A travel journal
to Knoxville by KDKerr
Quote: For 22 years, I called Knoxville home. It is a mid-sized city located about an hour away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tennessee is bordered by eight states, more states nieghbor it than anywhere else in the country, and auto travelers usually pass through Knoxville on their way to the Southeastern U.S.
College football is practically a religion in the Southeast, and the blood of Knoxville's residents runs orange. The city is home to the main campus of The University of Tennessee, and its football and womens basketball teams are always among the nation's best. Please note that wearing anything with a University of Flordia logo on it could put you in a life threatening situation.
Nature lovers will find Knoxville especially pleasing. There are mountains, valleys, and lakes spread throughout the area. The city experiences all four seasonal climates from hot, humid summers to bitingly cold winters. Autumn is a time to behold with a full palette of fall colors appearing on the landscape.
Knoxville also famously hosted the 1982 World's Fair which was the backdrop for a hilarious episode of The Simpsons called "Bart on the Road" (Season 7, Episode 21). A fictional fraternity at The University of Tennessee was also featured in the movie "Road Trip."
Typically, I loathe bars that feature live bands rather than a DJ. In my experience, most local cover bands make me hate the songs that, up until that point, I loved. Fortunately, my friends pressured me into going to Knoxville's Preservation Pub to see a group called The Throwbacks. They are four veteran musicians who cover the best music from two decades ago. It's all '80s, all the time. The Throwbacks have earned a cult following in Knoxville for good reason. They are one of the best local bands I've ever heard, so please try to support them if you find yourself in the Knoxville area.
The Cotton Eyed Joe is the largest nightlife venue in Knoxville. It's where urban cowboys and cowgirls congregate to line dance the night away, but a variety of music to suit every taste will be played during the evening. If you are intent on remaining a wallflower, a large selection of bar games (pool, darts, etc.) is available throughout the establishment.
Also, it wouldn't be a truly redneck experience if a mechanical bull, an in-house roping ring, and scantily clad shooter girls weren't present, so be prepared for a completely countrified evening. You'll also see the occasional drunken bar fight being broken up quickly by the hulking bouncers, one of whom is the owner, Gingi, who will probably greet you at the door.
The following is a list of typical weekly activities being served up at the Cotton Eyed Joe. Check the official Cotton Eyed Joe site for directions and information about special events.
The first Monday of the month is Family Night (no cover for ages 12 and under, with no alcohol served), with free beginner dance lessons from 7 to 9pm, with $0.50 soda and $1 food items. Doors open at 6pm.
There’s Texas Hold'em Poker, Bubba's All Request Dance Party, and karaoke. There is $0.25 beer and $0.75 well drinks for men until 10pm, 2-for-1 mixed drinks until 9 pm, and a complimentary buffet from 6pm until it's gone. Those ages 18 and over are welcome.
$1 mixed drinks until 10pm and $0.25 longneck beers
It’s Ladies Night (no cover), with a karaoke contest and free beginner dance lessons from 7 to 9pm. There are $0.75 well drinks for ladies until 10pm., $3.75 pitchers of beer, large $1 draft beers, and a free Tex-Mex buffet from 6p.m. until it's gone.
There’s free cover until 7pm, $1.50 mixed drinks until 10pm, and $1.50 domestic bottled beers all night. Ages 18 and over are welcome.
There’s free cover until 7pm, and ages 18 and over are welcome.
It’s College Night (discounts with valid student ID), with beginner dance lessons from 7 to 9pm and $3.75 pitchers of beer. Ages 18 and over are welcome.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 7, 2005
Cotton Eyed Joe
11220 Outlet Dr.
Knoxville, Tennessee 37932
Attraction | "UT Football & Neyland Stadium"
If you hate the color orange, you probably will want to steer clear of Neyland Stadium, the home of University of Tennessee football, on Saturday afternoons. There is a very humorous story as to why Tennessee chose the color orange. It's so our fans can wear the same clothes for hunting on Sunday and picking up trash along the highway during the week.
Neyland Stadium is the second largest stadium in the nation (behind the University of Michigan's "Big House"), with 104,079 total seats. During a winning season, no matter what the weather, it will usually be filled to capacity with a very passionate group. That is why, in the spring of 2001, a Sporting News poll ranked Neyland Stadium the national's #1 college football venue.
