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On a recent road trip through the Southern US, we knew a stop at Knoxville’s Wild Love Bakehouse was non-negotiable. When the well-traveled writers of Afar Magazine name the best bakery in America, we take note.

When the glorious day came, Wild Love Bakehouse was predictably fantastic, as good as we’ve had in any international city. On our first visit (yep, we went back the second day), we visited later in the morning, and with many items sold out, had to “settle” for the flakiest, buttery croissant and a tasty flatbread. The next morning we made sure to show up extra early and scored perfect rustic galettes–along with an extra large box of goodies for the road.

So you probably didn’t need us to confirm Afar’s verdict, but as the title of this piece attests, sublime pastries aren’t the only reason to visit Knoxville….

With some time to kill in between stuffing our faces, we decided to check out the local beer scene. There’s an impressive 12 breweries around town, but these are the two we loved best:

Shulz Brau Brewing Company: We’re suckers for a good biergarten, and this one didn’t disappoint. With tasty German style beers and the perfect ambiance for whiling away a summer evening, you’ll want to plan to abandon your plans in favor of spending the entire night here.

Pretentious Beer Co (the topmost photo): Despite their cheeky nod to hipster tropes, this minimalist tasting room is anything but pretentious. And bucking current trends toward IPA heavy selections, the brewery offers up a fantastic array of beers, including several easy drinking witbiers perfect for summer.

Check out all the breweries on the Knoxville Ale Trail here.

Other spots we loved in Knoxville:

Gosh Ethiopian Restaurant: For those unfamiliar with Ethiopian food, suffice to say Ethiopian veggies are one of the few dishes that could convince me to go vegetarian. Do yourself a favor and balance out all those beers and pastries with a veggie combo plate from Gosh.

Knoxville Museum of Art: We’ve been to so many smaller art museums that try too hard to compete for big name pieces, while overlooking local artists. The Knoxville Museum of Art focuses on the art of Eastern Tennessee, and is so much better for it! Admission is free, so be sure to make time for this gem of a museum.

Historic Downtown Knoxville Walking Tour: Save the Google maps link to follow this self guided walking tour with descriptions and history of 60 historic buildings in the downtown. Even if you don’t set time aside for the tour, it’s fun to pull up the map and see what’s nearby when you’re spending time downtown.

Hi, I'm Holly! I'm a passionate traveler who's dedicated to sharing my experiences and expertise to help you travel better.