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Introduction

Brewers Jam 07 (2)

Brewers Jam 07 (2)

© LostAngler

Knoxville is the third largest city in Tennessee, USA, after Memphis and Nashville. The city itself has just under 200,000 inhabitants, but the metropolitan area is over 3 times as big.

Knoxville sits nestled on the Tennessee River about an hour from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On any evening of the week, throngs of residents and visitors can be seen at the sidewalk cafes, theaters, restaurants and night clubs along Gay Street and Market Square. The University of Tennessee, with its 27,000 students, is within walking distance of the downtown, separated only by the World's Fair Park.

You can still see remnants of the 1982 World's Fair in the Sunsphere, a rising structure topped with a gold sphere which dots Knoxville's skyline. Most of the other structures from the Fair were removed to create a large city park, which attracts families, students, and artists on weekends and sunny days. The World's Fair brought a lot of attention and development to the city, including high-rise office structures, and the four-star Hilton, Crowne Plaza and Marriott hotels.

The city is home to a thriving college athletics scene, with the University of Tennessee Volunteers football team. The basketball teams play in the more-than 21,000 seat Thompson–Boling Arena, and the football team plays in Neyland Stadium, one of the largest on-campus stadiums in the world at 103,000 seating capacity. During the fall you will find plenty of orange in the foliage, but you will see Big Orange (another nickname for the UTK athletic programs) year-round with the people of Knoxville.

The city is also the home or birthplace of a number of cultural figures, such as authors Cormac McCarthy, James Agee, and Alex Haley, and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, who mentions the city in all of his films (remember the watch in Pulp Fiction?) The Everly Brothers attended high school here and began performing on radio in Knoxville. Dolly Parton began her career in Knoxville. Senator Howard Baker, actor David Keith, film director Clarence Brown and opera singer Mary Costa are all from the Knoxville area. Actor and daredevil Johnny Knoxville is from the city.

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Sights and Activities

  • Candy Factory. It is undergoing conversion to condominiums, but still hosts a fully-functioning candy store. White chocolate-dipped strawberries (fresh daily) are a treat for Valentine's Day.
  • Fort Sanders neighborhood. A multitude of Victorian-era houses.
  • Market Square. A small, historic downtown square, home to dining, retail, a twice weekly farmer's market, and special events. Market Square takes its name from the Market House that once stood at its center. Farmers from surrounding areas would bring their wagons into Knoxville's Market House to sell their wares. Today the square is full of interesting little shops and restaurants. Entering the southern end of the square from Union Avenue, one may pass the bell from the old Market House as well as a statue commemorating Tennessee's role in the fight for women's suffrage. Dotted with benches and tables, Market Square is a lovely place to spend a few hours browsing the shops, dining with friends, or watching children play in the small fountain. A lucky square patron may happen upon anything from a pair of cellists playing Beatles songs to an ice cream give away. Unless an event is taking place in the downtown area, parking at the Market Street garage (on Walnut) is free on weeknights after six pm and all day on weekends. Event parking is usually five dollars.
  • Old City. A lot of interesting architecture and a chief nightlife spot. Lots of bars and pubs for every taste.
  • Gay Street. The main drag in downtown Knoxville, home to a number of shops, a movie theater, and restaurants. Mast General Store, featuring clothing, sports equipment and southern Americana is very popular.
  • Tennessee Theatre. On Gay Street downtown. The state theater of Tennessee and is an interesting example of Moorish architecture.
  • Volunteer Landing. Knoxville's riverwalk along the Tennessee River, complete with large, splashing fountains that were purposefully designed for you to play in! The Three Rivers Rambler operates from this location, taking visitors to the headwaters of the Tennessee River on this traditional, coal-fired train.
  • World's Fair Park. Site of the 1982 World's Fair Park and adjacent to the Knoxville Convention Center. Large, kid-friendly fountains. A big hit in the summer months.
  • Sunsphere. The Observation deck is open daily Apr-Oct: 9AM - 10PM; and Nov-Mar: 11AM - 6PM. A modernistic monument built for the 1982 World's Fair.
  • Museum of East Tennessee History, 601 S. Gay St. The East Tennessee Historical Society off Market Square has a new and fascinating museum about the history of the area, from Native Americans through Davy Crockett, the Revolutionary War, industrialization (the city was once called the Underwear Capital of the World), the Civil War, and modern history, including the role of the area in producing the first atomic bomb.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max7.7 °C10.5 °C16.3 °C21.3 °C25.3 °C29.2 °C30.6 °C30.4 °C27.3 °C21.4 °C15.5 °C10.1 °C
Avg Min-3.3 °C-1.6 °C2.6 °C7 °C11.7 °C16.6 °C18.9 °C18.5 °C15 °C7.8 °C3.1 °C-1.1 °C
Rainfall105.9 mm103.1 mm129.3 mm94.5 mm104.9 mm100.8 mm118.6 mm79.5 mm78 mm72.1 mm95.3 mm115.3 mm
Rain Days10.19.310.99.29.78.89.77.76.66.58.69.4

