When you relocate to a new city, it can be difficult to wrap your mind around the different neighborhoods – their activities, the characteristics of the people who live there, and the energy of the locals. Knoxville is no different, with a wide range of neighborhoods, suburbs, and regions, each with its own unique signature. It’s a city rich in history that seamlessly blends nature and culture into the qualities that make it the “Scruffy City.” It sits as an entry point to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, opening up opportunities for locals and visitors to access the mountains, rivers, lakes, and natural elements that make East Tennessee beautiful.
If you are interested in relocating to Knoxville, or even moving around the area, take a look at some of the unique locations, historical elements, and activities of interest in some of the areas west and south of downtown.
Where it is: At the heart of the city’s center, this is where much of Knoxville’s action takes place. Home to the 1982 World’s Fair, one of the most successful World’s Fairs in US history, downtown Knoxville features the Sunsphere, a 266-foot steel structure topped with a gold sphere built for the exposition.
The history: Did you know that Knoxville was once the capital of Tennessee? Home to several historical locations, the downtown area is a walk through the history of Knoxville.
Things to see/do: Downtown features some of the city’s best museums, theaters, galleries, and historic landmarks. The streets are very walkable with a burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene, featuring breweries, unique dining concepts, and lots of art. It’s also home to two beautiful and historic theaters – the Bijou Theatre and the Tennessee Theatre.
UT Campus/Cumberland Ave
Where it is: The UT Campus neighborhood which is located off Cumberland Avenue (also known by locals and students as The Strip)
The history: Founded in Knoxville in 1794 as Blount College, the institution that would become the University of Tennessee as we know it today, began as a small college taught from its first president’s home. It struggled for several years before the college bought 40 acres of land just west of downtown to establish a campus on what is now known as “The Hill.”
Things to see/do: Recently, Cumberland Avenue underwent a massive aesthetic update known as the Cumberland Avenue Corridor Project and widened the sidewalks, updating several of the restaurants and nightlife options as well.
Where it is: Moving west, Sequoyah Hills is located in Knoxville, off Kingston Pike, between downtown and West Knoxville. It was named for the Cherokee scholar Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet.
The history: It is one of Knoxville’s first suburbs and has an incredible collection of the mid-20th century architecture. It is one of the oldest and most affluent parts of Knoxville.
Things to see/do: Cherokee Boulevard is the main road along the perimeter and is bordered by beautiful sidewalks, trees, and a view of the river, and is one of the most beautiful areas of Knoxville.
Where it is: Bearden is a neighborhood in Knoxville located west of the Sequoyah Hills area as you travel along Kingston Pike.
History: Bearden was named for former Knoxville mayor and Tennessee state legislator, Marcus De Lafayette Bearden, and started as an agrarian community in the 19th century.
Things to see/do: The Bearden area is home to over 30 shopping centers, covering over three million square feet of dining, shopping, and nightlife. Along with West Town Mall, major centers include Homberg Place, Bearden Center, Knox Plaza, Papermill Plaza, and the Centre at Deane Hill. Efforts have been made over the last several years to make Bearden more walkable and more connected.
Where it is: Rocky Hill is a neighborhood in West Knoxville that encompasses an area north and west of Northshore Drive, east of Wallace Road, and south of Westland Drive.
The history: While there isn’t much specifically on the history of Rocky Hill, one thing that stands out is that people who live in Rocky Hill, love living in Rocky Hill.
Things to see/do: Home to a popular Christmas parade each December, it has a great neighborhood feel with several great new restaurants.
Where it is: Cedar Bluff is a major exit off of I-40, west of West Hills and east of Farragut. It connects Kingston Pike on the south end to Middlebrook Pike on the north end.
The history: Home to many of the major office parks and technology offices in Knoxville, mainly due to its proximity in a corridor between Oak Ridge National Laboratory and downtown Knoxville.
Things to see/do: Despite being the location of several office buildings, Cedar Bluff is a burgeoning area of development that is often a hub for weekend errands featuring nearly every major home store, big-box store, and more, along with hidden gems and local favorites.
Where it is: Farragut is the town west of Knoxville, located in the Knoxville Metropolitan area. The history: The Town of Farragut is named in honor of American Civil War Admiral, David Farragut, who was born just east of Farragut at Campbell’s Station in 1801. The second governor of the state of Tennessee, Archibald Roane, is also buried in Farragut.
Things to see/do: Turkey Creek, the area on Parkside Drive between Campbell Station and Lovell Road, is a destination area with dining, shopping, hotels, and more.
Do you have any favorites we left out? We’re always on the lookout for great recommendations from locals and transplants alike! Let us know in the comments if you have a great hidden gem to share or a fun fact about one of these special areas of Knoxville.