Northeast Tennessee has long been an area known historically as a pioneer region. These mountains were originally part of Western North Carolina before the state ceded what was known as Washington County to the US government and called it “Tennessee.” Our city is named for its founder, Henry Johnson, who was a pioneer in his own right. His pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit can be found today in Johnson City, just as alive as it was when he followed the path of Daniel Boone to reach this area.
Celebrate Our Pioneering Heritage
Henry Johnson first camped in this area, eventually building a home in 1856 at present-day Market Street and later opening a store, hotel and railroad depot. Johnson’s Depot was officially chartered as Johnson City in 1869 and Johnson himself became the first mayor in 1870. His pioneer spirit and forward thinking surely could never have envisioned all that Johnson City would become.
Today in 2021, the city is a thriving cultural, medical, business and educational center nestled in the lower foothills of surrounding mountain beauty. In every direction from Henry Johnson’s original campsite stretches thriving businesses, banks, restaurants, medical offices, art repositories, historical interests, centers of learning, and thousands of homes.
Johnson City is alive with pioneering spirit and there are plenty of paths to follow that lead to adventure and new experiences. If you’re planning a trip to Johnson City, or even if you’re a long-time resident, why not explore some of what the city has to offer? You won’t be disappointed!
Follow Your Own Pioneering Path in Johnson City
Here are just a few events and attractions we recommend.
Fridays After 5
Join us in King Commons this summer for Fridays After 5! On June 4 at 6:00pm, the Get Right Band will kick off our FREE FA5 Summer Concert Series! Fridays After 5 is sponsored by Cherokee Distributing, Highland Beer, BioPURE, The Local View, Tennessee Hills Distillery, Townview Senior Living, and the Johnson City Development Authority. Located at King Commons, 112 Commerce Street, Johnson City, TN 37601.
The Tweetsie Trail is a rails-to-trails project traversing former ET&WNC railroad right-of-way between Johnson City and Elizabethton. Because of the unique sound of the locomotive whistle, the railroad and its trains became unofficially yet affectionately known as the “tweetsie.” The trail provides opportunities for walking, hiking, running, biking, and more on a relatively flat grade in a beautiful, natural setting. When complete, the 10-mile trail will be the longest rails-to-trails project in Tennessee!
Lakeside Concert Series
Lakeside Concert Series – Winged Deer Park. Thursday June 10, 2021 at 7:00 pm. Different bands are featured all summer. Bring a lawn chair and cooler of snacks and drinks and enjoy some of the area’s finest music under the stars. Picnic areas, playground, ballfields and lake access is also available. Check back at the website for more information.
Historic Jonesborough Days
Jonesborough Days Festival, July 4th weekend – July 3-4, 2021. Information regarding the event, including the Festival Dinner, parade, music, vendors and more can be found at the website. There are always local crafts, exhibits, great food, and lots of fun events for adults and kids. Plus, experience historic Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennessee and capital of the lost state of Franklin. Be sure to explore the Jonesborough Visitors Center and the National Storytelling Center for a taste of local history and pioneer spirit.
Thirsty Orange Beer Festival
The 9th Annual Thirsty Orange is the Beer Mecca of Tennessee Beer Festivals. The Thirsty Orange provides beer lovers with the ultimate beer experience and has been rated as a ‘Top 5 Beer Festival’ in the US for multiple years. The Thirsty Orange is a proud supporter of Trout Unlimited.
Sample more than 150 craft brew and ciders, including specialty and unique beers from around the region along with casks made just for the Thirsty Orange. Select beers will also be infused with fresh ingredients like mango, jalapeno and chocolate throughout the day.
Saturday, August 28, 2021, 1:00PM – 6:00PM. Founders Park, 74 Wilson Ave., Johnson City, TN 37604.
Hands On! Museum and Gray Fossil Site
Hands On! Discovery Center at Gray Fossil Site, 1212 Suncrest Dr., Johnson City, TN 37615.
This all-ages science center offers fun interactive exhibits that include immersive augmented reality experiences, a bi-polar musical Tesla coil, giant building blocks, a 3-story Paleo tower, a maker space, an art studio, and much more! Guests are invited to engineer a rocket, build a wind-powered car, create an artistic masterpiece, and discover something new.
Visit an active fossil dig site dating back 5 million years and enjoy exhibits and programs featuring the plant and animal fossils that have been unearthed at the site, including tapir, rhinoceros, saber-tooth cat, alligator, short-faced bear, red panda, and a 10-ton mastodon! Additional exhibits will open later this year, including an outdoor garden opening in summer 2021!
Enjoy these events and more as you explore all that Johnson City has to offer!