Things to Do in East Tennessee

Rolling mountains. Picturesque lakes. Entertainment and vibrant nightlife. East Tennessee provides the perfect backdrop for exploration and new experiences. From hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park or Ijams Nature Center, to enjoying the tastes of restaurants in downtown Knoxville, there are extensive dining and recreational opportunities for proton therapy patients to experience while completing their treatment at Provision.

About Knoxville

Welcome to Knoxville! Situated in the heart of East Tennessee as well as the Southeast, Knoxville is less than a day’s drive for over 70 percent of the U.S. population. As the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Knoxville is the state’s third largest metropolitan area with two major interstates intersecting from the North/South (I-75) and East/West (I-40).

City History:
Founded by James White in 1786, Knoxville was the state’s first Capitol, and benefited from economic boom in the early 19th century with its proximity to the river and the development of the railroad.  Mild climate and attractive cost of living make Knoxville a destination for businesses, residents and visitors.  With four mild seasons, there is more time to enjoy the natural resources that include seven lakes, seven state parks and five national parks within a 2-hour drive.  The world was invited to Knoxville in 1982 for the World’s Fair, and everyone enjoys the many area festivals and cultural events today, as well as the symphony, the opera and many theaters in the area.

History of the “Volunteer”:
Knoxville is home to the University of Tennessee, one of the few land-grant universities in the country, calling themselves the Tennessee “Volunteers” or “Vols”.  The “Volunteer” spirit began with a nickname from a call for volunteer soldiers by the army during the War of 1812.  A request of 3,500 soldiers was made, and over 25,000 Tennesseans answered the call.  The Tennessee Volunteers participated in battles of New Orleans and also took part in the greatest victory of the war when they helped to defeat a wave of top British soldiers.  Two decades later, Tennesseans advanced their reputation as Volunteers when several hundred made an unsolicited journey to help Davy Crockett (born in Greene County, Tennessee) and the Texans in their war for independence from Mexico.  The Volunteer name was solidified during the Mexican-American War when a call for 2,800 soldiers brought out over 30,000 volunteers.   In 1897, the new student yearbook was christened “The Volunteer”, and in 1902, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution referred to a University of Tennessee sports team (football) as “Volunteers” for the first time.  In 1905, Tennessee Volunteers became the official name for sports teams from UT.


Arts & Entertainment

Get a sense of the region’s unique flavor and character by visiting our local museums and galleries. World-renowned artists are drawn to the area, showcasing their work in exhibitions that feature pieces from around the world. You’ll find eye-catching and inviting permanent art collections in venues across the city. Local artists, many of them pulling inspiration from the nearby Appalachian region, are featured in various galleries and sell their work at local markets.

Spend an evening enjoying the music and entertainment Knoxville offers. With its own symphony and opera, as well as numerous theatres and live music and performance venues, the city is the perfect place to take in a show. Café 4 and The Square Room and the local Preservation Pub feature jazz musicians and local artists, while the Clarence Brown and Bijou Theatres offer performances that feature local, regional and national talent.

Carpetbag Theatre, one of several small, local theatres, offers workshops and performances that give a voice to the under-served. The historic Tennessee Theatre features professional music and drama productions to the downtown area.

East Tennessee is home to a rich arts community of opera, symphony and theater performances, live music performances of bluegrass and country and many unique festivals throughout the year, such as the Dogwood Arts Festival, Festival on the Fourth, Rossini, Greekfest, Kuumba and the International Biscuit Festival, just to name a few.

In addition, the Visit Knoxville events page has up-to-date information on upcoming events happening in the area. The greater East Tennessee area also has many events scheduled all year round. Visit the links below to view each area’s calendar of events.

Maryville, Alcoa, & Townsend

Anderson County, Oak Ridge

Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, & Sevierville

Loudon County

Casual and Fine Dining

Whether you’re in the mood for a taste of world cuisine or the flavors of classic southern cooking, the Knoxville area has more than 600 restaurants for Provision patients to choose. Downtown offers several destinations, such as Market Square, Gay Street and the Old City, as well as some traditional long time favorites in the downtown area. You’ll find pubs serving great beer and pub fare, coffee shops with pastries and lattes and local favorites dishing out delicious southern staples.

Explore all that Knoxville and East Tennessee offers in casual or fine dining with culinary experiences you won’t forget, as you visit all the restaurants along Kingston Pike and other destinations such as Farragut, District of Bearden, West Knoxville, Maryville, Townsend, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville and more!

