Southern Culture in Northeast Tennessee
The towns of Northeast Tennessee are located just west of the Blue Ridge Parkway, near the Cherokee National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you’re traveling the Parkway and want to visit this area, consider exiting in the Plateau Region and traveling southwest, or at MP 305.1 and heading west to Johnson City.
Start with a history tour in Historic Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town and also known as the Storytelling Capital of the World, including a sampling of locally made moonshine at Tennessee Hills Distillery. Next, head to Greeneville, for “A Walk with the President” tour along Main Street featuring a historic account of Andrew Johnson and The Lost State of Franklin.
Picnic beside the Nolichucky River at David Crockett Birthplace State Park near Greeneville, or pay a visit to downtown Johnson City which offers a wide selection of locally owned restaurants ranging from tacos, German, Cuban, southern barbeque, Turkish, Indian or even a quick bite from a food truck.
Take in the originals of Kingsport for a mixture of unique finds and culture as you learn how the first Long Island Iced Tea was created, followed by a trip around a wooden hand carved carousel. A walk to the original southern fast food sensation, Pal’s, for frenchie fries or a peanut butter shake will prepare you for the adrenaline rush of track laps or a tour of the Last Great Colosseum, Bristol Motor Speedway.
Find out why Bristol is known as the Birthplace of Country Music with a tour of the museum located in the heart of downtown. A few blocks from the museum, you’ll also find the #1 sweet shop in Virginia, Blackbird Bakery, specializing in donuts and pastries.
Find local music in nearly every restaurant in downtown Bristol. Whether you’re searching for wings, burgers (country singer Hank Williams had his last bite here), pizza, soul food, or farm to table style, Bristol’s collection of restaurants, breweries and distilleries will satisfy any palate.
Complete your day in Northeast Tennessee at one of the most photographed spots, one foot in Virginia and one in Tennessee under the iconic State Street sign in downtown Bristol.
Along the Way and For the Kids
Hands On! Discovery Center and Gray Fossil Site is an all-ages science center and active prehistoric fossil dig site dating back 5 million years.
Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport features a picturesque 44-acre lake, hiking trails, a Nature Center with a state-of-the-art Planetarium Theater, and Animal Habitats featuring wolves, bobcats, raptors and reptiles.
Silver Ball City in downtown Johnson City is a retro arcade filled with vintage games from the 80s and 90s for the entire family to enjoy.
The Lollipop Shop in downtown Jonesborough is a nostalgic candy store guaranteed to bring out the kid in anyone, specializing in hard to find treats, retro toys, and today’s favorites.
For even more ways to plan your visit to Northeast Tennessee, see our additional Trip Ideas.