Top 21 Things To Do In Erwin, Tennessee

things to do in Erwin TN
Anne Marie
Anne Marie 
| 10 min read

Erwin, Tennessee, is an outdoor enthusiasts’ paradise. This small town is nestled in the Cherokee National Forest in the northeastern corner of the state, not far from North Carolina and Virginia. Most of the land in the surrounding Unicoi County is actually part of the preserve, which means there are seemingly endless green spaces, forests, rivers, and ponds to be explored. Erwin’s proximity to the Nolichucky River means it’s an ideal pick for those looking to do water activities like fishing, kayaking, tubing, and even whitewater rafting. The river gorge provides some steep hills where you can hike for breathtaking views. In between outdoor excursions, Erwin is a cute town to explore with many dining and shopping options. Start planning your trip by reading on for all the things to do in Erwin, Tennessee.

1. Learn about local history at Unicoi County Heritage Museum

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Take a trip back in time with a visit to Unicoi County Heritage Museum. The museum is located in an authentic frame house that is over a hundred years old. At the time it was built, it was considered to be one of the finest homes in the area and had the distinction of being the official residence for fish hatchery superintendents. The museum’s exhibits are spread out over 10 rooms and include artifacts like Blue Ridge and Cash pottery from the turn of the century. The second floor is designed to resemble an old-fashioned main street, with display shop windows of an apothecary, post office, bank, and more.

Unicoi County Heritage Museum

Address: 529 Federal Hatchery Rd, Erwin, Tennessee 37650

Opening hours: 1pm - 5pm (daily)

Price: 2 USD

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2. Tour Erwin National Fish Hatchery

Erwin National Fish Hatchery
Source: Photo by Flickr user U.S. Fish and Wil... used under CC BY 2.0

Erwin is well-known for its National Fish Hatchery, which receives over 40,000 visitors annually. The hatchery contains three strains of rainbow trout. One of the station’s main goals is to produce millions of disease-free eggs for federal and tribal hatcheries to support their fish management efforts. They also aim to support the fish species of the Southern Appalachian Ecosystem. The hatchery has a visitor center where you can learn about their work and how it fits into local ecosystems. There is also a wildlife viewing area where you can watch the fish.

Erwin National Fish Hatchery

Address: 520 Federal Hatchery Rd, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Erwin National Fish Hatchery

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 7am - 3pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

Price: Free

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3. Enjoy a nice day at Erwin Kiwanis Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Erwin Kiwanis Park is a lovely outdoor area where you can enjoy a sunny day. It is located off of the popular Erwin Linear Trail, and is a great spot to rest after a walk or a run. The park has a pretty gazebo as well as benches and gardens. It was made possible by the efforts of the Erwin Kiwanis Club, which strives to create leaders for the future by investing time and energy into enhancing the community. Kiwanis Park is one of the most recent additions to the town and is already beloved by locals and visitors alike.

Erwin Kiwanis Park

Address: Erwin Linear Trail, Erwin, TN

Website: Erwin Kiwanis Park

Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)

Price: Free

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4. Walk or jog along Erwin Linear Trail

Erwin Linear Trail
Source: Photo by Flickr user DM used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Another beloved outdoor space is Erwin Linear Trail. At just 4 miles (6.4 km) in length, it is long enough for a challenging run but not so long that you can’t walk it in a few hours. The trail is entirely covered in asphalt, making it easily accessible for those traveling by wheelchair or with strollers. It winds through some of the prettiest parts in Erwin, like lush forests and picturesque rivers.

Erwin Linear Trail

Address: Erwin Linear Trail, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Erwin Linear Trail

Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)

Price: Free

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5. Cast a line on the Nolichucky River

Source: Photo by Flickr user Ron B used under CC BY 2.0

One of the best spots for fishing around Erwin is the Nolichucky River. People travel from out of state just to cast their lines in the Nolichucky. This river begins in North Carolina and flows southwest past Erwin all the way to Morristown. The primary gamefish in the river is the smallmouth bass but you’ll also be able to catch black bass, rock bass, and musky fish. Fishing isn’t limited to the warm weather–in the winter months, the upper river is stocked with rainbow trout from the Erwin Natural Hatchery, too.