Looking for a full list of restaurants? Head to the Visit Knoxville dining page. Want to view the surrounding area’s dining options? Visit the links below:

Maryville, Alcoa & Townsend

Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge & Sevierville



Fishing is a popular sport year round, with seven lakes and many rivers and streams embracing and enhancing the valley of East Tennessee, including Cherokee Lake, Douglas Lake,Ft. Loudon Lake, Melton Hill Lake, Norris Lake, Tellico Lake, and Watts Bar Lake.

Water covers more than 220,000 acres of East Tennessee.  From Chattanooga to Tri-Cities, TVA’s system of rivers and reservoirs drain more than 20,000 square miles in East Tennessee.  Together these bodies of water offer more than 4,500 miles of shore line and unlimited recreational opportunities.  The Tennessee Valley has more than 1,000 square miles of water surface and 11,000 miles of public shoreline across the Tennessee Valley.  TVA protects a million acres of public land to support wildlife, outdoor recreation and water quality.

Fishing is permitted all year in TVA Lakes, with best catches generally reported in the spring and late fall.  Principle game fish are largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, white and striped bass; crappie; walleye; sauger and sunfish.  Rainbow trout are present in several of the deep tributary lakes and below some of the dams.  Mountain streams offering the best in trout fishing including some 300 miles of streams with some 70 species of fish.

Fishing Licenses go on sale March 1 each year, the beginning of prime fishing, and are valid through the last day of February.  You can purchase any license, except Sportsman’s License, Lifetime Sportsman’s License and the Lifetime Senior Citizens License, from most county court clerks, sporting goods stores, hardware stores, boat docks and all Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency regional offices.   You can also order your license by mail.  Send name address, date of birth, physical features (height, weight, and eye and hair color), and enclose the correct fee to:

TWRA/Information Section
Ellington Agricultural Center
P.O. Box 40747
Nashville, TN  37204


Knoxville is one of the top destinations for golf in Tennessee, with more than 30 courses just miles from Provision’s campus. Many of the courses offer 18 holes with public access and club rentals. Knoxville is home to the annual News Sentinel PGA Tour hosted in the Town of Farragut, which is always fun to view as a spectator or engage as a volunteer.  You can find yourself on the golf course year-round, with the mild seasons in East Tennessee, showcasing the beauty of Spring blooms and Fall foliage. If you can’t commit to a full round of 18 holes, and want to focus on your short game, you’ll enjoy the Par 3 Course in West Knoxville, overlooking scenic Ft. Loudon Lake.

Please check with our Concierge for more information and negotiated rates.

Here’s a list of helpful links with course information and reviews and tee times:

Activities for Kids

Looking for something to do that’s kid-friendly? Visit the sites listed and learn what is going on in the area that will stimulate young minds and engage them physically!

Kid Friendly Attractions

Free Family Fun
Family Friendly Knoxville showcases many children and family focused things to do…for FREE. Learn about restaurants, playgrounds, green spaces, nature centers, splash pads, libraries and story readings, bicylcing areas, museums, movies, music, theater, and workshops all on this interactive map!

Outdoor Activities

Rock Climbing
Throughout the mountains and nestled in the bottoms of valleys, the East Tennessee region provides opportunities for rock climbing year round. Climbers have access to more than 5,000 different climbing routes within a 3-hour drive of the Provision campus.

The Obed Wild and Scenic River Area is a local climbing spot often visited, and The Climbing Center at River Sports offers expeditions and instruction for individuals interested in trying to climb. Whether a sport climber or one who enjoys traditional climbing, the Knoxville region has several opportunities for you to enjoy.

Running & Walking
Grab some comfortable shoes and head out to some of the scenic greenways and trails the region has to offer. Local running and hiking clubs frequently join together, providing opportunities for visitors to explore the best walking and running locals in the region with a group of locals.

Enjoy the fresh air on one of our natural surface trails, from mulched paths to mowed grass routes. The local and state parks provide a variety of options for individuals hoping to run or walk in the open.

If you’re looking for an option close by, Knoxville’s paved greenways, many of which wind along rivers and streams, are a great option. There are more than 65 miles of walking trails, loops and greenways that wind in between neighborhoods and along the University of Tennessee campus.

Looking for more of a walking challenge? East Tennessee is the place to be. With a variety of local hiking trails, including the beautiful Haw Ridge Park and Ijams Nature Center trails, just miles from Provision’s campus. There are regional trails within an hour’s drive of the city, including the Obed Wild and Scenic River and the Big Ridge State Park trails. Learn about all Knoxville has to offer regarding hiking trails and maps at Outdoor Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.

