360 Magazine Culture Editor, Tom Wilmer explores Knoxville—the third largest city in Tennessee.
When people think of Tennessee, Nashville and Memphis get the prime spotlight, and they most often make the top of the to-do list for travelers. But Knoxville has an abundance of attractions that are alluringly unique.
Knoxville’s first iteration as a world-class travel destination happened with a bang when the town hosted the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair. Today the two remaining iconic vestiges are the Sunsphere tower, and a stunningly beautiful riverside performance amphitheater.
Knoxville is graced with historic architecture, both in the urban core, and surrounding residential neighborhoods, but its the friendliness of the people is an essential ingredient that makes the town so attractive.
Most of the businesses are locally owned. There’s been a recent explosion of new upscale eateries (more than 80 in the urban core) and trendy brew pubs that keep the downtown core hopping in to the wee hours of the night. Festivals like the annual Rhythm and Blooms Blues Festival in May is just a sampler of the live events that take place downtown throughout the year.
Outdoor hiking, biking and kayaking are viral endeavors for locals and visitors alike. Knoxville rightfully touts its super popular Urban Wilderness with more than 1,000 unspoiled acres right in the heart of the city.
Carol Evans shares insights about the city’s Urban Wilderness adventures for hikers, bikers. and kayakers. Sam Carlton at the four-star The TENNESSEAN Hotel talks about the Knoxville World’s Fair back in 1982, and how the momentum instilled by the fair continues today.
Tom Bugg, general manager at the city’s two historic theaters—the Tennessee and the Bijou Theatre—paints a vivid picture of Knoxville’s past and present, and how the renovation of the theaters served as an economic stimulus for other downtown revitalization projects.
David Butler, executive director at the Knoxville Museum of Art talks about community engagement through showcasing regional art, educational outreach and gratis admission.
The 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair “Sunsphere”still graces the skyline in the heart of town
Christmas parties are around the corner, and as you begin to think about how you’re celebrating the holidays this year, let us introduce you toSplacer, a platform where you can find and rent 3,000 of the most unique spaces from captained yachts to speakeasies or breweries, abandoned rail cars to lofts, and warehouses to art galleries and car showrooms.
As you are planning your holiday party, Thanksgiving, and Friendsgiving stories, or sharing some of the best-kept secrets in cities across the US, check out some of the most unique places down below.
Granada Hotel and Bistro (lunch, dinner and weekend brunch) & Nourish (breakfast and lunch)
Granada Bistro takes its culinary cues from the classic French bistro and enlivens them with modern techniques and bold flavors. Right next door, you will find Nourish, a healthy eatery featuring fresh, local and soul satisfying meals. Nourish is open from 7 a.m. -3 p.m. every day.
Granada Hotel and Bistro
1126 Morro St.
Koberl at Blue (dinner and drinks)
Enjoy a glass of wine or your favorite cocktail with dinner in their dining room or while relaxing at the bar. Koberl at Blue features cuisine to complement the Central Coast’s wine region with each item created with a wine paring in mind.
Koberl at Blue
998 Monterey St.
Sidecar Cocktail Co. (drinks)
Sidecar’s commitment to bring creative and thoughtfully-sourced cocktails from every corner of California is evident in each glass they serve. The menu celebrates the abundance of the Central Coast, sourcing locally means working locally with people doing exciting things in the community!
Sidecar Cocktail Co.
1127 Broad St.
Luna Red (lunch, dinner or drinks)
A passion for simple and clean food, local produce, and a warm ambiance helped spur the vision for Luna Red. Inspired by the European custom of respect for the locality and traditional preparation of food, the menu includes cured meats, local cheeses, and produce from regional farmers’ markets.
1023 Chorro St.
Novo Restaurant & Lounge (lunch, dinner or drinks)
An iconic dining experience in the heart of downtown where global cuisine combines with hand selected and crafted beverages with a beautiful atmosphere. Enjoy your meal creekside on their beautiful patio, in the intimate bar and lounge or in the downstairs cellar.
Novo Restaurant & Lounge
726 Higuera St.
Experience the outdoors just minutes from downtown
When it comes to hiking, local favorites include the 1,292-foot Cerro San Luis Mountain, a trip to the summit rewards hikers and rock-climbers with sweeping views of the entire city. A fairly easy route through the 800 acre Reservoir Canyon Natural Reserve leads to a waterfall that’s stunning during winter and spring. Keep going and the trails climbs steadily before leveling off, offering unparalleled views of the area and, on particularly clear days, out to the ocean. Follow this link for interactive trail maps for these and other hikes.
