We check back in on Rocky Top as our "Home Turf" series continues.
Appreciate all the input on Knoxville and where to go and what to do on fall weekends when the Vols are at home. Having lived here for the past 15 years, the weather in East Tennessee in the fall is nothing short of spectacular. That makes the tailgating on Saturdays that much more enjoyable. The only bummer about covering games for a living is not getting to partake in the tailgating festivities, at least not to the extent that I'd like to. There are a ton of good suggestions below from Tennessee fans. Remember to bring your sunglasses. The glare from all the orange is blinding:
Vince in Knoxville writes: You gotta go to Ye Olde Steakhouse. Best steak and atmosphere in town during game day. Tailgating is, of course, a must in Knoxville. Dead End BBQ is a great place to get some grub, and has a very Tennessee feel to it. Calhouns on the River is always a great place to grab a bite to eat, and has that same Tennessee/Southern ambiance. The Half Barrel on the Strip is a great place to meet friends and grab a drink before and after the game. Hope this helps!
Josh in Washington, D.C. writes: Having both a bachelor and master's degrees from UT and lived there for six years, I feel I have a pretty good handle on the "must do" of Knoxville from both a younger and older scene. First thing to know about Knoxville is that it isn't your typical SEC college town. It's much bigger than that, so plan for a full weekend of stuff to do. If you can, come into town before a football game on Friday and and grab some food and drinks at Downtown Grill & Brewery (best local microbrewery) or Cafe 4 (best shrimp and grits I've found anywhere) in Market Square, followed by a show at the Tennessee Theatre. On Saturday, make sure you get to campus early and grab a spot to tailgate on Fiji Island and don't miss the Vol Walk by the Torchbearer about 1.5 hours before kickoff. Like Chris said, Neyland Stadium is an experience so don't miss that whatever the price of tickets. And after the game, I would suggest checking out Half Barrel on the Strip by campus, or if you want to get away from some crowds, there are great places in the Old City (Crown and Goose or Patrick Sullivan's Saloon). On Sunday, don't miss brunch at Tomato Head in Market Square on your way out of town or you'll regret it!
Adam in New York City writes: Be sure and hit Copper Cellar on the Strip. Basement dinner (wine list is great and prices reasonable!). Stay at the Sheraton Four Points. It's new and close. Do dinner at Calhoun's on the River. Fantastic ribs. Get Joe Harrington (Tennessee's video coach) to give you a tour of the new football facilities! He's the man! That's all off the top of my head. Have a great time and Go Vols!
Eric in Charleston, S.C., writes: Knoxville's best watering hole for over 10 years now has been Cool Beans, just off the Strip. Great staff, good drinks, wings and beer and with a patio to enjoy the fans walking by.
Damo in Durham, N.C., writes: Knoxville provides one of the great football experiences across the country and some excellent Tennessee BBQ joints among other great places to get your game on. Don't miss out on grabbing some ribs at Chandler's Deli. Calhoun's on the River offers a great atmosphere on a game day as well. Check out Barley's Tap Room in the Old City. The restaurants around Market Square are great as well for that old world feel. There are some plenty of excellent spots on Cumberland Avenue, or as we call it, the Strip -- Copper Cellar, Gus' Good Times Deli, Old College Inn, Cool Beans (gets too crowded on weekends), Falafel Hut! Spend as much time on the Strip before the games, though. The sea of orange will dazzle you. Make sure you know the lyrics to "Rocky Top" and yell "Woo!" each time to feel at home. Also avoid any shade of blue or crimson on fall Saturdays! Go Vols!
Max in Myrtle Beach, S.C., writes: For late night food, the best options are Gus' Good Times Deli (beware the drunk tax!) and the more recently opened Cook Out. Lines will be long at both places, but definitely worth it. No matter what, you will be able to find a good time while visiting Knoxville. Go VOLS!
Nick in Charlotte, N.C., writes: If you aren't riding in on a boat, head up to the top of G10 Parking Deck with a case of beer. You won't have a hard time finding a home. The fans are normally very friendly.
Michael in Knoxville writes: While the Strip gets all the fanfare on game day, people ought to head downtown to Market Square where there is a great mix of great bars and restaurants. Soccer Taco and Preservation Pub are my two favorites. Down on the river not far from the stadium is Calhoun's. While known for their awesome ribs, try the ale steak and the microbrews. Of course, if you want to take a long weekend, head out to the Smoky Mountains and check out Dollywood.
Daniel in Knoxville writes: Most fans in Knoxville will tell you that football here isn't a sport. Its a family tradition. With that being said, my family has held season tickets since before I was born. My advice to any visitor is that they need to come the Friday before and check out Dead End BBQ, amazing BBQ and has even been on food networks man vs. food. Then on a Saturday night game in Neyland, come early. I can speak for most tailgaters. We are one of the most hospitable fan bases in the country. My family has hosted tons of visiting fans at our tailgates, even before I was old enough to drink myself. In fact, we all enjoy the friendly banter, so come on down we'll hand you a brew and a burger. But don't get too comfy because the tides turn when you walk into Neyland Stadium.