Watauga Lake Cottage Rentals On Watauga Lake

Mountain Vacation Cottage Rentals on Watauga Lake, Tennessee
(423) 768-2446

Eastern Tennessee Attractions Around Watauga Lake, Tennessee

Historical / Museums
Outdoor Activities
Trails, Caves and Peaks
Unique Activities

Checkout Watauga Lake Experience for maps, local activities, stores, restaurants, marinas, etc.

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Charlotte / Douglas International Airport (CLT) – Charlotte, NC. Modern airport serving the Charlotte area – quite a nice airport. About a 2.5-3 hour drive through the mountains to Butler. Beautiful drive.

Tri Cities Regional Airport (TRI) – Blountville, TN – (423) 325-6000. Tri-Cities Regional Airport offers non-stop service to seven hubs.

Mountain City (FBO) – Doe Mountain Aviation, Johnson County Airport – (423) 727-1223. A 4500’ runway, jet fuel, hangers to hold your plane and a friendly management of Bob and Cindy Johnson, this is a great way to arrive in Johnson County. They can also arrange a rent-a-car for your stay.



Barter Theatre
Barter Theatre, the State Theater of Virginia, performs classics, musicals and unique shows on the Main Stage or the Stage II in Abingdon, VA. The Barter Theatre is just a short beautiful drive the through the mountains.

Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine, Kevin Spacey and Patricia O’Neal all were members of the Barter Company at the start of their careers. Who knows, one of the performers you see may become a super star and you can say “I saw him/her beginning their career”. Check the website for upcoming plays!

Paramount Theater – (423) 274-8920
The Paramount is worth a visit just to see the refurbished “golden age” theater. But they have programs from Montevani to Doc Watson and Vicki Lawrence as Momma. Please check their website for the latest entertainments and to purchase tickets as most of the programs sell out.

Heritage Hall Performance Center – The Johnson County Performance Center where local, national, and international talent performs. Check the website for a list of upcoming programs and events scheduled at the Hall! One historical footnote: It is believed some of the first country music broadcast anywhere was performed on the Heritage Hall stage. Join us for an afternoon or evening of entertainment for the whole family.



June Festivals

Covered Bridge Festival – 1st weekend of June
The Elizabethton/Carter Country Covered Bridge Celebration was created in 1966 and has become the major festival of the year, featuring craftsman, artists, food, and entertainment from all over the region. In 2008, 10,000 to 15,000 visitors enjoyed the celebration and activities. There is something for everyone!

Rhododendron Festival – 3rd weekend of June
The festival is held in Roan Mountain State Park, located at the foot of Roan Mountain and features handmade crafts, food, and a variety of traditional music, plus an array of old-time folkway demonstrations.

July Festivals

Appalachian Summer Festival
Music, Dance, Art exhibits, Wine tastings, something for everyone in the mountains in July. Check out the program and order your tickets. Many events sell out in advance.

Book your room(s) at the Inn to combine outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, golfing, etc. with evenings of North Carolina Symphony, PDQ Bach, Chicago Dance Company and lectures on contemporary art.

4th of July Celebration
Parade and Fireworks at Stout Park in Mountain City. Check with the Inn Keeper for other fireworks celebration around the lake at the marinas.

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games
Grandfather Mountain Highland Scottish Games – 2nd weekend in July
The Grandfather Mountain Highland Scottish Games will once again be held the second weekend in July in nearby Linville, NC. Organized to foster and restore interest in traditional dancing, piping, drumming, athletic achievement, music and Gaelic culture, this popular event often sells out.

Sycamore Shoals State Park
The Wataugans – An outdoor drama the last three weekends in July. Tells the story of the settling of the First Frontier and the battles with the Indians, Reenactments of Revolutionary War times, Cherokee Indian encampments, and Quilt and art exhibits

Sunflower Festival – Last full weekend in July weekend. The festival is held in downtown Mountain City, TN.

August Festivals

Virginia Highlands Festival – 1st two weeks in August. 2 weeks of arts, crafts, music, theater and lots more fun! Return again and again.

Old Butler Days – 2nd weekend of August. Celebrate the Town Under the Lake and the heritage of Butler with music, games, exhibits and food! Learn why the town was moved and meet some of the former residents.

