Tennessee Football: 8 Reasons Why Knoxville Is the Best Gameday Experience
There are plenty of towns to enjoy a good game. There is the Cocktail Party err... oh yeah they don't want to call it that anymore, but anyhow Jacksonville, FL is a fine place to take in a game; it's the largest city in Florida that's smack full of garden and parks to cater to just about anybody's need. There is Auburn Alabama, where that good old Southern charm seems to trickle from every corner. Or, there is Oxford Mississippi, hometown of Ole Miss, the little big town where music and culture get swirled together for one big old happy pot.
But if I have to pick one it won't be any of these. Nope, let me wake up to the smell of honeysuckle, fresh-cut hay and the dank aroma drifting in from the river. Looking on high, I am briefly blinded by the World' Fair sphere and even further I see the white curtain of fog shrouding the Great Smoky Mountains.
Yep, it's Knoxville, and it is by far the best gameday experience.
IT'S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!
The Girls of Course
I'm married, but I'm not dead.
Back in the day the best part of my gameday experience was...well, do I really need to explain this?
For those of you that do, let me just say that everywhere I went I always got homesick for the mountain girls. They smelled of wildflowers, fresh linen and suntan lotion. Go ahead and make fun if you want, but I had to add just one more slide for this reason.
Still the Girls
If I was a single man, I would move to Knoxville yesterday.
Sweet as soda-pop, I still dream about that...
What better place to get a burger...or a brat, or some ribs, or BBQ, or...you get the picture.
I particularly love the true tailgaiting. All the RV's placarded in orange and white, the custom fabricated grills made to resemble a football or some inanimate object, and the thousands of people instantly mingling with one another with the solitary purpose of watching Tennessee football.
Sure, there always a few idiots in the crowd, but some of my fondest memories are from reuniting with friends and enjoying friendly jests among the opposing fans. I never really saw anybody have a bad time tailgating here...
The Vol Navy
The Vol Navy is simply fun on the water. Boats of all shapes and sizes line by the River Walk where the SEC's only water-borne tailgate party kicks into gear. They sometimes arrive two or even three days early at Volunteer Landing.
The same fun happens on the water as it does on land. Lots of grilling, lots of beer and lots of mingling.
The only requirement is you have to be a Vol. However, I have seen boats from as faraway as Alabama so when fun is on the line there is no discrimination.
If you're still young enough to survive off a slice of pizza and a Red Bull, then this slide is for you.
There are plenty of nightclubs in the Knoxville area, but the Valarium just has to be the coolest.
Just off Western Avenue on Ramsey Street, a stone's throw from I-40,\ and six minutes from Neyland Stadium sits the Valarium. It is the largest indoor nightclub venue in Knoxville. At any one time you can mingle and dance with 1,500 friends and strangers. They also host some of today's hottest and up-and-coming bands. Check out this link below if you don't believe me.
We all love Rocky Top right? Sometimes you just gotta dance though.
Calhoun's of course.
Personally this where I go to get sick, sick from eating too many ribs. Their ribs simply fall off the bone and right into my mouth. Every time I leave Calhoun's on the River I feel like somebody stole my pants and replaced with them with a pair four sizes too small. I would recommend a desert but I have never personally had enough room left over.
Ribs, fries and tea...in that order. Then waddle yourself out the door.
The Vol Walk
No the Vols didn't invent it, but Tennessee made it it's own.
At a game in 1988, Johnny Majors witnessed the Tiger Walk at Auburn. Since then the Vols have marched from Neyland Thompson Sports Complex and by the Wall of Fame. Then the Tennessee staff and players continue down Peyton Manning Pass and finally onto Philip Fulmer Way. It is one of those things you must witness in person to realize just how large and important it is. To Vols the magnitude of this tradition seems as if it has gone on since the school's founding.
I will warn you to plug your ears a when the Pride of the Southland Marching Band comes strolling along or even when the players and staff stroll your way.
Oh yeah, turn the video volume down before watching, there is a gal that gets real excited when she sees Coach Dooley.
The Great Smoky Mountains
Okay, so you're not a Vol.
There are still plenty of things to do. There are over 36 square miles of pristine golf courses before the game. There are museums, restaurants, outlet malls, ice rinks, white-water rafting and oh yeah...
No more than 30 minutes away is one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. I promise you, find your way to the top of Mount LeConte in the Smoky Mountains and you will forget all of your hatred for the color orange. There are other beautiful sights and flora, but this place will make you want to relocate.
And Neyland Stadium
Ahh, the hard-cold, folded steel benches of Neyland Stadium.
For a Vol it is like sitting on a feather pillow, uhh... if it's a losing gameday they're really uncomfortable.
Again this is something you have to witness for yourself. You can't be told what the experience is you have to be there. A field of orange that can sometimes number at 80,000, that is assuming of course that all of the opposing team's fans show up.
But to simply be sandwiched in the middle of tens of thousands of Vols all singing Rocky Top in unison is pure bliss, that is of course if you are a Vol.
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