Knoxville Visitors Guide

The Swank Pad Knoxville Visitor’s Guide

gay-street-tooVintage Knoxville Google Map

Knoxville is becoming a destination and visitors want to know what to plan their trip. So for those who are interested in vintage shopping, vintage touring, great cocktails, fun destinations and good food, we’ve put together this guide. If you are a fan of the Swank Pad, this is what we recommend for you.

Vintage Shopping


Public House 212 W. Magnolia Ave. – A variety of generally good and interesting cocktails and appetizers, but they struggle with consistency.
Oliver Royale 5 Market Square – Our current favorite, they serve excellent cocktails and great service.
Peter Kern Library 407 Union Ave inside the Oliver Hotel – Entrance is via the alley beside the hotel, you may need the buzzer. Small and interesting “speak-easy” with craft cocktails. Can get really crowded on weekend evenings. Drink list is short.


Market Square


Bounded by Clinch, Market, and Union Ave. Tupelo Honey is highly rated, but not by locals. Best restaurants here: Stock and Barrel has the best burgers, Flying Tomato for pizza. Inside the lobby of the Hotel Oliver is a speakeasy called the Peter Kern Library. Good craft cocktails Entrance is via a buzzer in the alley between the parking garage and the hotel. First entry on the right. The Oliver Royale on the square is our current favorite cocktails.

Various Mexican:

We seem to subsist on tacos lately and try them all over town. These places are cheap and anti-fancy, but good.



The other food we eat a lot of. There are 3 places we recommend:

  • Full Service BBQ: North at Merchants Dr. – 104 Cedar Ln. – Really smoky good brisket, ribs and chicken. Yes, the shredded chicken is exceptional.
  • Calhoun’s on the River, and other locations: Downtown – 400 Neyland Dr. – A big place that’s sort of an institution. Consistant good ribs.
  • Smokin’ J’s: East a mile off the interstate – 5200 Rutledge Pike – 1 word: Pigburger. A Knoxville invention and this is the last place serving them. Get the sauce mixed, and with onions. A huge sandwich on white bread.


Some good local choices:


We don’t drink much beer, so our opinions are based a lot more on the service, location, aesthetics, and other qualities that a more hard core beer drinker may not care as much about.

Things To Do:

I’d suggest going up in the Sunsphere observation deck. Also the Museum of Art is free. Lots of stuff along Gay Street, Market Square, and down in the Old City.

Up Central there is Magpie’s on the right for great sweet treats. At Baxter Ave. is Three Rivers Market on the right. A Coop with a salad and hot bar and all the organic and local stuff you could want. We eat there several times a week. Sort of across Central and on the left it Retrospect Vintage, and just past it is Friends Antiques. Raven Records on the right. Central Flats has great wings, baked. Further up is Timewarp Tearoom on left, then XYZ, the top gay club in town with a fun campy drag show. About another ¼ mile up on the left is Mid Mod Collective with higher end vintage and a good coffee shop next door.

There is a walkway all along the river near downtown. Park at Calhoun’s and walk around.


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