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20+ Fun Things to Do in Johnson City, TN

20+ Fun Things to Do in Johnson City, TN

If you find yourself in East Tennessee, be sure to swing by Johnson City! This charming town, in the foothills of the gorgeous Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, has a little bit of everything, from outdoor activities and sculpture gardens to delicious eats. Here are 20+ fun things to do in Johnson City that will make you fall in love with this mountain escape.


Johnson City is exploding with growth and have many exciting projects coming, which will further their tourism industry.

Did you know that Johnson City, along with Bristol and Kingsport make up the Tri-Cities area?


1. Visit Founders Park

Located on the banks of the Nolichucky River in the center of town, Founders Park is a tranquil five-acre greenspace haven for those looking to connect with nature and explore art. There are pavilions, amphitheaters, and even an impressive Sculpture Walk – loaded with life-sized pieces that add character to its stormwater retention project!


In the summer months, cool off in the Splash Pad and musical entertainment. There’s also a playground and a walking trail for your enjoyment.

If you’re curious about exploring all this park has to offer, make sure it’s your next destination. Please note, dogs are not permitted.


2. Eat Amazing Food in Johnson City

Johnson City offers a variety of scrumptious options to tantalize your taste buds. Start off the morning at Java Juice House for a gourmet avocado toast and coffee, then fill up on flavor-filled lunchtime favorites, such as the Indian buffet from Sahib or salads and a tuna melt from Gourmet & Company. Don’t miss their exceptional apricot tea!


Complete your day by delighting in dinner gems like Southern Craft BBQ’s drool-worthy meat board or Timber, an uber cool restaurant paying homage to camping and national parks.


3. Sip at Yee-Haw Brewing and Eat White Duck Tacos

Looking for a fun and delicious way to spend your day in Johnson City, Tennessee? Look no further than Yee-Haw Brewing, renowned not only for its tasty beer, but also the vibrant taproom atmosphere with plenty of games and fun.


For those who are indecisive when it comes time to order – try one of their Beer Flights, featuring four different craft beers, such as Proud Mary (a hibiscus margarita gose) or Dunkel (Yee-Haw’s World Beer Cup award-winning dark Munich lager).

On top of that, you can enjoy fresh air on their new outdoor patio with fire pit access. And if hunger strikes during your visit – White Duck Taco Shop has got your food needs covered!


4. Take a Day Trip to Bristol

Johnson City is the perfect jump-off point to experience an incredible day trip in around 35 minutes. Bristol, a vibrant town known for its rich history of racing and country music, offers something special around every corner.


Marvel at charming murals or treat yourself to mouthwatering pastries from Blackbird Bakery – they’re definitely donut experts! I have been known to drive much longer than 35 minutes to sink my teeth into one of their donuts, specialty desserts, or pastries.


5. Get Your Adrenaline Pumping at Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park

Enjoying a biking adventure at the breathtaking Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park in Johnson City! Built and designed by IMBA (International Mountain Biking Assoc.), this world-class attraction, with over 30 miles of trails, is a real adrenaline rush.

tannery knobs mountain bike park

From paved pump tracks and beginner-friendly trails to heart-pumping black diamond routes, there’s something for everyone at Tannery Knobs. Have your helmet ready, they are required.

Fun Fact: Whether you bike or not, the awe-inspiring 360-degree views over the cityscape from this point are spectacular and make for great photo-ops.


6. Go Mural Hunting

Take time to admire the murals throughout Johnson City, adding color and beauty to otherwise ordinary buildings. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled as you wander around town—you never know when you’ll stumble upon one of these hidden gems!


Some of our favorites include the “We’ll Always Be Together” mural at Fountain Plaza and the “Wagon Wheel” mural in the Downtown Square Breezeway, plus there are many more.

Johnson City is sprucing itself up quite nicely with these vibrant works painted by talented artists.


7. Play Games

Head over to Mulligan’s Gaming Pub for some gaming fun. This isn’t your run-of-the mill pub crawl; here, families can enjoy expertly brewed craft beer alongside an expansive selection of board games, including role playing favorites.

Enjoy it all in one huge space that is soon expanding into multiple stories of family fun!

mulligans-gaming-pub-Johnson-city tn

8. Explore the Gray Fossil Site

Johnson City, Tennessee, is home to a truly unique attraction – the Gray Fossil Site & Museum. Here you can witness firsthand evidence of ancient history dating back four to eight million years ago.


Get up close and personal with ongoing digsite tours or explore hundreds of fossils via museum exhibits and displays. If that’s not enough fun for one day, enter adjoining Hands On Discovery Center – an exciting science center perfect for both parents and kids alike.

Take part in interactive activities like a climbing apparatus, musical Tesla coils (a light and sound show that will mesmerize you!), plus loads more at just $10 admission fee (free entry for three and under). Come experience an unforgettable journey through time.


9. Unwind at Austin Springs Spa

Enjoy a luxurious spa experience and let skilled aestheticians pamper you at Austin Springs Spa & Salon, located inside the Carnegie Hotel. From deep tissue massages to waxing, body treatments, manicures/pedicures with Eminence Organic skincare products – there’s something to ease your care away!