Nolichucky River

Address: 207 Highway 321, Hampton, TN 37658

Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)

Price: Free

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6. Relax along the river at Chestoa Recreation Area

If you prefer to enjoy the river from dry land, spend a few hours at Chestoa Recreation Area. It sits right on the banks of the Nolichucky River, giving you the option to do water-based activities or just enjoy it from ashore. If you have been canoeing or rafting, this is an ideal spot to pull out your boats and take a break. There is a picnic area and even restrooms for your convenience so you can return to the river refreshed and reinvigorated.

Chestoa Recreation Area

Address: 4 Jones Branch Rd, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Chestoa Recreation Area

Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)

Price: Free

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7. Go kayaking with Wahoo's Adventures

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Wahoo's Adventures on Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Aside from fishing, another great way to experience the river is by kayak. Whether you’re a beginner or just uncertain about navigating the river, you should book a kayak trip with Wahoo’s Adventures for an amazing experience. Wahoo’s provides gear, instruction, and a guide for your trip down the New River, which is located in nearby Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Kayaking is an ideal way to experience this slow-moving river and take in the pristine natural surroundings. Wahoo’s even throws in a free tubing trip after you’re done kayaking!

Wahoo's Adventures

Address: 3385 US Highway 321 S, Blowing Rock, NC 28605

Website: Wahoo’s Adventures

Opening hours: 8am - 8pm (daily)

Price: 35 USD

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8. Catch a performance at The Gathering Place

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Gathering Place is a cool music and performance venue in downtown Erwin. It is completely outside, giving you the unique experience of seeing music under the stars. The stage’s brick wall background and the strings of twinkle lights over the audience add to the ambiance. Be sure to bring your own folding chairs in case the benches and seats are all taken. During breaks in the performance, feel free to stroll around to the food vendors–or bring your own picnic!

The Gathering Place

Address: 119 N Main Ave, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: The Gathering Place

Opening hours: 8am - 8pm (daily)

Price: Free

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9. Take a swim at Rock Creek Recreation Area

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer day or after a strenuous hike than taking a dip in a pond. You can do exactly that at Rock Creek Recreation Area. This pristine little spot features a stream-fed swimming pool where you can take a dip. The whole area feels like a little oasis on hot days because of its shady trees and the cool mountain air. There are also conveniences like bathhouses for changing and RV sites and electric hookups in case you’d like to camp out.

Rock Creek Recreation Area

Address: Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Rock Creek Recreation Area

Opening hours: 8am - 10pm (daily)

Price: Free

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10. Have all kinds of fun at Nolichucky Gorge Campground and Cabins

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

The water is still warm, the camping season is still on.

Posted by The Nolichucky Gorge Campground on Saturday, September 12, 2020

Nolichucky Gorge Campground & Cabins is a family-friendly, rustic resort with lots of opportunities and amenities for enjoying the river! They have easy access to the waterfront and offer river trips to take advantage of it. Excursions are appropriate for many ages and skill levels. Choose from kayaking, white water rafting, or a relaxing tube ride. All water adventures conveniently end at the campground so you can easily return to your tent, cabin, or RV if you’re staying on site. They also have day-use passes so those who are staying nearby can experience all the campground has to offer.

Nolichucky Gorge Campground & Cabins

Address: 101 Jones Branch Rd, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Nolichucky Gorge Campground & Cabins

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 5 USD for day pass

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11. Experience a thrilling whitewater rafting ride

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Park your chairs in the river...with your cold beverage of choice from The Take Out Bar & Grill in hand. Tubing also...

