Storytelling in Jonesborough, TN


This weekend I visited a good friend in Bean Station, TN. On one of our day trip adventures we made our way to Jonesborough, TN, the oldest town in Tennessee founded in 1779. This picture perfect town was originally a part of North Carolina, until Tennessee became a state 17 years later. The town is steeped in history, including being the origin of the first periodical supporting the abolition of slavery, The Emancipator, first published in 1820. You can still see influences of the towns forward thinking nature in the people and the town.

These days Jonesborough is best known for the hosting the annual National Storytelling Festival the first full weekend in October. This year the festival will be celebrating its 38th season. The International Storytelling Center hosts the event, and their gift shop is a great stop anytime of year. The town is peppered with storybook inns and bed and breakfast to accommodate your stay during the festival. While we didn’t stay overnight, it didn’t like you could go wrong with the locations near Main St. given the outside appearance.

Jonesborough has numerous structures still standing from the 1780s, including an inn and the home Andrew Jackson lived in during his time in Tennessee. The town is filled with historic buildings and homes and is beautifully laid out, with most sites being located right on Main St.

The food selection in Jonesborough is fantastic for such a small town. One of my favorite places was the Main Street Cafe. Maybe the best piece of chocolate pie I’ve ever tasted. Other popular spots are Bistro 105, The Cranberry Thistle and Old Towne Pancake House. The downtown also has its sweets covered. Within a one block radius we found a chocolate shop, cupcake shop and a sweets shop. You can’t beat a tasty variety of sweets as a quality for a vacation destination. The town also hosts a Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market in May through October, and offers online ordering for pick-up at the Visitors Center on Wednesdays at 5:00pm.

The shopping is diverse and fun. There are adorable antique shops with great variety and prices, Mauk’s general store (which has been in business since 1890), the Scott County Lavender shop and numerous clothing and home decor boutiques. My friend and I spent a long time lingering in the shops and spent a few pennies to be certain. When you’re finished shopping and want to get back to nature, the town has a small arboretum, The Ardinna Woods Arboretum, and hosts a new Butterfly Garden in the same site at the Pliny Fisk Site. Little Limestone Creek runs along the edge of downtown and through a small park making the ideal setting for walks and a picnic.

Our springtime visit was picture perfect – lovely weather, showers of cherry blossoms and a buzzing of magical bees outside the steps of city hall. For more information on this great little historic town visit the Town of Jonesborough’s site. I hope you enjoy this sweet town, and the friendly residents, as much as we did.

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2 Replies to “Storytelling in Jonesborough, TN”

  1. I’m traveling to Tennesse inlate October….and I want to hear some stories… thereanything available after October 20th? I know about the Oct. 7-9 festivalbut cannot attend at that time.


    1. Hi Millie, Thanks for the question. The International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough hosts a Tellers-in-Residence series through October 29th. So, you should be able to catch a live performance by the Teller-in-Residence the week you’re there. Hannah Harvey will be there October 18-22. And the Storycrafters will be there October 25-29, which will close out the season. For more information and schedules you can visit the site at I hope you enjoy! 🙂

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