Johnson City is surrounded by the rolling foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, which beckon your gaze every time you look up. You might hear the strum of an old-time banjo that blends in with the environment. Johnson City tn has a rich musical and cultural heritage influenced by the rugged and remote Appalachian landscape. It is the fifth largest city in the state and is part of the Tri-Cities region, which includes neighboring Kingsport and Bristol.
Things to Do in Johnson City TN Despite its size, Johnson City tn has the feel of a town rather than a city. Its allure stems from the minds and energy of thousands of students at NorthEast Tennessee State University and three local colleges. This community is steeped in small-town charm while harnessing the potential of the future mountain city.
There are remnants of railroad steam-era days from the mid-1800s, when the town was originally known as Johnson’s Depot. Today, you can walk or cycle along forested paths where powerful locomotives once drew coal box cars. Leave your car at Founders Park and continue on foot into the historic downtown. Visit some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, famous johnson city public library and start your engine with our list of things to do in Johnson City bluff city.
13 Best Things to Do in Johnson City TN Today
1. Take a stroll through Founders Park on your way into town.
Founders Park’s landscaped stream and barrier-free concrete walkway are lined with an exhibition of more than 20 permanent multimedia artworks. A free parking lot at the trail’s beginning leads to an uncovered amphitheater and gathering spot at national park. An attractive replica train station pavilion at the park’s far end recalls Johnson City’s historic connection as a transportation hub to early industry.
Founders Park is an enthralling pedestrian corridor and green space for people of all ages. Expect to see parents pushing strollers and neighbors sitting on benches mingling. People are relaxing on the grass by the stream, sipping their morning coffee. During the summer, the park and pavilion transform into a public gathering place for music and art events.
Its proximity to downtown shops and eateries across the railway tracks makes it an ideal place to begin your visit to Johnson City.
2. Take a hike on the Tweetsie Trail.
Tweetsie Trail, named after the iconic sound of locomotive whistles that once plied the rails through Johnson City, has become the most popular rail-to-trail corridor for urban walkers, runners, and cyclists. The trail runs 10 miles from Johnson City to Elizabethton through forested neighborhoods at pigeon forge.
Tweetsie Trail is a flat, hard-surface trail ideal for strollers and people with limited mobility. There are numerous trailheads and parking areas. In Johnson City’s main trailhead parking lot, there is a bike shop where you can rent a bike. To get on the trail, choose between a traditional pedal bike and an electric bike at North Carolina.
3. Participate in Sports at Winged Deer Park
The 18-hole tree-lined course at Winged Deer Park is the best place in Johnson City to play disc (frisbee) golf. The course is part of a 200-acre waterfront park located seven miles north of downtown.
Winged Deer Park is a multi-use recreational area that caters to a wide range of interests and activities. Softball, soccer, and beach volleyball teams compete on its sports fields. Many locals visit to work out on the paved walking track and fitness trails at reece museum. Fishing and other recreational activities take place on docks, platforms, and an elevated boardwalk. After launching your boat from Kinch Landing, you can also fish from it at freedom hall civic center.
Throughout the summer, Festival Plaza and Goulding Amphitheater host concerts and other events. While the large children’s playground is popular with families, the vast green space and lakefront are popular for group picnics and romantic sunset strolls at roan mountain.
4. Go to the Gray Fossil Site’s Hands On! Discovery Center.
Hands On! Discovery Center at Gray Fossil Site happened by chance, you could say. Twenty years ago, a construction crew preparing for the expansion of a highway came across what would become one of Tennessee’s most significant paleontology finds. The Gray Fossil Site is still an active dig and laboratory, while the Hands On! Discovery Center was built to engage children of all ages in scientific exploration at unaka mountain.
You can’t help but be excited about the ongoing discoveries at the Gray Fossil Site during your visit. Look outside to see paleontologists brushing away soil to reveal fossilized mastodon or tapir fragments. Inside the Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in Paleontology, you can see scientists and volunteers examining these discoveries at davy crockett. This work contributes to our understanding of life in Appalachia millions of years ago.
