We knew there had to be something about Tullahoma, because the city’s called “Tennessee’s Rising Star.” A town born from the railroad, Tullahoma has grown to become a world leader in flight and engineering research, and it has a few secrets that keep people talking. From coffee shops, breweries, distilleries, restaurants, and numerous lakes and state natural areas, Tullahoma has been a small town waiting for the attention it deserves. So we packed up the family on Friday and headed south to discover what the town had to offer.
Tims Ford State Park
We arrived in Tullahoma after bedtime and headed straight to our cabin in Tims Ford State Park. Our cabin was so cozy and had amazing porch views of Tims Ford Lake. This park is a perfect family retreat with a swimming pool, playground, trails with suspension bridges, campgrounds, golf, and a marina where you can rent boats and grab snacks. Grab some friends, rent a few cabins, and spend some time on the water.
Additional Place to Stay: The Grand Lux Inn
If you'd prefer to stay closer to Tullahoma, The Grand Lux Inn is an excellent choice. Located in a historic home right off town square, this beautiful inn offers the convenience of location and a complimentary breakfast.
Beechcraft Heritage Museum
After Saturday’s breakfast, we headed straight to the Beechcraft Heritage Museum — one of our favorite stops! We were greeted by one of its awesome staff members who shared a brief history of the museum before we toured the 60,000-square-foot facility, which currently houses historic memorabilia and more than 35 aircraft. We spent quite some time wandering the property looking at the beautiful aircrafts.
Short Springs Natural Area
Saturday afternoons are for hiking, so we headed to Short Springs Natural Area to conquer the Machine Falls trail, a 1.6-mile loop with a gorgeous waterfall that you can wade in, located in the middle of the hike. The hike includes a steep incline coming out of the ravine; it’s easy for experienced hikers, but a little difficult with a toddler on your back.
Ole Shed Brewing Company
Founded in 2011, Ole Shed Brewing Company was the perfect oasis after hiking Machine Falls. We tried a much-deserved flight of its beer selection, but I’d recommend getting a couple flights and sampling them all. The covered outdoor area is a perfect spot to sip a cold beer and play giant Jenga and cornhole, or relax with friends.
George Dickel Distillery
I was blown away by George Dickel Distillery, located on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail; it was a treat to see how intimate a process making whiskey is, even in large batches. The southern hospitality at this distillery makes this a must-stop place close to Tullahoma in beautiful Cascade Hollow. Be sure to check out its calendar for amazing events like Porch Sessions, a live music series.
The best meal we had while visiting was at One22West. The restaurant is beautiful, the menu has many delicious choices, and it’s a great place to watch football and hang out with friends and family. One22West is located on the town square and has been open since 1997, so you know it’s good! We recommend trying the fish with a side of veggies.
Because most places are closed on Sunday, we had to search for a place to eat breakfast and stumbled on the gem that is Donut Palace. If visiting in the fall, try the pumpkin spice donuts — they were our favorite!
Gondola Pizza & Steakhouse Restaurant
We ordered takeout from Gondola for dinner and ate it at our cabin while enjoying the sunset over Tims Ford Lake. Gondola was the perfect small town Italian restaurant, where the staff knew all the locals by name and its desserts towered almost a foot tall. It’s a perfect place for a family to share a pizza and a salad, or grab a calzone to go.
The Celtic Cup Coffee House
The Celtic Cup Coffee House is hands down the best place in Tullahoma to get fantastic coffee accompanied by great breakfast options while simultaneously feeling like you’ve traveled to another country. The moment you step inside, the decor and music transport you to an Irish pub. The Celtic Cup is one of our favorite spots in Tullahoma thanks to the quality of service, ambiance and delicious coffee.
Emil's Bistro & Marketplace
We did not eat at Emil’s because our Machine Falls hike left us with wet shoes, but all the locals recommended Emil’s as the best place for dinner in Tullahoma. Open since 2001, chef and owner Georges Martin is a native of France where he also completed culinary training. He and his wife, Tammy, are passionate about bringing fine, quality dining to Middle Tennessee. Chef Georges specializes in fresh food prepared honestly with consistency, elegance and love. Located next door to The Grand Lux Inn, this is not a place to miss.