Natural Beauty and Culture Sustained: Our Northeastern Tennessee Guide

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    Welcome to Northeastern Tennessee

    Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    They call it America's first frontier for good reason. 

    Northeastern Tennessee, set at the foot of America's Appalachian Mountain range, is the place to explore and learn. An area that has dually preserved its culture along with its stunning nature, it peaks interest for a wide variety of travelers.

    For those looking for more sustainable initiatives--ways to interact with nature and better understand the area's culture--look no further. 

    An example of preserved history and pride in the area can be found in the 32 hand-carved, hand-painted platform animals of the Kingsport Carousel. Not only does the artwork depict region history, but all of the animals were painted with pride by the Kingsport community. 300 volunteers and 700 sponsors began the project in 2010, and it was completed in 2015.

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    The Birthplace of Country Music Museum

    Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    Bristol, Tennessee -- on the border of Virginia and only a couple of hours away from Knoxville -- is one of Northeastern Tennessee’s small cities with plenty to offer.

    Sustaining culture in regions is the greatest means of keeping traditions alive. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, open year round in Bristol, tells the story of the town (and state's) contribution to ​the genre of country music. Bristol's introduction to the country music scene began in 1927, when musical legends Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter family, among other top names, would participate in the historic Bristol Sessions.

    Today, the small town celebrates its musical history with The Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, an annual music festival.

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    Bristol Caverns

    Rachel Jeter

    Ground level too boring? Ready for an underground adventure? Visit The Bristol Caverns. Not only are the caverns' stalactites and stalagmites a breathtaking natural phenomenon, the caverns also have a fascinating human history. In the frontier days, The Underground River, which carved the caverns from the core of the earth 200 to 400 million years ago, was used by Native Americans to escape from raids by European settlers. Today, you can walk through the same winding paths -- with better lighting of course! 

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    South Holston Dam

    Olivia Balsinger

    Just off the highway and south of Bristol, is the South Holston Dam, a manmade wonder. The dam generates 44 megawatts of electricity every day, enough to power for than 44,000 houses.

    The dam at South Holston Lake was constructed to generate electricity and to control flooding. Visitors can enjoy recreational activities on the lake, including water skiing, fishing, and boating. 

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    The Bristol Motor Speedway

    Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    Need for Speed? Northeastern Tennessee is home to two race car tracks, The Bristol Motor Speedway and The Bristol Dragway, both of which attract thousands of visitors from all 50 states every year.

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    Carver's Gap Hike at Roan Mountain State Park

    Rachel Jeter

    Northeastern Tennessee has a plethora of hikes that immerse travelers in nature. One such hike: Carver's Gap at Roan Mountain State Park. Whether you’re planning to hike, camp or fish, this state park is the best place to bask in the natural wonders the state offers.

    While the park is only an hour away from Bristol. If you’re planning to stay overnight the park offers a range of options from cabins to tent camping grounds. Surrounding Roan Mountain, the park is comprised of more than 2,000 acres of forest, with the Doe River and its robust trout population crossing the center of the park.

    The Roan Mountain State Park is a part of The Tennessee State Parks Go Green With Us program. The program ensures that state parks are preserved and protected through sustainable park operations, resource conservations, and recycling. 

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    Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium

    Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    Bays Mountain Park, located in Kingsport, Tennessee, is the largest city owned park in the state. The park offers a combination of breathtaking natural wonders, such as a 44-acre lake, and educational activities that make the park particularly appealing to families traveling with young children.

    One of the park’s main attractions is The Bays Mountain Planetarium, which consists of a 40-foot dome, surround sound and a state of the art star projector.

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    Laurel Falls and The Tweetsie Trail

    Rachel Jeter

    Within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be found one of Northeastern Tennessee’s greatest natural treasures. Laurel Falls is an 80-foot waterfall that can be reached after a brief yet challenging hike. The hike up to Laurel Falls is particularly scenic during the fall months when the changing leaves contrast with the mountains never-ending greens. 

