Best Bars, Music Venues and Theaters in Knoxville

Being a college town, Knoxville has no shortage of bars and clubs, and each offer a slightly different vibe: from breweries and music halls to country bars and lounges. No visit to Knoxville would be complete without taking in a show in the gorgeous, Tennessee Theatre, and for even more live musical entertainment, the Clarence Brown Theatre is sure to delight.

Knoxville knows good beer, and visitors can sample some local favorites at the Downtown Grill and Brewery, Suttrees High Gravity Tavern, and Barley's Taproom. All three specialize in craft beer and offer a laid-back, after work vibe.

Those looking for a party can check out Cotton Eyed Joe's - where drink specials get the crowd dancing to country songs (and mechanical bull riding). Or, they can check out Sapphire's, an upscale martini bar with live DJs spinning on weekends. For great live music in Old City, Boyd's Jig and Reel has a small stage with large talent. In Market Square, the creative Preservation Pub and sister venue, Scruffy City Hall consistently host excellent bands late into the night.

Our editors have scoured the city in search of the best nightlife spots in Knoxville and rounded them up. Here are the 10 favorites in Knoxville.

Sapphire - A Modern Bar & Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan


This ultra-chic lounge and bar has some unique features: like the glowing tank behind DJ stage with bubbles floating to the surface, mood lighting behind bar, museum artifacts on display, and windmill-sized industrial ceiling fans. Couples sip...  Read More

Airport - Tys


Tucked away in the Old City District, Barley's is a busy but laid-back pizzeria where a diverse crowd congregates in the evening. Though known for its huge slices of great pizza, this comfortable old building is also an after-dinner hangout,...  Read More



This professional live-action theater was built in 1970 and holds around 500 people (meaning there are some great seats to be had). It showcases around eight different productions each summer. Snacks and beverages are served after shows and...  Read More

Scruffy City Hall
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan


The owners of Preservation Pub brought the same creativity to neighboring Scruffy City Hall. The main stage at this new venue is larger than that of Preservation Pub, and the hall itself offers more room in front of the stage to dance. The...  Read More

Airport - Tys
Cotton Eyed Joe


Anyone with a taste for country music should not miss a visit to Cotton Eyed Joe's, which is widely considered one of the top country-dance clubs in the South. Drink specials vary every night, and you'll often find a complimentary Tex-Mex buffet...  Read More

Boyd's Jig & Reel
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan


Located in Old City, this dimly lit, Scottish pub has three separate rooms: the entrance features a long bar with 300 scotch options, a concert room has a small stage and tables, and a quieter lounge area with dart boards for mingling with...  Read More

Suttree's High Gravity Tavern
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan


This local favorite on Gay Street features constantly rotating draft beer selections that draw in the craft-beer loving crowd (and hipsters). The design of the bar is simplistic, yet has a few unique features like the roller-coaster shaped bench...  Read More

Downtown Grill & Brewery
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan


This massive, two-story space seems to go on forever, with an upper floor that overlooks main bar and brew kegs. Vintage paintings and prints and scuffed wood floors contrast shiny gold taps where at least seven craft beers (brewed in house) are...  Read More

Tennessee Theatre
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan


First opened in 1928 when movies were only 40 cents for matinees and 60 cents for evening shows, the Tennessee Theatre continues to awe visitors (although prices have risen a bit since then). The beautiful Spanish-Moorish style interior has a...  Read More

Preservation Pub
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan


This three-story pub feels like a fairy tale infused with country rock. The music memorabilia on the walls, a speakeasy-style booth wedged into the space under the stairs, a giant tree bar on the rooftop, and vines growing up the brick walls...  Read More


Meet Amber Nolan

Originally from upstate New York, this restless traveler has a knack for befriending interesting characters. You can usually find her just about anywhere that has a hammock. Amber's favorite...  More About Amber