Situated along one of the main North American thoroughfares for much of recorded history, Manchester breathes character into the heart of the South and represents an intersection of travelers and residents that deeply enjoy its treasure trove of outdoor retreats, colorful local eats, and fine artisans who make everything from cotton wreaths to rocket parts. Though often known for being the destination of the hundreds of thousands of fans who have flocked to the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival held each year, Manchester goes beyond this 17-year-old, star-studded event with a charisma all of its own.
For the nature lover, there’s a range of options when visiting Coffee County and the Cumberland Plateau. The city is home to Old Stone Fort Archaeological State Park, originally built by Native Americans, which features an educational museum, hiking trails, campgrounds with RV access and gushing waterfalls. The rush doesn’t stop there, with Tim’s Ford State Park just down the road, where visitors can enjoy one of the state’s most picturesque lakes and the top-of-the-line fishing and recreation it provides, as well a relaxing stay in one of the 1,321-acre park’s 20 cabins nestled on the wooded slopes of Tims Ford Lake.
In Manchester, the tentacles of the scenic Duck River, joining the Little Duck River within the confines of our borders, branch out along our public greenway, which is favored by walkers, runners and bikers—not to mention kids, who flock to the playgrounds, and teens who shred the skate park —and links up to the state-of-the-art Manchester Recreation Complex. This 69,000-square-foot recreation center is equipped with an indoor competition pool, hydro-therapy benches, zero-entry toddler area and a full gymnasium with weights, racquetball and basketball courts, daily aerobics, yoga and dance classes, an indoor walking track and a Casual Care Nursery.
Golf lovers can rejoice in Manchester’s Old Stone Fort Golf Course, a newly renovated nine-hole course on a scenic 140 acres that have long been an attraction for golfers far and wide, called here by its beauty and the wildlife attracted by the Duck River, considered to be the richest river in varieties of freshwater animals on the entire North American continent.
If you’re looking for a Southern meal or perhaps something just a little bit different, our city boasts regional fare and sweets at The Mercantile Café downtown and some of the best Mexican food in the south at Mercados Patty just off Exit 114 on Interstate 24. There’s also a world-renowned burger joint, a brick oven pizza restaurant, German-inspired cuisine and a steamed sandwich shop, among many other lunch and dinner destinations in between. We lay claim to Bean’s Creek Winery, which offers a selection of wines made purely from Tennessee grapes, and within spitting distance of our historic downtown square are the George Dickel and Jack Daniel’s distilleries, beloved in Tennessee (Dickel and Drop!) and the most recognizable brand in the world (Jack and Coke!) along the newly launched Tennessee Whiskey Trail, a 26-stop adventure for only the heartiest of drinkers (and designated drivers, naturally).
Manchester is best known to festival fans as the home of Bonnaroo, which has taken place every June since 2002 and hosted a wide range of celebrated headliners like Radiohead, Paul McCartney, U2, The Allman Brothers, The Black Keys, Jay Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers, ZZ Top, Stevie Wonder and Widespread Panic, to name just a few that have graced the stages at what has lovingly been dubbed “The Farm.”
Locally made art (#ShopLocal!) is easy to find in Manchester, with talented artists showcasing their crafts via collectives like the curated non-profit Foothills Crafts and Black Iris Arts, a glass art shop that doubles as a venue for weekly, hands-on workshops. And for the pickers among us, Manchester also is full of antique malls like Shelton Lane and Madeline’s Antiques & Uniques, which has more than 40 dealers spread out among 8,000 square feet.
But Manchester’s artsy side doesn’t end there. We’re home to the Millennium Repertory Company, which frequently puts on dynamic stage and musical performances for the public at the Manchester Arts Center, just off the downtown square.
We’ve only scratched the surface of what Manchester and our region has to offer for tourists and residents with this introduction. To learn more, explore the rest of our website, or even better – get out and discover middle Tennessee. We’d love to have you.
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