20 Knoxville

PopulationMetro: 877,104
Never short on keeping locals and visitors busy, Knoxville’s tradition of collaboration is now creating a food and drink scene to watch.

A walker’s paradise, downtown Knoxville is a treasure trove to explore and discover, from vibrant murals to local music venues, historic sites and museums.

Instead of playing second fiddle to nearby Asheville and Chattanooga, Knoxville is finding its own groove and becoming an increasingly prominent destination for food lovers of all tastes—the state’s first James Beard Award–winning chef, Joseph Lenn, operates J.C. Holdway right downtown.

What makes the food scene so spectacular is the collaboration of local chefs with other chefs, brewers, distillers and wine makers. Group efforts, like a longtable dinner along the middle of a downtown street in 2017, have resulted in a number of unique culinary experiences.

Place 42
Product 55
Programming 49
People 39
Prosperity 25
Promotion 57

The city’s location on the banks of the Tennessee River, just north of the Smoky Mountains, also helps to capture the hearts of romantic souls who are drawn to riverfront dining and a lively nightlife.

Knoxville’s scintillating fusion of small-town charm and big-city amenities inspires locals and visitors alike to share their findings across social media platforms. In doing so, they’ve helped the city rank #12 in our Promotion category, which looks at the quantity of stories, references and recommendations shared online about a city.