We are just so delighted you have come to East Tennessee for a visit. Have you looked into what things there are to do or some wonderful places to get some grub? Whether you have or haven’t, we just have to share all our favorites because we love them so much, we are sure you will too! Besides, searching for places online is a bit frustrating and there is no need for that on your trip. Here are all our favorites for dining and adventures and we even included a map to show you what is closest to you. We hope you fall in love with Tennessee!
Our Favorite Restaurants
- Mad Greek – 750 Brakebill Rd, Knoxville (Ken & Tina Personal Favorite!) They are newer to Knoxville and have a mix of Italian and Greek food. We really like everything there, but always end up getting the Greek salad with a bunch of other things to share. Their desserts are just to die for and don’t worry about what to wear – be casual or dressed up, it doesn’t matter. The Mad Greek is convenient to our Bunkhouse and Horse Farm rentals.
- Sweet P’s BBQ & Soul House -3725 Maryville Pike, Knoxville (Ken & Tina Personal Favorite!) Not only is it great BBQ, but it’s located on the water where you can enjoy a beautiful view with your BBQ. They are one of the only places that can do a proper side of greens and they make a banana pudding that will put all others to shame. Sweet P’s is convenient to our Red Roof, Green Roof, Big Ponderosa, and Little Ponderosa cabins.
- Cardin’s Drive In – 8529 Asheville Hwy, Knoxville (Ken & Tina Personal Favorite!) Their burgers are amazing! It is one burger that you will talk about for years after. And you just don’t get many chances to make that memory of pulling up to the old school drive in. Cardin’s is closest to our Bunkhouse and Horse Farm rentals – it is a little out of the way, but the drive is gorgeous and the food is definitely worth it.
- Ye Olde Steak House – 6838 Chapman Hwy, Knoxville (Ken & Tina Personal Favorite!) Best steaks in Knoxville! Kind of pricey, but totally worth it. Ye Olde has been family run since 1968 and is one of the oldest steak houses in Knoxville, and a Vols game day favorite. Ye Olde is convenient to our Red Roof, Green Roof, Big Ponderosa, and Little Ponderosa cabins. You can find out more on the history, menu, and reservation info at www.yeoldesteakhouse.com.
- Boyd’s Jig & Reel – 101 South Central Street, Knoxville – Downtown. Amazing Scottish food in a pub atmosphere in Old City Knoxville. Close to many downtown night clubs. Portions are huge and the pricing is fair.
- Restaurant Linderhof – 12740 Kingston Pike #106, Concord-Farragut. Upscale German cuisine. Very romantic setting, perfect for a date night. Reservations recommended. Reservations available at 865-675-8700.
- Dentons – 6914 Kingston Pike, Knoxville (near the mall). All your fair food favorites. Not super fancy and that’s exactly how we like it. Our favorite dishes are the Lamb/beef gyro, all their burgers (seriously all of them), sweet potato fries, and …. brace yourself…. fried Oreos. You will never forget the moment you had fried Oreos at Dentons!
- Lakeside Tavern- 10911 Concord Park Drive, Knoxville. This place is just lovely and they have indoor and outdoor seating right by the lake. Great views to go with great food. Oh, and they have delightful happy hour specials and the best Sunday Brunch.
- Cancun -4409 Chapman Hwy, Knoxville (South Knoxville). Best Mexican restaurant around. They have the most delicious Margarita’s, but to get that experience we do recommend the top shelf Margarita – so yummy. You can’t survive on Margaritas alone (sad, we know) so to satisfy your stomach, you can’t go wrong with the Arroz Con Pollo (chicken queso & rice and their banana & apple chimichangas.
World’s Fair Park
There is always something to enjoy at World’s Fair Park. There is a huge fountain slash pad to run and play in, beautiful water features and water falls, and even a huge event venue where you can enjoy live music. Find out more about the park and event happenings at www.worldsfairpark.org .
You have probably seen it, that big gold ball right in the heart of Knoxville. Well if you didn’t know, you can actually go in it and it is totally free. Located in World’s Fair Park, the Sunsphere was the main feature at the 1982 World’s Fair. We love to see the giant murals on some of the buildings in the city that you can only see from the Sunsphere. You get a beautiful view of University of Tennessee, downtown Knoxville, Tennessee River, World’s Fair Park.
Knoxville Museum of Art
They always have really cool exhibits and it’s totally free! We spend hours in there every time we go, then walk down to the Sunsphere, and around World’s Fair Park. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Right beside the museum is a huge parking lot that offers free public parking.
Right across from the Museum of Art (seriously right across the street, you can’t miss it) is the largest play fort we have ever seen. It’s huge! We always get roped into playing pirates with the grand kids. The kids shouldn’t get to have all the fun, so join in let your inner child free for a bit. There is something good for the teenagers too because it offers some unique backgrounds for that one of a kind Instagram pic.
Seven Islands State Birding Park
We love going for a nice hike through Seven Islands. The trails are really easy and they have many options. Each one offers beautiful views, and tons of birds to spot. There is river access for paddlers and anglers, and fun events like night hiking, and birding tours with the experts. Check out all their events and the park map at www.tnstateparks.com .
Places to Visit
Open every day from 9 am – 5 pm except Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Tickets are super affordable and they have great group rates. Plan to spend the day here and check the events before you go. They have the Clayton Safari Splash which is a splash pad for all ages. There are animal encounters and behind the scene tours and even night safaris. We really enjoy the canopy adventures and the Zoo Choo train ride. Find out event times and more at www.zooknoxville.org .
