Jonesborough, the Storytelling Capital of the World, is a quaint town with unique offerings perfect for a weekend getaway. It is also the oldest city in Tennessee. Here are suggestions for what to do on your road trip to Jonesborough, TN, in the northeastern part of the Appalachian Mountains.
What to Do in Jonesborough
You’ll be surprised at the adorable shops in the downtown area. Christmas is a year-round thrill at Gabriel’s Christmas, a store dressing Hallmark movies this season. The Pink Whale boutique is another not-to-miss shop, as is the Crafty Peddler, filled with locally-made art, gifts, pottery, and home accessories. And, of course, you will find antique stores in Jonesborough, enough to keep you busy for quite some time. Kids and adults will enjoy The Lollipop Store, an iconic shop with retro and new candies and treats.
Jonesborough is the kind of town with lots of events to keep the people and visitors coming back for me. Brews and Tunes and Music on the Square are two popular ones.
Several hiking trails run near the town, so you may see cyclists and hikers enjoying the outdoors. Another sporting activity you’ll find here is disc golf at Persimmon Ridge and real golf at Mill Spring Park, an excellent place for picnicking. Whitewater rafting, fishing, and camping are also desired activities in this part of the state.
For those who just love wandering the streets of a new destination and soaking up the scenery, Jonesborough has four stunning churches that are picture-perfect. This town is quite a historical marvel, and you can learn all about it with a guided tour that will run you $5 per person, offered by the Heritage Alliance located in the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum. If ghosts are more your thing, you will find them here with the help of East Tennessee Ghost Tours and Paranormal Technology, a riveting experience.
International Storytelling Center
In 1973, Jonesborough storytellers realized the need for a center and programming to keep the ancient folk art form alive and well. They formed a group, which has grown yearly into a global phenomenon and set the stage for all things related to oral narration and the tall tale. You can tour the center, attend a “teller in residence” event, workshop, or come to the annual festival to see all there is. The International Storytelling Center has a charming gift shop for local souvenirs, books, and knick-knacks.
Fun Fact: Bil Lepp from South Charleston, WV, is a regular performer at the annual storytelling festival and is a five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars Contest.
Where to Eat and Drink
In downtown Jonesborough, my two top picks are Main Street Cafe and Catering and Texas Burritos & More. At Main Street Cafe, enjoy street-side dining if you wish as you feast on gourmet sandwiches, quiche, Angus beef burgers, and fresh salads with house-made dressings. At Texas Burritos & More, the Grande Nachos are perfect for sharing. Also, burritos, tamales, and enchiladas are popular for main course dishes.
A couple of minutes (okay, maybe two or three) from downtown is the Olde Town Pancake House, an area favorite for pancakes, eggs, and all of the traditional breakfast items.
You’ll find spirit samplings and craft cocktails at Tennessee Hills Distillery, up on the hill, in a historic Salt House building used during the Civil War. If you need a coffee pick-me-up, The Corner Cup is where you’ll find a great cup of java. Feeling exotic? Try the cherry bomb frappalope. It’s fantastic!
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