Find your way Downtown: 3 Not-to-be-Missed Main Streets
Exploring the downtowns of the 9 Lakes Region is a fun way to experience local culture, and hospitality. Main Streets range from the exciting nightlife of Knoxville to the quaint charms of Historic Dandridge. The great downtowns in the region are preserving and celebrating their stories through local architecture, food, and street events.
Three spotlight downtown communities that need to be on your day tripping list when visiting the region are:
One of larger cities near Cherokee Lake, Morristown is a certified Main Street Community that has successfully preserved its history and many of the original buildings. The City’s downtown “grew up” adjacent to a waterway and two railroad depots, resulting in a commercial district that gently slopes downward. As with many downtowns, the businesses have changed over time. Today’s downtown is an interesting mix of shopping, restaurants, and architectural elements including the SkyMart, an overhead sidewalk that provides street entry to the upper story shops and provides a canopy for the lower walkways. A stroll through Morristown’s downtown will take you past the Museum on Main, a charming pocket park, art studios, and the Jersey Girl Diner, rated one of the top 10 diners in Tennessee. Events are held year round, but don’t miss the farmer’s market or the summer Music on the Green music series.
Rutledge is a small farming community located between the shorelines of Cherokee Lake and Highway 11W. This storied road is part of SR 1, Tennessee first designated state highway which was built to link the 500 miles between Bristol and Memphis. The original road movement was championed by farming and business interests, so it is not surprising that Rutledge’s history is very much defined by its geographic location and the rich farmlands growing famous Grainger County tomatoes. When visiting Rutledge, plan to stop at the Bryan House, to learn about the self- guided Appalachian Quilt Trail driving tour. Nearby is the Old Grainger County Jail, said to be the oldest brick jail in Tennessee. For authentic home style cooking such as fried green tomatoes, cornbread, and catfish, eat at the Down Home Restaurant. On the last week of July, be prepared for crowds as the population of Rutledge swells with visitors attending the annual Grainger County Tomato Festival.
Located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Maryville is a scenic college town embracing its past, present, and future. The city is a hub of history, idealism, and funky establishments, boasting coffeehouses, connected greenways, micro-craft breweries, wineries, food trucks, and a diversity of dining choices. A gateway to both the GSMNP and one of the challenging motorcycle trails in the Southeast, Maryville is a welcoming stop for many visitors. Enjoy a meal on Broadway at Sullivan’s Fine Food, tour the Maryville College Historic District, or bike on the miles of scenic greenways. Motorcyclists and music lovers will also want to make Maryville a destination. All summer, locals and visitors gather at Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson to swap stories and to enjoy live music.
In the 60’s, popular music culture urged us to go downtown. Almost 60 years later, downtown is still where the sights and sounds bring people to dance, celebrate, and gather. To learn more about other activities in Morristown, Rutledge, or Maryville or to find other great downtowns in the 9 Lakes, use this link.