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Getting There

By Plane

McGhee Tyson Airport is a few miles south of downtown in nearby Blount County. The following cities are served non-stop from Knoxville by air: Atlanta (ATL), Charlotte (CLT), Chicago (ORD),Cincinnati (CVG), Cleveland (CLE), Dallas (DFW), Denver (DEN), Detroit (DTW), Houston (IAH), Memphis (MEM), Minneapolis (MSP), New York (LGA), Newark (EWR), Orlando (MCO), Philadelphia (PHL), Washington (DCA), Washington (IAD).

By Car

Southbound Interstate 75 and westbound Interstate 40 converge in the middle of Knoxville via Interstate 275 and run concurrently through western Knoxville. I-75 and I-40 split at the western edge of Knox County.

By Bus

  • Greyhound, 100 East Magnolia Avenue, +1-800-231-2222. National bus service.
  • Megabus - Service from Washington, D.C., Christiansburg, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Nashville. Buses arrive and depart at the Knoxville Transit Center at 301 Church St. E. Fares from $1.

By Boat

The Tennessee River runs through Knoxville and is accessible by personal watercraft. Many boaters routinely navigate the Tennessee River for both pleasure and travel. Some arrive at Neyland Stadium by boat, avoiding Knoxville's worst traffic and parking problems. The Holston and the French Broad Rivers join just upstream of Knoxville to form the Tennessee, which is navigable, courtesy of the TVA dams along the Tennessee River and U.S. Army Corps of Engineering dams along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

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Getting Around

Although parking is usually easy to come by in most of the city, it may be mildly difficult at times to find adequate parking downtown and around the University of Tennessee. Walking is convenient downtown, but in other areas, most major roads are not amenable to pedestrians or bicyclists. In the outer areas of the city, because bus service is infrequent and some places don't have sidewalks, traveling by car is the way to go.

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

  • Knoxville Area Transit, or KAT. KAT runs a bus service throughout the City of Knoxville and parts of Knox County. Most KAT bus stops are served on an hourly interval, so exploring Knoxville via KAT bus is somewhat difficult. However, the recent opening of an ultra-modern Downtown Station bus terminal should greatly improve public transportation within the city. All KAT buses are equipped with flip down bicycle racks and many are powered by biodiesel or other alternative fuels. KAT operates special routes for some events, a downtown trolley service, and bus services for the University of Tennessee.
  • Knoxville Trolley Lines. The trolley runs several free downtown and University routes during business hours and one "Late Line" route on Friday and Saturday nights during the University of Tennessee fall and spring semesters. Most daytime stops are served on ten to twenty minute intervals.

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Eat

Knoxville has plenty of restaurants, although the diversity and quality of them can be disappointing if you're not willing to look beyond the major chain locations. Persevere, however, and you will find some diamonds in the rough. Vegetarians and vegans are generally not well catered to, there are exceptions and the vigilant vegetarian or vegan will not starve.

