As you know by now, my hubby and I enjoy visiting zoos!
So, we decided to visit the zoo in Knoxville since we had never been before.
Knoxville is located approximately 3 hrs from our house so it’s close enough for us to spend a short weekend there.
Click here for the best things to do in Knoxville
We arrived to the zoo around 11 am on Aug 12th.
The admission for adults is $26.95 and $21.95 for children ages 3-12 and $5 to park.
Click here to see their hours and to purchase tickets
The Knoxville Zoo opened in 1951.
The zoo’s first attraction was an alligator named Al, the former pet of the Hauk family, who had acquired the reptile on a Florida vacation when it was only six inches long.
The zoo sits on 53 acres and is now home to about 1,200 animals.
See a map of the zoo here
After arriving to the zoo, we snapped a picture of the map to help navigate us around the park.
The first animal we spotted was the red panda.
More red pandas have been born in Knoxville than any other zoo in the world!
Shortly after arriving, we decided to find something to eat.
We passed the Gibbon exhibit on the way
We settled on burgers and chicken tenders at a nearby restaurant called Beastro’s Cuisine.
Click here for dining options inside the zoo
The food was not good so I don’t recommend…however, is there any good food at a zoo?!
After lunch, we continued our walk through the zoo.
The zoo was featuring a dinosaur exhibit while we were there.
Click here for all the activities that are offered at the zoo
Next, we walked into a reptile exhibit that featured alligators, snakes, frogs and more.
We then headed to the black bear exhibit.
This exhibit was really cool!
However, the bear was snoozing so we couldn’t get a good picture of him.
The next animal we spotted was the beaver.
We then spotted a huge tortoise!
It’s actually called the Aldabra Giant tortoise….it’s definitely a giant!
Next, we headed for the tortoise and turtle exhibit.
The Knoxville Zoo has lots of turtles!
This whole exhibit was just for turtles but we hardly saw any!
Actually, this is the first zoo in the world to hatch critically endangered northern spider tortoises.
Knoxville was also the first zoo in the world to successfully breed the second generation of captive-born Arakan forest turtles and common spider tortoises.
It was definitely a nice exhibit!
After leaving here, we continued our walk and passed the carousel and the children’s train.
We then arrived to the elephant exhibit.
I was not impressed at all with this exhibit.
They had tons of tree logs in the exhibit for the elephants to “play with” but it was excessive!
One of the elephants here named Tonka, is the largest African bull elephant in the U.S., weighing in at over 15,000 pounds!
In 1978, the first African elephant born in the Western Hemisphere was born at this zoo.
Next, we stopped to watch one of the zoo keepers feed the lions.
It was very cool to watch!
Near the lion exhibit, was the baboon exhibit.
After this exhibit, we decided to leave because it had started sprinkling.
Also, several of the animals were either sleeping or not in their cages!
We only spent about 2 hrs here and neither of us was impressed with this zoo!
Read reviews here
After leaving the zoo, we headed to our hotel in downtown Gatlinburg.
Gatlinburg is approx. 1 hr from the zoo.
We thought it wouldn’t be very crowded since school was back in but we were wrong!
It was packed out!
We decided to drive the nearby Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail before heading to our hotel.
My sister and I had visited Gatlinburg earlier this year and saw bears on this road every time we drove it!
Read my blog post on that trip here
As we were driving the road, it came a flood!
So, we weren’t able to see much.
Read reviews here
After the drive, we headed to our hotel called the River Edge Inn.
I decided to book the same hotel that my sister & I had stayed in when we visited back in May since it was so close to downtown and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
Read reviews for the hotel here
Once we got checked in, we headed to our room.
The room had been recently updated and it was huge!
We had a small balcony that overlooked the parking lot.
After getting settled into our room, we headed out for dinner.
Before leaving for our trip, I had made reservations at the Peddler Restaurant.
Tip: Do not try to eat here without a reservation..this place stays packed!
My sister & I had eaten here when we visited earlier this year and really enjoyed it. Since they took reservations, I decided to book here again.
The restaurant was only a 5 minute walk from our hotel but since it was raining, we decided to drive.
After we arrived to the restaurant, we were seated right away.
I was a bit upset because when I made my reservation, I had requested a table by the window overlooking the water but we were seated in the middle of the restaurant with no view.
Then, on top of that, the people sitting by the window, spotted a bear in the water below! 🙁
After looking over the menu, we both decided on the steak and shrimp with a twice baked potato.
Your meal also comes with bread and a trip to the salad bar.
The food was delicious!!
After dinner, we decided to walk around downtown Gatlinburg for a while.
We made our way to a place that we had visited many times before called, The Village.
The Village area is full of 27 cute little shops.
We passed the old candy store where they make their own taffy.
I love this area…it’s so quaint.
It’s really pretty during Christmas.
While we were here, we had to find the old stone horse where we had taken our daughter’s picture on several times before.
After finding it, we snapped a few pictures and sent them to our daughter.
It brought back a lot of memories!
After getting our pictures, we looked to see if the Thomas Kinkade Gallery was still opened.
We had purchased a picture from there many years ago.
Sadly, it was no longer a Thomas Kinkade Gallery but it was still an art gallery full of gorgeous paintings!
After leaving the Villages, we continued our walk through downtown.
We spotted a cookie store so went in to check it out.
It was called Byrd’s Cookie Company.
The cookie store started in 1924 out of Savannah, GA by Benjamin Tillman “Pop” Byrd, Sr., at the age of 28.
Read the history of the cookie store here
After looking around, we decided to buy a bag of their key lime cookies after being told that their Key Lime Cookies made history when they became the first cookie to win Dessert of the Year at the Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Show.
Fun Tip: Byrd bakes cookies for United Airlines and Delta, providing passengers with tasty treats, like Maple Wafers and Almond Shortbread cookies.
After leaving the cookie store, we headed back towards our hotel.
On the way, we passed Aunt Mahalia’s candy store so we decided to check it out.
It’s never a good idea to go into a candy store that is full of chocolate!!
Aunt Mahalia’s Candies opened for business in 1939 and has been a “main stay” of Gatlinburg ever since.
They still make their delicious homemade candies the old fashioned way, in a glass enclosed kitchen.
After looking at all the candy, we decided to purchase a few pieces.
Read reviews here
After making our purchase, we headed back to our hotel and called it a night!
Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for Day 2!
Update: Read Day 2 here
Click here for a link to all of my blog posts