Downtown Johnson City Tennessee

Discover Johnson City, Tennessee: What You Need To Know!

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This is a sponsored post with Visit Johnson City. All opinions are 100% my own. As you know, we love the time we spend on Boone Lake. This year I have made a commitment to get out and see the sights in Northeast Tennessee. I wanted to start with Johnson City which is one of the three cities that makes up the Tri-City regional area of Northeast Tennessee. It is also the closest city to where we are on Boone Lake. We plan to be here more often and there are so many things Johnson City has to offer so I wanted to make sure to find out everything about the downtown area.

Ultimate Guide to Johnson City Tennessee

I reached out to the Johnson City Convention & Visitors Bureau to get the inside scoop on this great area. It is rich with history and has fun outdoor activities for all ages. Jenna Moore, the Director of Sales for the Johnson City Visitors Bureau, offered to show us everything about Downtown Johnson City! Thank you, Jenna! All opinions are 100% my own.

History of Johnson City

Before we get started, I want to do a BRIEF history of Johnson City because it will tie into some of the sights we saw downtown. There were some famous settlers in the area dating back to the mid-1700s.

The town was actually founded in 1856 by Henry Johnson as a railroad station called Johnson’s Depot. It became a major railroad hub with three major railways that crossed in Johnson City’s downtown area. Johnson City, Tennessee is a part of the larger Northeast Tennessee region.

Recently, Johnson City was ranked #65 for “Best Small Place for Business and Careers” in the US by Forbes and #5 “The 10 Least-Expensive Cities For Living in the U.S.A.”  by Kiplinger’s.

Climate and Geography

Being located in the heart of the Appalachians, Johnson City offers a diverse area of mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers. This makes it an outdoor recreational mecca! The temperatures in this area rarely exceed 90 degrees in the summer and it only snows a few times a year during the winter so you can play outside here 10 months out of the year.

With its mild winters, low property taxes and a reasonable cost of living it is becoming widely known as a great place to retire and live. You can find plenty to do all year long, which also makes it a great place to visit!

Touring Downtown

Tannery Knobs

Tannery Knobs Tennesee
Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park

The cool thing about Johnson City is that they have so much to offer right in the downtown area. One of the newer attractions to the area is Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park. Mountain biking is a newer trend in Johnson City and one that is quickly catching on.

Don’t think this is just for young guys looking to shred the trails. Is that the right expression? Shred might be a surfer term! Regardless, there are trails for beginners and advanced riders.

Tannery Knobs Johnson City Tennessee
Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park

The trails are professionally designed and built with all riders and abilities in mind. The park can be used for hiking as well which makes it accessible for the entire community. Situated looking over downtown Johnson City, the trail will take you around in a full circle back to the beginning.

Tannery Knobs overlooking Downtown Johnson City

Tweetsie Trail

Tweetsie Trail Johnson City
Tweetsie Trail Entrance, Johnson City, Tennessee

The Tweetsie Trail runs from Johnson City to Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethton. It is 9.5 miles in length and it is the longest rails to trails project in Tennessee. We walked about a mile of the trail and although it was not crowded there were plenty of people enjoying the trail on this cool spring morning.

Downtown Johnson City
Mile Marker Tweetsie Trail

There is a lot of history on this trail as it is originally a train track that ran from Johnson City to Cranberry, North Carolina. It was formerly the ET&WNC train system. The trail now takes you to the downtown areas of Johnson City to Elizabethton where you can grab coffee or lunch after using the trail.

Johnson City
Tweetsie Trail Downtown Johnson City

It is a gorgeous trail for walking, running or biking in downtown Johnson City. Pets are also welcome on the trail and it is wheelchair accessible due to its flat grade. The trail is made from crushed stone and has plenty of shaded areas and an interesting landscape.

Tweetsie Trail
Johnson City Tweetsie Trail
Tweetsie Trail Johnson City Tennessee
Tweetsie Trail Johnson City, Tennessee

BoomTown & Company

BoomTown & Company
Downtown BoomTown & Company, Johnson City, Tennessee

BoomTown & Company is a clothing shop that is focused on an urban mountain feel with a local and state focus. You can find hats, shirts and accessories in the shop. On their website, it states, “expressing local focus with state love”.

