Eight Reasons to Be a Visitor in Our Backyard
Designed for motorcycle enthusiasts, Northeast Tennessee’s Southern Dozen consists of 12 rides that take you past breathtaking mountain views, through switchback curves, and to historical sights, great food, and more around the tri-state region of Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. These rides have something for everyone, and they all begin and end in scenic Johnson City, Tennessee.
Now there’s a Signature Ride that highlights all there is to do without venturing far from Johnson City. The new Founder’s Ride is a relatively short trek of 36 miles that offers ample opportunity to really take in the sights of Johnson City itself.
Starting at the Holiday Inn northeast of downtown, riders head west toward the stomping grounds of frontiersman Daniel Boone through Boones Creek, where the early pioneer claimed that he “kilt a bar” by carving the words on a tree there in the 1700s. The ride continues through the town of Gray and past the Gray Fossil Site, where road construction in 2000 led to a previously unknown cache of fossils from the Miocene era, including the world’s largest tapir fossil and an ancient rhinoceros fossil. The East Tennessee State University Natural History Museum, with interactive activities and an active dig site, also awaits you if you’ve got the time.
The ride continues south through the beautiful Tennessee countryside toward the oldest town in Tennessee—Jonesborough. Visit quaint antique shops, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, historic homes and any of the delicious eateries in the walkable downtown area before heading east back toward Johnson City on Highway 11E.
Once in Johnson City again, you’ll travel past ETSU into the revitalized downtown area. Along the way, you’ll notice several pieces of art that are part of the city’s Public Art Corridor that includes 16 sculptures commissioned by the Public Art Committee.
Downtown you’ll also find upscale eateries like Portico and Label, regional favorites like Tupelo Honey and an authentic German favorite, Freiberg’s. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in town for a “Founders After Five” concert at the new Founders Park. Nearby on select days there’s an amazing selection of fresh foods at the Farmers Market.
You may want to sample some of the craft beers that are plentiful at the stops along the Brewly Noted Craft Beer Trail. Participants near downtown include JRH Brewing, Yee-Haw Brewing Company, Atlantic Ale House and The Johnson City Brewing Company. Downtown also offers live music venues such as the popular and well-known Down Home or the Willow Tree, as well as nightlife hot spots, art studios and plenty of charming shops.
The ride leaves downtown traveling through some of Johnson City’s oldest neighborhoods of stately homes and finishes back at the Holiday Inn.
Once you’ve completed the Founder’s Ride, hang around to try one of the other Southern Dozen rides. Ranging in distance from a short 30-mile trek that takes you to nearby historical sites to longer rides that are up to 150 miles in length, there’s surely something for everyone on the Southern Dozen.