Hotel at a Glance: Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Knoxville
If you like to complement a predominately outdoor trip with big-city attractions, consider Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains. Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Knoxville puts you within 40 miles of the national park, and is just 10 miles outside of downtown Knoxville, where you can dive into the town’s bluegrass scene, its famous biscuits, and its iconic Sunsphere. Spacious guest rooms feature free WiFi and plush beds swathed in the hotel’s signature Dream Well bedding. Mornings kick off with a free continental breakfast served in the lobby.
- Most important meal of the day: The hotel’s huge breakfast spread includes fresh muffins and pastries, yogurt, milk and cereal, biscuits and gravy, and waffles served with hot coffee and tea
- Numerous restaurants and shops are within walking distance of the hotel.
- Visit the campus: The University of Tennessee is just 15 minutes away.
- What to do: Catch a show at the Clarence Brown Theatre, browse the produce at the farmers’ market in Market Square, or see a western lowland gorilla at the Knoxville Zoological Gardens.
Knoxville, Tennessee: College Town near the Great Smoky Mountains
The Tennessee River cuts right through the middle of Knoxville, and along its banks lies one of the cornerstones of the city: the University of Tennessee campus. The university’s football team, the Tennessee Volunteers (or “Vols”), has won six national championships since their first season in 1891. They play right on campus in Neyland Stadium, a beast of a venue that can hold more than 100,000 fans. Not to be outdone, the women’s basketball team has won eight national championships and are a perennial powerhouse. It’s largely thanks to the Lady Vols’ success that Knoxville was chosen as the site for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
But there’s more to Knoxville than its fabled athletic programs. In 1982, it hosted the World’s Fair, which produced perhaps the city’s most recognizable landmark: the Sunsphere, a giant, shimmering golden ball on top of a tower. From World’s Fair Park downtown, you can walk to Market Square, which features boutiques, restaurants, and a seasonal farmers market. A few blocks away, the opulent Tennessee Theatre hosts musical acts, touring Broadway shows, and classic films.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just about an hour’s drive from Knoxville. It has 800 miles of hiking trails leading to waterfalls and scenic overlooks; keep your eyes peeled for black bears. One of the best ways to explore the park is on a scenic drive along Newfound Gap Road. The road climbs 3,000 feet through cove hardwood, pine-oak, and northern hardwood forests to Newfound Gap, where it connects with a 7-mile road to Clingman’s Dome.