Posted by USA Raft Adventure Resort on Saturday, July 16, 2022

The Nolichucky River has both tranquil parts where you can peacefully fish or kayak, as well as rushing rapids! It has been named one of the top 10 rivers for whitewater rafting in the world. Whitewater rafting is not for the faint of heart, but it’s a thrilling way to experience the river. One of the best whitewater rafting companies in Erwin is the USA Raft Adventure Resort. They offer several rafting excursions depending on how daring you feel. The lower river trips cover calmer, class 1 to 2 rapids and are suitable for anyone age 4 and up. The older and more adventurous rafters will want to ride on the upper river, which has class 3 to 4 rapids and is suitable for ages 10 and up. They even offer overnight rafting trips to keep the fun going!

USA Raft Adventure Resort

Address: 2 Jones Branch Rd, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: USA Raft Adventure Resort

Opening hours: 7am - 9pm (daily)

Price: 45 USD

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12. Get your daily coffee where the locals do

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

If you want to stick to local businesses while traveling in Erwin, you can’t beat Steel Rails Coffee House for delicious beverages and food. This charming, little cafe offers an array of coffee drinks, pastries, and light bites. The coffee is just as great as at any major chain or in a big city. See why the locals love Steel Rails and even interact with them over the most important meal of the day.

Steel Rails Coffee House

Address: 113 N Main Ave, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Steel Rails Coffee House

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 7:30am - 5pm; Sat: 7:30am - 1pm (closed on Sun)

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13. Hike the Appalachian Trail

Source: Photo by user Mark Fickett used under CC BY 3.0

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most famous trails in the entire world. It spans 14 east coasts states and 2200 miles (3540 km), and it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to complete the whole thing. However, you don’t have to hike the entire trail to experience its beauty. The trail runs right near Erwin so be sure to set aside time during your visit to hike part of the trail. The trail passes by several stunning landmarks in Unicoi County, including Big and Little Balds mountains, the Nolichucky River Gorge, and Unaka Mountain. All of these spots can easily be hiked to from a starting point in Erwin.

Appalachian Trail

Address: Pisgah National Forest, 4460 Flag Pond Rd, Mars Hill, TN 28754

Website: Appalachian Trail

Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)

Price: Free

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14. Play golf at Elks Lodge Par 3 Course

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Erwin is a very outdoorsy town that you can do just about any sport–including golf. One of the nicest and most well-maintained courses in Erwin is the par 3 course at Erwin Elks Lodge. This nine-hole course contains seven par-three holes and two par-four holes, providing even experienced golfers with a challenge. You don’t have to be an Elks member to play on the course, or to take advantage of the refreshments served in the comfortable lounge.

Elks Lodge Par 3 Golf Course

Address: Old Fishery Rd, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Elks Lodge Par 3 Golf Course

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

Price: From 15 USD

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15. Browse hand-painted pottery at Valley Beautiful Antique Mall

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Downtown Erwin has several interesting antique stores where you can shop for one-of-a-kind items. Pottery is an especially popular find in these antique stores because Erwin was once a hub for handmade pottery. Several pottery companies ran out of Erwin, but the most popular was Blue Ridge Pottery, a hand-painted line that closed operations in 1957. Though they no longer produces new items, you can still find them at Valley Beautiful Antique Mall, which claims to have the largest collection of handmade pottery in east Tennessee. Stop by to browse their beautiful pottery items and bring home a piece of Tennessee history!

Valley Beautiful Antique Mall

Address: 109 S Main Ave, Erwin, TN 37650

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10:30am - 5pm: Sun: 1:30pm - 5pm (closed on Mon)

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16. Eat ice cream while playing board games at What's the Scoop

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

What’s the Scoop is the next of a growing trend of board game cafes, where guests can order food while playing games. However, What’s the Scoop is unique in that their menu is entirely dessert, adding to the fun atmosphere of playing games! Choose from several delicious flavors of ice cream to eat while you play a game. The menu has lots of options, including vegan ice creams, milkshakes, and floats.