Ijam’s Nature Center
There is so much to do here. The top things to see at Ijam’s are Jo’s Grove, Mead’s Quarry, Tennessee River Boardwalk, and the Keyhole at Ross Marble Quarry. There are tons of trails and you can rent bikes, canoes, and paddle boards to explore Mead’s Quarry. Plan your Ijam’s day at www.ijams.org .
Knoxville walking tours
Love history, ghost stories, ghost hunting, or looking at old things while someone tells you all the history? Knoxville has a walking tour for you. We really enjoy the history of Knoxville and have been on many walking tours. The haunted aspect kicks it up a notch.
Check them out at knoxvillewalkingtours.com .
Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, & Dandridge
Our Favorite Restaurants
- Best Italian Café & Pizzeria – 968 Parkway Suite #9 Gatlinburg, TN (Ken & Tina Personal Favorite!) We could live off their garlic rolls and marinara. It’s hard to narrow down our favorite dishes here because everything is so good. The portions are huge, so it’s fun to get a few things and split with family and friends. Best Italian is convenient to our River Road, Smoky Mountain Dream, and Hugs & Kisses cabin.
- Hot Rods 50’s Diner – 373 Hannum Street Alcoa TN (Ken & Tina Personal Favorite!) We love a good diner that when you walk in it’s like you went back in time to the 1950s. The food is great and they seriously have more streak burgers than Elvis on a food binge. The whole menu is delicious and the service is always great. They even have a Donut Burger. Let that sink in for a second…you know you want to go now. Find out more on their website – www.hotrods50diner.com
- Cowboy’s Seafood On the Water – 1435 TN 139 Dandridge TN (Ken & Tina Personal Favorite!) They usually have amazing live music on the weekends with fabulous seafood. The views are great and it’s just a really nice place to kick back with family and friends.
- Old Fashion Tinsley Bible Drug Store – 1224 Gay St Dandridge TN (Ken & Tina Personal Favorite! Dandridge has an old fashioned drug store that just doesn’t exist anywhere anymore. You need to go for lunch, and get their early, because the grill is only open for a short time during the day. The food is good, but really, it’s the atmosphere that keeps us coming back.
- Delauder’s Smoky Mountain BBQ – 680 Glades Rd Ste 7 (in the rear behind the shops) Gatlinburg TN. If you love BBQ, go to Delauder’s. Don’t ask, just go! And get there early because they run out quick. The pulled pork sandwich is so simple, but we have never had one as good. The ribs will change your life. You have to try this place if you get a chance.
- Pigeon Forge Deli – 159 E Wears Valley Rd Pigeon Forge TN. One day a deli sandwich craving hit us and we found this little gem. There is just something special about the Pigeon Forge Deli. All their bread is made in house and their Ruben and homemade pretzels are pure happiness. All their food is amazing. 10 out of 10 definitely recommend!
Top 5 Free Activities in Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg
Take a break from all the expensive tourist attractions and enjoy a historic stroll in the park. Dedicated to veterans from Sevier County, Patriot Park is full of wartime history. A favorite game to play is trying to guess the right state for all the 50 state flags and be sure to get some great pictures at Patriot Missile in the center of the park.
Sugarland’s Visitor Center
All the Smoky Mountain Visitor Centers have something special to offer, but the Sugarlands Visitor Center has always been a favorite. It’s open every day except Christmas day. It’s only 2 miles south of Gatlinburg and offers special Ranger-led excursions – they are seasonal but you can check locations and times with the staff. So, what was just mentioned is cool and all, but the real gem that makes this treasure shine is the natural history exhibits. They are amazing so be sure to get plenty of pictures and you can even enjoy a short film about the park.
Clingman’s Dome has quite the list of Claim to Fames -highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, highest point in Tennessee, and 3rdhighest mountain east of Mississippi. Boom. Basically, it’s really high in the mountains, takes a little pep talk to make it all the way, but the views are way more than worth it. And it kind of looks like an alien ship, so that’s pretty cool. Just tell the kids you’re hiking to an alien ship that has been preserved in the mountains and they will totally be ready to go.
We are avid picture takers when on an adventure in the mountains, and the best place to go to capture those one-of-a-kind moments is Cade’s Cove. It’s a big loop you get to drive around and just get lost in the scenery. There are original cabins, churches, and trails to stop at and explore. The cabins are fun to just image how people actually lived. Pay close attention the ways the barns are built – it is special to the area and only one other place on Earth. On Saturdays, Cade’s Cove
Little River Railroad & Lumber Company Museum
Ever get sucked into those logging competitions or shows on tv? They are awesome so it’s totally understandable. If you like that stuff or just into really cool history, the Little River Railroad & Lumber Company Museum is a must see you have to stop at. Learn about how they built it all and what daily life was like. There are tons of photos and equipment to see, and tour guides to really bring it all to life. Their off season is December through March but they do offer tours by appointment during this time. Admission is free, but they do accept donations. Check out everything and see pictures of the museum – littleriverrailroad.org .
Hiking in the Smokies
The Smoky Mountain Nation Park has a vast array of activities for you to do from scenic drives, hiking, camping, kayaking, to picnics and guided tours. Hiking is one of the best things to do and it includes a scenic drive to where ever the trail head is. There are trails for every skill level and a lot are great to take the kids on. We personally enjoy the Grotto Falls trail and Laurel Falls trail. You can find all the trails, with maps and difficulty ratings at hikinginthesmokys.com .
Check out all our Knoxville area cabins and contact us today for more info and to book your Tennessee vacation at 865-297-5171 or send us an email.