The historic Chamisal property, the first vineyard planted in the Edna Valley, has long been producing wines of a distinctive character – bold, complex and intriguing. With the ideal climate of the region and the exceptional clonal selection planted, their winemaking philosophy is to simply reflect the natural characteristics of this remarkable estate.
Biddle Ranch Vineyard was conceived by a group of friends with a love for fine wine, good food, and the Central Coast. Every element of Biddle Ranch – the wine, the setting, and the people are the way they feel life should be: simple, authentic and inspired.
Biddle Ranch Vineyard
2050 Biddle Ranch Rd,
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Claiborne & Churchill Winery
Claiborne & Churchill is a small, premium family-owned winery in the Edna Valley of San Luis Obispo, producing about 8,000 cases of wine each year with grapes sourced from vineyards throughout the Central Coast and their own small estate vineyards.
Claiborne & Churchill Winery
2649 Carpenter Canyon Rd
Tolosa’s vineyard, Edna Ranch, consists of six distinct sections, with 60 soil types and myriad microclimates encapsulating a remarkable spectrum of terroirs. Combining these challenging, calcium- rich soil conditions and ancient seabed with the valley’s warm days and cool nights, you possess the ingredients for timeless and profound wines of diverse and distinctive character.
4910 Edna Rd
The Station is a carefully curated wine bar, wine shop, market and event space in San Luis Obispo. They select wines, and other items considers to be the best in best in their field and not readily found else ware for their market shelves. The Station is also the home to ART BAR SLO, a venue for art, craft, wine and music.
311 Higuera St
For more information about events, attractions and visitor services in San Luis Obispo, phone the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce at 877-SLO-TOWN or visit the City’s website at www.SanLuisObispoVacations.com.
FROM ROTHSCHILD GIRAFFES TO PYGMY FORESTS, BOWLING BALL BEACH & 10,000 BUDDHAS, MENDOCINO COUNTY UPS THE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE WITH AN INSPIRING LINEUP OF ADVENTURES
Diving deep into Northern California’s crown jewel delivers an experience that’s both easy on the wallet and hard to replicate. This is the land of ancient redwood groves, natural oddities and awe-inspiring attractions; an earthy blend of maverick farmers, cutting-edge brew masters and personalities with a passion for the offbeat.
Just two hours north of San Francisco, Mendocino County is the true call of the wild, effortlessly mixing wine, waves and wilderness. Linger on the Lost Coast, break a sweat at Bowling Ball Beach or dive deep into flights of award-winning Alsatian wines. Boasting 90 miles of prime Pacific coastline, 90+ wineries and 24 state/national parklands, the options for adventure are endless. www.VisitMendocino.com.
TOP TREKS FOR THE EXPERIENTIAL TRAVELER
• Lost Coast Adventure/Candelabra Tree Forest – North of Fort Bragg lies California’s famed Lost Coast, Mendocino’s most wild and remote coastal wilderness with plenty of bragging rights. The Shady Dell Trail – a three-mile excursion – invites visitors to discover the rugged region including the mysterious candelabra tree forest. Free; www.mendocinolandtrust.org.
• B. Bryan Preserve – Experience the African veldt on Mendocino County’s south coast. Join the twice-daily tours to feed the rare African hoofstock- Rothschild Giraffe, Zebra, and Antelope-at B. Bryan Preserve. This remote outpost tucked into Point Arena along scenic Highway 1 also offers an eye-popping giraffe barn for offbeat events. $35 per adult/$20 per child for 1.5 hour Land Rover tour; www.bbryanpreserve.com.
• Pygmy Forest – From Jug Handle State Beach, step back through time as you hike the 2.5-mile self-guided nature trail called The Ecological Staircase, which explores five ocean terraces (each representing 100,000 years) that have been uplifted over time and have created this unique coastal range. Visitors can take a walkabout in the local gardens or bed down for a deal at Jug Handle Creek Farm, a European-style hostel for just $45/night; http://www.jughandlecreekfarm.org/nature-education/ecological-staircase/.
• Bowling Ball Beach – Rows of boulders carved by time and tide await at Bowling Ball Beach. Hidden, like the Terracotta Army, at low tide these concretions reveal themselves once the sea has retreated. The beach is part of Schooner Gulch State Beach, free; www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=446.
