Whoever said you can never go home again, has clearly never been to Clinton, TN. Because that, my friends, is exactly what I am doing. I haven’t lived there in 17 years (what?), but I’m about to because truly, I can think of no better place to take my family.
It just took me a little while to realize it, but it’s where my forever home is.
So, why do I love Clinton so much? Sure, there’s the beauty of the small town community and the friends I grew up with and have known my entire life. My family is there too and they are so close to my kids who will just love that they are only about 10 minutes away.
But here are my top 10 reasons why this small town gem grabbed a piece of my heart and really never let go:
1. Sweet P’s Snowball Shack
It’s always a good list if you start it with ice cream, right? You guys, this is the sweetest snow cone/ice cream/milkshake/smoothie place that you will ever find! My friend Ashley opened it in June 2014. Ashley said, “Sweet P’s was created to focus on a family atmosphere where people could come together, enjoy a treat, and the simple life of small town living. I wanted to establish a business that would appeal to all types of people, where I could look out the front window and find my own kids playing with all of the local kids who stop by. I wanted to hear laughter and see happiness.” And she’s certainly created just that — it is a hopping place right after t-ball or baseball games, and for families venturing out to enjoy the weather after dinner. My kids certainly love it!
Here’s the thing that I really love about this place though. Ashley is also a teacher! And she opens during what most would argue is the craziest time for any kind of teacher – the end of the school year. But, she says “It was so important for me to chase my dream. I have two children and showing them it’s possible to chase a dream, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort is so important. My students at school are always amazed that I work and own a business. I want them to see that they can do anything if they put their education first, stay the course and get things done! It’s my prayer that in 25 years, families will look back and recall with fondness the time they spent with us at Sweet P’s.”
If that’s not a reason to come to Clinton and support local, I don’t know what is! But I’ll give you a few more just in case!
2. Antique Shopping on the TN Antique Trail
If Joanna Gaines decided to make a stop in Clinton, TN she would surely swoon over all of the finds at these amazing local stores. Inspired by JoJo herself, I went on the hunt just last week for an antique door for our pantry. I know that she loves to do this in some of her remodels and since we’re currently building a house in Clinton I thought it would be so neat to have some Clinton history in our house. And I quickly found one that I LOVE at The Shoppe at 350 Market. My builder said the door was wider than most doors, which was going to make our pantry just a little bigger – so thank you Clinton Antiques for helping us get that anyway!
3. The Museum of Appalachia
“Let the past touch your soul.” This is the first thing one reads on their website, where I also learned that John Rice Irwin spent a lifetime collecting the artifacts of the Appalachian people and although the museum’s founder is now retired, he can still remember just about every auction, every smokehouse and barn he has explored — and every good friend he has made among the rural folks of Appalachia. Those histories – and those of the people to which they are connected – are central to his passion for collecting and central to the character of the Museum.
This museum is such a fun adventure for families and kids. There are always fun events happening like sheep shearing day, a barn dance, or the Independence Day anvil shoot. Make sure you stop by at Christmas when they create a meaningful holiday of simpler times.
4. The Clinch River
This is just a perfect place to be if you want some fun activities to do with your kids this summer. There are opportunities for fishing, paddle boating, feeding ducks, riding bikes along the trail, or simply just watching the rowing – from practices to regattas. When my kids were really little I used to bike along the river pulling them. They’re way too big for me to get anywhere with them now, but I imagine they’ll be riding their own bikes soon and we’ll be taking some family trips there on a daily basis.
5. Perkadeli’s & Hoskin’s Drug Store
When I think about Hoskin’s the first thing that pops into my head is going there after school with my bff Carrie to kill some time before church on Wednesdays. She would get cheese on wheat crackers and I would get cheese on cheese crackers. I’m astounded, considering our sweet teeth, that we didn’t get a milkshake every time we went there! They have some of the best around! If you haven’t tried Perkadeli’s chicken salad you are seriously missing out on life! Both are really fun places to take kids!
If you haven’t been to Hammer’s you haven’t been to Clinton. I’ve known this motto long before I had my first boyfriend! True story: Hammer’s is where I got my first job. They let me start the day after Thanksgiving, when there were crazy mad bargain shoppers lined up and wrapped around the building ready to purchase towels and sheets and rugs and clothes at the best bargain in town! It was a crazy day, but it certainly didn’t scare me away. Not every day at Hammer’s is like that but you definitely want to get there early on they days they have the big sales! What is Hammer’s? It’s a store that offers a mixture of first quality, closeouts, and irregulars of famous brand merchandise. Shoppers can find fun and fashion goods for men and women, along with top name hunting and work wear, shoes, and boots. Bargain hunters can also find quality accessories for the home like rugs, home decor, and seasonal florals.
7. Little Ponderosa Zoo & Rescue
My four-year-old twins cannot get enough of animals. They find them fascinating, which is probably why they love the Ponderosa Zoo. This zoo is a nonprofit exotic animal rescue that takes in animals from all over the United States. They offer birthday parties and overnight adventures and it’s just in your backyard – right outside of Knoxville!
8. Norris Dam
Ok, technically this one is in Norris and not Clinton, but it’s so close and Clintonians love it so I’m throwing it in here. Over the last few weeks thousands of people visited the dam to see the water spilling from Norris Lake for the first time since 2013. It was such a beautiful site to see. Even when it’s not spilling though, it’s another really gorgeous place to be outside with your family. Spend a day on Norris Lake, hike the trails, or just take in all of the beauty.
9. Splash Pad
Ok, so it’s not the most impressive splash pad you’ll ever see in your life, but do kids really need it to be? What’s better in the summer than grabbing a snow cone at Sweet P’s and then cooling off in some water? Absolutely nothing! This was something added to our sweet town last summer and the community really loved having it as a place to just enjoy summer and family!
10. Freddy – Our Local Celebrity
I’m going to brag here for just a minute: The town of Clinton loves a man so well that they named a street after him, allow him to eat at any restaurant for free, let him into any event at no cost and celebrate him every single day like there is no tomorrow. I just cannot think of a better way to show you the hearts of the people in Clinton than by this simple act of love that everyone shares.
Freddy enjoying a coke and a laugh at Hoskin’s.
My dad wrote a book about this phenomenon. It’s really hard to explain this love but here’s an attempt: “How does a person born with mental and physical challenges become the most popular person in his community? Why did the town throw a 50th birthday party for him and name a street in his honor? Why do valedictorians mention him in their commencement addresses? Why does a person who can’t use a computer get 500 Facebook friends the first week he is on it? Freddy: A Love Story attempts to answer those questions. It is an often humorous, sometimes poignant look at the town of Clinton, Tennessee and the man who captured the town’s heart.”
“The common thread that all these funny, interesting, heart-warming stories share is how this unassuming, carefree individual has, in his own unconventional way, made the city of Clinton, and much of East Tennessee, better. They are better because of their love for him, and for being a part of his stories.” – Alvin Taylor
If you have any interest you can buy my dad’s book here. I’m a pretty proud daughter of this one!