    The railroad between Johnson City and Elizabethton has been repurposed to create a 10-mile trail known as The Tweetsie Trail. Composed of bridges and roads, surrounded by forests and above lakes, The Tweetsie Trail can be traversed on bike or foot. 

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    Mustang Alley Riding Stable

    Rachel Jeter

    Visit a literal "green" by heading south to Greene County, home to the Mustang Alley Riding Stables. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert horseback rider, you can ride on 50 acres of the Cherokee National Forest with a horse from Mustang Alley Riding Stables. The revenue from their guided trail rides is used to support their non-profit horse rescue. 

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    Jonesborough Farmer's Market

    Jonesborough Farmer's Market

    The Jonesborough Farmer’s Market is a non-profit organization with a mission to support local farmers. In addition to selling the area’s finest and freshest food fare, with everything being produced within 100 miles of Jonesborough, the market has a lively environment with musical performances in the café area.

    The market is a member of the Appalachian Farmer’s Market Association which supports farmers who sell directly to farmer’s markets in the region. 

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    International Storytelling in Jonesborough

    Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    The International Storytelling Center in Downtown Jonesborough is a unique not for profit institution devoted to the art of storytelling. It's only fair that the tradition of storytelling, one of our earliest and most essential modes of communication, be honored in Tennessee’s oldest town.

    In addition to hosting daily storytellers from May to October, the center is also home to the annual National Storytelling Festival, a celebration of storytelling on its 44th consecutive year. 

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    Myers Farm

    Olivia Balsinger

    Autumn is an especially optimal time to visit Northeastern Tennessee, as the foliage of reds, oranges. and yellows begin to emerge from the greens of summer. Stop at the continually working Myers Farm, located in Greene County. The 24-acre farm is decorated with gourds, squash, and pumpkins. And if the beauty and festive spirit alone are not enough, the property boasts one of Tennessee's largest interactive corn mazes.

    There are festivities aplenty outside of autumn on the farm--enjoy a wide range of greenhouse products and plants raised by seed by the family or listen to local musical groups performing. Enjoy a picnic or reunion hosted by the farm or get into the holiday spirit with fresh mistletoe grown on property throughout the year. 

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    What To Eat

    Holston River Brewing Company: If what you’re hoping for is a taste of the local music scene, the Stage at the Holston River Brewing Company is the best place to catch a live show. The Holston River Brewing Company is Bristol’s first micro-brewery. Its 138 acres serve as a camping site when they aren’t hosting outdoor concerts. The brewery’s taproom offers beer fanatics a selection of twelve different taps. 

    Tupelo Honey Cafe: Enjoy a selection of Southern classics with a modern twist. The food served at the Tupelo Honey Cafe is responsibly sourced, from the free-range chickens to the fair-trade coffee. It's part of Tupelo Honey Cafe’s mission to partner with vendors who are dedicated to sustainability. 

    Main Street Pizza Company:  If you find yourself in Johnson City or Kingsport, you can stop by Main Street Pizza to enjoy Italian fare made with the highest quality ingredients. Focusing on using whole ingredients and minimizing the use of preservatives and additives, Main Street Pizza Company sources its ingredients from River Creek Farm in Limestone Tennessee whose owners are committed to providing access to local, clean, and responsibly grown produce to the people and restauranteurs of Tennessee. 

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    Where to Stay

    Olivia Balsinger

    The General Morgan Inn: For history buffs visiting Northeastern Tennessee, The General Morgan Inn, constructed in 1884, is without a doubt the place to stay. Located in the heart of Greenville’s downtown historic district, the inn sits where the Bell Tavern, which operated during the Civil War, once was. Not only can you get your war story fix, The General Morgan Inn is also within walking distance of Greenville’s premier antique shops. 

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    Ready to Visit?

    Olivia Balsinger

    For more information on experiencing the nature and culture of Northeastern Tennessee, please visit The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association website