• City of 10,000 Buddhas – Peacocks, pagodas and “Vigor” and “Virtue” signposts — backed with the resonance of chanting monks – this is the stop for a peaceful walkabout at one of the nation’s largest Buddhist monasteries. Open to the public, this stunning City of 10,000 Buddhas offers daily prayer (12:30 p.m.) in the eye-popping Jeweled Hall, complete with 10,000 golden Buddhas lining the facility from floor to ceiling; free. Stay for a tasty lunch at Jyuan Kang Vegetarian Restaurant on-site. www.cttbusa.org.
• Solar Living Institute/Memorial Car Grove – A scout about the Memorial Car Grove at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland is certain to spur a selfie. Tucked along the Inspiration Highway (101) at the gateway of Mendocino County, this oddity takes shape in the form of hulking gas guzzlers, including classic Edsels repurposed as art. These rusting relics from the 1950s and ’60s with grown trees sprouting from the interiors are a statement to our times. Get up close and personal with a grinning grille or hug that tree. Free; www.solarlivinginstitute.org.
• DIY Point Arena-Stornetta Lands Hike – Relish the wild outdoors at the only land-based portion of the 1,100-mile California Coastal National Monument: Point Arena-Stornetta Lands. The newly acquired lands and moody bluffs of Mendocino’s coast — incorporating more than 1,600 acres — give hikers new access to a 12-mile stretch of coastline laced with cypress forests, scenic cliffs and wildflower fields. Free; http://www.visitmendocino.com/point-arena-stornetta-public-lands/.
• Point Arena Lighthouse – Make a day of scouting the coast with a pit stop at Point Arena Lighthouse. The tower is the only West Coast lighthouse of significant height (115 feet) that visitors can access all the way to the top. Breathtaking 360-degree views and a museum and shop await. Six lodgings dot the 23-acre property including the romantic Lighthouse Keeper’s Apartment ($200/dbl.). General admission $7/children 11 and under $1; www.pointarenalighthouse.com.
• Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens — Work up a thirst while touring one of the few botanical gardens located directly on prime Pacific Ocean frontage. Known for its spectacular displays of rhododendrons and dahlias, the garden delights in all four seasons. Bee Friendly Gardens and Sustainable Vegetable Gardening are a snapshot of the annual seminars held. Pet- and kid-friendly. $14 adult/$5 children (5-17); www.gardenbythesea.org.
• Beer Flight at North Coast Brewing Company – Tame your thirst with a flight of brews at the north coast’s best brewpub. Slither into a tasting flight of four beers ($6) or splurge with the 14-beer sampler with a friend; $21. The Tap Room is the stop for wood-fired pizza and weekends deliver live jazz; www.northcoastbrewing.com.
• Glass Beach – An anomaly that is eye-popping, visitors can seek out sea glass on Fort Bragg’s unique trash-to-treasure state beach. Formerly the city dump, Glass Beach has evolved over tide and time polishing the glass from head- and tail-lights, jars, bottles, and more into tiny, colorful glass pebbles. Red and blue are the rarest! Free; www.visitmendocino.com/does-glass-beach-really-have-glass.
• Roots of Motive Power – The age of steam is alive and on show in Willits, California. Just east of town off the Inspiration Highway (101), Roots of Motive Power shows off its cache of classic steam engines, donkeys and railroad track to visitors on their work days each month, free; www.rootsofmotivepower.com/work-days.
• Orr Hot Springs – Soak up some relaxation at this clothing-optional outpost nestled in the rolling hills near the town of Ukiah. The mineral waters flow through communal tubs, a cold pool, rooftop and private tubs. Simple lodgings are also offered as well as camping on site. Day use is $30 for adults/$25 children. Reservations required; www.orrhotsprings.org.
• Montgomery Wo0dsState Reserve – Near Orr Hot Springs lies one of the state’s most magnificent groves of virgin redwoods. To stand among the redwood spires deep in the forest is to stand in the nave of one of nature’s cathedrals. High up in the canopy, past flying buttresses of enormous branches, the green treetops soar 300 or more feet above. A network of easy trails links the Reserve and adjoining fern groves. Free; www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=434.
• Disc Golf at Anderson Valley Brewing Company – Pick up a six-pack at the Tap Room and head outside to play a round of disc golf on the brewery’s 18-hole course. Or, take a tour of the brewery offered daily at 1:30 p.m., (and 3:30 p.m./summer); free; www.avbc.com.
