Named one of Southern Living’s Best Small Towns 2021, Bell Buckle, TN may have a unique name, but it’s full of southern charm. However, it’s not just a cute little town in Tennessee. It’s serious about taking care of the environment, too. Named as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, it’s the smallest town to receive that honor.
So, Bell Buckle, TN, has a lot to offer its local residents as well as visitors. Let’s take a look at five reasons you should pass through Bell Buckle, TN, on your next road trip.
About Bell Buckle, TN
Located about 23 miles south of Murfreesboro, TN, Bell Buckle is situated along the intersection of Highway 269 and Highway 82. From I-24, you can take exit 97 and follow highway 82 for about eight miles before reaching this town of about 500 residents. It’s also about an hour south of Nashville, a perfect location for a day trip into the city.
With a name like Bell Buckle, you know there’s a unique story of its history. According to the Chamber of Commerce, although there are no documented stories, one legend has emerged as the truth. Centuries ago when the first white men settled the area, they saw a carving of a cow bell and buckle on a tree. The settlers believed this was a warning sign from the Native Americans in the area that domestic animals were intruding on their lands. The creek where the carvings were found was named Bell Buckle Creek, and the town established by this creek assumed its name.
Traveler’s Tip: After a trip to Bell Buckle, learn how to spend a perfect day in Athens and keep exploring the beautiful state of Tennessee.
5 Reasons to Make Bell Buckle, TN, Your Next Getaway
Bell Buckle, TN, has a central downtown area like many small Southern towns. It’s an area for shopping, dining, and enjoying the charm and character of the town. The annual events are also not to be missed; they know how to throw a party in Bell Buckle, TN. Let’s look at five specific reasons you need to visit this town outside of Chattanooga. It’s certainly worth taking a small detour.
#1. The Annual RC Cola MoonPie Festival
For more than 25 years, Bell Buckle, TN has celebrated two southern accomplishments – the creation of MoonPies in Chattanooga and the Georgia-made RC Cola. On the third Sunday of June, the annual RC Cola MoonPie Festival is held downtown. It’s a huge event in the area with dancing, live music, contests, a parade, and more. A king and queen are crowned, and there’s a craft fair.
And you can’t miss the ceremonial cutting of the world’s largest MoonPie. Although the event is full of unhealthy treats, it does begin with a 10-mile run & 5K fun run to kick off the festivities. This is definitely an event worth experiencing for yourself when you visit Bell Buckle, TN.
#2. The Shopping in Downtown Bell Buckle, TN
Stop in Daffodil Design and Doodlebug, two unique stores with art, furniture, and garden home decor. Or check out the fair trade market of artistic gifts at Farm Girlz Goodz, the tonics and wellness products at Half Hill Farm Wellness Emporium, and handmade goat’s milk soaps and candles at Serendipity Mercantile.
Numerous antique stores line downtown full of vintage collectibles and unique gifts. And if you’re looking for something Tennessee-made like jams or pottery, visit Two Sister Mercantile before leaving downtown. The area is a shopper’s paradise!
#3. The Trees at Bell Buckle Park
A Governor’s Stewardship Award Winning Park, Bell Buckle Park hosts the annual July 4th Celebration in Bell Buckle, TN, but also provides a beautiful recreation park year-round for visitors and locals.
Walk the half-mile trail, enjoy the children’s playground, play a pick-up game of basketball, and view the beautiful art inside the park. However, what makes Bell Buckle Park a local favorite is its Memorial and Honorary tree program, which is part of the Town of Bell Buckle’s Tree City USA program. The group plants trees in memory and in honor of loved ones and receives a permanent marker at the site. It’s a beautiful way to pay tribute to family members and friends while also helping the environment.
#4. Dessert at Bluebird Antiques and Ice Cream Parlor
On Monday-Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sunday 12-5pm, you can take a stroll down memory lane at the turn-of-the-century soda bar at Bluebird Antiques. Enjoy the atmosphere and charm while diving into a banana split, relishing the delicious homemade fudge, and munching on caramel corn. Fried pies and waffle cones with hand-dipped ice cream are also available.
#5. The Books at Bell Buckle Coffee Shop & Book Swap
After a day of shopping downtown or exploring the beautiful trees of Bell Buckle Park, sit down at the Bell Buckle Coffee Shop for a sandwich and homemade treat. Sip a warm latte while perusing the selection of books. The book swap has recently been added at the coffee shop. Feel free to take a book from the hundreds available and leave one in its place. It’s a great way to relax after a busy day or get your morning off to a great start.
Is Bell Buckle, TN, Worth a Visit?
If the RC Cola MoonPie Festival isn’t enough to pique your interest, Bell Buckle also hosts the annual Bell Buckle Daffodil Day & Best of the Butts BBQ Cook-Off the third Saturday of March.
According to the Chamber of Commerce, “over a century ago, mass plantings of the golden beauties were planted along the corridors to the scenic little town of Bell Buckle. The daffodils have multiplied and now grow in every direction throughout the tree-lined town.” It’s a beautiful time of year full of live music, Arbor Day festivities, and the Daffodil Flower Show.
Ready to head over to Bell Buckle, TN yet? Although small in size, the heart of this southern town is full of charm and character. The next time you’re visiting Tennessee, you better make sure Bell Buckle makes your list of stops!