Blake Walsh

18 Best Things to Do in Johnson City, TN

  • Published 2022/03/20

Known for offering a vast range of outdoor activities like hiking and mountain biking, Johnson City, Tennessee is an excellent choice for outdoorsy travelers.

At the same time, the city provides a lot of leisure options for artistic and academic minds as well: guided walking tours of historical sites, theatrical plays at community centers, and basketball games at Freedom Hall Civic Center.

If you’re planning to make this city your next destination, check out this list of the best things to do in Johnson City, Tennessee:

Relive Your Childhood at the George L. Carter Railroad Museum

Located within the East Tennesse State University campus, the George L. Carter Railroad Museum attracts thousands of tourists a year.

You will find yourself admiring its fascinating exhibits, which include include model railways, artifacts from their origin eras, and a wide variety of toy trains.

Here, you can choose between joining a tour around the museum or enjoying a self-guided exploration while reliving your childhood.

Go Back in Time at the Tipton-Haynes Historic Site

Wooden smoke house at Tipton-Haynes Historic Site

Dee Browning /

The Tipton-Haynes Historic Site is one such place where you have the opportunity to explore North East Tennessee’s history, culture, and traditions.

The 45-acre site comprises 11 historic buildings, a cemetery, a limestone cave, a natural spring, and more.

There’s also a visitor center, where you’ll find a permanent exhibit, library, and museum store.

Your inner history buff will be overjoyed at getting the chance to look through ancient documents and files, along with a wide array of antiques and photographs.

Explore the Outdoors at Winged Deer Park

Winged deer park


Enjoy your pick of outdoor activities amidst the scenic natural environment at Winged Deer Park.

For adventurous souls, participating in recreational activities here is one of the best things to do in Johnson City.

Walk along the metal trails or perhaps rent a bike and go cycling through the Woodlands area.

You can discover the surrounding area’s hidden gems, explore the landscape, go birdwatching a perhaps, or have a picnic with your friends.

Relax at Willow Spring Park

If you’re traveling with your family and a group of close friends, then planning fun times at Willow Spring Park will be one of your favorite activities in the city.

It’s a great place to visit with the family, especially for those on a trip with the kids.

Let the kids have fun and play tag or some other games of their liking.

Those traveling with pets can head to the Willow Springs Dog Park.

Snap Photos for Your Instagram Feed at the Tweetsie Trail

Tweetsie trail in Johnson

Donald R Slaughter /

Want to snap photos of you and your travel buddies wandering around the most scenic hiking trail you’ve ever seen?

The Tweetsie Trail is the way to go.

Situated away from the buzz of the city, this attraction invites you to take a break, spend some time amidst nature, stroll down the hiking trail, heal your mind, and feel rejuvenated.

Paved pedestrian path at Tweetsie Trail

Donald R Slaughter /

As an alternative to trekking, you can rent cycling and skating gear nearby.

The Tweetsie Trail is also famously known for its sights along the way, including Sabine Hill and Jacob’s Nature Park, where you might want to stop by.

Lawn with a signboard at Tweetsie Trail

Donald R Slaughter /

Watch a Basketball Game at Freedom Hall Civic Center

Freedom Hall Civic center holds a variety of entertaining events on its premises, ranging from concerts and theatrical productions to sporting activities like basketball games and wrestling matches.

It has enough space to seat over 8,000 people.

The civic center is best known to be the venue for East Tennessee State Buccanneers Basketball, which boasts some of the most exciting NCAA basketball games around the country.

Read the Best Books at Johnson City Public Library

Exterior view of Johnson city Public Library

Donald R Slaughter /

Craving some privacy to read your favorite book?

You can find the best books at Johnson City Public Library.

Interior of Johnson City Public Library

Donald R Slaughter /

The library houses a collection of books from various genres that include academic, motivational, fantasy, classic, and romance.

For those visiting with family, there is a kids’ playing area where they can play fun games like DJ bingo, too.

Catch a Baseball Match at TVA Credit Union Ballpark

Home to the famous Johnson City Cardinals, TVA Credit Union Ballpark is a great place to catch a thrilling baseball match.

It can be a fun date if you are out with someone who loves baseball.

There’s a wide variety of snacks and drinks available.

You’ll surely enjoy the night games, as they usually end with fireworks displays.

Go Hiking at Buffalo Mountain Park

Buffalo Mountain Park is one of the best places to go hiking in Tennessee.

The hiking trails are well-traveled and marked, and the views surrounding the trail are unmatched.

You can choose from different trails according to your level of expertise in hiking.

Just keep the essential gear with you, along with some good hiking shoes.

Skate Your Worries Away at Johnson City Family Skate Center

Johnson City Family Skate Center is one of the best places to relax and enjoy with the family.

There are varieties of skating events held in the center that you’re welcome to join, depending on your skill level.

You can also go rollerblading here if that is your preference.

Explore the Best Places to Eat in Johnson City

Whether you prefer upmarket posh dining optionins or are looking for a quick bite at a popular yet budget-friendly hangout place, the city offers all kinds of high-quality eateries.