Cade’s Cove is a popular outdoor destination in the area, located just 50 miles from campus. A valley surrounded by mountains, it’s part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is a great spot for viewing wildlife, including white-tailed deer, turkey, ground hogs and coyotes. The cove has a rich history, with several historical buildings found there. It also features several trails, including lengthy hikes and a five-mile round trip trail to Abrams Falls.

Winter Sports
In Tennessee, we experience all four seasons, and the surrounding mountains provide opportunities for play during the winter months. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll have the chance to whip out the snowshoes or warm boots and walk through its scenic trails, taking in the woods blanketed with snow and the icicles hanging from waterfalls and boulders. If you’re hoping to hit the slopes for some skiing, head to Ober Gatlinburg, which offers nearly 10 ski trails open throughout the winter, the summit elevation reaching 3,300 feet.

Knoxville’s network of greenways provides the perfect opportunity for cyclists to enjoy an off-road riding experience, either on paved or natural surfaces. Often running near streams, rivers and hilltops, the 65 plus miles of greenway loops and trails connect natural areas in the city and are perfect for a leisurely ride on a nice day.

Interested in mountain biking? East Tennessee has various trails for off-road adventure that will fit your style and the terrain in which you thrive, from trails that are wide and relatively flat to twisting single-track options and open fields.

If you’re a fan of road cycling, Knoxville provides scenic country roads with little traffic and the challenge of hilly terrain. Local bicycle clubs meet to go on rides and explore the area, a great opportunity for individuals unfamiliar with the best and safest roads for cyclists.

There are several places to bank fish within the city of Knoxville, including lakes, creeks and ponds, many of which are near our beautiful greenways. Common spots include Holston River, renowned for smallmouth bass, and Ned McWherter Park, with picnic tables, two docks and a view of the downtown skyline. Bluegill, catfish, and bass are common catches.  Fishing licenses are required for those 13 years old and older, with a one-year license just $9.

Canoeing and Kayaking
Home to some of the most beautiful scenery East Tennessee has to offer, the Knoxville area boasts several paddling options, from canoeing to kayaking. Some of these options include organized programs. For instance, the city of Knoxville has partnered with Ijams Nature Center to create a canoeing program that provides information about the local wildlife and nature in general.

However, there are opportunities for visitors to rent canoes at local bodies of water. View the surrounding wildlife by grabbing canoes at Cherokee, Norris, For Loudoun and Douglas Lakes or along Holston, Clinch and Tennessee Rivers. Individuals of all skills levels and ages can glide along our local waters.

East Tennessee is an enthusiastic boating community with over thousands of miles of shoreline framing the lakes, rivers and waterways. A favorite pastime of East Tennesseans is to get on the water in some form or fashion, refreshing the mind, body and soul! Rentals are available in the area for jet skis, pontoons, wave runners, runabouts or luxury houseboats, whether you want to get away for the day or the weekend. Visit the various marinas’ websites below to learn more about boating opportunities.

Spend time on the lake either watching the beautiful sailboats or learning how to sail first hand! Concord Yacht Club, a membership organization, offers instruction for sailing and sailboat racing.

Wildlife Watching
Witness the spectacular light show of the Synchronous Fireflies, one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  They are the only species in America whose individuals can synchronize their flashing light patterns. Their light patterns are part of their mating display with peak flashing beginning late May through mid-June.  This popular attraction is a must see and is by reservation only.

Also, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency allows you to take full advantage of seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, whether it is bird watching, or watching mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish or insects.


East Tennessee recognizes the value of our natural and cultural resources in our state and local parks. These natural resources have a positive effect on your mind, body and spirit, and particularly a healing spirit. East Tennessee, along with the State of Tennessee has taken unprecedented initiatives to preserve the natural beauty and recreational resources. Five national parks, seven state parks and seven lakes are within a 2-hour drive of Knoxville, offering more scenic views and recreational opportunities than one could ever imagine! East Tennesseans take great pride in our natural resources, with initiatives in place to conserve the natural beauty, the pleasing aesthetics, and the cultural and historic resources; while providing opportunities for enjoyment to humans and animals in their natural habitat for future generations. Knoxville has been a role model in the region, and perhaps the nation with strategic Greenway planning and partnering, resulting in a 1000-acre Urban Wilderness, downtown that includes 10 parks, 40 miles of recreational trails and 4 Civil War sites. Green initiatives are in place with many parks and Greenways to ensure sustainability of natural resources. Allow all of your senses to be engaged in East Tennessee!


