The beautiful Tennessee River begins in East Knoxville and lazily wanders on through the city of Knoxville. It’s a gorgeous spot for many Saturday football tailgaters, the perfect view for dining at Calhoun’s and a quiet, pleasant spot for morning runs. But you can enjoy many other activities along the river throughout Knoxville!
Check out different Tennessee River activities to try throughout the year in our Scruffy City.
1. Paddleboard by Moonlight
For a unique waterway experience, join a Billy Lush Boards full moon paddle group. Through the warmer parts of the year, you can paddleboard downtown to the light of the full moon. You’ll float down the Tennessee River at night to get a gorgeous view of the lit up skyline and the sparkling Chapman Highway bridge. When you rent a paddleboard at a full moon paddle event, you’ll get an LED light as well as free food and beer.
2. Swim the Cove at Concord Park
At the Cove, you’ll find a volleyball net, a small beach and lots of people with dogs and kids. This friendly marina on the river is perfect for a hot, summer afternoon dip. A small swimming area is roped off in the water so you can soak and splash while watching boats float by.
A perk of the Cove is its proximity to all Concord Park offers. You don’t have to go far to find public restrooms, a skate park, soccer fields, tennis courts, a dog park and trails.
You can also enjoy the Cove all year long. During the summer, it’s home to entertainment such as Second Saturday Concerts and annual Dragon Boat races. Then in the winter, the Holiday Festival of Lights makes the Cove a magical, twinkling center of family entertainment.
3. Fish on the Tennesse River
During morning runs along Neyland Avenue, I’ve spotted folks fishing from quiet stoops on the Tennessee River. But you might want to go for fish in less littered areas than the river by UT. Outdoor Knoxville has a great list of fishing spots all over the city. Fashion a story about the one that got away in Farragut or in Fountain City.
If you want to get further outside of Knoxville for some fishing, Norris Dam State Park is about a half hour north of Knoxville. It’s not the Tennessee River, but the lake is full of largemouth and spotted bass. People often find bluegill as well.
4. Tour Three Rivers Rambler
Now, a train tour may not have you in the water, but the Three Rivers Rambler gives you a great view of the Tennessee River. A perk is because the Halloween and Christmas tours let you enjoy the river when it’s too cold to be on the water. I took a ride with my parents on the train when I first moved to Tennessee, and the hour of rolling through Knoxville was a true treat.
The train huffs and puffs from University Commons all the way to where the French Broad River merges with the Holston River. You get unique views of the city, some Knoxville history and seasonal treats for the kids. The Three Rivers Rambler is the perfect way to enjoy the Tennessee River in the fall or in the winter when water activities aren’t ideal.
5. Kayak or Canoe Around the City
From West Knoxville at the Cove Ramp to East Knoxville at the Forks of the River landing, landings litter the Tennessee and French Broad Rivers. The Sequoyah Hills ramps are popular access points since they give you access to the greenway and parking, too.
The entire Knoxville blueway is open to canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. So, take a trip alone for a serene journey on the water, or join a meetup group! Either way, the Tennessee River blueway is a great way to see wildlife, get in physical activity and enjoy the outdoors.
6. Walk the Civil War Gateway
The Blount Mansion Visitors Center is home to the Civil War Gateway in Knoxville. The small building sits at the edge of Downtown Knoxville and gives a striking view of the Tennessee River below. There, you can learn about Civil War history in Knoxville and take a self-guided tour of Knoxville’s Civil War History. On Saturday’s, you can also take a guided tour of the city.
Along the way, you’ll learn about Knoxville’s divided status during the Civil War, the history of the Blount Mansion, the daring Belle Boyd and her work as a spy, the location of Knoxville’s first jail and many other.