Boomtown and Company
Erwin Tennessee and Tennessee flag shirt.

All of the clothes there are of high quality and have a local or state theme. They have the shop in downtown Johnson City as well as a kiosk in the Johnson City Mall. They are pet-friendly in the downtown shop location.

BoomTown and Company
BoomTown & Company Downtown Johnson City, Tennessee

Willow Tree Coffeehouse and Music Room

As we continued to walk around the downtown area I saw a lot of eclectic spots that deserve a mention. Downtown Johnson City is heavy on the arts and music scene. Pets are generally permitted in most spaces including indoor shops and outside restaurant areas. Willow Tree has open mic nights, a great menu and an art gallery. It is a super cool space just to hang out and read or connect your laptop.

Johnson City, Tennessee
Downtown Johnson City Willow Tree
Downtown Johnson City, Tennessee
Willow Tree Coffeehouse and Music Room
johnson City Tennessee
Willow Tree Calendar
Art @ Willow Tree

As we continued to walk around the downtown area we saw lots of cool art and shops. No one seemed to mind that we had Bo and welcomed us into their shops. Here are some photos of random pictures I took as we walked around.

Johnson City, Tennessee
Gallery on the Square
Art on the walls of the Gallery on the Square
Johnson City, Tennessee
CS McCollough’s Barber Shop
Johnson City, Tennessee
Downtown Johnson City
Downtown Johnson City

According to legend, Johnson City was nicknamed Little Chicago in the 1920s, during its bootlegging years. Rumor has it that this was the halfway point from Chicago to Florida and Al Capone used to stop here on his way to Florida and possibly even ran his business through Johnson City.

Capone’s Johnson City Tennessee

Reclaimed Inspired Goods

JOhnson City Tennessee
Reclaimed Inspired Goods

I absolutely fell in love with Reclaimed Inspired Goods. I am creative but whoever designed this store really has talent!

My words can not really do it justice but if you are looking to retire here or want to get some cool items for wherever you live, you will be able to find unique items to ship home. These are the people to hire to help decorate your home if you move here.

Here are some photos to enjoy the cool decorative home items and ideas they have to offer. Reclaimed Inspired Goods is also pet-friendly!

Johnson City Tennessee
Old Canoe Reclaimed Inspired Goods
Johnson, City Tennessee
Reclaimed Inspired Goods
JOhnson City
Porch swing Reclaimed Inspired Goods
Johnson City
Reclaimed Inspired Goods

Trek Bicycles

Johnson City
Trek Bicycles Johnson City Tennessee

I have to admit, I was a little surprised when Jenna took us to Trek. Although it is a cool place, I was not really sure why Trek would be on the list. That was until we met Chad Wolfe, the passionate manager of Trek. I understood why Jenna brought us to meet Chad.

We learned how much Trek Bicycles means to this community and how much Johnson City means to Trek. Trek opened in Johnson City in 2015 and has been investing heavily into this community. They were involved in the Tannery Knob and Tweetsie Trails projects.

Chad explained that Johnson City is the perfect place to build fun, versatile bike trails that are easy for any level rider because Johnson City is authentically an outdoor recreational haven right in the downtown area. Especially for Boomers!

Since opening in 2015, Trek has invested heavily in the Downtown Johnson City community with Tannery Knobs and the Tweetsie Trail for riders. They also started Taco Trek, in partnership with Holy Taco, as well as Bikin’ and Eggs have turned a weekly ride with a few riders into a monthly event with over hundreds of participants.

Chad believes that Johnson City has the perfect climate and geography for the outdoor industry. Trek has followed suit and helped to build the industry in Johnson City and raised the quality of life helping to attract other businesses to the downtown area.

Chad is truly passionate about Johnson City, what it has to offer and building this community into a successful recreational area for all ages and abilities.

You can watch why Chad and Trek think Johnson City is an awesome place to come to!

Holy Taco and Cantina!

Downtown Johnson City
Holy Taco and Cantina!