  • Petro's. Petro's was founded in Knoxville during the energy-themed 1982 World's Fair. The petro consists of corn chips, chili, cheese, green onions, tomatoes, and sour cream, and it comes in beef, chicken, and vegetarian varieties. It goes well with Petro's Hint-of-Orange Iced Tea.
  • M&M Catering, 7409 Middlebook Pike, ☎ +1 865-692-1003, fax: +1 865-531-3048. For melt-in-your-mouth barbeque, go to this small cement block setup, open daily.
  • Elidio's Pizza, 6714 Central Ave Pike, ☎ +1 865-687-1002. Great New York-style pizza and other Italian offerings.
  • Jacob's Restaurant and Grill (Jacob's Timeout Deli), 5307 N Middlebrook Pike, ☎ +1 865 584-6671. 10:30AM-4PM. Fantastic burgers and deli sandwiches. Run by Jacob, who immigrated from Israel in the late 1960s and opened up this restaurant.
  • Aubrey's. Fresh seafood, steaks, and salads. Voted "Best of Knoxville" in the Knoxville-News Sentinel.
  • Calhoun's, 6515 Kingston Pike, 400 Neyland Drive, and 10020 Kingston Pike. Voted as serving the best ribs in all of America, Calhoun's offers what they call a "taste of Tennessee". Calhoun's also operates a microbrewery at each of their locations.
  • The Chop House (Many locations throughout the city.). A Knoxville favorite for great steaks and chops in a warm, friendly environment.
  • Connors Steak & Seafood. Fresh seafood and dry-aged steaks.
  • Downtown Grill and Brewery, 424 S Gay St. 11AM-midnight daily. Big, stylish microbrewery on two floors with huge copper brewers' tanks in the center. Upscale pub fare - steaks, seafood, sandwiches and fry ups, as well as the tasty house-brand beers. $15-25 including a drink, free Wifi.
  • El Charro (Three locations in Knoxville.). Purportedly has the best salsa in town.
  • Gourmet Market, 5107 Kingston Pike, ☎ +1 865 584-8739.
  • Litton's Restaurant, 2803 Essary Drive NE. Some of the best burgers that can be found in Tennessee, and their patties have a remarkably robust and well balanced flavor that is almost sweet. All baked goods are prepared fresh daily in-store by a team of bakers who arrive to prepare the day's goodies before first light. The Tuesday lunch special is fried chicken, broccoli casserole, and banana pudding. Their red velvet cake is simply the best, and their "dinner plate" chocolate chip and sugar cookies (literally the size of small dinner plates) are not to be missed.
  • Nama's (Off of Kingston Pike.). One of the better sushi joints in Knoxville. $10-20.
  • Puleo's Grille (At the junction of I-40/75 and Cedar Bluff Road in West Knoxville.). The only place in Knoxville (and probably the state) where you can begin a meal with fried green tomatoes with cheese grits and two kinds of sausage gravy and top off the evening with a glass of white wine and a cannoli.
  • Smoky Mountain Brewery, 11308 Parkside Drive, Knoxville, TN 37934-1971, ☎ +1 865-288-5500. Su-Th 11AM-12:30AM, F Sa 11AM-1:30AM. A restaurant and brewery in western Knoxville.
  • Three Rivers market (Knoxville's Community Food Co-op), 1100 N. Central St, ☎ +1 865-525-2069, e-mail: k.ries@threeriversmarket.coop. Daily 9AM - 10PM. Three Rivers Market is a natural foods grocery store with a great hot food bar serving daily seasonal menus. There is also a full service deli case, a fresh sushi counter, and a grab-and-go case with drinks, sandwiches, wraps, and...cupcakes from Magpie's Bakery.
  • Trio, 13 Market Square, ☎ +1 865-246-2270. Trio's menu takes a multiple choice approach to salads with an order card of ingredients and a pen to tick of the items you'd like tossed with your greens. Tasty sandwiches and a handful of entrees round out the lunch and dinner options. Breakfast is decidedly eggy with a choice of several types of omelets and Eggs Benedict. Coffee and pastries are available all day. $6-9, free WiFi.
  • Tomato Head, 12 Market Square, ☎ +1 865-637-4067. M-Su for lunch, Tu-Su for dinner. The Tomato Head is a favorite restaurant of many locals. They have fabulous (and veggie friendly) salads,sandwiches, pizza, and calzones.
  • Cru Bistro & Wine Bar, 11383 Parkside Dr (Pinnacle at Turkey Creek), ☎ +1 865-671-6612. 11AM-11PM. The menu at Cru represents both new and exotic flavors as well as beautifully executed yet familiar selections for one and all to enjoy. The chef-inspired small plates menu encourages those with curious palates to explore and experience a wine variety of foods and an extensive selections of global wines by the glass, the flight, or the bottle. Also downtown at 141 S. Gay Street (+1 865-544-1491). Small plates $7-19, burgers $11-15, pizzas $9-13, mains $16-27.
  • Baker Peters Jazz Club, 9000 Kingston Pike, ☎ +1 865-690-8110. This jazz club has live music and good food. Its alcohol selection focuses on wine, but it also has a reasonable beer selection, and also cigars.
  • Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, 100 N Central St, ☎ +1 865-999-5251. High-end restaurant serving urban western cuisine. It's in the classic Patrick Sullivan building that's been around since 1888.
  • Naples Italian Restaurant, 5500 Kingston Pike, ☎ +1 865-584-5033. Italian food, with nightly specials designed in-house by award-winning chefs. Try not to fight over the cannoli and Seafood Goddess salads.
  • Restaurant Linderhof, 2740 Kingston Pike #106, Farragut, ☎ +1 865-675-8700. Excellent German fare.
  • Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, 950 Volunteer Landing Lane, Knoxville, TN 37915, ☎ +1 865-546-4696, fax: +1 865-521-0642. M-Th 5PM-9:30PM, F Sa 4:30PM-10PM, Su 4PM-9PM. Excellent steaks, among other things.
  • Ye Olde Steakhouse, 6838 Chapman Highway (5 miles south of the Henley Street Bridge from Downtown Knoxville, bus 41 from downtown Knoxville stops just outside), ☎ +1 865-577-9328. Su-Th 4:30PM - 9PM, F Sa 4:30PM-9:30PM. Ye Olde Steak House racks up Best Steak House in Knoxville awards every year, but its fame extends far beyond the city limits. It's one of Knoxville's oldest and most popular restaurant, family-owned since 1968. $30-50.