Johnson County Fair – 3rd weekend of August. The fair is held at the Chamber of Commerce Park on Highway 67 west of Mountain City. Check with the Welcome Center for specific dates and times. (423) 727-5800

September Festivals

Watauga Lake Triathlon – 2nd Saturday of September. Each September, the Watauga Lake Triathlon is held at the Sugar Grove Baptist Church grounds in Butler, TN. This Triathlon attracts contestants who have done over 80 Triathlons to those who are doing their first. Friendly, challenging, but also a good first experience, the Watauga Lake Triathlon has a 2 mile swim in Watauga Lake (still warm even in September), 5 mile run up and over some pretty steep hills and a 10 mile bike ride through some beautiful farm land and mountain scenery.

Pumpkin Festival – 3rd weekend in September. Check with the Innkeeper for specific dates and times.

Rodeo – Check with the Innkeeper for specific dates and times.

Sycamore Shoals State Park
Camp and march with the Overmountain Men in September as they plan the assault on Kings Mountain.
• Reenactments of Revolutionary War times.
• Cherokee Indian encampments.
• Quilt and art exhibits

October Festivals

National Story Telling Festival – 1st weekend in October. Story Tellers from Around the World gather every year in Jonesborough, TN, “The oldest town in Tennessee” the first weekend in October and delight their audiences with stories old and new. Or perhaps you would like to register and tell your stories on the Town Square? That’s possible too! Or maybe you’d just like to stroll from tent to tent hearing hundreds of stories - one here, one there until the evening of ghost stories! And, for those “of a certain age”, there is the midnight cabaret. This is one of the best festivals I have ever attended! But book early, as rooms go fast - over 30,000 people attend each year!

Cranberry Festival – 2nd weekend of October. The festival has been called the “Best Little Festival in Tennessee” – celebrating the last cranberry bog in Tennessee. Saturday is an all day event starting with a parade featuring the Pride of Johnson County Band, floats, clowns, horses, plus much more. The day long festivities at the school grounds include live country, gospel and bluegrass music; and some of the best food and local crafts, children activities include Star Amusements plus much more.

November Festivals

Festival Of Lights – Bristol Festival Of Lights – Bristol, TN - 2nd week in November through January 3rd
The Speedway In Lights powered by TVA will brighten holidays during its this season, with more than 1.5 million lights comprising the displays along the four-mile drive-through route. The route includes a chance to drive through legendary Thunder Valley before driving on “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” itself.

Visitors to Speedway In Lights will see more than 200 displays; various motorsport displays, the animated snowman attraction, Santa’s Toy Machine, Dinosaur Village complete with an erupting volcano, the cannon shot and the poinsettia wreath.

The Johnson Controls Ice Rink gives visitors the chance to show off their skating skills at the only ice rink in the area. Several theme nights throughout the season add to the fun. Skate rentals are available.

December Festivals

Festival Of Lights – Bristol, TN – 2nd week in November through January 3rd

Christmas Parade – 1st Saturday of December. This event is sponsored by the Mountain City Chamber of Commerce. Check with the Welcome Center for specific date and time. (423) 727-5800


Historical / Museums

Butler Museum
The Butler Museum – Butler, TN, “The town that wouldn’t drown” has risen like the phoenix to tell its story to future generations at The Butler Museum.

Walk down Main Street and glance in the Blue Bird Tea Room, imagine the postmaster behind the desk sorting mail, see photos of the citizens of Butler and reminisce about when life was simpler and Butler was a thriving town before the Tennessee Valley Authority dammed up the Watauga River drowning “Old Butler” while creating Watauga Lake for flood control and electric generation. Come and visit and share our history.

Gray Fossil Site Joins Science with Tourism – The East Tennessee State University and General Shale Brick Natural History Museum and Visitor Center at the Gray Fossil Site opened in the Tri-Cities region of East Tennessee, Aug. 31, 2007. The locals call it the Gray Fossil Site. Since opening, more than 20,000 tourists, educators, students, and paleontologists have marveled at the colorful interactive exhibits, beautiful murals, and dioramas featuring examples of discoveries from the ancient dig that are over 4.5 million years old.

