Friday, May 29, 2009

The Splendor of Alcoa Highway and Highway 321


As much as I love Knoxville, I have a secret. Every month I get a little antsy and have to leave our wonderful city for a moment. Thankfully, I don't have to go very far to take that much needed, deep breath.

Almost every month for the past seven years, I've taken Alcoa Highway to Hwy 321 through Maryville and Townsend to The Great Smoky Mountains. Just thinking about it now makes me want to blow off work and head that direction.

I've grown accustomed to driving this route, and I know it by heart. Besides the natural beauty that you come across along the way, there are numerous other gems at which I stop from time to time. There are also others I've never been to, but my goal this summer is to take: "An Alcoa Highway/ 321 Vacation"

Here are some hot spots:

1) Green Acres Flea Market (Alcoa Highway) - I'm going for the first time this Saturday and am so very excited. Not that I'm in the market for one, but I hear they have a lot of belt buckles.

2) Foothills Milling Company (Maryville) - Get your Mr. or Mrs. (or in my case, my parents) to take you here for dinner sometime. It expensive, but delectable.

3) The Drive-In (Maryville)- This is the best place to go for some redneck culture shock. It's fabulous, really. I think on Saturdays, they even set up a little flea market on the premises.


4) Various flea markets, thrift stores, craft stands, and antique malls (between Maryville and Townsend) You could spend a whole day stopping in places like this along the way. There are a couple of quaint places where the locals sell wood carvings, mountain honey (mmm) and boiled peanuts. You run into some very interesting people to talk to as well.






(A word of advice: if you see a handwritten sign on the side of the road that says "hot boiled peanuts," you should pull over.)


5) Nawger Nob (Townsend) Local arts and crafts and good people to talk to

6) Deadbeat Pete's (Townsend) Sometimes the food is hit or miss, but this is one of my favorite places to eat. They have a backporch that overlooks the Little River, they serve drinks in mason jars, and their signature burger "The Deadbeat Pete" has guacamole on it. This is the best place to go after, say, tubing down the river.

7) The Dulcimer Shop (Townsend) Beautiful, handcrafted dulcimers. Oh, baby. I could die happy in this store.

8) And finally, the Collosus of Clout, The Great Smoky Mountains.

Now I'm wondering if they'd notice my absence from work today...


All photos by the illustrious Tracy Jackson

13 comments:

Wright said...

Yeah, that's a fun drive. You should try the Trailhead Restaurant in Townsend sometime. Great food, cozy atmosphere.

em said...

I love that drive, too. Our place is on the other side of the park, so I rarely take it; but when I find myself leaving a hike or in Pigeon Forge, I get super excited because I know I'm taking that way home!

benjamin said...

i still remember the first time you pulled us over and made wes and I try boiled peanuts - thank you for that, they were delicious.

also, i know the green acres flea market pretty well. mr. pettit and I headed there a few times. i'm actually wearing a pair of pants that i bought there right now....

Wax S. said...

No DAYTRIP jpg?

Foothills Milling Company is my favorite restaurant in the area. Period.

B said...

Wax, thanks for keeping me on my toes.

It's been a while since I've been to Trailhead in Townsend but I remember it had a great atmosphere.

Discordia said...

I hope I don't get chastised too hard for this remark, but my favorite parts of 321 are all in NC. Boone, Grandfather Mountain, Banner Elk, Blowing Rock, Roan Mountain and countless others. My opinions probably biased since I grew up in the tri-cities/near elizabethton, not to mention I fell in love with the Blue Ridge parkway a long time ago.

If you've never been out to Boone/Blowing Rock, I suggest you make the day trip. It's amazing.

The Pol said...

Discordia, I just spent last weekend at grandfather mountain. It was amazingly beautiful.

The drive through the mountains past hot springs et al. was amazing. Though the drive through townsend is nice, it has more charm than drama.

Choy Boy said...

A few suggestions from a Townsend local/ S.Knox native:

-try Rocky Branch Bluegrass in Walland. It's every Friday night and free.

-tube the river! River Rat is the best tubing. You get what you pay for. Floating on a tube on a hot summer day... the pinnacle of relaxation.

-stop at our place, 'The Coffee House' for a latte or smoothie on your way to the trail.

B said...

Choy Boy,
It's safe to say I'll probably do all of the above this summer. Thanks for the suggestions.

HEATHER said...

You should also mention Rivermill Antique Mall! It's across the street from the antique place you pictured, and immediately before the turn-off for Rocky Branch. There are some really great finds there. Good prices too.

Cut out of work early on a Friday, head to Rivermill Antique mall, then cap your night off with some fantastic bluegrass at Rocky Branch! I used to play fiddle with a group there- there spirit there is amazing!

Mickey said...

If the only way to get to the Smokies were through the nightmare gauntlet of PF/G'burg, life would not be worth living.

Let's hope Townsend stays quiet and folksy.

The Modern Gal said...

Amen, brother Mickey

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