Daily Living Q&A

Questions

What should I bring to ORNL?
Are cameras permitted at ORNL?
Where can I stay during my visit to ORNL?
I am flying into McGhee Tyson Airport. Should I rent a car for my visit to ORNL?
What should I do if I am not a licensed driver?
Where can I eat while visiting ORNL?
What expenses are my responsibility while I am at ORNL?
What can I do during my free time while I am at ORNL?
Can I smoke while at ORNL?

Answers

What should I bring to ORNL?
Please bring the following documents when you come to ORNL:

  • A current government-issued photo identification (this is required for everyone to access ORNL)
  • Your passport and a visa (if applicable) if you are a foreign national

Other than the documents listed above, you will need to bring only your study sample and personal items (clothing, personal hygiene items, etc.) necessary for the length of your stay. Computers, smart phones, and tablets are welcome in most areas of the ORNL campus (with some restrictions), and much of the campus has wireless internet access for guests.

The following items are prohibited on the ORNL campus: firearms and other weapons, alcohol, explosives, dangerous instruments or materials likely to produce substantial injury to persons or damage to property, controlled substances including illegal drugs and associated paraphernalia, and any items prohibited by law.

Are cameras permitted at ORNL?
Although there are some restrictions on photography at ORNL, cameras are permitted and may be used to document your research with permission from the responsible Division authority. Signs are posted in areas where photography is prohibited. If you are in doubt about what you may photograph or about what areas prohibit cameras, ask your host. You also may enjoy taking photographs of the scenery and wildlife around the ORNL campus during your free time (visit our Flickr site for some examples).

Where can I stay during my visit to ORNL?
The most convenient lodging option for visitors to ORNL is the ORNL Guest House. If the Guest House is full during your planned stay or if you prefer to stay offsite, many hotels are available in the Oak Ridge and Knoxville areas. Long-term lodging options for extended stays also are available in Oak Ridge and Knoxville.

I am flying into McGhee Tyson Airport. Should I rent a car for my visit to ORNL?
A rental car is highly recommended for several reasons.

  • The airport is about 30 miles from Oak Ridge, or approximately a 40-minute drive.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a large facility—encompassing about 4,470 acres.
  • Offsite taxi transportation is limited on the ORNL campus.
  • Public transportation is not available at all between ORNL and Oak Ridge, Knoxville, or McGhee Tyson Airport. Users from large cities and many international users who are accustomed to easy access to public transportation may be surprised to learn they do not have that option at ORNL.
  • A campus taxi service is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. to help you get around the ORNL campus. NOTE: Outside of those service hours, no other campus transportation is available.
  • Although some areas of the ORNL site are walkable, the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) are located several miles away from each other (about a 10-minute drive, in fact), and both are several miles from the central campus area.
  • Options for meals on evenings and weekends are quite limited on the ORNL campus, so many users find it necessary to go to Oak Ridge or Knoxville restaurants.

What should I do if I am not a licensed driver?
We encourage experimental teams to include at least one licensed driver for the duration of the team’s experiment. Individuals who cannot drive are welcome at ORNL but will be quite limited in getting around the campus or the Oak Ridge/Knoxville area. If possible, plan to do your research only at SNS, stay at the ORNL Guest House, and eat your meals there and at SNS. Make use of the ORNL taxi to get around campus as needed during its operating hours (7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday).

Where can I eat while visiting ORNL?
Fresh Seasons Cafe, the food service provider at ORNL, offers onsite cafeteria dining at three locations on the ORNL site. Breakfast, lunch, and after-hours meals are available, depending on location.

  • Hours at Fresh Seasons Café in the Visitor/Conference Center are 6:30–9:30 a.m. for breakfast and 10:45 a.m.–2:00 p.m. for lunch, Monday through Friday.
  • A satellite canteen at HFIR (Building 7910) serves lunch 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • A cafeteria at SNS (Building 8600) serves breakfast 6:30–9:30 a.m. and lunch 10:45 a.m.–2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • The SNS cafeteria also offers a self-service cooler and checkout system after normal operating hours. The self-service cooler and kiosk are open from 2:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. the following morning on weekdays and at all times on weekends. Fresh Seasons’s employees are not present during this time, so the cafeteria operates on an honor system. Diners can choose from the available prepackaged food items and ring purchases at a self-checkout kiosk, which accepts only credit card payments.
  • If you are staying at the ORNL Guest House, a hot breakfast is available daily for all guests, and the SNS cafeteria is an easy walk for lunch and self-service meals. All SNS and HFIR users staying at the Guest House should have an ORNL badge providing access to the SNS cafeteria building.
  • Vending machines with snacks and beverages are located in many buildings on the ORNL campus.
  • A few restaurants in Oak Ridge will deliver to ORNL. Some may require a minimum size order.
  • If you wish to leave the ORNL campus for meals, many options are available in Oak Ridge and Knoxville. NOTE: You must provide your own transportation to leave the ORNL campus.

What expenses are my responsibility while I am at ORNL?
ORNL users are responsible for all of their own expenses related to travel/transportation, meals, lodging, personal needs, and salary. Users are encouraged to purchase refundable transportation tickets in the event of neutron source or beam line system issues that result in lost time to the user (for more information, see Scheduling and Travel).

What can I do during my free time while I am at ORNL?
Here are some suggestions for entertainment both onsite at ORNL and in the surrounding area:

  • ORNL’s beautiful campus provides a great setting for photography as well as fitness pursuits such as walking, running, and biking.
  • The Guest House and SNS each have a fitness center. All SNS and HFIR users can use the SNS gym after completing the required online training. The Guest House gym is open only to users staying at the Guest House.
  • If you would like to expand your learning, lectures and other events are scheduled frequently, including ORNL’s Eugene P. Wigner Distinguished Lecture Series in Science, Technology, and Policy, which promotes dialogue among Oak Ridge researchers and renowned leaders in science, industry, and government.
  • Exhibits at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge (managed by ORNL) highlight Oak Ridge’s unique World War II history.
  • Oak Ridge and Knoxville offer plenty of diversions—mountains, rivers and lakes, outdoor adventures, championship college teams and minor-league baseball, movies, shopping, and cultural events.

Can I smoke while at ORNL?
ORNL has established a Smoking Policy (view policy excerpt) that restricts smoking tobacco products and use of electronic cigarettes only to designated smoking areas. Select an area map for the building number that you will be in or nearest to for locations of designated smoking areas: 4000 & 5000 (Central Campus area), 7900 (HFIR), and 8600 (SNS).