Knoxville -- What an unusual place. To the untrained eye, one would think that this little city is built on the foundation of football alone, and at one point in time that was a pretty legitimate statement.
However, don't give up too soon on the city that is full of many secrets.
I moved here as a freshman from my beautiful city of Chicago, frightened that I would never find a place to go hear good music, eat good food and see modern art. It took me awhile at first, but one by one the secrets of Knoxville started to pile up.
I started my investigation with the Strip, finding out where I could drink beer with a fake ID and where I could go to hang out in peace with friends. As we all know, the Strip changes its restaurants and bars as frequently as some people change their underwear. I was constantly forced to branch outward. I didn't know where to start to shop or do anything productive besides studying.
The Strip is wonderful because it promotes walking. No one living on campus or in the fort is not within walking distance from Cumberland Avenue and the treasures it holds.
So let's go on tour.
On the Strip, there are oodles of restaurants and bars to get comfortable in. I can't help but love the Tap Room with the Big Gulps of draft beer and the juke box blaring country favorites. The dart boards and the computer touch screen game attracts an army of regulars, who I would like to say hello to right now. Hello!
Beer Seller is a pretty good bar with a ton of beer on tap. So obviously, that is a good thing. Inside is a digital jukebox with more songs than you've ever seen before in one place. In the back, hiding by the bathroom is a pool table to practice Shark-dom on, while the rest of the bar hangs out more towards the front.
Now that we have established our hangovers, at least for the beer lovers, let's say you feel inclined to be intellectually stimulated with a bit of art or a good read.
Head up 11th St. and right before your eyes will be the Knoxville Museum of Art. After paying $5 (free on Tuesdays!), art-lovers can be exposed to a world of regularly changing the exhibits. If you are more of a dorm-rat or frat-house junkie, head over to the Art and Architecture building where the Ewing Gallery hides out. Inside you will find just as creative art and sometimes even student displays (but those usually come when semesters end).
Alight, so the library will inevitably become crowded on study nights, and it is nearly impossible to study in dorm-land, apartment land or house-land. Where should students go to actually get something done before going back out to the Strip for a beer, or four?
The Golden Roast is a big favorite for coffee and studying, standing next to Gus's Good Times Deli on South 17th Street. The service is so friendly and the room is not always filled with coffee shop snobs who have claimed the territory. After studying is over take advantage of the nearby surroundings on the Strip.
Don't be afraid to venture off campus. There are tons of little honky-tonk bars like Union Jack's on Northshore Drive. Jazz clubs dot Kingston Pike as well. There are galleries and shops and anything you could ask for right here in Knoxville. Well, maybe not a skyscraper, but believe it or not, there are secrets to be found in our little town.
- Ashley Devick is a senior in Creative Writing and can be reached at