Traveling for a weekend of college football can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming if you happen to be attending a game in a new city on a limited amount of time such as a weekend. Having attending more than eighty home games in Knoxville (1st game at 2 months old), I have compiled a list of must sees on and around campus to make the most out of your trip to Big Orange Country.
Neyland Stadium pregame – Tennessee’s game day is rich in history and tradition. You should plan on being in your seat 20 minutes before kickoff, because the Pride of the Southland Marching Band puts on a great pregame performance. Regarded as one of the best bands in the country, The Pride puts on a show that even opposing fans have come to admire. As the players run through the “T” created by the band, the stadium really explodes with cheering, and it is an experience that makes your game day weekend in Knoxville complete.
Vol Walk – Fans can line up and cheer as the football team makes their way into Neyland Stadium. Many fans line up in hopes of a receiving a quick autograph or high-five from their favorite player. One of my fondest UT memories was getting the chance to shake hands with Phillip Fulmer when I was a little kid at the Vol Walk.
Volunteer Village – This is appropriate for the college fan travelling with a family, although there is plenty to do for everyone. Volunteer Village is located a short walk from the stadium where it hosts festivities such as inflatable games, live bands and appearances by radio personalities. Many local food chains set up stands and give away food. The dance team and cheerleaders make appearances, and you can get your picture taken with Smokey or snag an autograph from athletes of other sports at certain booths.
Vol Navy – If you happen to have a boat, you can participate in the Vol Navy where some 200 boats are driven and parked right outside the stadium. Wisconsin and Pittsburgh are the only other schools with their stadium on a body of water, so “sailgating” at Tennessee is a unique tradition. As a visiting fan, it is definitely worth walking or driving down to the river to see the Vol Navy docked next to Neyland Stadium.
The Strip – Cumberland Avenue (aka “The Strip”) is a happening place if you want to grab a beer before, during or after the game. There are many bars and restaurants that have big televisions to watch the game, and many offer food and drink specials during the game such as Cool Beans or Tin Roof. The Goal Post Tavern is famous for having a piece of the field goal post that was torn down after Florida missed a field goal to win the game back in ’98. Postgame, the Strip is infamous for getting rowdy as most Tennessee fans celebrate a big victory by throwing back a few cold ones.
Fraternity Park – If you happen to be an alumnus from a particular fraternity or have friends to visit, Fraternity Park is a place to go. Most fraternities have game day bands, free drinks and some even have food. The camaraderie and atmosphere makes it one of the liveliest areas on campus on the weekends.
The Hill – If you are person who likes to tour campuses while you are there, this area is the oldest and most famous spot on campus. The centerpiece is Ayres Hall on top of the hill and the base of it is covered with the orange and white daisies that give the Volunteers their color.
The Old City – This part of downtown Knoxville is a great post game location if you are older than 25 and enjoy socializing with a beer or cocktail. It is more mature than the environment of The Strip on a Saturday night but still has all of the eating, drinking and dancing options that the college strip provides.