This past week, I visited my friend, Keagan, in Knoxville, Tennessee, her home town! Not only is Keagan a teammate of mine on the Texas Soccer team, she is also one of my roommates in college and were also Pi Phi’s together at Texas. Needless to say, we spend a lot of time together and I am so thankful for her! It was a last minute decision to go with her to Knoxville and the spontaneity of it all made it that much more fun!
We started our roadtrip to Austin on a Friday afternoon and drove 9 hours to Memphis, Tennessee where we stayed the night with Keagan’s brother at his apartment. He’s in medical school and was studying away for his (really hard) final exams but generously allowed us to crash there for the night. The next morning, we drove to Nashville and stopped for lunch. Our stomach’s growled in anticipation of lunch and instead of eating real food, I opted for some good dessert at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Y’all, I would consider myself an ice cream aficionado and this scoop shop ranks up there as one of my absolute favorites. The flavors are all unique and outrageous. I tried the dark chocolate peppermint, brambleberry crisp, and tart lemon buttermilk. But it did’t stop there, I got a chocolate hazelnut ice cream sandwich, as well. One of my friends who goes to Vanderbilt recommended this place and said I had to get an ice cream sandwich, I happily obliged. Honestly, I say skip the ice cream and go for the sandwich…the one I got was 2 hazelnut-chocolate macarons sandwiched around a scoop of heavenly dark chocolate rolled in salty hazelnuts. My mouth is watering just thinking about it, oh my goodness. #bestdessertever
After our little stint in Nashville, we made it to our final destination: Knoxville! Keagan’s family graciously welcomed up with open arms and I couldn’t have been more excited to have finally made it. It’s a total of 15 hours driving time to Knoxville and I was happy to be out of the car and in a big and spacious home instead of the back seat with our luggage.
On our first full day in Knoxville, we went downtown to the Old Tennessee Theatre to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Keagan’s family. The theatre was stunning and the movie was a classic. I’d never seen it before but it was so good!
After the movie, we went to Tupelo Honey Cafe for a late lunch. The best part about this place: the biscuits, honey, and jam they give you before your food comes out. Y’all, I could have easily eaten a couple of these for my meal. They are flaky and buttery and so delicious. The rest of the afternoon, we shopped for a bit in downtown and that night hung out with Keagan’s friends. So far, so fun.
The next morning, we slept in and went to breakfast at Long’s Drug’s Store. Its a little pharmacy that serves the best (and cheapest) food. I, of course, got a short stack of the chocolate chip pancakes and they tasted as good as they looked. The est part? My meal was only cost $3.35. What? Yes, not lying.
After breakfast, Keagan took me on a little tour of Knoxville. We went to the University of Tennessee soccer fields and found a picture of our assistant coach at Texas, Keeley Dowling, at the stadium. Hey Keels! After that, she took me around campus and we explored Sorority Village and Fraternity Park. Really cool. It was really funny, all week people would ask me where I go to college and I instantly say UT. Well, UT in Tennessee always refers to The University of Tennessee. I would always have to correct myself and let people know I go to the real UT, The University of Texas at Austin. #winkwink
Later that afternoon, we went hiking to the top of House Mountain. The scenery in Tennessee is so beautiful and there is so much green everywhere…a little bit different than Dallas and Austin, amirite?
As a treat for climbing a mountain, we went to Ham’n Goodies for their famous iced lemon cookies. You think, how good cold these simple iced lemon cookies be? AMAZING. So delicious, I could’ve easily eaten a dozen over the course of a day. But I didn’t…although I wish I had a couple of those cookies right about now.
After a full day, we went back the house and watched Harry Potter while working on a huge puzzle (Keagan worked, I watched…). Quite an ideal night.
The next day we drove out to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. About an hour outside of Knoxville, these cities are super touristy and country. We saw our fair share of rednecks which always made me laugh. On the side of the road, they have these mountain roller coasters that are like luges. We decided to stop and go on one and it was one of the best decisions we made that afternoon. The luge was so fun and you whip around turns while making your way down the mountain. It was such a random stop but proved to be a highlight of the day!
I couldn’t go to Tennessee without trying some moonshine. I had the opportunity to go to a moonshine tasting! Don’t be fooled, however, I only took baby shots of 5 types before calling it quits. Moonshine is definitely not my favorite thing in the world. Yuck.
Also in Gatinburg, we took the ski lift up to the top and got off to see the entire city. It was chilly that day, as you can tell by our jackets and sweaters! Once we got back to the bottom, we made a B-line to the closest Starbucks to warm up with hot coffee and tea. We met up with a couple of Keagan’s friends and had dinner and then went to look at Christmas lights.
After some more fun in the city the next couple of days, I had to get back to Dallas to see my own family! I flew back (roadtrips can only happen so often for me…) and arrived back in Texas this past Thursday night.
Knoxville is an awesome city and I have nothing but good things to say about it. The people are friendly, the landscapes are beautiful, and the food is tasty. Thanks you so much Keagan for letting me stay with you and your family! I had the BEST time! Let’s hope it’s not the last time I am able to visit…I’ll be back to foxy knoxy for sure!