• Pennyroyal Farm – Get your goat on at this new, polished venue marking the entrance to Anderson Valley. A daily tour at this award-winning farmstead dairy includes a visit to the barn to meet 143+ dairy goat companions and 30 dairy sheep, view of the creamery and finale cheese tasting; $15 for adults/$10 for children/under 5 free. New Pennyroyal Farms wines are also on tap; (Daily tours $15/adults; $10/children.) www.pennyroyalfarm.com.
• Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree – Size matters. Soaring at 315 feet high with a girth of 21 feet, this 2,000-year-old towering tree is a definite show stopper. Cut in the late 1930s as a tourist attraction, the Chandelier Tree seems to defy nature, allowing autos a smooth passage through its center, albeit tight at times. Ideal for Instagram Live, a $5.00 fee gains entry through this gentle giant; there are also wonderful hiking trails in nearby Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area. www.drivethrutree.com.
• Skunk Train – It’s a train thing and it doesn’t get any better than tucking deep into mystical redwoods aboard the legendary Skunk Train. Depart from Fort Bragg or Willits, which offers an adventure on the Northspur Flyer, for a four-hour trek ascending the 1,740 ft. summit then pushing through to the lush Noyo River Canyon aboard a vintage railcruiser (one of the original 132-year old Skunks) with an open-air coach. Prices vary. www.skunktrain.com.
Mendocino County welcomes nearly 1.8 million visitors annually who explore its 90 miles of prime Pacific coastline, 90+ wineries and 10 diverse AVAs (earning the highest percentage of organic and biodynamic vineyards in the United States), 24 state/national parklands and 450+ unique accommodations. Straddling scenic Highways 1 and 101, “The Redwood Corridor,” the County delivers an ideal vortex of waves, wines and redwoods laced with historic villages and outback adventures. Located 114 mi./184 km. north of San Francisco, the region’s gateway airports are San Francisco International (SFO), Oakland International (OAK), Sacramento International Airport (SMF), and Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS). Visit Mendocino County is a non-profit destination marketing organization designed to enhance the economic vitality of the community by increasing tourism revenue. For more information, go to www.visitmendocino.com.
Welcome to Virginia’s Blue Ridge! This stretch of iconic mountains welcomes travelers by air, car, and foot. By foot? That’s right. Roanoke and Botetourt counties are popular places to stop for brave souls hiking through the Appalachian Trail. Many thru-hikers send packages addressed to themselves to the Troutville, Virginia post office, knowing that the Blue Ridge is the perfect place to refresh and restock for their journey. The scenery of Virginia can also be enjoyed by automobile on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which meanders through 469 miles of small towns, peaks and valleys to link the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Flying, driving and hiking won’t be the only ways to make it to Virginia’s Blue Ridge. As of late, Amtrak has opened a platform in Roanoke with direct routes to Washington DC so visitors will be able to catch a train to one of the south’s most historic railroad hubs.
Learn about Roanoke’s rail history at the O. Winston Link Museum, with its magnificent collection of striking photographic and auditory works from a man who was so completely passionate about the Norfolk & Southern Railroad, you have to see it to believe it.
Then, take a walk along the Railwalk, a convenient ½ mile path along an outdoor museum with interactive signage, displays and whistles, detailing the history of the railroad in Roanoke up to the present day. The Railwalk connects the downtown Market District to the Virginia Museum of Transportation. All aboard for a guided tour of the Virginia Museum of Transportation, the Commonwealth’s Official Transportation Museum, located in Roanoke’s historic Norfolk & Western Railway Freight Station, whose collection includes approximately 2,500 objects, more than 50 pieces of rolling stock–locomotives and other rail cars–the largest collection of diesel locomotives in the South. The museum has expanded its collection to include automotive, aviation, transit and other artifacts, and frequently exhibits loaned objects.
Then, spend the morning exploring Franklin county–stop at Homestead Creamery for ice cream made from locally sourced milk. Homestead Creamery still has home delivery!
Take a tour of Booker T. Washington National Monument. This national monument commemorates the life of this famous educator, writer, orator and presidential advisor. Exhibits, films, farm, tours and special events tell of his remarkable rise from enslavement to being one of the most influential, but controversial, African Americans of his time.
Enjoy a moderate to strenuous guided hike to McAfee Knob, a trademark of the Appalachian Trail and one of the Trail’s most photographed sites. The knob is located atop Catawba Mountain with an elevation of 3,197 feet, featuring an overhang of rock and an almost 270 degree panorama of the valley. This is hike is approximately 8.8 miles round trip.