Time for lunch and it is Bo Approved! We head over to Holy Taco for lunch and a much-needed rest! The four of us had walked all over Johnson City and Bo needed water! We asked Jenna to make suggestions since she was a frequent flyer at Holy Taco.

Downtown Johnson City
Queso at Holy Taco and Cantina

We started with the Our Kind of Queso & Chips with a side of guacamole. The Queso dip was REALLY good because they add Gouda cheese to their Queso. YUM!

Nasty Nachos

Next, we ordered the Nasty Nachos, Flat Iron Burrito and Jenna ordered a salad with their El Camaron, which is Diablo shrimp, lime, roasted red peppers, jalapenos, cilantro and cilantro sour cream sauce.

Salad with El Camaron

The food at Holy Taco and Cantina was so flavorful, reasonably priced with really large portions. We did not even think about dinner!

Holy Taco is also the partner with Trek in Taco Trek! Now, in a monthly event, the town comes together for a group ride and heads over to Holy Taco for some food!

Skillville Community Workshop and Makerspace

Skillville Mural Johnson City Tennessee
The Skillville Community Workshop Johnson City Tennessee

This is probably the most unique business we have found so far in Johnson City! Skillville Johnson City is a community workshop where people can come and take many different types of classes ranging from painting, welding, blacksmithing and woodworking, to resin work, fiber art, printing and pottery! The list is as long as your imagination!

Skillville Workshop Johnson City Tennessee

At Skillville you can also purchase a membership, have group sessions, or take individual classes.

We were lucky enough to have one of the owners take us on a tour of the facility.

Skillville Johnson City Tennessee

Green Space in Johnson City!

The businesses in Downtown Johnson City do not mind that we had Bo with us and there is also plenty of green space for your pups here as well.

Founder’s Park, Johnson City, Tennessee Photo Credit Visit Johnson City

In Founder’s Park, you will find the Johnson City Farmer’s Market as well as free yoga classes and music at their Founder’s After Five events.

Lady of the Fountain, Johnson City Tennessee
Johnson City Sign in King Commons Park
King Commons Johnson City
Downtown Johnson City Parks
King Commons Park, Johnson City Tennessee

King Commons park is in actuality a flood control project turned into a park. The sidewalks, landscaping and walls were all built to prevent erosion and direct the water to protect downtown Johnson City. The park is three acres. You are able to bring your pets, kids or just yourself and relax in this green space when there is no water.

King Commons Park, Johnson City, Tennessee

The Johnson City area is growing in popularity so we will keep you updated with the fun things that are available here. This summer we came back to the Northeast Tennessee area to show you many other cool places to visit. Be sure to also check out Jonesborough and Bristol when you are in the area!

Ultimate Guide to Johnson City Tennessee

In the comments, please be sure to tell us about your experiences here in Johnson City!

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92 responses to “Discover Johnson City, Tennessee: What You Need To Know!”

  1. Patty Jo Nachman Avatar
    Patty Jo Nachman

    Hi Tricia, loved your blog about Johnson City, I even learned a few things! Next time you are downtown, come by Albert’s Pawn at 104 W. Market Street, Johnson City’s oldest pawn shop. Started by my husband Marc Nachman’s grandfather Albert Rothbart in 1927. Our son Zach is in line to be the fourth generation at Albert’s. Drop on in and we’ll tell you all about it!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I would love to stop by Patty! We should be in the area later this summer or in the fall. I look forward to meeting you!

  2. Katie Mitchell Avatar

    I’ve never been to Johson City but it seems like such a cool place! Thanks for a great list of different things to do and see.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks! I hope you make it there soon to see it all! They are adding new things all the time as well!

  3. Shanna Avatar

    My hubby lived in Tennesee for five years, and I’ve always wanted to go. These pics make me want to hop a flight now!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      You would love it Shanna! The mountains are calling you!

  4. T.M. Brown Avatar

    I absolutely love that you give a little on the history, climate and geography of the town first. What a great way to set the tone. My husband would love that trail and….wow! Those nasty nachos would be a high priority on his list of things to eat there!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thank you, Tina! I appreciate your kind words!

