When people think of Tennessee, their first thought is Nashville. But, guess what? Knoxville should be your first stop–it’s especially alluring when you rent an RV and tour the area like a local without worrying about the hustle and bustle of finding an adequate hotel room for your needs.

Knoxville is on the east side of the state and is home to the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee. In Knoxville you’ll get to see major landmarks, a hot arts scene and the Tennessee Theatre.

Shop locally

To get a true insider experience, drive down to Gay St. for a self-guided tour of the local shops and historic architecture. Give your sweet tooth a kick because you’ll find barrels flowing to the brim with candy at the Mast General Store.

And, the candy is of every variety you can imagine. Get a pound for the road. Then, after you’ve walked Gay St., drive to Market Square where you’ll find a section of local and chain stores. Don’t forget to stop at Rala for some locally-made souvenirs.

Three Rivers Rambler

Take a train ride along the Tennessee River from Downtown Knoxville, as this is where the Tennessee River starts. You’ll pass historical sites to where the French Broad and Holston Rivers meet, which is called the “Three Rivers Trestle.” You’ll have time to put your mind at ease during this 90-minute ride. Since freight is hauled during the week, the rides are offered on Saturdays.

World’s Fair Park

Knoxville is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors at the site of the 1982 World’s Fair. You’ll appreciate the renovations which include water features, beautiful lawns and walkways. During the summer, the fountains and geysers are a welcome feature for keeping your cools.

The World’s Fair Park is also a major venue for live performances throughout the year. Head to the sunsphere’s observation deck for panoramic views of the Great Smokey Mountains and the Tennessee River.

Tennessee Theatre

In 1928, this site was called a “movie palace.” It was designed in Spanish-Moorish style with impressive decor such as an Italian terrazzo floor, Czech crystal chandeliers and even Asian-styled draperies and carpets. The theater was also recently restored in 2005.

Today, you can visit to see rock concerts, Broadway shows and vintage movies. It’s also the perfect spot for a romantic date.

Blount Mansion

The home was built in 1792 by William Blount, governor of the Southwest Territory at that time and signer of the U.S. Constitution. He built it when he declared Knoxville as his capitol. Take a tour of the mansion and learn more about “the house with many eyes.”

In 2916, the home was preserved by the Blount Mansion Association so that people can learn more about Knoxville’s intriguing history. In October, check out the Legends, Customs and Myths tour. There are also year-round events.

Final thought

If you head to Knoxville, you’ll find fantastic live music, plenty of outdoor activities and a thriving food scene. Plus, the people are so friendly, you’ll make six new friends before you can even finish your sweet tea.