If you really love the season of joy, then Christmas in the City is the place you want to be. Pack the RV with supplies and good cheer and set the coordinates for a fun few weeks in Knoxville, Tennesee.
Described as “Knoxville’s most anticipated winter festival,” activities include Christmas at Chilhowee, where the city’s tree is lit up for the first time of the season. The gala atmosphere is infectious, and the festivities include live music, hot cocoa, train rides, and more. Bring the kids to get their very first glance of Santa for the season.
Several other events span over the weeks between the end of November and all through December. Make Market Square another stop on your itinerary, with live shows sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. Knoxville’s Holidays on Ice event takes place there, too. Pack the family’s skates, and while there, keep an eye out for Peppermint Panda, the mascot.
The celebrations last for weeks. Don’t miss the WIVK Christmas Parade, complete with lighted floats, entertainment, and Santa, of course. It is an evening parade, and year after year proves to be a favorite. Bundle up and plan to attend.
Tickets for Christmas in the City vary in price. Most of the events are free, while others have a cost. The lighting of the tree and the parade do not have a fee. Entry to the rink is less than $15 and includes unlimited time on the ice as well as skate rental.
I-40 takes you in close proximity to the celebration’s first event, Christmas at Chilhowee, which takes place at the Chilhowee Park & Exposition Center. Plan on starting your adventure there. Tennessee 511 is the site to visit for road alerts and travel advisories as you travel the state. On the way, make a pit stop at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum to stretch your legs. Note the Great Smoky Mountains State Park as a possible camping and recreation destination when you pass through the forest.
Knoxville has 38 parking lots and garages, making for plenty of options in town. If you have a large RV, you may want to stick to using the outdoor lots to ensure smooth sailing as you maneuver your rig. Several spots offer free parking on nights and weekends.
When in Knoxville, pick up a map of the Trolley Line that services the downtown core and the University of Tennessee. The Blue, Green, and Orange Lines are the three options, and they all run often. Choose a convenient parking lot and hop on the trolley to get downtown. The service is free, an added bonus to this great mode of transportation.
Knoxville is a destination where you can spend several days and not see it all. The options for sleeping in the great outdoors are numerous and include everything an RVing family enjoys. Choose either water or mountain views and claim a spot with the best birdwatching in Tennessee. Call ahead to confirm your chosen destination offers camping for winter travelers.
Certain sections of the Great Smoky Mountain State Park, conveniently located just a hop, skip, and jump from Knoxville, are open in the winter months. Some of the roads in the park are not open for winter travel due to the variance in elevation and conditions. Plan on a winter hike if you choose this destination to park your Class A. You will be amazed at the views.
Take a road trip to Devils Fork State Park in South Carolina and camp there on your way in or out of Knoxville, where fishing is a highlight. For a place to stay closer to Knoxville, Clinton / Knoxville North KOA offers RV camping in the colder months, but be sure to make your reservations in advance.
Dress in comfy and warm footwear for walking the streets of Knoxville or attending an event at the Park & Exposition Center. Don’t choose this as a day to break in a new pair of shoes or boots; you will want to be ready for standing and walking the distance. Keep an extra pair of long socks in your pocket in case you want to take a spin on the ice at the outdoor rink.
Fall and winter weather can be unpredictable in the area and surrounding towns, so be sure to pack for every eventuality. Clothing that can be easily layered is ideal. Pack extra hats and mittens, too, in case a rigorous hike sends you back to the camper with wet gear.
Supplies like firestarter, batteries, and a tarp for covering firewood are essentials for cold-weather camping. Include a camp stove in your gear, and top up the propane for heating the RV if needed. Hoses, clamps, and a set of screwdrivers are tools that should be in every RV equipment kit.
A carbon monoxide detector is a must when the windows are closed in the Airstream and the propane is in use. Leave the curtains open during the day to warm up your motorhome and close them at dusk to ensure a cozy atmosphere. Have the kids wear moisture-wicking clothing when they are romping in the snow, and a preventative cream for chapped cheeks is a good idea.
Watch your humidity levels inside the RV when cooking indoors during the colder months. All vents should be cleaned and capable of airflow. Consider prepping your meals at home and stocking the fridge with food items like corn chowder, chili, and pasta. Easy to heat up meals will save on propane.
Head into town to spend the day at the Ijams Nature Center and then walk along the Knoxville Riverfront. These two activities are bound to build a hearty appetite that can be sated at any one of the restaurants in the area. BBQ in any style is a popular menu item. Give it a try and then head back to the RV for dessert and a good book.
Visit sites like Knoxville’s Candy Factory & Victorian Houses for unique gifts to put under the RV Christmas tree. World’s Fair Park is 52-acres in size and offers plenty to do along with shopping. The town itself turns into a Peppermint Trail with every shop and restaurant decorated in the theme of this tasty holiday candy. Make a night of shopping here as well.
Winter camping comes with a list of measures to keep your RV safe and secure while on a road trip. Plan your campsite carefully and park your Class A away from the fire, so that smoke does not blow in every time you open the door. When you leave camp, lock the RV, close the blinds, and stow away valuables.
Keep an eye and an ear on the forecast. Batten down the hatches every night in case a storm moves in unannounced. Be prepared to stay put an extra day or two if the weather makes driving hazardous. Have a battery-powered radio on hand to tune into the news in the event you lose power.
Stock the RV first-aid kit with sunscreen, just as you would in the summer. The sun’s rays can be no less forgiving in the winter. Often, the reflection of the sun off the snow is strong enough to burn the face. The wind is a hazard as well, so before bedtime apply moisturizer to the face to calm windburned cheeks and lips