We’re partial to the Fall season downtown, and this year is no different!
The crisp air brings falling orange leaves in Krutch Park and Volunteer Landing, while Market Square, the Old City, and Gay Street buzz with excitement around the cooler weather. This Fall will be different than most, but we think we might surprise you with the amount of unique, safe things we’ve rounded up to do!
1. Search for the Best Pumpkin Spice Latte
Spend a day coffee shop-hopping to find the best local pumpkin spice latte downtown has to offer. Sipping on warm spices from one of more than a dozen places to grab coffee and tea sounds like a great way to kick off the cooler weather. So find your new favorite spot! Whether you try Awaken and Old City Java in the Old City, K Brew on Gay Street, or Coffee & Chocolate and Pearl on Union around Market Square, you’ll find unique takes on fall flavors. And if you want the Original PSL, there are two Starbucks downtown. A weekday search just might be worth getting a fake doctors’ excuse to skip out on a workday!
2. Bake Apple Honey Muffins from The Tomato Head
Around here, nothing’s more comforting than eating baked goods in the Fall. And if you’ve taken up a new hobby of baking during this year’s quarantine, we have your next recipe straight from The Tomato Head’s Flour Head Bakery: Apple Honey Muffins. With plenty of apples and walnuts, sweetened with honey, and topped with streusel, you’ll be going back for seconds, thirds, or fourths. We won't judge! And if yours don’t turn out quite like this, you can always order a tub of Apple Honey Muffin Batter from The Tomato Head, only on September 18. Order ahead here.
Photo Credit: Mahasti Vafaie
3. Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Leave your stress at the door when you spend a relaxing day downtown. Melt into the handmade foot soaks of soaps, pure oils, and salts at Wake Foot Sanctuary. It’s a treat your feet never knew they needed. After enjoying a soak, visit Meadowsweet Massage for a 60-minute relaxation massage individualized just for you. Then, treat yourself to some new lash extensions, sugaring, or anti-aging treatments with stops at Bat 'N Rouge, Downtown Smooth, or Old City MedSpa. Finally, end your spa day(s) at the Nail Room for a fancy medi/pedi and a complimentary margarita, sangria, or glass of wine. Enjoy!
4. Enjoy a Downtown Staycation
If we had to guess, you probably didn’t take that trip you wanted to go on this year because of the pandemic. Enter staycations; a creative way to “get away” without having to hop on a plane or road trip to another destination. Downtown has a variety of hotels, from boutique to full-service, historic to new, and all conveniently located to easily explore downtown by foot. Make plans to try new restaurants and visit old favorites – and most importantly – create some good memories for 2020. It’s a great excuse to explore downtown like never before. At the end of it all, write down what you’re thankful for.
5. Shop for Fall
There are dozens of unique places to shop downtown for everything to get you in the Fall spirit, including clothes, boots, books, blankets, and candles. If you’re a guy looking to upgrade your wardrobe, we suggest starting with outdoor gear from Mast General Store, vintage University of Tennessee gear from Tailgate, and custom wear from William & Wylie. And ladies, you’re in luck with leather bags from the brand-new Honeymouth, this year's boots from Bliss & Tori Mason Shoes, funky outfits from Fizz...and that’s just the beginning. Explore in-store and remember, many of these places also offer online shopping.
6. Bike Ride Through Town
Walking, running, and driving are great ways to putz around downtown. But have you ever thought about riding your bike through the district? From beginner-level to the experienced, everyone can ride safely. We recommend starting in Market Square, making your way down Gay Street, and then through the Old City to park at Merchant’s of Beer’s expansive patio for food from the Pop Up Truck and a MOB cold beer, cocktail, or secretly one of the best margs in town!
7. Start a New Tradition
Weekdays can get busy, we know. One thing that will help tie you over to the weekend is setting one night a week aside to start a new tradition. We suggest visiting a local wine shop to find your new favorite wine, like Downtown Wine + Spirits specializing in small-batch wines, or Corks Wine + Spirits for wines at all price points. Enjoy the night with your friends in person or over Zoom, or just have a relaxing night in all by yourself growing your wine repertoire. Don’t forget that curbside is also an option to pick-up your favorite bottle.
8. Get on Santa's Nice List
Are you the type of person that finishes your holiday shopping midway through the year? No...? Good, we’re not either. But this year, we’re going to get a head start and downtown is your ticket to handmade gifts for everyone. It’s a win-win, because you’re supporting locally-owned businesses and you’re purchasing items made with more love for your loved ones. Try open-air shopping at the Old City Mini Market on the 2nd and 4th Sundays each month, perusing downtown stores for gifts while enjoying some fresh air between stores, or online shopping if you prefer. If you’re looking for gifts for the art lover, beer lover, or outdoor enthusiast, you can find it downtown.
9. Get Competitive
Make a weekend out of getting competitive with your friends and family at Maple Hall, TOPGOLF Swing Suite, Escape Game, and Harrogate’s Arcade. All these places offer something different, so you can take a vote on which one to go to, or better yet, try them all! The good news about bowling at Maple Hall is that it doesn’t matter if you get a strike or gutterball when you have a specialty cocktail in hand and a plate of food on the table. And TOPGOLF Swing Suite makes everyone a golfer, so whether you’ve played for years or are swinging for the first time, you’re going to have fun with the best golf simulator tech in the world. Escape Game’s rooms “The Purge” and “The Villain's Lair” aren’t for the faint of heart, but you can find us having the most fun breaking out of the “Enchanted Escape” and “The Wild West.” End the night at Harrogate's, and don’t forget to bring the quarters to play throwback games like Pacman, Galaga, pinball and ski ball.
10. Date Night at Home
Have you lost date night during the pandemic? That stops right here! Spice up your weekend with a candle-lit dinner and takeout at home. First, set the scene with cozy candles from Jacks, Earth to Old City, or Knoxville Soap Candle & Gifts. Scents like pumpkin spice, pumpkin crème brûlée, and “cozy weather” will bring Fall inside, while setting a romantic atmosphere. Swing by Bloomers Company or The Flower Pot to get some flowers for the table. Then leave the cooking to downtown restaurants; we suggest homemade pasta from Emilia, grilled steaks from J.C. Holdway, famous pork rinds and deviled eggs from Knox Mason, or fresh seafood from Chesapeake’s. And don't forget the wine from Corks and Downtown Wine! After a delicious dinner, enjoy a little online holiday shopping together (see #8) as you reminisce over memories.