Afterwards, reward your hard work with a cold brew from Parkway Brewing Company in Salem, Virginia. Parkway Brewing Company is a 30-barrel manufacturing facility producing distinctive craft beers. Located adjacent to Salem’s Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail, a section of the Roanoke Valley Greenway system, Parkway has become a meeting place for runners, cyclists and community seekers throughout the region.
Visit Black Dog Salvage, the brainchild of Mike Whiteside and Robert Kulp with the idea of preserving Southwest Virginia’s architectural past. These “Salvage Dawgs” specialize in reclaiming and reselling industrial fixtures from mantels and doors to vintage plumbing and art tiles found in historic homes. The popularity of their craft landed the crew a TV show in 2012 which airs on DIY Network, HGTV, and GAC.
Then, wander through Historic Grandin Village – a charming 1920s neighborhood with the restored 1930s Grandin Theatre(@TheGrandinTheat); serving soda pops and popcorn, Pop’s Ice Cream & Soda Bar opened to the public on March 7, 2006. Pop’s has since won numerous local awards for best ice cream, milkshakes, soup and sandwiches, and was honored to be featured in Oxford American Magazine’s 2009 “Best of the South” issue; Black Dog Salvage (@BlackDogSalvage)–40,000 square-feet filled with one-of-a-kind architectural treasures, antique and custom designs including mantels, stained glass, wrought iron, doors, windows, furniture, antiques and more! Black Dog Salvage is the setting for DIY network’s show “Salvage Dawgs.” More information at www.blackdogsalvage.com.
Visit the Star-The Roanoke Star and Overlook-for a bird’s eye view of the city from this historic landmark, touted as the world’s largest man-made star.
Visit the Taubman Museum of Art, located in an architectural wonder that encompasses stunning design elements reminiscent of the Roanoke Valley region, and showcases American art, modern and contemporary art, design and decorative arts, folk and visionary art, regional art and works on paper. The museum has about 2,050 pieces in its permanent collection–a 10-foot sculpture “Art World” by James Harold Jennings; the inch-and-a-half square photograph “Maggie on Beach with Dog” by Thomas Cowperthwaite Eakins; 3,500-year-old Egyptian Ushabiti ceramic figures; Personalized Roanoke Star Clutch decorative handbag by Judith Leiber; and contemporary Roanoke artists. For more information visit: www.taubmanmuseum.org.
Then, explore some of the downtown Roanoke art galleries at your leisure.
Take a beer hop and see why Roanoke Valley in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains is quickly developing into a popular location for craft breweries.
The plentiful supply of top-quality water combined with the beautiful landscape and unique culture that exists in the region makes Virginia’s Blue Ridge a natural choice for many beer companies. We’ll even take a look at the new Deschutes tasting room in downtown Roanoke!
Free time before dinner to explore the Historic Roanoke City Market (@DowntownRoanoke) and downtown shops of Roanoke, or take the self-guided walking tour of downtown Roanoke.
Then, enjoy dinner at area restaurant.
Historic Home Tour in Fincastle located in Botetourt County, VA – founded in 1772 and named after Lord Fincastle, son of Lord Dunmore, Virginia’s last royal governor. Antebellum churches, tree-lined streets, a courthouse designed by Thomas Jefferson, restored homes and a quaint village atmosphere make it a wonderful place to visit. Journalists will tour historic homes, buildings and other prominent landmarks in the area with local guides. (www.hisfin.org) or (www.visitbotetourt.com)
The trail features three local wineries in Botetourt County, located in the northern part of Virginia’s Blue Ridge region, and the wineries combine wonderful flavor with charming hospitality and unique mountain.
Enjoy the fall colors at Carvins Cove Nature Reserve–The second largest municipal park in the nation. It holds a major water source within its 12,700 acres and overflowing recreational opportunities including hiking, biking, fishing, and boat rentals. 11,363 acres of Carvins Cove is protected by the largest conservation easement in Virginia’s history. There are more than 40 miles of multi-use trails. Experience the fall colors with a kayak trip or the colors with a leisurely hike.
Enjoy dinner and a cold brew at Ballast Point Brewing Company. With 128 taps featuring a variety of Ballast Point beers, growler filling station, retail area with unique merchandise & swag, and a restaurant, it’s a one-stop shop for everything Ballast Point Brewing Company. The views from the bar and dining room also feature the stunning beauty of Virginia’s Blue Ridge–Perfect for an evening sunset.
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