Washington County Courthouse Jonesborough Tennessee
a welcome sign in Jonesborough Tennessee

Jonesborough Tennessee is a 200-year-old town in the heart of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Of course there are more than 7 things to see and do in Jonesborough but we had to narrow it down just a bit.

As the oldest town in Tennessee, the history is rich and well preserved by the folks who live in Jonesborough, Tn. They have extended their southern hospitality to you and I by not only preserving the history of the area but making it available for all of us. If you enjoy visiting historic places on your vacations, then by all means, plan a stop in Jonesborough.


1. Historic Museum Sites

Chester Inn Museum

Chester Inn Museum which is the oldest commercial building in Jonesborough which could only mean it’s the oldest in the state, and was once “the finest Inn on the Western Frontier.” 

You can view the upstairs parlor, dining room and lodging rooms which have been restored in the Victorian era style. Chester Inn also has kids activities including a museum scavenger hunt.

Chuckey Depot Museum

Another historic site full of rich history. The Chuckey Depot was relocated due to finding itself situated on the railroad’s right of way and facing demolition. Because Jonesborough was instrumental in bringing the railroad to east Tennessee, they were happy to participate in having the depot moved from Chuckey to their WC Rowe Park.

You will find that the wooden train has a working signal light and bell that can be found in the children’s area. A red caboose sits right next to the museum. Exhibits change every six months so there is always something new to experience.

Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum

Experience the social, cultural, and economic history of Jonesborough and Washington County from 1850 through the 1980’s.

You will see Jonesborough’s original firefighting equipment from the late 1800s as well as lots of artifacts, newspapers and other historic collectible memorabilia.

2. Storytelling Capital of The World

If you have ever heard Jerry Clower tell one of his side splitting stories, you understand the value of good storytelling. The International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough brings that talent to life.

Every Tuesday through Saturday from May until October, the International Storytelling Center features a different teller every week. The Storytelling Festival began in 1973 and continues each year in October.

Enjoy the popular Bil Lepp story shared during the 2019 Festival.

3. Historic Walking Tours Downtown

History comes to life during the walking tours downtown as the guides are dressed in period clothing telling the stories which created the history of Jonesborough.

Walking tours last about and hour and are seasonal. Tours depart from the Chester Inn are are reasonably priced.

People dressed in Pioneer costumes standing in front of a log cabin

4. Brights Zoo

Just a mere 8 miles west of Jonesborough you will find Brights Zoo which is privately owned. You will find a walk-through zoo with over 400 animals of 80 different species.

The zoo is open seasonally beginning in March each year. Be sure to print the scavenger hunt on their website before visiting the zoo for a fun activity the whole family can enjoy together.

a water park in Jonesborough Tennessee

5. Wetlands Water Park

Located in Jonesborough, Wetlands Water Park is open seasonally from Memorial Day until Labor Day and owned and operated by the town of Jonesborough Parks and Rec. Situated between two ridges at Persimmon Ridge Park, the surrounding scenery is magnificent.

Spend a hot summer day cooling off where you will find water slides, a lazy river, a pool plus a zero depth wading pool, a raintree, water bubblers and tumble buckets and more at Wetlands. They know you’ll want to eat so there is a café with all the favorite summer foods. Prices are reasonable for admission and eats.

Historic Bed and Breakfast at Jonesborough Tennessee


6. Historic Jonesborough Bed & Breakfast Locations

There are quite a few Bed & Breakfast locations around Jonesborough, all of which have great reviews online.

If you really want your vacation to be an experience, stay at a B&B for a real treat. Breakfast at a B&B is always fabulous and a real treat. You can walk to downtown from most of the Bed & Breakfasts.

You will find the owners to be very gracious and eager to answer questions and share tidbits of local lore too.

7. Shopping & Eating in Jonesborough Tennessee

It’s the Appalachian’s! Of course the food is great and the local artisan shops are loaded with wares you will want to take back home.

Downtown is full of shops and restaurants with sweet and savory choices. It will be hard to decide where to eat first. You can walk to from shop to shop downtown or sit awhile on a bench. Depending on the season you visit, the downtown will be decorated for the occasion.

There is a Christmas shop, one of my favorite places to go on vacation no matter where we are. It’s our tradition to buy our daughters a new ornament on our vacation.

Washington County Courthouse Jonesborough Tennessee

Plan Your Trip To Jonesborough, Tn.

Jonesborough is only about 70 miles from Gatlinburg and 84 miles from Knoxville.

Johnson City is a mere 10 minute drive.

Ashville where the Biltmore House is located is about 61 miles away. I can totally see scheduling a road trip for both places especially for those like me who enjoy history trips on vacation. Also see; Spring At Biltmore.

To plan your trip to Jonesborough or read more about Jonesborough, Tn. right here.

See this interactive map to help you plan your trip to Northeast Tn.

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A raft full of folks with paddles getting splashed with the water as they are rafting the rapids
Desoto Caverns lit up with colored lights