Fun Things to Do in Knoxville: Ijams Nature Center and Quarry

student enjoying one of the fun things to do in Knoxville

East Tennessee summers are two things: hot and humid. There’s no better way to cool down and enjoy a day in the sun than in the water! With restrictions in place this summer, pools are having a hard time opening up.

While unable to access the large pool on property, luckily University Park residents are just a quick trip away from a day of fun in the sun!

They’re able to just gather their friends and take a trip to the quarry!

Fort Dickerson Quarry

Fort Dickerson Quarry is a zippy 4-minute drive from University Park. It’s right across the Tennessee River from downtown Knoxville. You can cool down in the 350-foot deep body of water or climb to see a stunning panorama of turquoise water, downtown’s skyline and Great Smoky Mountain peaks.

You can bring floaties, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards! There are also walking trails for you and your pup and picnic shelters to enjoy lunch outside of the apartment. If you’re a history buff, then you’ll enjoy seeing the well-preserved Civil War forts. There’s something for everyone!

For more information, visit the quarry’s information page.

Ijams Nature Center’s Meads Quarry

Meads Quarry is a short 10-minute drive from University Park. Other than the large quarry, Ijams offers a multitude of walking trails and other activities that have made it one of the most popular destinations to visit in Knoxville.

You can rent a paddleboard, kayak or canoe from River Sports Outfitters located right beside the quarry for just $14 an hour. They’ll hook you up with a boat, paddle and a life vest, so if you’re not the best swimmer or deep water isn’t your friend, you’ll be worry free!

Ijams also permits alcoholic beverages, so if you’re 21 or older, you can crack one open and float the day away. They even have a beer stand that sells favorites like White Claw and domestic brews.

For more information, visit their website to learn about all the different activities the nature center has to offer.

There’s so much to do within just a couple of minutes from University Park, so it’s time to get out there and explore Knoxville!

By: Ashley Depew, Leasing Consultant

Benefits of Living Close to Market Square

market square in Knoxville

Picture this- you’ve finally unpacked all your boxes and have your living space set up just the way you want it. It’s a beautiful day and you need something to do. What better way to spend your day out than in the sun exploring the town. 

If you’ve moved somewhere like University Park Apartments, there are a number of benefits living so close to one of Knoxville’s most popular spots: Market Square.


Market Square is filled with amazing restaurants! There are so many options to choose from like Soccer Taco, Kabuki, and Emilia. Cafe 4 has delicious brunch options including mouthwatering roasted potatoes and huge bowls of Sangria you and your friends can split! In the mood for something savory? Head across the way to Tupelo Honey where they have a pulled pork sandwich served on pumpernickel bread good enough to throw your last dollar at it. 

Market Square has much more than just nicer restaurants though. You also have access to smaller well-known shops like Subway and Ritas if you’re on the go! No matter your mood or budget, there’s something to eat for everyone!


Not only are there delectable restaurants, but there are also tons of shops located all throughout Market Square! Head to Earthbound to get your fix of incense and to explore the wonders of crystals. There’s a two-story Urban Outfitters located at the end of the block for you to shop for records, clothing and fulfill all your hipster lifestyle needs! 

You can also shop local at places like Earth to Old City for cool homemade soaps or get all your latest Tennessee gear and apparel from Tailgate to get ready for game days. 


Market Square and the surrounding streets host plenty of fun events and festivals all year round. The Farmers Market is a great place to shop local businesses selling fresh produce, homemade crafts, and organic care products. 

You can also attend festivals such as the International Food Festival or live plays on the stage located by the parking garage. Every year near Christmas, they even set up an ice skating rink for everyone to enjoy! At University Park, we send out monthly newsletters with a section for events around Knoxville so you can keep up to date with anything going on downtown!

Secret Treasures

Market Square is filled with secret spots that are definitely worth going off the beaten path to find. There’s a hidden alleyway that’s lit up at night with romantic lighting and amazing graffiti art that covers the walls. 

Find the Peter Kern Library that doubles as a speakeasy for a night of delicious drinks and specialty cocktails. Or even find small local hotspots such as Pete’s cafe or the Union Ave Bookstore! Explore your surroundings and find all the many hidden gems that make Knoxville such an adventurous city.

If you have any questions about fun things to do around Market Square or downtown Knoxville, contact us at University Park or call 865-577-8700 for more information and suggestions on the benefits of living close to downtown.

By: Lalita Tinari, Leasing Consultant