  5. Angela Greven | Mean Green Chef Avatar
    Angela Greven | Mean Green Chef

    I just love the small town feel and Johnson City is really special so much to do outdoors, I would shred (lol probably not) Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park! The shops and eateries are amazing too, we will put Johnson on our travel list for sure Thank you so much for sharing 🤗

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thank you, Angela! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  6. Marianne Blackham Avatar

    Interesting. I had never heard of Johnson City before this.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I hope you make time to visit Marianne!

  7. Missy Avatar

    We love hikes and trails, we would definitely love this one. I also like learning about places to eat and shops to visit from those who have experienced the area. This was a very helpful blog. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Julie Avatar

    Adding this to a possible place to stop this summer! Looks fun!!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks, Julie! Let me know how you like it!

  9. Chris Avatar

    Great post! I love the pictures, they give you a real feel for the place. I’m definitely going to put Hohnson City on my “must visit” list the next time I’m heading to Tennessee.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      If you love the outdoors it is the place to be! Thank you, Chris!

  10. Carolina Avatar

    Looks like an amazing place to visit. Love seeing all the pictures! That Shrimp salad looks delicious.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      The food rocked! Thank you, Carolina!

  11. Brianna Avatar

    I had never heard of Johnson City before. It looks like a great place to visit. And those Nasty Nachos look amazing!!

  12. Michele Vadnais Avatar

    What a lovely place! I see a visit to Tennessee in our future!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome! Let me know how it goes!

  13. Amanda Avatar

    What a beautiful place! That Reclaimed Inspired Goods store looks amazing and I am always a sucker for Mexican food!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I loved that store too! Now I just need a house to go with the furniture! LOL

  14. Leigh Ann Avatar

    It sounds like an amazing place to visit with perfect temperatures, wonderful trails and places yo eat. My kind of trip for sure!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      When we visit we do not even need the AC in the summer! We love it!

  15. BRITTANY Avatar

    Everything is so green! What an adorable town. I loved everything in that store – Reclaimed Inspired Goods. I would be in trouble if I went there! 🙂

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Right? The store was really cool! I love vintage!

  16. Amanda Avatar

    Cute town with a great vibe. I’ll have to check it out when we are in TN! Thanks for sharing, I have never heard of it before.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thank you, Amanda! Let me know how you like it!

  17. Lina Avatar

    Johnson City looks like a charming town. Holy Taco is where I want to be! Then hit Tweetsie Trails.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      You are brave! I had a hard time walking after Holy Taco! LOL

  18. kmf Avatar

    A very comprehensive travel guide for Johnson City – for all ages and activity preferences

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thank you for reading!

  19. Hera Avatar

    How cool to get a personal tour. that Mexican food looks great right after a hike or bike ride on those good looking trails.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Jenna was AWESOME! She really took great care of us and we made a new friend!

  20. Jennifer Avatar

    The Bike Park looks amazing!!! I know my family would love it. I also think that the Mexican food looks amazing.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I loved the park too. A little intimidating for this flatlander but I think the guys a Trek would be able to teach me to make it! Maybe! LOL

  21. jen Avatar

    It’s so much greener then I expected!!! Very nice post. 🙂

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes, it was really green. I was surprised to considering it had just snowed at the higher elevations a couple of days before.

  22. Heather Avatar

    What a great place. I love the trail. I would love to run along that. The coffee shops look great too. I love a place like that, grab my laptop, curl up and get some work done. I love that pets are welcome.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thank you Heather! I loved all of those things too!

  23. April Key Rode Avatar

    It’s a great post for people who love to do hiking and very informative! I love the arts and the food lists!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      There is something for everyone!

  24. Kristi @ Way Beyond The Norm Avatar

    I just love Tennessee! It’s on my list of places to look at living should we ever decide to stop RVing. We’ll have to check out Johnson City!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Low cost of living and great people!

  25. brittany Avatar

    Loved all your pictures! Johnson City is somewhere I would love to visit. My son would love that bike park! And your nachos looked yummy!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      They were so yummy!

  26. Lori Nielsen Avatar

    Thanks for sharing some of the fun things to do in Johnson City! I might give the bike path a try…

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Oh cool! I can’t wait to hear about it!