Take advantage of a spa package, which may include afternoon tea and lunch. Make sure to book your treatment in advance; this popular haven is popular with the locals. I left feeling refreshed and my skin was firmer with less fine lines & wrinkles after an anti-aging facial.


10. Stay in a Luxury Hotel

Located in the heart of Johnson City, the Carnegie Hotel offers a luxurious experience with endless amenities. From its AAA four-Diamond rating to full service high-end restaurants and picturesque library perfect for cozy retreats, you’ll feel like royalty during your stay!


Take advantage of the Carnegie Hotel’s complimentary Wi-Fi or savor an evening meal delivered right to your room. Each spacious suite features heavenly sleigh beds (this is not fluff, they are so comfy!) covered in dreamy linens, plus a soaking tub complete with separate shower that promises total relaxation no matter what brings you into town.


The Carnegie sits across from the East Tennessee State University Campus and houses the Austin Springs Spa, listed above. Free parking is included in your stay.


11. Slip and Slide at Wetlands Waterpark

Just a few minutes outside of Johnson City is Wetlands Waterpark, the perfect place to chill off on a hot summer day and enjoy the great outdoors.

With two slides, a lazy river, and a splash pad, there’s plenty of ways to cool off here. And when you’re ready for a break from all the water fun, grab a bite to eat at one of the park’s concession stands.

12. Visit a Fun Johnson City Speakeasy

Experience a world of flavors and intrigue at the Windsor Speakeasy in downtown Johnson City! You won’t know what hit you when you venture from what appears as a small c-store to an attractive and intimate space that transports you back in time.


From unique craft cocktails, like the Arabian Night with cherry vodka, Galliano, raspberry liqueur, and soda (finished off with edible shimmer), Windsor Speakeasy is a place you will enjoy and want to return to.


13. Catch a Show at Down Home

If you’re looking for some live entertainment, then be sure to check out Down Home! This roots electric music venue features live music most nights of the week, so there’s sure to be something playing that you’ll enjoy. Past guests have ranged from theater and poetry slams to political rallies.

Grab a beer from their bar and tap your toes along with the music—you’ll have a blast! Or, plan to stay for dinner, too.

Travel writers from around the country in town for a #STEJohnsonCity photography retreat.

14. Shop for Treasures in Johnson City

Shop til you drop throughout Johnson City, which holds a treasure trove of cute local boutiques. My jaw nearly dropped after exploring a few of them; definitely hidden gems. A few noteworthy shops were Hometown Cottage, Reclaimed Inspired Goods, The Generalist, and Terrarium Plant Store.

For those who prefer a mall atmosphere, The Mall at Johnson City has around 100 stores to choose from, including Belk, GameStop, Spencer Gifts, and Francesca’s.


15. Participate in a Scavenger Hunt

Put your detective skills to the test with Downtown Johnson City’s Wildabout Walkabout Scavenger Hunt! Search around town for 15 unique bronze animals, each equipped with clues leading you closer and closer to victory.


16. Venture to the International Storytelling Center

Journey back through time in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest city dating back centuries ago. Stroll through streets reminiscent of New England villages lined with boutiques and architecture worthy of admiration.

Plus the International Storytelling Center will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a giant book, as it focuses on sharing tales from all over the world, plus functions as a Smithsonian Affiliate. You can read more about this charming historic town in this post.


17. Try Something Yummy at Cakebuds Bakery

Featured on Food Network, Cakebuds Bakery is Johnson City’s local hometown hero and gourmet bakery. It has also been voted one of the top bakeries in Tennessee, serving cupcakes, ice cream, macarons, and cake pops.


18. Put Some Pep in Your Step at Dos Gatos

I make it a point to find THE coffee shop in every city I visit, and Dos Gatos Coffee Bar answered the call for me in Johnson City. Open daily from 8 AM to 6 PM, you’ll find your favorite coffee and Harvey & Sons tea offerings.

I say go for the nitro cold brew, but the seasonal coffee specials are intriguing, too.

Photo from Dos Gatos IG page.

19. Hike the Tweetsie Trail

Take a journey on the Tweetsie Trail, an urban rail-to-trail pathway spanning 10 miles between Johnson City and Elizabethton. As its name suggests, this trail evokes memories of the days when locomotive whistles filled the air!

From towering mountain vistas to peaceful pastures; you can take in all that nature has to offer while jogging, walking or cycling. The hard surface is perfect for strollers and those with mobility issues – head over to one of many access points where bike rentals are available so you don’t miss out on your outdoor adventure.

20. Savor Spirits at Tennessee Hills Brewstillery

Tennessee Hills Brewstillery (you learned a new word!) offers “authentic yet innovative spirits — a place where the best of both worlds collide. Pick your poison, from brewed craft beer to hand-crafted, small batch Tennessee Hills Distillery spirits, you are sure to love everything about this spectacular venue.


The Tasting Bar is open Tuesday through Sunday. My top picks are Danny’s Irish Stour and Raspberry Cream Ale.


On My Next Visit

On my next visit, I need to explore Johnson City’s George L. Carter Railroad Museum and try my first adventure at the Just Jump Trampoline Park.


Read more of our local adventures here:

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