Maryville and Townsend Tennessee: The peaceful side towns of the Smokies
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TownsendLocated at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Townsend is rural charm, with most establishments locally owned, and lots of recreational choices and outfitters. Townsend is home to the history, artisans, and soft adventure -- and in Townsend, just about all the eateries are locally owned. Both offer some great lodging.
Food and LodgingFor chocolate and coffee in Townsend try Chocolate B'ar. The chocolatier is Bill Kraft who has created some standouts. Try the chocolate ganache with their own marshmallow cream, and their lightly salted caramel with chocolate -- definitely winners.
For breakfast, head to the Firefly also in Townsend and enjoy their signature Crunchy French Toast with pecans, oatmeal, cream and spices. The name comes from owner Deborah Lee's desire to inspire us to "light up from within" just like fireflies.
Lodging choices abound from high end luxury to modest cabins for families. RVers have their choice of half-dozen places along the Little River in Townsend (see http://www.smokymountains.org/accommodations/campgrounds.html) For a complete listing).
For more upscale accommodations, the Dancing Bear Lodge, has a comfortable upscale rustic feel. In the lodge's living room check out the fireplace mantle with its unique 3D tableau. There's an outside patio among the tall trees with a fire in the fireplace. Sitting there with a glass of wine watching the flames provides a beautiful moment of peace and serenity. And make sure you have at least one dinner in their cozy and welcoming dining space.
MaryvilleThe town of Maryville is close enough to Knoxville to be considered a suburb, but with a small college, Maryville offers charm and some fun shops.
Food and LodgingFor coffee and a true coffee house feel, nothing is better than Vienna Coffee in Maryville. Owner John Clark started it because he couldn't get a good cup of coffee. Today this large, sprawling welcoming coffee house offers breakfast and lunch (salads soups, crustless quiches, apple cake, scones, and more everything made fresh on the premises. And, of course, the coffee. They get the beans from all over the world and roast them in the basement.
BBQ fans will love Full Service BBQ located in a former filling station in Maryville. Instead of gasoline it serves up stellar brisket, fall off the bone pork ribs as well as chicken, all lushly smoked using local oak and hickory in smokers that have actually been named by owner Anthony DiFranco. You'll see Bubba complete with smoke at streetside, the actually smoking goes on in the back, safely away from automobile fumes.
Full Service BBQ offers several different kinds of sauce; sweet and spicy, a traditional Carolina mustard, their own Apple Dapple, described as all sweet and no spicy, and the really fine Tennessee Whiskey that was a standout and perfectly complemented both the brisket and the ribs. Brisket comes sliced from two different parts. If you like a bit more fat, or a bit leaner ask for it.
For lunch or dinner (or drinks at the bar), the Smoky Mountain Brewery features its own craft beers under brewmaster Marty Velas. They have several locations in the Knoxville area and their latest is in Maryville. They offer great pub style food as well as their beers, but you can also get 5 oz samplers. Try the Cherokee Ale with carmelized malt to give it a subtle sweetness.
Maryville is a perfect town for strolling and shopping. But don't miss Pop Korn for a mind-blowing variety of flavors. They use real cheese and real chocolate (rather than powder). The chocolate is the kind you'd be happy to eat as candy. The only problem is trying to decide which of the 101 flavors to buy.
For a truly serene and private experience, it's definitely the Butterfly Gap Retreat. Although classed as a B&B, it really is a retreat with individual houses complete with a bedroom, living, kitchen and patio each situated on an acre of land. Breakfast is delivered to your door between 8 and 9:30 am. Wander down to the lake and take out one of the rowboats, or sit on the dock and fish. Watch the sunset from the top of the mountain. Set on 900 acres located 6 miles from downtown Maryville this is truly a retreat.
Their Foothills Fall Festival in October is a great time to visit and enjoy the town, and the world class concerts, juried arts and crafts. http://www.foothillsfallfestival.com/
For more information about Blount County, please contact the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority at (800) 525.6834 or visit SmokyMountains.org Follow the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority at Twitter.com/PeacefulSmokies. Have a comment to share? Like us on Facebook - OffbeatTravelCom and post your comment.
Neala Schwartzberg McCarten
Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author