts the highest elevation point in Knoxville and is located just 10 minutes outside of downtown. Views of the mountains and skyline make this a peaceful place to meditate, read a book, birdwatch, or just soak it all in. The memorial park offers a large observation deck from which it is said you can view the most beautiful sunset in America. A multi-use trail runs a three-mile loop with the bottom leading to a picnic area. Parking is available on the lower part of the trail, at the overlook, or the very top. There are no restrooms.
Recommended for Parks because: The views at this ridge are stunning, and it is just a short drive from downtown.
Amber's expert tip: The Appalachian Mountain Bike Club is currently building new trails along the ridge.
This is the most visited national park in the country, and one glimpse at it lets you know why. The park includes more than 520,000 acres, 735 miles of streams, and 800 miles of some of the most scenic hiking and biking trails in the world. The peaks reach over 6,000 feet, providing unforgettable scenic vistas and several visitor centers are scattered throughout the park. Located less than an hour from Knoxville, pack a picnic lunch and spend the day. Activities include fishing, horseback riding, camping, ranger-led programs, and wildlife viewing. Black bear, white-tailed deer, and elk are just a few animals that live in the park.
Recommended for Parks because: A national icon, this makes a wonderful day trip from Knoxville.
Amber's expert tip: Weekends during the summer can be especially busy. Visit during the fall and you'll likely see fewer crowds and beautiful colors.
This 1,000-acre, trail-blazing project is helping to define Knoxville as a cultural center for outdoor enthusiasts. Located three miles from downtown, this dedicated area is perfect for hikers, bicyclists, dog-walkers, and those seeking a quiet reprieve from the city. The South Loop contains 42 acres of trails, including the Will Skelton Greenway (partially paved) that runs along the river to the Downtown Island airport. The main loop connects Ijams Nature Center (a hub for outdoor activities), Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area, Anderson School Trails, William Hastie Natural Area, and Marie Myers Park - so there are plenty of opportunities to explore.
Recommended for Parks because: This constantly expanding project is redefining urban parks in Knoxville.
Amber's expert tip: Bring water. The only place to get any is Ijams Nature Center.