Knoxville’s  foremost landmark is the Sunsphere (World’s Fair Park, daily 9 a.m.–10 p.m., free). Built for the 1982 World’s Fair, the Sunsphere has been a source of pride and consternation for Knoxvillians in years since.
The Sunsphere, symbolic of the World’s Fair theme “Energy Turns the World,” is 266 feet tall. It consists of a five-story golden sphere—which the New York Times described as similar to a gold golf ball—perched atop a steel shaft. During the World’s Fair, it housed two restaurants.
After the World’s Fair ended, Knoxville  couldn’t decide what to do with the odd monument. Ideas came and went—restaurants, advertising billboard, visitors center—but from 1999 until 2007 the sphere was essentially closed for business all together. Around the 20th anniversary of the World’s Fair, the city began to think again about what it could do with this iconic landmark, and five years and $280,000 later, in time for the 25th anniversary of the fair, the city reopened the observation deck to visitors.
The observation deck is located on the 4th floor of the Sunsphere. After a long and clanky elevator ride up, you are deposited in a narrow circular room with a 360-degree view of Knoxville . It is a pretty neat view, and it puts the city in perspective. The Tennessee River sweeps southward; the University of Tennessee  sits on the river bluff; and the interstate highways slice this way and that. You look right down on the World’s Fair Park , and it’s like seeing the world in miniature.
Panels around the observation deck tell about some of Knoxville’s attractions and history, and there is a running video with footage from the 1982 World’s Fair.
Other floors in the Sunsphere are rented by local businesses.