A recent rowing competition took one of us to Oak Ridge, TN, a city nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains built in secrecy during World War II as part of the “Manhattan Project.” Since there wasn’t much to do or see in Oak Ridge besides the races and the American Museum of Science & Energy, we decided to stay in Knoxville just steps away from Market Square where we could shop and dine to our hearts’ content. And boy, did we ever! Here are some of our favorite spots in case you have a chance to visit.
Market Square Farmers’ Market: Every Wednesday and Saturday, Market Square fills up with vendors selling products made or grown in the East Tennessee region. Every booth had something wonderful to offer, from seasonal produce to baked good and artisan crafts including the most beautiful mouth blown glass. And of course, bunches of fresh flowers for less than $10!
Bliss Home: Voted “Best Store in Knoxville”, this little gem of a store is true bliss (makes sense, doesn’t it?) As the website says, “Some describe it as glee, and some as joy, wonder, or delight. Whatever you call it, if you have not experienced this breath of fresh air known as Bliss” then you need to add this to your travel plans.
Chesapeake’s: When you think of the Southern food, you think of BBQ and perhaps cheese grits (which we had plenty of on our trip) yet we had one of our favorite dinners at Chesapeake’s where the food was amazing and the decor reminiscent of a traditional Chesapeake Bay seafood restaurant (replete with hanging nets and colorful fish filled aquariums.)
Cafe 4 cupcakes: It’s no secret we have a sweet tooth so a stop at Cafe 4 on Market Square is a great way to end the evening (unless you need a nightcap – see below!) Made fresh daily with only the finest ingredients, these delicacies include cupcakes with a twist and marvelous macarons.
Peter Kern Library: Just in case you thought we had adventures of the intellectual kind, this place is no ordinary library. In fact, it’s a speakeasy which you enter through a secret door on an alley. Yes, there are books lining the shelves along with other interesting oddities (we think we saw a stuffed fox!) but the ones scattered on the coffee tables hold three pages of custom cocktails named after famous literary characters. We indulged in an Atticus Finch (gin, St. Germain, lemon juice, cucumber, ginger and mint) and a Matilda (some kind of Old Fashioned with muddled blueberries.) Needless to say, it was a Saturday night and by 10 pm the bar filled up a younger crowd (the characters of Bravo’s Southern Charm would feel very much at home) and the music got very loud so our advice for the over 40 crowd is to go early on a weeknight.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our little tour of Knoxville’s finest and let us know if you have plans to visit… We have lots more to share. Have a great weekend, y’all!
Photos: Melton Lake, flowers, table, mixed grill, cupcake and mix master