Get your hands dirty! The Discovery Center is as tactile as its name implies. You can build, shape, visualize, and interact with installations that combine science and play here. The main hall of 20 exhibits introduces you to scientific and technological marvels that require your hand to set them in motion. You learn by doing and have a lot of “Wow!” moments along the way at New York City.
A bi-polar Tesla coil is fused with a sound machine to produce a light and sound show that you will hear, see, and feel with awe.
5. Visit Willow Springs Hills Park.
Willow Springs Park is as beautiful as it is accessible for visitors to exercise and get some fresh air, with the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance. The paved walkway loops around and incorporates hilly terrain to make workouts and strolls more challenging. The park has a welcoming atmosphere for walkers of all ages and abilities.
A themed children’s playground is fenced in to improve young people’s safety and security. Beach volleyball and basketball pick-up games are popular on sports courts. Willow Springs Park, with picnic tables, benches, and restroom facilities, is a popular destination on weekends and summer evenings. This park, located miles away from highways and traffic, is a great place to get away from the city.
6. Enjoy the Views at Buffalo Mountain Park
Buffalo Mountain Park is three miles from downtown. For the best views of Johnson City and the surrounding area, take Highridge Road up the steep hill alongside Catbird Creek to the park. How can you go wrong with names like White Rock, Tip Top, and Huckleberry Knob?
There are numerous hiking trails and social paths, so bring a trail map with you. The park has a dense hardwood canopy. The forest is abundant with mature rhododendrons, ensuring colorful blossoms in the spring. Your best hiking days in Buffalo Mountain Park will be on clear, sunny days when you can take in the scenery.
Johnson City, Tennessee, 570 Highridge Road
7. Visit the L. Carter Railroad Museum.
The George L. Carter Railroad Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in model railroading or railway history. If you’re in Johnson City on a Saturday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., go to the East Tennessee State University campus to see for yourself. The museum has 5,000 square feet of exhibition space.
There will be historical artifacts and memorabilia related to the railroad industry and culture on display. Enjoy the sound of model locomotives pulling rolling stock through a maze of tracks through miniature versions of Tennessee’s countryside.
East Tennessee State University, 113 Campus Center Building, Johnson City, Tennessee
8. Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site will transport you back in time.
Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site captures life before Johnson City became a town. This 45-acre hilly history site includes interpretation as well as a living museum of 11 restored homes and barns. Colonel John Tipton purchased the property in 1784 and built these structures in the late 1700s. Natural history features, such as a limestone cave and spring, add to the sense of peace and hint at pioneering life in Appalachia.
While visiting the pastoral grounds at this historic site, you might want to bring a picnic. Staff host seasonal celebrations to help the community celebrate in vintage style. With over 1,000 artifacts on display, the Mary Hardin McCown Archives, a treasure trove of written and photographic records, and a library that welcomes visiting researchers, the site preserves history.
9. Go Waterskiing at Warriors’ Path State Park
Warriors’ Path State Park is only about 20 miles from Johnson City and has more activities than most state parks. The park is 950 acres in size and borders the Holston nolichucky River, which supports water-based activities at the Patrick Henry Reservoir.
A lush lakefront 18-hole golf course; a challenging 22-hole frisbee golf course; 12.5 miles of nationally recognized mountain-bike trails; an Olympic-size swimming pool; separate pools for diving and wading for kids; fishing platforms; and groomed trails for hiking, birding, and horseback riding are among the park’s notable facilities is a fun thing.
When you camp at Warriors’ Path State Park, you’ll be pleased with the services and facilities. Each of the 94 campsites has water and electric hookups, as well as modern bathhouses. Picnic tables, barbecue grills, and covered pavilions are available in attractive day-use areas at boone lake.
Consider renting a paddleboard, canoe, kayak, or pedal boat from the marina after lunch. You and your family will enjoy cruising in the park’s protected waters.
10. Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park: Shift into High Gear
Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park, perched 300 feet above Johnson City, spans 40 acres of biking and hiking trails. The knobs are rocky outcrops at the top of the mountain that provide excellent views. Following an exhilarating downhill descent, downtown shops, cafés, and restaurants are just minutes away.
Tannery Knobs’ 3.7 miles of groomed and wooded trails are accessible to riders of all skill levels. Seven trails, ranging from beginner to advanced, are designed to help riders improve their skills and confidence. A paved skills park or “pump track” is adjacent to the parking lot at the top of the mountain. Beginners learn the fundamentals of mountain biking, while experienced riders warm up before hitting the trails.
Visitors who rent a bike from a local shop can use the bike park for free. Hikers and trail runners who want to enjoy the trails and views on foot will find it useful as well. The Tweetsie Trail and 10 miles of rail-to-trail pathways begin less than a mile from the mountain’s base, providing additional biking opportunities.
11. Experience the Birthplace of Country Music Museum
Popular American country music owes its origins to Tri-Cities musicians who recorded in Johnson City and Bristol in the late 1920s. The “Johnson City Sessions” and “Bristol Sessions” sparked the music’s popularity nearly a century ago. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, opened in Bristol, 25 miles northeast of downtown Johnson City, in 2014. Visit this museum if you want to learn about the roots of country music, which gave rise to the modern sounds of Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood.
The museum has interactive permanent exhibits that highlight the contributions of early country music pioneers like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. The museum curates temporary exhibits to pique your interest in the genre. It also maintains a large archive of musical recordings, artifacts, printed and digital photographs, and documents for research purposes.
12. Visit Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town.
Jonesborough was founded in 1784 and became the first registered town in what would become the state of Tennessee. Jonesborough, located less than eight miles west of Johnson City, is an ideal escape into a bygone era of quaint shops, preserved architecture, and Appalachian folklore. Grab an ice cream cone and stroll down Main Street. You might feel as if you’re on the set of an old Hollywood film.
Stop by the one-of-a-kind Smithsonian-affiliated International Story Telling Center and browse the charming gift shop. You should plan your sightseeing visit around a storytelling performance or a live show at the nearby Jonesborough Repertory Theater. Chester Inn State Historic Site, which was built in 1797 and hosted US presidents, is located on the same block.
13. Take a leap of faith at Just Jump Trampoline Park.
Just Jump Trampoline Park is the place to go if you want to jump for joy. This attraction is designed to be accessible to people of all physical abilities and fitness levels. The 22,000-square-foot park is packed with places to bounce, spring, and leap with abandon.
What action awaits you in a gladiator pit or air bag jump? You may already know what to expect from an obstacle course and dodge ball. There’s nothing like landing feet first in a pool of colorful foam cubes, whether it’s just you and one of the kids or a group of friends. During your visit, staff will be on hand to help supervise your children, ensure their safety, and encourage play.
After expelling so much energy, you’ll be ready to refuel at the on-site snack bar. If you don’t want to bounce around like Tigger, you can watch the show from the observation deck, which has big-screen televisions.
FAQs about Things to Do in Johnson City TN
Is Johnson City, Tennessee, worth visiting?
Johnson City is quickly becoming one of the best places in East Tennessee to visit, with dozens of fun things to do both downtown and in the surrounding forests and Appalachian mountains.
Is there a downtown in Johnson City?
The downtown district of Johnson City has plenty of dining options for any palate, whether you’re looking for some down-home cooking or something more adventurous.
Is Johnson City, Tennessee, a pleasant place?
This year, Johnson City was named one of the best places to live in the United States. Livability.com, one of the leading online authorities for researching communities, announced the designation as part of their “2018 Top 100 Best Places to Live” list.
Is Johnson City, Tennessee, a dry county?
Johnson County is still one of Tennessee’s 13 “dry” counties. The neighboring counties of Carter County, TN and Washington County, VA permit the sale of packaged wine and liquor, as well as the serving of alcohol in bars and restaurants.