Each of the cities in Northeast Tennessee's Tri-Cities area has a unique personality. For Johnson City - sometimes affectionately abbreviated to "JC" - the proximity of Appalachian outdoor adventure to the town's vibrant urban center gives you the feeling of pure Tennessee adventure in an ideal small town.
If you find yourself in the Tri-Cities for work or for play, or are looking to plan a getaway, check out these experience for just a few of the many can't-miss spots of this mountain town.
Hike + Vista: Buffalo Mountain Park
One thing that makes Johnson City a certifiable outdoor-enthusiast's mecca is that you don't even have to leave the city limits to climb a mountain. Buffalo Mountain Park is a 725-acre wilderness where the slopes are steep, its hollows are deep and from the top, you can see JC laid out on the valley floor below. Local tip: The park closes at dark, so be sure to plan your hikes accordingly. Location: 570 Highridge Rd., Johnson City, TN 37604.
Late Night Eats: Tipton Street Pub
If you're anything like me, out hiking the trails till the sun sets, you'll miss the dinner hours of some of JC's restaurants. That's where Tipton Street Pub comes in. Serving drinks until 3 a.m., this bar has a kitchen that'll flip the best burger in town until 11 p.m. Location: 110 Tipton Street, Johnson City. Downtown.
City Stroll: Johnson City's Downtown
Some mountain towns never truly recover when the railroad or river traffic slows down. But that is not the story here. Johnson City's downtown district has plenty of excitement. The ever-popular Tupelo Honey Café resides in the old train depot. As of this year, the Johnson City Farmers Market is held 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays mid-April to October at the Pavilion at Founder's Park. And for musicians, you have to stop in Campbell's Morrell Music, located at 118 W Market Street.
Unbeatable Combo: White Duck Taco Shop + Yee Haw Brewing Company
Also located downtown is this local favorite. White Duck Taco Shop and Yee Haw Brewing Company co-exist in an open-concept space that provides a social atmosphere fueled by more than just tacos and brews. You might stop in for a quick bite and wind up sticking around for a couple hours. I know this, ‘cause I did.
Waterside: Watauga Lake
The nearby Cherokee National Forest harbors Watauga Lake. The expansive lake has 106 miles of shoreline, with rolling mountains cradling it (perfect for that Instagram shot you're vying for). When you head out, be sure to bring a few small bills - $1s or $5s. There's a small fee to be paid to the US Department of the Interior for access. To get there, follow US-321 out of town, headed east.