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Drink

Market Square and the Old City house a number of bars, probably too many to list here. Below are a few popular locations in those areas and elsewhere.

  • Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria, 200 East Jackson Ave (In Old City), ☎ +1 865-521-0092, e-mail: barleysbooking@gmail.com. 48 drafts. Concerts on weekends. Pizzas. Billiard Room.
  • Downtown Grill & Brewery, 424 S. Gay St (Downtown), ☎ +1 865-633-8111. Great bar and grill on Historic Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. Good selection of beers brewed on site. Standard pub fare. Pool tables, television, and live music. Front and back patios. Popular with locals.
  • Fort Sanders Yacht Club, 721 S 17th St (next to the intersection of Cumberland Avenue (the Strip) and 17th Street; close to the UT campus), ☎ +1 865-673-3500. Really interesting place from a perspective of European traveler, a bar full of old 25-cent arcade games (more than ten machines like Donkey Kong, Street Fighter II, Mario Bros) plus cheap beer (different kinds) especially on Tuesdays. Smoking only outside, on a funny small patio. Great, relaxed atmosphere.
  • Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square (Market Square), ☎ +1 865-524-2224. Good beer selection, live music.
  • Sapphire, 428 S. Gay St (Downtown), ☎ +1 865-951-2066. Trendy and upscale.
  • Sassy Ann's, 280 N. Fourth Ave, ☎ +1 865-525-5839. Big, three-storey house turned into a party place. Quite far from everywhere but worth visiting.
  • Union Jacks, 124 Northshore Dr, ☎ +1 865-584-5161. Low key pub scene, far from centre.

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Sleep

  • Crowne Plaza, 401 W. Summit Hill Dr, ☎ +1 865-522-2600.
  • Hampton Inns and Suites, 618 West Main St (Located downtown.), ☎ +1 865-522-5400. Free parking in parking garage.
  • MainStay Suites, 144 Merchant Dr, ☎ +1 865-247-0222. Extended-stay hotel with weekly housekeeping service, coffee makers, hair dryers, irons, ironing boards, fully equipped kitchens, microwaves, refrigerators, pillow-top mattresses, and cable TV. Some rooms have work desks, sofa sleepers and balconies.
  • Ramada Limited East Knoxville, 722 Brakebill Rd, ☎ +1 865-546-7271.
  • Holiday Express at the UT Gardens, University of Tennessee Trial Gardens (just off Neyland Drive behind the UT Veterinary Hospital on the UT Institute of Agriculture campus), ☎ +1 865-974-7141. See under description. $5 per person, children under 4 are admitted free.
  • Crowne Plaza Knoxville, 401 W Summit Hill Dr SW, ☎ +1 865-522-2600.
  • Hilton Knoxville, 501 West Church Avenue, ☎ +1-865-523-2300. Downtown Knoxville location. Complimentary WiFi access throughout the hotel.

View our map of accommodation in Knoxville, TN

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Learn

The University of Tennessee, the flagship public university, was established in 1794 on a 560 acre land-grant campus near downtown. Now part of the University of Tennessee system, it operates with more than 1,500 faculties, 9,800 staff, 27,800 students and $1.1 billion dollars in endowments.

By contrast Knoxville College, a historically black liberal arts college founded in 1875 by the United Presbyterian Church of North America, is a ghost town of a campus. After a long period of decline which began in the 1970s, the college lost accreditation in 1997 and was no longer functional by 2015. The library and administration are still operational; the rest of the campus is boarded up and the buildings rank among the 15 most-at-risk historic sites in the city.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Accommodation in Knoxville

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Knoxville searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

Contributors

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This is version 13. Last edited at 13:18 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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