Reed: Skybox at the Sunsphere bar stirs nightlife imagination

Nightlife writer Keven Reed enjoys the early evening view from the Skybox at the Sunsphere.

Nightlife writer Keven Reed enjoys the early evening view from the Skybox at the Sunsphere.

Nightlife writer Keven Reed enjoys the early evening view from the Skybox at the Sunsphere.

Nightlife writer Keven Reed enjoys the early evening view from the Skybox at the Sunsphere.

Skybox at the Sunsphere

  • Address: Fifth floor of the Sunsphere at World's Fair Park
  • Phone: 865-637-4810 or 865-951-1307
  • Hours: 5-10 p.m. Mondays- Wednesdays; 5-11 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays
  • Full bar and menu
The Skybox at the Sunsphere offers a excellent views of the downtown area.

The Skybox at the Sunsphere offers a excellent views of the downtown area.

The World's Fair Park and The Hill of the University of Tennessee offer scenic sights for folks enjoying the Skybox at the Sunsphere.

The World's Fair Park and The Hill of the University of Tennessee offer scenic sights for folks enjoying the Skybox at the Sunsphere.

In my nightlife travels, as with most aspects of my life, I tend to overlook things and places until they jump out and bite me, figuratively speaking. It isn't that I'm not observant, but I have a tendency to put things off for one barely acceptable reason or the other.

In this particular case, I spent the last year or so living right down the road from one of the best bars in Knoxville, the Skybox at the Sunsphere.

When I first heard there was a bar built high above World's Fair Park in the Sunsphere, I imagined some sort of floating magic city where the upper-crust of society goes to have secret meetings and mock the poor from the fortress in the sky. As it turns out, the Skybox is the kind of classy joint that anyone can enjoy and, more importantly, afford.

The Skybox seems tailored for those looking for a place to spend an evening after work or to get their night started early, mostly because they close at 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on the weekends. Due to my recent work schedule, I was unable to make it during their weekend hours, but instead chose to head up there for a quick snack and a couple of beers Monday evening.

Getting to the Skybox is a bit of a chore if you don't live downtown, mostly because none of the parking is particularly close to the Sunsphere. After finding a spot, we made our way to the Knoxville landmark and began our ride in one of the warmest elevators I've ever been in. The bartenders actually joked that the elevator was their torture box, but luckily the Skybox itself is much more comfortable.

The place was empty except for myself, my friend Brian and the bartenders. But as we spent our evening there, we were assured that the nightlife crowd regularly visits the Skybox any night of the week. We took a seat at the bar and decided to try one of the appetizers and order a few drinks. The first thing I noticed was how much cheaper everything on the menu was compared to what the two of us presumed it would be while making our way over.

A quick glance over the drink menu shows some pretty decent prices, especially considering the upscale atmosphere. Glasses of wine ran $5-$10 a glass, while beer sat at a reasonable $2 for domestics and $3 for imports. We each ordered a Lowenbrau and later a Guinness and Stella, all for $3. They also serve a selection of specialty liquor drinks that are a bit more expensive, but the $11-$15 you pay gets a unique premium beverage that two people could easily split.

The food was also priced more reasonably than expected, with the most expensive item on the menu costing $8 for a shrimp cocktail appetizer. Other items include a frittata for $4 and a selection of $6 sandwiches. We decided to split the spinach-artichoke dip for $5, which turned out to be more than enough for the two of us and even left us with enough to bring home.

There isn't a whole lot going on at the Skybox early on a Monday evening, but Wednesday features live acoustic music. I was informed that more entertainment and happy hour specials are in the works to enhance the entire Skybox experience.

We both left the Sunsphere impressed and sad that we had not before taken advantage of one of the most unique and affordable bars in Knoxville.

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Comments » 2

stk23732 writes:

I really liked the bar, but it does close early. That is a problem if you are looking for a night out. If they served dinner it might be a viable option to start your evening, but with it's current hours it is strictly a happy hour place to grab a bite and a drink. Then, you could move on from there.

Digger writes:

A friend of mine was in town visiting from Denver. I took him to the Sky Bar and he absolutely loved it! He said it rivals anything downtown Denver has to offer in the way of atmosphere and price.

I hope it does well!

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