If you want items that represent the East Tennessee region, head to one of the city’s intimate galleries, local merchants or beautiful antique stores. The Knoxville area features open-air markets that sell local produce and goods, second-hand shops with great bargains, specialty stores with unique antiques or clothing items and national chains you know and love. Whether you’re looking for a specific item or simply would like to enjoy a leisurely day of shopping, you’ll find just what you need.

View a complete list of Knoxville’s shops at, or look up stores by regional areas below:


Surrounding Area:

Spectator Sports

Sports fans will feel right at home in Knoxville! From professional and semi-pro teams to college athletics, there are a variety of sports teams to watch. A baseball fan? Watch the Tennessee Smokies baseball team compete at Smokies stadium. Or catch an exciting ice hockey contest played by the Knoxville Ice Bears.

If your interest is college sports, the University of Tennessee Volunteers have various athletic teams that compete throughout the year. An SEC football fan? The UT football team competes against some of the top college football programs, including Alabama, Florida and South Carolina every fall. Love basketball? Catch the Lady Vols tearing up the court through the winter months.

Volunteer Opportunities

The “Volunteer” spirit is alive and well in Knoxville and East Tennessee, and we invite you to get involved! Involvement in the surrounding community is an important part of life in the city, and individuals receiving treatment at the Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center are welcome to get involved as well. From serving meals with the Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM), one of the largest homeless resource centers in the city, to joining Habitat for Humanity for a building project, there are plenty of opportunities to lend a helping hand and meet Knoxville residents. Organizations active in the community include:

Beardsley Community Farm – An urban demonstration farm that grows organic produce and houses bee colonaies and free range chickens.

Bridge Refugee Services – A nonprofit agency that provides protection and assistance to refugees joining the Knoxville community.

Catholic Charities – A national nonprofit agency dedicated to providing service to people in need, advocating for justice in social structures, and calling the entire church and other people of good will to do the same.

FISH Hospitality Pantries – operates four pantries in East, South, Northwest and West Knoxville, providing food for more than 11,000 families every month.

Habitat for Humanity – The Knoxville chapter has been building homes for families in Knox County since 1985.

Keep Knoxville Beautiful – A nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote a cleaner, greener, more beautiful community through various community cleanup initiatives.

Knox Area Recue Ministries – A nonprofit organization that provides services to homeless individuals in the city.

Knox County Community Action Committee – A public agency serving the citizens of Knoxville and Knox County’s low to moderate income families, the unemployed and underemployed, persons with disabilities, and other individuals with special need for services.

Red Cross – The American Red Cross of Tennessee Mountain Valley serves Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier and Union Counties.

YWCA – A nonprofit organization that has been helping women and their families in Knoxville for 108 years.

This list is not comprehensive but provides several great volunteer opportunities. Our staff can provide details of local opportunities taking place at the time of your stay at Provision.


East Tennessee is referred to as the Great Lakes of the South, with seven lakes and many rivers embracing and enhancing the valley of East Tennessee.  Water covers more than 220,000 acres of East Tennessee, with more than 1000 square miles of water surface and 11,000 miles of public shoreline providing unlimited recreational opportunities. There are seven nearby waterways in Knoxville:


Knoxville is home to religious diversity, and the area is saturated with churches, synagogues and cathedrals representing various faiths. From Greek Orthodox churches to various Jewish synagogues and places of worship for various denominations of Christianity, individuals in need of a place to worship and reflect will be able to find what they need close to the Provision campus. Contact the Concierge for more information regarding places to worship.

We are pleased to offer a chapel on campus for our patients, family members, friends and employees.

Health & Wellness Destination Guide

Provision’s 2015 Health and Wellness Destination Guide is a comprehensive resource for out-of-town patients that provides information about proton therapy, Provision Healthcare and the beautiful East Tennessee region. The guide was compiled by Provision employees who live in East Tennessee and are familiar with all it has to offer local visitors.

Learn about Provision’s world class cancer treatment options, the range of services available on the Provision campus that represent a truly wholistic spectrum of care as well as sightseeing, restaurant and accommodations information to make your visit, while not in treatment, an enjoyable and healing retreat. We want you to feel welcome as you make your temporary home at Provision and in East Tennessee!


Download the Guide