  27. Lauren Michele Avatar
    Lauren Michele

    I’ve only every been to Nashville, but always wanted to see more of the beautiful state! Thanks for the share!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I need to get to Nashville but there is so much more to explore in this area!

  28. Pauline Avatar

    This looks like my kind of town. Everything looks so eclectic. And those t-shirts!!! I found one I love!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It is! I love that about it too!

  29. Ramae Avatar

    Based on your post, I think I would absolutely LOVE this place! I want that elephant shirt! I’ve only ever been to Nashville, but now I want to go Johnson City too. What a thorough and informative post. Inspiring too!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I love that Elephant shirt as well. I also want to go to Erwin too!

  30. Anna Avatar

    What an amazing place to visit! I love running and would love to run in that trail! Thank you for sharing this amazing place. I am putting it on my must-visit places.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      They have Yoga in the parks as well! You will love it!

  31. Charlene Avatar

    Wow, it looks like there is so much to do there! I’ve never been but I think I’d enjoy it 🙂 I especially like the look of that bike park. My kids would LOVE that

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I love how the bike park has a beginner route. Everyone can try it!

  32. Hollysbirdnest Avatar

    What a lovely place to visit! The food and fun make for a great location to spend a few days! Thank you for sharing Johnson City I have never been there

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thank you for looking, Holly! We appreciate it!

  33. Malia Avatar

    As a former transportation planner I loved the information on the rails to trails program with the Tweetsie Trail! Such a cool way to reuse the corridor!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Isn’t that cool! I did not realize it was something being done everywhere. We still have trains where I live.

  34. Robin Avatar

    Looks like a great little town! We love our Trek bikes!!

  35. Lisa Manderino Avatar

    The Holy Taco’s Look amazing! What a great over-view of this cute little town! I love those porch swings!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      They were amazing! I loved the store too. I just need a house with the perfect porch!

  36. Pam Avatar

    I’ve never been to Johnson City but it’s now on my list. This is exactly the type of smallish town we love to explore. If there are green space, good food, and good shopping, I’m in. Street art is a big bonus!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      They have wineries too, Pam!

  37. Shannon Delaney Avatar

    Tennessee is a beautiful state. I love driving through on my way to Atlanta. One of these days I will stop and visit some of the places it has to offer.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      There is so much to do! I can’t wait to hear about it Shannon!

  38. angela Avatar

    What a darling town with so much to do – or not do, latte and a book! My kids would DIE over that bike path!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I know, I imagine myself doing the same thing!

  39. Meagan Avatar

    This looks like a great place to visit!

  40. Shirley Avatar

    How fun! Johnson City is just a short drive from where I am in North Carolina and your article has inspired me to head on over there! Everything looks like a ton of fun. Thank you!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks, Shirley! I can not wait to hear your take on it!

  41. Lisa Avatar

    Anywhere in Tennessee is my favorite! I’ve always wanted to go to Johnson City! You’re post has helped our planning phase of our next adventure by showing us a variety of things to see and do.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome, Lisa! I can not wait to hear about your trip!

  42. Kyndall Bennett Avatar

    My fiance and I have thought about moving to Tennessee a few times. We’ll have to check out Johnson City!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      The cost of living is low and the people are friendly!

  43. Charese Mongiello Avatar

    Wow what an extensive article with some incredible history and facts about this Bueatiful city I knew nothing about! Thanks for sharing all this info. I would love come visit one day.

  44. Cin Daoust Avatar

    What a charming place! How did we miss visiting there when we lived in Tennessee? Next time we’re down visiting friends, this is on our list.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      There is so much to do there! Can’t wait to hear about it!

  45. Jane Avatar

    Johnson City is my perfect place to visit! I love the hiking trail, I can see myself running here every day. Also the store (Reclaimed Inspired Goods), wow, I love all the different pieces of decors. It suits my taste as it’s not commercialized. This is the kind of store I was looking for when I was decorating my home 2 years ago.

    The “Trek” store, would have been perfect too as hubby and I are looking to buy new bicycles for our summer adventures. Thank you for sharing, I always learn something new from you!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Wow, Jane! Thank you! See if there is a Trek in your neck of the woods. They are an international company!

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