Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Top 10 Hidden Gems on Campus


There’s no doubt that places like the Student Union, Hodges Library, or the Strip are great places to grab a bite to eat or hang out, but where should you go when those places are too crowded? We’ve got a few places in mind. A few of our Vols @ Home staff members have collaborated on this list of “hidden gems” on campus in order to give our Volunteer family a more complete view of the campus experience.

College of Communication and Information Patio: A recently added hidden gem on our campus is located in one of the most amazing spots! As you keep walking from the main entrance of the Communications and Information building, you will notice a glass door that leads out into a quiet nook called the CCI patio. Complete with plenty of seating, the patio is an enjoyable spot to eat, study, or have a relaxing view overlooking Neyland Stadium and the Tennessee River. If you’re in need of a quiet space to get some fresh air, or do a bit of soul-searching, this gem is the perfect way to escape.

Dippers in Hess Hall: Located behind the 1st floor P.O.D market in Hess Hall, this chicken joint has some of the best bang for your buck anywhere on campus. There are multiple combos completely covered by meal equivalency so you don’t even have to worry about using up all of your dining dollars. When you’re in the need of soul-food, like fried chicken and seasoned-to-perfection fries, we’ll see you at Dippers.

Nathan’s Hotdog Stand: Wait… there’s a hotdog stand on campus? Well, of course there is! You just have to be one of the lucky few where your class schedule lines up with the time the hotdog man is out selling. You can find Nathan himself standing on the corner near Brown Hall and the Natalie Haslam Music Building and get a classic meal of a hotdog and bag of chips.

UT Gardens: Located on the Agricultural Campus, not many know about this hidden gem that is open to all UT students. Some 4,000 annuals, perennials, herbs, tropical plants, trees, shrubs, and vegetables are maintained and evaluated each year in the UT gardens. The gardens are TN Certified Arboreta, and in 2013 it was recognized as the official botanical gardens of the State of Tennessee. The gardens are open during all seasons and are free to the public, with many running trails in the area so it’s easily accessible. It’s a great way to spend a beautiful afternoon or to just escape for a while after a long day.

Presidential Court Computer Lab: Tired of walking to the library to use a computer, print, or just get some work done? Then this is just the place for you. Located in the back part of the Presidential Court Building, this computer lab is open to UT students; all you need to bring is your Volcard to get in. With around 30 computers, this resource has room for you.

Free Online Movie Streaming: Who needs to pay for Netflix when Netflix doesn’t always have the best options? If you live in on-campus housing (the best place to live), then you have access to HBO GO! You can access this online or through the HBO GO app. Simply go to the HBO GO homepage or app, choose “University of Tennessee” as your service provider, and log in with your NetID and password! It’s that easy! In addition, the library offers two different services to stream movies that all UT students have access to. Criterian-On-Demand allows you to stream movies anywhere and anytime as long as you are logged on with your Student ID. The other option, Resident Life Cinema, provides a variety of popular movies to stream while on campus wifi. Go to to visit both of these streaming websites.

McAlister’s Deli: Another lesser known dining option, McAlister’s Deli, located in Thompson Boling Arena, is a fantastic place to eat if you are looking to change it up and try something new. Arena dining is available during the week, and on game days! In fact, one of the best parts is that they offer dinner meal equivalency. Just be sure to make it over there before 5:30pm when it closes! It’s safe to say McAlister’s is a favorite of the Housing staff and many other individuals who frequent this side of campus.

Sutherland Fields: Located on Sutherland Ave., these UT owned fields are some of the nicest we have ever been on. These fields host various club and intramural sports ranging from Ultimate Frisbee, to 7-on-7 flag football, and everything in between. In addition to the turf and natural grass fields, there are baseball fields and volleyball courts as well. If you ever find TRECS to be too crowded for your liking, try checking out the Sutherland Fields!

Ray’s Place: One of the best kept secrets of UT’s campus is in fact Ray’s Place. Ray’s is located on The Hill underneath the South College building and in front of Dabney-Buhler. This casual café is perfect for science and engineering students or even students who just happen to frequent The Hill around lunchtime. With an atmosphere similar to a country diner, Ray’s offers a variety of sandwiches, meat-and-three combos, and freshly baked cookies. While you can’t use your meal plan here, Ray prices his homemade food perfectly for a college student’s budget (a meal typically costs about five dollars). Next time you find yourself on The Hill, stop by Ray’s to say hello and grab a bite to eat.

The International House: Nestled behind Hess Hall and Hodges Library, the International House, better known as the I-House, is a comfortable spot for many individuals on campus. With quiet rooms to study in, occasional international treats, and continually free coffee, this spot is a great getaway for all students to relax and catch up on work. With great events like culture nights, international cooking classes, and international coffeehouses, there’s almost always something going on at the I-house. One of our personal favorites are the culture showcases. Students have the opportunity to learn about a selected country and its culture while enjoying a full dinner, games, music, and the company of others for only five dollars.

Don’t be caught in the crowds… be sure to check out these “hidden gems” on campus!