In this month’s A to Z Challenge, I’ve already mentioned one of my favorite places in the United States: East Tennessee, particularly the city of Chattanooga, where I went to college and met my husband.
Today I’m taking you to Knoxville, which I consider “home” even though I was born in Germany and spent some time living in Northern Virginia as a child. I guess Knoxville is home because I lived there for 6 years before leaving for college, and except for a short stint of living in Germany, my parents have remained in Knoxville to this day.
We moved to Knoxville when I was 10 years old in the summer of 1981. In 1982, Knoxville hosted the World’s Fair! They built this golden Sunsphere as a centerpiece to the exposition. The theme of the fair was “Energy makes the world go around”.
Sadly, the World’s Fair wasn’t as well planned or well attended as hoped…and it left the city of Knoxville and some hopeful investors in some major debt.
I visited the Fair several times – with my school class and with my family –and for the average attendee, it was memorable enough.
Why East Tennessee? My dad’s roots are here – to a county just north of Knoxville. He grew up on the edge of the Applachians – near the borders of Kentucky coal country and Virginia. His parents were tobacco farmers who later raised beef cattle. And as the joke was, they also grew rocks! Below is a picture of me, toting some shot gun, near my grandpa’s barn on his farm.
The Smoky Mountains also border Knoxville. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are popular tourist sites near Knoxville.
There are places to visit such as Cade’s Cove and Clingman’s Dome (pic below), which is highest point of the Tennessee Smokies.
Gatlinburg is fun to walk through (below) and is especially lovely at Christmas. I’ve spent a lot of time there from Honor Society retreats in high school to spending time at a mountain top resort with friends.
Knoxville is – of course – the home to the University of Tennessee – Go Vols!! It has a great little zoo. As the 3rd largest city in Tennessee, it has all the shopping and restaurants you could want! Recently, urban development has gone back to grassroots by putting in local gourmet restaurants and specialty shops in its market square and focusing on establishing farmer’s markets in the area.
This time of year (Spring), my favorite memory of Knoxville is the blooming of the dogwood trees!