What's the Scoop Ice Cream & Board Game Cafe

Address: 214 S Main Ave, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: What’s the Scoop Ice Cream & Board Game Cafe

Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 3pm - 8pm; Sat: 12pm - 8pm; Sun: 1pm - 5pm (closed on Mon)

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17. Shop for unique pieces at Stegall's Pottery

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Though Blue Ridge Pottery has long been closed, there are still local artisans carrying on the tradition of hand-making pottery in east Tennessee. One such place is Stegall’s Pottery, which produces functional stoneware items like mugs, bowls, and much more. The store is owned and operated by the Stegall couple, who have been hobby potters for many years and finally are focusing on making pottery full time from their home in Erwin. Stop by to see everything they offer, including items that can be personalized with names!

Stegall's Pottery

Address: 200 Nolichucky Ave, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Stegall’s Pottery

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

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18. Savor delicious Asian cuisine at Hibachi House

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

One more secret menu item, orange chicken. Tender...

Posted by Hibachi House on Wednesday, December 29, 2021

One of the best places to have Asian-inspired cuisine in Erwin is at Hibachi House. This casual restaurant is big on flavor, with an extensive menu that will suit everyone’s cravings. They also have rotating specials added to the menu, like bourbon chicken and noodles and stir-fry wraps. Hibachi House is a beloved staple in the community and has nothing but rave reviews from regulars, new customers, and everyone in between!

Hibachi House

Address: 508 Carolina Ave, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Hibachi House

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11am - 8pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 9pm (closed on Sun)

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19. Enjoy a retro diner atmosphere at Dari Ace

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Come see us at DariAce and enjoy a yummy strawberry shortcake!!

Posted by Dari Ace on Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Another beloved eatery in Erwin is Dari Ace. This retro diner has all the classic touches, like a fluorescent clock, checkerboard tablecloths, and leather seats at the counter. Their menu is also full of true classics like hamburgers, chicken fingers, fries, and ice cream sundaes. Come have some delicious comfort food in a fun atmosphere by stopping by Dari Ace for any meal of the day!

Dari Ace

Address: 1105 Jackson Love Hwy, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Dari Ace

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 8am - 8pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

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20. Try delicious Southern classics at Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Bojangles on Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A trip to the South wouldn’t be complete without having some Southern comfort food. Head to the Bojangles’ location in Erwin to try their famous fried chicken and melt-in-your-mouth biscuits. They offer tons of combinations of chicken tenders, wings, rice, and biscuits so you can build your meal to your liking. You can even order a family-sized bucket of chicken for an easy meal on the road. Wash it all down with some of Bojangles’ legendary iced tea and see why it is so famous for yourself.

Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits

Address: 508 Jonesborough Rd, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits

Opening hours: 5am - 10pm (daily)

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21. Sing karaoke at Cowboy's Rendezvous Bar

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Cowboy's Rendezvous Bar on Wednesday, August 28, 2019

After the sun goes down, there is no better spot in Erwin for a rousing night out than Cowboy’s Rendezvous Bar. This local watering hole is known for more than just their drinks. Every Wednesday and Saturday is karaoke night, which anyone can join! On Thursdays and Sundays, watch or participate in a thrilling pool tournament. They have a rotation of fun events every month so check their website and plan a great night out with friends or family.

Cowboy’s Rendezvous Bar

Address: 644 Watauga Ave, Erwin, TN 37650

Website: Cowboy’s Rendezvous Bar

Opening hours: Sun - Tue: 12pm - 12am; Wed - Thu: 12pm - 1am; Fri - Sat: 12pm - 2am

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A low-key getaway in the Blue Ridge Mountains

There are many towns in the Blue Ridge Mountains that have recently had a tourism explosion! The area’s stunning natural beauty, mild climate, and friendly culture attract visitors from far and wide. Asheville and Blowing Rock are nice to see, but so crowded sometimes that it’s hard to enjoy them. Erwin has all the things that more famous towns do, like cute shops, unique eateries, and many outdoor attractions, without all the hassle that comes with their popularity. Come discover Erwin for yourself and see how wonderful it is before word gets out!

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Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Anne-Marie, a publishing professional by day, harbors a fervent desire to explore the world whenever she can. Though she hasn't discovered the entire globe yet, her eagerness to learn and write...Read more

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