It’s that time of year, when all our thoughts turn to love and romance and how to celebrate love and romance. As we all know, when you are with the person you love, anything can be romantic, from a quiet night at home, to an all out night on the town. However you do it, “Here’s to making it count.”
I recently found Knoxville Food Tours on 2 different lists of the Most Romantic Things to Do in Knoxville. That might have contributed to my full tour last Valentine’s Day. Now I know what you’re thinking - What, is she a romance guru? Hey. Maybe I am, or maybe just like Jack’s famous movie line to Rose, “I’m involved now.”
Knoxville Food Tours is a great way to spend Valentine’s Day as well as any other celebration. I offer tours every day of the week, at various times through the day. You’ll learn about our historic city, and enjoy beautiful food in some of the best restaurants. Now if you’re looking to add more romance on top of that, here are some great ideas.
Plan a hike on the Pink Marble Trail, around Mead’s Quarry Lake at Ijams Nature Center. This short and easy walking trail is only .3 of a mile, so you’ll still feel refreshed for the rest of the evening. What?? The first time I visited this abandoned quarry, with its wall of pink marble, I thought it was one of the prettiest places I’d ever seen. When the quarries are no longer in use, they naturally fill with water and form very distinctive looking lakes. It’s a bit more touristy now, with the canoe, kayak, paddleboard rentals and such strewn about, but just look beyond all that. Pack a picnic. It’s a great opportunity to splurge on some of those special hand crafted goodies you’ve seen around town that you’ve both been wanting to try – cured meats, aged cheeses, or gourmet salads. See what you can find at the Bread Shed, on Broadway, where artisan baker Kymberle takes pride in creating and offering some different options for Knoxville. I got an inside scoop from Coolato Gelato, because, I get the inside scoops, that they will be creating large chocolate dipped strawberries covered with an edible gold dust for Valentine week. Slip that into your basket as a scrumptious surprise. Or, if it is easier and less time consuming to have it catered, I know lots of chefs who would love to create a stunning gourmet picnic for you. Call me. Part of the romance of Mead’s Quarry is the history of the marble industry and the importance it played in Knoxville’s development and economy from the 1800’s through the mid 1900’s. (Yeah, I’m a nerd like that.) The marble industry was so important to Knoxville, that 2 sections of the Knoxville flag are dedicated to it.
Another area to feel the romance and history of the city is at the old Southern Railway massive railyard near Knoxville’s Old City. Escape from the bustle and crowds of the city, take a walk about, find all the little hidden nooks, and ramble around under the viaduct to take a peek at Underground Knoxville. Chat (in hushed tones, obviously) about where you might have visited back in the time when passengers trains were frequent and familiar in Knoxville, and where you might travel together in the future.. (Are you with me here?)
Did you know Singing Valentines are available in Knoxville? This fun service is provided by K-Town Sound, an affiliate of the Sweet Adelines International show choir. Sunday, February 12, Monday, February 13, and Tuesday, February 14, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., the group will send a women’s barbershop quartet to serenade your sweetheart at home, work, or even in a restaurant. Several different options are available – the Deluxe Package (the one you want to choose – listen to me now, believe me later) includes a love song, Valentine card, chocolate, and your choice of a red rose or balloon (choose the rose, we’re grown) all for only $35. Can’t be with your sweetie right now? Choose the Phone Package – $20 gets you a love song from afar. How cool is that?
There’s nothing more romantic than Italian opera, with its passionate and soaring melodies. I once heard that composer Puccini must have viewed the human soul as a harp, and he knew just how to pluck the strings of our hearts. The Knoxville Opera will be presenting Puccini’s masterpiece, La Boheme, for Valentine weekend this year Friday, February 10, at 7:30 and Sunday, February 12, at 2:30. While opera does need to be dramatic, it doesn’t have to be daunting. English translations will be projected for this beloved and often performed opera, set in France, and presented in Italian.
Take an unexpected turn for dinner at Primo Ristorante Italiano, on the 5th floor of the Sunsphere. Yes, you can still go up in the Sunsphere! This Knoxville icon, built for the 1982 World’s Fair, represented energy, and hopefully it will fuel energy and chemistry between you and your beloved. Primo seeks to transport guests back to a time of glitz and glamour – think Sinatra and his legendary acquaintances. They are offering a special limited Valentine Menu Friday, February 10, Saturday, February 11, and Tuesday, February 14, between 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., featuring a filet, heart shaped lobster ravioli, scallops, mussels, beef osso bucco, and even a roasted cauliflower steak over linguine for veggie lovers. Dessert might be a chocolate mousse in chocolate heart mold, for those who can only think of chocolate, or a revitalizing blood orange sorbet. For $6, impress your honey with curbside valet service.
Another place to find a cozy little hideaway for dinner is Naples on Kingston Pike. This well loved Italian mainstay is often voted Best Italian by the locals and features two curtained and private booths, where you can still enjoy the same great service of the restaurant, but feel away from the bustling main dining area. Enjoy traditional Italian pasta favorites or specialties such as roasted duck, smoked pork loin, veal, lamb, or market fish. Tip: Pick and entrée to share so you can also enjoy a small plate from the appetizer menu and dessert of hand crafted chocolate ravioli and a luscious raspberry sauce.
Does a romantic evening have to be set in an Italian theme? Well…it couldn’t hurt, il mio amore. But if you are looking for something decidedly more East Tennessean, try an excursion on the Tennessee Riverboat, the Star of Knoxville, an authentic Coast Guard paddlewheeler. They are offering 1.5 and 2 hour outings for either a lunch or dinner buffet with musical entertainment, chocolate and flowers, Saturday, February 11, Sunday, February 12, and Tuesday, February 14, at various times and price points. Check their website for information and to book. You’ll certainly feel like a king cruising down the beautiful Tennessee River with your love. And remember, whatever you do, “Never let go”.. Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all.