Label Restaurant is an upmarket eatery with global recipes on the menu; it’s popular for its great cocktails, fine tea selection, and delectable desserts.

Famous for their American fare, international menu, and a great selection of beers, Cootie Brown’s N. Roan is one of the best-loved restaurants in the city.

The Firehouse is a prominent restaurant popular among university students, and tourists for its excellent tea collection, dessert options, and its specialty—awesome barbecues.

Go Mountain Biking at Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park

One of the best things to do in Johnson City is getting an adrenaline rush while mountain biking through its challenging uphill trails.

Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park is run by experts that manage the safety of the trails.

If you want to enjoy bike riding with your family, there are also amateur trails that you can choose to try.

However, if you are an expert or a professional mountain biker, and you want to experience something thrilling, there are more difficult trails available as well.

Appreciate Art and History at the Reece Museum

For the travelers who are invested in art and love immersing themselves in history, the Reece Museum is the tourist hub they should visit in Johnson City.

The museum houses one of the city’s most extensive collections in the city, comprising over 20,000 artifacts that include contemporary theses, files, valuable pieces of history, congressional reports, artworks, and more.

The museum goes above and beyond and follows the standard set by the American Alliance of museums, so be assured that all the pieces on display are of high quality.

You can choose to take a self-guided tour around the museum or perhaps join a walking tour led by a guide.

Attend a Show at Johnson City Community Theatre

What better way to entertain yourself than by watching a play performed by local artists?

Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward and The Little Mermaid are some of the shows you can relish here.

The seating space might be small, but the arrangement is made in quite an efficient way, such that the audience does not feel that their view is obstructed.

Take a Stroll at Founders Park

People enjoying food from the food truck at Founders park

Nolichuckyjake /

First established as a resolution to curb the problem of stormwater, Founders Park is now a place for anyone to kick back and relax.

The park hosts weekly outdoor yoga classes, the annual Blue Plum Festival, events for not-for-profit organizations, and family-friendly festivities.

Stream flowing through the rocks at Founders Park

Nolichuckyjake /

If you are visiting the city for a few days, then it is a good place for morning walks or attending some relaxing yoga.

People strolling around Founders Park

Nolichuckyjake /

Channel Your Inner Ninja at Quantum Leap Trampoline Sports Arena

Quantum Leap Trampoline Sports Arena is an over 41,000-square-feet premier family fun center located within historic downtown Johnson City, Northeast Tennessee.

Extreme basketball dunk zones, foam pits, a flying trapeze foam pit, competitive dodge ball courts, and an obstacle course are just some of the things that make up their trampoline arena.

Their ax-throwing zone is a perfect place for you to hone you skills and build good hand-eye coordination under the watchful eye of one of their highly trained instructors if desired (though it’s not necessary).

Meanwhile, while older kids and adults throw axes, younger kids can take a break from the competition in their huge arcade area that offers prizes to redeem earned tickets on popular games.

You can also come down here and challenge your friends to a laser tag war and have fun while helping your group hone its strategy and gunning skills.

There’s a full-menu cafe available onsite, where you can grab some snacks and drinks as you enjoy watching others have fun with one-of-a-kind offerings available at this indoor sports facility in Tennessee.

Look for the Best Deals of Awesome Curiosities at Bargain Hunters

Sometimes the things that you think could be trash could turn out to be treasure!

Bargain Hunters has been the go-to spot for vintage fans looking for some of East Tennessee’s best deals for years.

The store has three convenient locations throughout the region.

With a wide variety of choices, you are sure to find the bargains you crave at Bargain Hunters.

Their inventory is constantly updated to ensure that customers always have an ample supply of resources to choose from.

Some of the items that Bargain Hunters lists for sale include home decor, collectibles, toys, furniture, tools, vinyl records, vintage, and clothing.

Find Your Next Treasures at West Main Antiques and Vintage

West Main Antiques and Vintage is a time traveler’s delight!

If you’re looking for something beautifully unique from a shop without pretension, this is the place to find it.

In addition to all of the antique furniture, decor, and collectibles for sale, there’s also quite a variety of miscellaneous bits that you may find lying around outside: records and books, clothes, dishes, pottery, and more.

You won’t find typical Colonial Era or French style furniture here, but you might find something from the mid-century, being an all-in-one mix of retro, vintage, and industrial.

You’ll also see assorted ’50s to ’80s oddities like Don Ho LPs or Neil Diamond and Marvel comic books.

Even if items aren’t immediately apparent, just ask for assistance, and the proprietor will be sure to point you in the right direction.

Just don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel the strong urge to take off on a spontaneous adventure.

Final Thoughts

Johnson City, Tennessee is dripping with things to do!

This dynamic, culturally-rich place has so much to offer— a relaxing trip to this blooming neighborhood guarantees that you’ll have an interesting and vibrant holiday no matter what you’re interested in.

When planning your next trip, make sure you jot down this list of the top places to view local art, try some deliciously freshly sourced dishes, and enjoy live shows with friends.

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