Discovering artifacts and fossils. The artifacts were discovered in the year 2000 when state road crews discovered a five-acre site containing the fossilized remains of an entire ecosystem of plants and animals from the late Miocene period. With less than one percent of the site excavated to date, thousands of specimens have been recovered, including such large mammal species as the saber-toothed cat, short-faced bear, ground sloth, rhino, camel, shovel-tusked elephant, horse, red panda, Eurasian badger and the world’s largest collection of fossil tapirs. Other discoveries include numerous smaller mammals, as well as birds, reptiles, alligators, fish and amphibians.

Hand’s On Museum
Children love the Hand’s On Museum in nearby Johnson City. It’s a great way to spend a rainy day if one happens on your vacation (we hope it doesn’t!). Various exhibits throughout the year challenge children to become involved.
Until mid-April, 2010, the program is: Discover Treasure!

Try the tools of treasure hunting and investigate treasures. See actual artifacts from shipwrecks and other treasure sites. Learn more about treasure hunting, underwater treasure, buried treasure, gold rushes, and contemporary treasure hunting like geocaching.

Rocky Mount Living History Museum – Come experience the daily life of a frontier family in December 1791. On the first three weekends in December, the Cobb Family is awaiting the arrival of the Governor of the colony. Costumed interpreters invite you to enjoy the holiday preparations and excitement as they prepare the food and homes for this important visitor. Tours are by lantern light - and there is a surprise or two!

Sycamore Shoals
Sycamore Shoals State Park
• Reenactments of Revolutionary War times.
• Cherokee Indian encampments.
• Camp and march with the Overmountain Men in September as they plan the assault on Kings Mountain.
• Quilt and art exhibits
• The Wataugans – an outdoor drama the last three weekends in July. Tells the story of the settling of the First Frontier and the battles with the Indians.

Overmountain Victory Trail Association – Preserves the route and the story of the volunteer army whose victory at the Battle of King’s Mountain was a turning point in the Revolutionary War.

Each September for two weeks, reenactors march along the route of the Overmountain Men, camping at Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethton where visitors are welcome to join them. It is a great experience for families to see what life was like on the frontier in the fall. There are also other reenactments throughout the year at Sycamore Shoals. Check out the website for more information.

The Wataugans Outdoor Drama – Last three weekends in July. Sycamore Shoals is the site of the official Tennessee Outdoor Drama, “The Wataugans”. Telling the story of those brave pioneers who settled these mountains; creating homes, raising families and clearing the land all the while watching out for marauding Indians and then the British. Come and experience the excitement and drama of life in the wilderness.

Throughout the year there are various exhibits at Sycamore Shoals and there is a short movie about the OverMountain Men who gathered here to plan the attack on Kings Mountain, a decisive battle of the Revolutionary War.


Outdoor Activity

Boat Rentals on Watauga Lake – (423) 768-2336
Fish Springs Marina is a full service boat rental and slip rental business.
Rent a pontoon boat (anyone can drive one) and enjoy a picnic in the middle of the lake floating gently along, or pull up in one of the coves or islands and explore. Call Tom at 423-768-2336 to reserve your day on the water. Jump off the side of the boat and enjoy a refreshing swim in Watauga.

Fly Fishing Trips – Float or Wade
Fly fish for trout, small mouth bass, muskellunge and others in the pristine waters of Watauga River or Lake. Also enjoy fishing the South Holston, the New or Nolichucky Rivers and back country streams known only to your certified guide.

Randy Ratliff’s Fishing Newsletter

So come, let us help you discover the “most challenging, interesting and abundant fishing found anywhere”.

The Snake
Motorcycle Touring – Ride “The Snake”, aka Hwy 421; 33 miles, 489 curves, 3 mountains, and 1 valley. The Snake is famous for its curves between Shady Valley and Mountain City. The scenery is great, but be sure to concentrate on the road.

New River Canoe/Tubing Adventures – (800) 982-9190. Canoe the New River with New River Outfitters, Jefferson, NC. Short or long trips allow you to enjoy America’s first historic river by kayak, tubing or canoe. Call for reservations and pick-up locations.

Mountain Golfing – Enjoy 18 holes of golf on one of the country’s most beautiful golf courses. Red Tail Mountain. Sam Adams, pro, offers a challenging course where the ball flies forever. Tournaments throughout the season (March-November depending on the weather).

And if you want other course suggestions, just give us a call. There are many fine courses in the area that welcome guests from “away”.



Great Smoky Mountain National Park – Cherokee, NC. World renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park.