On those rare occasions when the team remains undefeated, you will find people willing to pay just about any amount for a game ticket. And Knoxville police tend to turn a blind eye to scalping laws on Saturdays in the fall. That being said, you should try to secure tickets well in advance of the following home games, specifically the October 8th game against the University of Georgia.
University of Tennessee Football - 2005 Home Games
Saturday, September 3 - Alabama-Birmingham
Saturday, October 1 - Mississippi
Saturday, October 8 - Georgia
Saturday, October 29 - South Carolina
Saturday, November 12 - Memphis
Saturday, November 19 - Vanderbilt
UT is part of the Southeastern Conference, which is arguably the greatest collection of teams within NCAA Divsion I-A Football. College football in the South is equal in importance to religion (if not more so for some hardcore citizens). Divisional games usually provide a fierce rivalry and some storied traditions. It is an experience not to be missed by anyone interested in sports. Get to the UT campus early for the fantastic tailgating (parking is notoriously difficult) and make your way to Knoxville's famous strip to celebrate a win following the game's conclusion.
For additional information about University of Tennessee Athletics, check out the official site.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 9, 2005
University of Tennessee Campus
From 8pm to the early morning hours, you will find a lively and social crowd gathered here. Even if there isn't a crowd, Kingston Alley provides plenty of attention-diverting activities. There are many widescreen TVs strategically placed above the bar to keep you up-to-date with the world of sports, especially NASCAR. Two pool tables and a collection of popular videogames are tucked away in a corner and await your quarters. On most evenings, local musicians play a variety of cover tunes - some bands are "bar quality," and some bands will make you hate your favorite songs.
The bartenders are all young, cute, and very talkative. The staff may not serve the drinks you ordered as quickly as possible, but they are pleasant enough that you don't mind the wait. The crowd will fluctuate, with new people coming and going all night long. Kingston Alley is a great starting or ending point for the evening, and you may find that you don't even want to leave.
Also, every Monday, beginning on April 25, a Texas Hold 'Em tournament is hosted here. Sign-in starts at 6pm, and games begin at 7 and 10pm. This is a fairly new attraction for the place, so I can't attest to the skill level of the poker players in attendance.
Regardless, if you are there to bare your soul to a bartender, find action at a poker table, or flirt with a lovely young thing, Kingston Alley is a worthwhile place to waste some time.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 29, 2005
7355 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, Tennessee 37919
Attraction | "Downtown Grill & Brewery"
Walking or driving down Gay Street, there is a bright neon sign visible from afar that signals the entrance to the Downtown Brewery. However, when you reach it, the name Woodruff's is prominently displayed on the building's face. I was puzzled over the two different names identifying the same location. Apparently, the city is requiring developers to maintain the exterior designs of downtown buildings. The Brewery is housed in a location once owned by Captain Fred P. Woodruff. Following his service in the Spanish-American War, he returned home to engage in Knoxville's retail clothing and shoe business.
Outside of the Brewery's entrance are a few tables offering open-air seating along the busy sidewalk. Upon entering the pub, you'll be surrounded by wood and copper. A massive wooden bar sits in the middle of the room with all four sides accessible to patrons. Tables have also been placed around the bar for small gatherings or to grab a quick bite. Balcony seating is available to view all of the action going on below. Up the back staircase, a game room with additional seating and a small bar draws a more socially conscious crowd intent on mingling.
The Brewery's service policy is "To know our guests, not only by their food and their drink, but more importantly by their name." The pub is known for its friendly staff, but the bartenders didn't go out of their way to find out my story. They probably sensed that I was an irregular (I'm assuming that is proper bar terminology for the opposite of a regular). As I watched people come and go from the bar, the staff did make it a point to greet every familiar face by name. For $30, you can also purchase a personal beer mug that is conveniently stored at the bar. Before the customer settles in his or her seat, these mugs are quickly retrieved and filled with the usual.
At the end of an entry like this, I would normally shower the establishment with praise, but the people of Knoxville beat me to it. For 2005, Metro Pulse readers voted the Downtown Grill & Brewery as the "Best Brewery/Pub" in the annual Best of Knoxville list. Visit the official Downtown Grill & Brewery site for additional information.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 10, 2005
Downtown Grill & Brewery
424 S. Gay St.
Knoxville, Tennessee 37902