Knoxville SunSphere, Knoxville

Knoxville SunSphere, Knoxville (must see)

Sometimes jokingly referred to as "The Lord's Golf Tee", the Sunsphere is an 81.07 m (266 ft) high hexagonal steel truss structure, topped with a 23 m (75 ft) gold-colored glass sphere.

Designed by the Knoxville-based architectural firm Community Tectonics, this is one of only two remnants from the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville still standing; the other one is the Tennessee Amphitheater, located directly across a man-made pond.

In line with the Sun theme, the window glass panels of the structure are layered with 24-karat gold dust. It weighs 600 tons and features six double steel truss columns to support the seven-story sphere. The sphere itself, in its original design, had a diameter of 86.5 feet (26.4 m) to represent symbolically the 865,000-mile (1,392,000 km) diameter of the Sun. During the Fair, the tower served as a restaurant which had on its menu such items as the Sunburger and a rum-and-fruit juice cocktail, called the Sunburst.

Throughout much of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, the building stood vacant. In 2007, the Sunsphere began to see occupancy.

In February 2022, the Sunsphere observation deck was reopened. Capable of holding up to 90 people, it offers a breathtaking 360-degree view stretching from downtown to the Great Smoky Mountains including World’s Fair Park, the Tennessee River, and the University of Tennessee Campus. Other on-site amenities include a 1982 World’s Fair timeline, a gallery, memorabilia, and a gift shop.

Originally created as the symbol of the Fair, today the Sunsphere serves as a symbol for Knoxville, often featured on postcards and logos.

Admission is $5 per person and free for children under 12.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Knoxville. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Knoxville SunSphere on Map

Sight Name: Knoxville SunSphere
Sight Location: Knoxville, USA (See walking tours in Knoxville)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Knoxville, Tennessee

Create Your Own Walk in Knoxville

Create Your Own Walk in Knoxville

Creating your own self-guided walk in Knoxville is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
University of Tennessee Walking Tour

University of Tennessee Walking Tour

Founded in 1794 as William Blount College, The University of Tennessee (UT) in Knoxville is one of the oldest public universities in the United States. Nowadays, the UT flagship institution features a mix of historic and modern sites which draw many a visitor to the city.

The campus covers nearly 600 acres in downtown’s west end, including over 200 buildings and a faculty of more than 1,700...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Knoxville’s Historical Buildings

Knoxville’s Historical Buildings

Knoxville is often referred to as "The Marble City" for the abundant supply of high-quality marble used in many of its buildings. Noting the wealth of well-preserved historic homes in the city, prominent American architect John Russell Pope even coined his own moniker for it – the "City of Houses".

Indeed, Knoxville's eventful and sometimes turbulent past, dating from...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Downtown Knoxville Walking Tour

Downtown Knoxville Walking Tour

A small town with big-city amenities and a vibrant music scene (a mix of country, bluegrass, and rock), Knoxville, or K-Town as it's popularly shortened by locals, is also often referred to as “the Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains,” for its proximity to the national park area, whose marble quarries, in the past, gave it another moniker, The Marble City.

Knoxville was founded in...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles