I recently visited a charming little town called Mossy Creek, just 30-45 minutes from Knoxville, Tennessee! The Historic Mossy Creek District offers a unique glimpse into small-town life as the former commercial hub of Mossy Creek, which is now Jefferson City. Some buildings date back to the 1800s, including an old movie theater, a mercantile, and various eateries. This historic part of Jefferson City is currently undergoing renovations to modernize and attract tourism, which it is doing quite well. Recently, the area has been designated a Tennessee Downtown by the state’s Main Street Program.

Established in the late 1700s, the Historic Mossy Creek District is located just a few blocks from Cherokee Lake and has so much to offer, including a vibrant “lake life” with concerts, restaurants, and amazing people. Known for its vivid green moss, the small-town charm will make you fall in love. The district has recently seen a grassroots revitalization effort and has been honored as one of the state’s inaugural Tennessee Downtowns. Conveniently located just 30 minutes from Knoxville and 30 minutes from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the Historic Mossy Creek District is a charming destination worth visiting.

I had the pleasure of visiting for the day with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Mossy Creek team, and it was an adventure-filled day complete with history, dining, and highlighting some amazing local businesses. Our first stop was the Mossy Creek Farmers Market, where I met local vendors selling honey, bread, cookies, clothes, and art. Wales Pure Raw Honey was absolutely delicious. The vendor has many hives in Jefferson City and aims to impact younger generations and beekeeping. Woods Works by Anna & Jeff Woods had a delightful craft table showcasing great jewelry, boards, coasters, and more. Diana’s Dips stole my heart with her delicious salsa, which you can find in retail stores and order online, while Baby B’s Boutique melted my heart with the most adorable children’s clothes. Leahanne’s Homemade Bread was a popular table selling sourdough, honey wheat, rye, and their famous pumpernickel breads, which were selling fast alongside their butter—yum!

After the market, we visited Old City Hall, which still has the original jail from the 1700s. It was creepy and exciting since I am a huge fan of such things. We also toured the old parts of the school that used to be there and learned about the wonderful history of this amazing town. They’re building rooms to offer overnight tourism, which is very cool. The renovations have started, and I can’t wait to see them fully completed. I definitely want to go back and visit. Right next door is the old Firehouse turned pizza place: Patriot Wood Fired Pizza. This was talked about all day, so by the time the day was over, I got some to go and ate the entire Margherita pizza on the way home. It was sensational!

We then went to Mossy’s Cafe, owned by wonderful people. In true small-town fashion, everyone knows each other. Many are either professors at the local university, students, or business owners, creating a great community atmosphere. The entire visit, I kept thinking, “Wow, what a sense of community they have! They support and love each other, and it’s honestly the most adorable thing I have ever experienced!” I ordered the Club Sandwich, which was absolutely delicious, but the Grit Bowl also looked fantastic. As a northerner living in the South, I am warming up to grits but haven’t fully embraced them yet. When I visit again, I will get the Grit Bowl! Afterward, we went through an attached door to the Mad Ox House, one of the “Friday night spots” serving great beer and cider. They even have a mug club, along with food, pizza, and great outdoor seating overlooking the historic railroad. This was a nice spot, and the owner was so creative, personable, and a total entrepreneur at heart. He and the Mossy Creek team have so much passion for this place; it’s really admirable.

Afterwards, we took a stroll with a local historian to see some great battle sites where the true history came alive. It was so interesting to learn about the history and battles that happened here and to think about all the people back in the day walking through this area, up and down the hills, through the creeks, and navigating it all to become what it is today. Truly inspiring. We then ventured back to town to a local shop called Christmas at the Creek, which was so charming and ideal if you want to find a unique gift for someone. However, if they’re more of a coffee drinker, Mossy Creek Roasting Company is one of the businesses that really won me over with their Southern hospitality, entrepreneurial can-do attitude, and the aesthetic of the whole roasting facility. It’s a large place, and they have big plans for this space. I am excited to see how they build their coffee shop, cafe, and bowling alley inside this space; it’s going to become the ultimate destination for fun, great coffee, and more. I will also be using some of the dark roast Mossy Creek Mud for some upcoming posts, so stay tuned!

Afterward, we went to see the lake, and in true Tennessee fashion, the Mossy Creek team had a wonderful family who took us on their state-of-the-art pontoon boat and gave us a tour of the lake. I fell in love! The wind, the weather, and the views… it’s absolutely beautiful! Our last stop of the day (although there is still much more to see) was a distillery, and thank goodness because this Somm loves her distilleries and tries to visit a local one every time she goes somewhere. Mossback Distilling is a stunning cocktail lounge where we enjoyed some craft cocktails and amazing ambiance.

It all began with two visionaries, Jeremy Reed and Daniel Taylor, whose friendship blossomed in the small town of Jefferson City, Tennessee. Both became successful entrepreneurs, with Reed establishing his business in Jefferson City and Taylor in San Antonio, Texas. Their shared roots and enduring friendship led to the creation of Pursue Bourbon, which eventually expanded into Pursue Spirits Co. and Mossback Distillery. Their vision was to create a space that would bring the community together while giving back to the town they love, fostering growth and development in the area. Mossback Distillery, established in 2021, is nestled in the foothills of the Smokies in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Formerly known as Mossy Creek, the city’s entrepreneurs were affectionately nicknamed “Mossbacks.” I absolutely loved their 1788 Pecan, which I did not think I would, but boy was it delicious. I also loved the Claricus, which is unique, and the Coffee Liqueur, which stole the show for me. If my husband wasn’t waiting for me, I would have gotten an espresso martini because that coffee liqueur is outstanding!

All in all, if you’re seeking a small-town feel with a ton to offer, Mossy Creek is a must-visit. I honestly can’t wait to go back and see everyone again, as well as their businesses, to witness the amazing transformations. This town is one of a kind, the people are hardworking, honest, and hospitality-driven, and it’s an absolute hidden gem!