Mount Jefferson State Park – Jefferson, NC. “Mount Jefferson rises abruptly to more than 1,600 feet above the surrounding landscape, serving as a landmark for area motorists. The mountain’s dark color makes it stand out from neighboring peaks.”

New River State Park – Jefferson, NC. Rugged hillsides, pastoral meadows and rustic farmlands surround what is thought to be one of the oldest rivers in North America.

Warriors Path State Park – Kingsport, TN. Warriors Path follows the paths of the earliest settlers of the region. It is still a pathway for modern-day outdoor enthusiasts.

Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park – Limestone , TN. The site consists of 105 partially wooded acres of land along the Nolichucky River. The park’s museum contains exciting Davy Crockett exhibits.



ShayBrey Gifts and Antiques – (423) 727-2739
259 West Main St., Mountain City, TN
Hand made and other unique gifts

Mountain City Antiques and Collectables – (423) 727-1950
101 S. Church St., Mountain City, TN
3 floors of antiques from various periods from an assortment of vendors

Victoria Rose Mini Mall – (423) 727-4776
109 S. Church Street, Mountain City, TN
Antiques and Craft Supplies

The Cabin Store Furniture and Accessories for Log Cabins – (423) 727-0717
117 S. Church St., Mountain City, TN
Bears, beds and spreads for a cabin décor

The Sassy Kats Antiques and Collectables – (423) 727-4774
1123 S. Shady St., Mountain City, TN
You should be able to find something you like here!

There are many other wonderful places to find that special gift – part of the fun on a vacation is finding that out-of-the-way store.



Appalachian Ski Mountain – Blowing Rock, NC. Skiing since 1962, the High Country’s 1st ski area is still the mountain of choice for skiers of all ages and abilities.

Beech Mountain – Beech Mountain, NC. Since 1967 Ski Beech redefines southern skiing as the highest ski resort in Eastern North America, at 5506 ft. above sea level.

HawksNest – Seven Devils, NC. Ski and Zip Lines

Sugar Mountain – Banner Elk, NC


Trails, Caves and Peaks

Laurel Fork Falls Trail – Hampton, TN. This moderately difficult trail begins at the Laurel Falls trail head in Hampton, TN on Hwy 321/67.

Creeper Trail
Virginia Creeper Trail – Damascus, VA (18 miles). The Virginia Creeper Trail is open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Rent a bike at www.thebike-station.com and let them take you to the top of the mountains and then you coast down.

Blue Hole – Stoney Creek Area. A multi-part 45’ series of falls. This is easy to reach from the parking area.

Bristol Caverns – US 421 & Bristol Caverns HWY, Bristol Caverns, TN. Bristol Caverns cave system allows you to explore the banks of underground rivers, carved deep into the earth millions of years ago.

Appalachian Trail
Appalachian Trail – Famous trail extending from Maine to Georgia. Locally the Appalachian Trail follows segments of mountain ranges in the Cherokee National Forest. Sections for day hikes are within 12 miles of the Inn: Iron Mountain Trail; Pond Mountain Trail; Laurel Creek Falls Trail

Blue Ridge Parkway – Nearest on-ramp is located at Mile Post 280 just east of Boone, NC off US Hwy 421. With entrances and exits at all major federal and state highways part of a Parkway experience is getting into the towns and communities of the region. Asheville and Boone, NC and Roanoke, VA are the largest cities along the way.

The Blowing Rock
The Blowing Rock – HWY 321 S, Blowing Rock, NC. The Blowing Rock, North Carolina’s oldest travel attraction since 1933, is an immense cliff 4,000 feet above sea level overhanging Johns River Gorge 3,000 feet below. Open all year weather permitting.

Grandfather Mountain – US 221 & Blue Ridge Parkway; Linville, NC. Grandfather Mountain is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge mountain range and a globally recognized nature preserve. Visit the Mile High Swinging Bridge with access to a spectacular mountaintop view. Great rock climbing hiking trails for older children and agile adults

Linville Falls – HWY 221, Linville Falls, NC. Linville Mountain and Jonas Ridge cradle the river making accessible the many trails into the gorge and views of the picturesque falls.


Unique Attractions

Appalachian Ghost Walks – Explore the mysteries of the Tennessee and Virginia mountains. These lantern lit tours bring the Cherokee, Revolutionary, Frontier and Civil War history to life.

