You just moved to town and now, you’re lonely. Where do I eat? What fun things are there to do in town? Where should I be living? What you need is a friend, and in Knoxville, it’s easier than you might think to make new friends.
If you’re an introvert like me, the idea of making friends is daunting. First, you have to find people that are reasonable to talk to, then you have to gauge their level of interest in things that seem enjoyable. It’s an arduous process for sure, and one that is made no easier when you are in unfamiliar territory. However, take a deep breath and check out some of the great ways that I have found to make new friends in Knoxville.
1) Go Big Orange
One of the easiest ways to make friends in any sports town is to work your way into that team’s fandom. Knoxvillians love to support their own and embrace this concept. In the fall, every Saturday brings life to town with the Volunteers taking on that week’s opponent, uniting the majority of the city along the way.
If you are looking to make friends, buy yourself a ticket, hit the stores for some merch, and walk the parking lots looking for a tailgate to join. No one is more amicable than a group of fans gathered around a grill and some cornhole boards. During the game, you will make at least three new acquaintances every time there is a big play. Give into the passion and throw out some high fives.
If being at the game isn’t your scene, head down to Vol Navy and join in on a viewing party on the river. Sure, some boats are hosting private events for their family, but there are tons of people willing to let you on board and share a snack or a cold drink.
2) Food and Ice Cream
I honestly believe that Knoxville’s claim to fame is food. Anywhere you go, there is a restaurant that hasn’t been tried out yet. Now sure, you may think, “why do I need to go to a restaurant alone?”. You don’t, but asking around can give you the icebreaker you need to start making a new friend. If you are downtown, head to Gay Street or Market Square for a variety of options. Most of these restaurants have a “social gathering” feel, such as Babalu. Enjoy some tacos and tapas at the bar and meet people while sharing some guacamole!
Or maybe your interests lie more in the realm of food trucks. That’s perfect for Knoxville. Head over to Central Filling Station and enjoy a variety of food from a rotating list of food and drink trucks. When you are in line, talk to the people around you and see if they have eaten that truck’s selection of food before.
If you are looking to make friends with ice cream or other frozen treats, head out to Cruze Farm’s new permanent location. They will check off the “farm to table” category while providing you with delicious soft serve ice cream. Or, if someone told you that Cruze Farm was downtown, you will find yourself at Kilwins, a newcomer to Gay Street. Enjoy some ice cream and make friends with all of the jealous people wondering where your cone came from.
3) Go to the “Old City”
When you arrive down there, you will find yourself amongst bars both new and old. Enjoy a drink at staples such as Barley’s, The Crown and Goose, Jig and Reel, and more. Or, head over to Pour, a new style bar where you pay by the ounce using a wristband that gets linked to your card upon arrival. Taste beers, wines, ciders, and more from both local breweries and national names. If you go on a Tuesday evening, you can find yourself some friends by being an expert trivia player.
4) Just Be Yourself
At the end of the day, making friends in Knoxville comes down to one thing: being yourself. This town is rife with options for fun times to be had. Stick to what you know, it will help you find like-minded individuals. If you are a golfer, go play the numerous public courses or take your shot on some par threes. If you like food, ask your coworkers if they want to grab a bite to eat at a local Knoxville eatery. You are sure to make friends that way, especially if you pick up a drink for the coworker who made the restaurant choice.
Get out there, talk to people, go to your communities events if they have them, and make friends. It’s as easy as a quick internet search or a trip to a Farmer’s Market. If my introverted self can do it, I am confident that you can utilize the same techniques to make friends in your new home.