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As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, we frequent the Knoxville area because Micah’s parents live only a short drive from Knoxville. Each time we visit, we try to do at least one fun, new activity. This blog will feature three such activities that we have gone to on recent excursions.

Knoxville has a small art museum located in Worlds Fair Park. The Knoxville Museum of Art features both local and international artists with a high concentration of more contemporary art. The museum is small-you can visit the entire museum in about an hour, which includes time to take in each gallery-but fun to peruse. Our favorite part of the museum was a small room of miniatures from the 1930s and 1940s. Even though there are only a few exhibits in the museum, we enjoyed our visit and appreciated the fact that the museum was trying to instill a greater appreciation for the arts and culture. For those wishing to visit, the museum is free.

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One of Knoxville’s best known attractions is its zoo, recently re-named Zoo Knoxville. The zoo is located in East Knoxville, so it’s a bit further out of the city for those traveling from the west. Normally, zoo admission is $20 per person, but we went during the month of February, when the zoo had half-priced admission. Zoo Knoxville is on the smaller side, but features a nice double loop with plenty of great opportunities for spotting critters. We began by heading to the left (as of the writing of this blog, part of this area is under construction for what looks to be a handsome new exhibit for the zoo’s tigers), where we found the children’s area (featuring local animals such as skunks, raccoons, and beavers), a few birds, and the reptile and amphibian area. We spent most of our time checking out the playful otters, who put on quite a show for us, as one of the otters spent the entire time doing back flips off the exhibit wall.

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We returned to the front of the zoo, where we saw one of Zoo Knoxville’s most famous inhabitants, the red pandas. We spent quite a bit of time here, too, as the red pandas were active and enjoying the nice weather outside. We continued on to the right side of the park, where we saw another children’s play area (including small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians), the African animals (such as elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinoceros, and lions), and the gorillas and monkeys. We got to see plenty of animals and had a lovely time. We spent an afternoon at the zoo, but made sure we saw everything and spent a rather long time with the otters and red pandas.

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Finally, downtown Knoxville is home to Market Square, which, as the name suggests, is a large square free from cars that is home to lots of shops, boutiques, and restaurants. The emphasis in the square is on local and specialty goods, so expect more artisan foods, quality and unique home goods, and boutique style clothes. For even more local goods, check out Market Square on Saturday, when local farmers, artisans, and others sell goods such as food, candles, home goods, honey, etc., farmers’ market style. Market Square also hosts other special events throughout the year so, if you’re in the neighborhood, check to see if something interesting is coming to the square. Overall, Market Square is a fun way to experience Knoxville and local culture.

These are just a few of the ways you can experience and explore Knoxville. We’ve enjoyed each of these three activities so, if you are in the area, we suggest checking them out.