Festival of Lights – Bristol, TN. From November through the first of the year, the Bristol Motor Speedway is a blaze of millions of lights in hundreds of static and moving displays! Why, there is even a light showing how a car races down the drag strip! Ice skating and hot chocolate after you drive around the track and the grounds being amazed at the light displays. Don’t miss this once a year event for the entire family.

The roar of the engines is replaced with the twinkling of two million lights during Bristol Motor Speedway’s annual Speedway in Lights. Along the four mile route, including a drive around the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, visitors delight in hundreds of displays.

A sampling of highlights and annual favorites includes:

• Symphony of Lights – The largest display to be added in Speedway in Lights 14-year history, this light show features a large Christmas tree, dancing snowflakes, arches and fountains, consisting of more than 300,000 LED lights synchronized to music.

• The Twelve Days of Christmas – A dozen scenes stretch for 180 feet, each approximately 10 feet tall and nearly 15 feet wide, depicting holiday scenes.

• The Sea Of Illumination – Presented by Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, this popular display features almost 750 feet of sparkling fish, sharks and other sea creatures.

• The Animated Snowman Attraction – Flying snowballs build a huge snowman.

• Dinosaur Village – This display features six dinosaurs and an erupting volcano.

• Santa’s Speedway Sleigh (Wednesday and Thursday nights at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.) – A special tram offers the experience of an open-air ride through along the four mile route, complete with Christmas carols played on the tram’s sound system and information provided by a tour guide - Reservations are required.

Other attractions include an ice skating rink and 300-foot long tube slide (November 17, 2011 through January 15, 2012 on scheduled days). Also, visit the Christmas Village for photos with Santa, roasted marshmallows, hot chocolate, carnival rides and crafts vendors.

For additional information about the schedule and tickets, visit: Bristol Motor Speedway Website.

Tweetsie Railroad
Tweetsie Railroad – Blowing Rock, NC. The Wild West theme park features live shows, amusement rides, and much more. The heart of the park is the three-mile train ride behind Tweetsie Railroad’s historic steam locomotives. Special features during the year: Thomas the Train Engine; Ghost Train around Halloween and others

Mystery Hill – Blowing Rock, NC. Mystery Hill – Blowing Rock, NC., (828) 264-2792
Watch water run uphill, stand inside a soap bubble, and other fun things.

NASCAR Bristol Motor Speedway – Bristol, TN (42 miles). 160,000 seat track holds many face paced racing events throughout the year.

Quilt Trail – We invite you to take a trip back in time as you slow down and enjoy the scenic countryside of our region. For your pleasure we have displayed the artistry of the traditional quilt on a backdrop of historic and beautiful barns. Take your time, pack a lunch or better yet stop at a local country store or diner to enjoy some local flavors. You will find a variety of historic sites, produce stands, shops, galleries and other places to entertain you along the way. Click the link and follow the trail

Turchin Canter for the Visual Arts – Boone, NC (20 miles). Appalachian State University’s own center for all forms of the visual arts. Check out the summer arts festival.

Tilapia Farming & Hydroponic Gardening – (423) 727-2620 Mountain City. The innovative agriculture department at the Johnson County High School is taking agriculture well into the next millennium. The program has generated national attention and has brought thousands of visitors from over twenty-seven states and five foreign countries in the last 18 months. It has been featured many times in television and radio programs, and newspaper and magazine articles all over the United States. The program has developed from a struggling program in the early 1980’s with less than 100 students and only one female to a program that had 346 students last year with 162 of those being female. This is in a high school with less than seven hundred students.

They raise all types of plants in four greenhouses. The most recent addition being what is called the Alternative Farming Center. In this multi-crop center, students are presently raising tilapia, a warm water food fish, in raceways in the 9,000 square-foot facility with water garden plants floating on the water. Bedding plants are being grown on rolling tables over the fish and hanging baskets are produced overhead. Hydroponic tomatoes and cucumbers are produced beside the raceways. Hydroponics lettuce is also being grown directly over the fish in a method that is being developed as symbiotic engineering. The lettuce takes in nutrients from the fish water, particularly nitrogen, which can be a detriment to the fish and returns the water with less nitrogen and more oxygen, thus benefiting both fish and the lettuce. Koi, a water garden fish is also raised in the center. Call for more information.

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