- Relaxed day watching my nuggets play, explore and make crafts
- Fresh Pizza
- Fort-style playground
- Craft corner at Knoxville Museum of Art
- Seeing wildlife at Ijams Nature Center
Prepare in advance
Bring the stroller and a snack for the kids.
Knoxville Museum of Art is closed on Mondays, so avoid going then. On weekends, arrive early in the morning, around 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. to start the day's activities. Saturdays will naturally be busy, but Knoxville is a small town, so it's not bad unless there is a huge event like “Rhythm and Blues” (which takes place the first weekend of April).
Recommended time of the year
March through May are terrific times to visit Knoxville, with festivals and events happening nearly every weekend and temperatures being pleasantly warm but not hot.
About This Day
This fun-filled day is a wonderful mix of outdoor activities and a little urban adventure through Knoxville's Market Square on the way to Ijams Nature Center. Start your day with some fun playtime at the Fort Kid Park and hands-on arts and crafts at the Knoxville Museum of Art. Afterwards, fuel up for lunch with delicious pizza at The Tomato Head. Then head to the Ijams Nature Center. The center offers easy, family-friendly hikes and a lovely animal exhibit of local wildlife. Watch out for the snapping turtles; they bite. Since we're local to Knoxville, this family-friendly itinerary is in rotation quite a bit. My nuggets love to get outside, and this itinerary includes some of their Knoxville favorites.
The Knoxville Museum of Art is beautiful, with three large open floors full of sculptures and art work. The best part, however, is its wonderful kids crafts and game area. Take a well-deserved break and watch your kids be creative.
DIRECTIONS From Fort Kid Park, walk down the steps to World's Fair Park Drive and cross the street. The museum will be directly in front of you. Once inside, the kids crafts and game area is directly to the left of the entrance.
TIP Since it's a museum, inside voices are required.
The Tomato Head is a family-friendly restaurant known for its freshly baked bread, pizzas and desserts. My nuggets love the paper and crayons provided so they can color while they wait for their food. They are also big fans of the hummus plate, cup of black beans and cheese pizza. The Market Square location is wonderful since there are additional restaurants, shops and a nature area that is great for a stroll, all within walking distance. Stay along Market Square after your lunch break, or go to the next stop on the itinerary.
DIRECTIONS From Knoxville Museum of Art, hop in the car and head southeast on World's Fair Park Drive toward Clinch Avenue. Make a left on Clinch Avenue. Cross Henley Street and Locust Street, and then make a left onto Walnut Street. Park in the Market Square Garage that's off of Walnut Street. Exit the Market Square Garage to the right (once you come down the elevators). Market Square will be on your right and The Tomato Head will be further down the square to the left (just before Union Avenue).
TIP There is a limited amount of seating outside. The restaurant is more stroller friendly than car seat friendly. A majority of the seating is booth style, so if transporting a newborn, it might be too tight for a car seat.
Little nature lovers will love Ijams Nature Center for its expansive grounds that allow them to run, play, explore wildlife and hike the many trails. Plus, inside the nature center is an animal exhibit hall with a display of a live snapping turtle, frogs, tarantulas and fish. All the animals in this exhibit were rehabilitated and are unable to return to the wild.
DIRECTIONS Head back to the car. Once you exit left out of the garage, make an immediate right onto Locust Street. Make a left onto West Summit Hill Drive Southwest, then turn left onto Henley Street. Take Henley Street out of the city, across the Henley Street Bridge and toward East Blount Avenue, then make a left. Turn right onto Sevier Avenue. Turn left onto Island Home Avenue, and after 0.9 miles (1.5 km), turn left to stay on Island Home Avenue. In 1.2 miles (2 km), Ijams Nature Center will be to the left.
TIP Make sure your kids wear sneakers not open-toed shoes, in case you choose to do one of the hikes. Biking is also possible along these trails.
WE LOVEDThe Oliver Hotel has fabulous beds and you can access Tupelo Honey Restaurant (located on Market Square) through the lobby. There is a continental breakfast served in the Peter Kern Library/Speakeasy off the hotel lobby. My kids loved the giant soaking tub in the suite.
WE DIDN'T LIKEThere is no pool.
TIPIt's a little expensive, but if you can swing it, you should. There is not an actual crib, but a pack and play is provided.