Johnson City, TN

Johnson City Has Great Options for Zipping Out This Thanksgiving

John M. Dabbs
Dining and getting outToni Koraza/Unsplash

Dining out instead of feasting at home

There are many dining options in the Johnson City area for those who choose not to slave over a hot stove at home for their family this year. These list is not exhaustive, as there are choices which may not be listed. Due your due diligence, and check to make sure they are still open before planning your holiday meal around a particular restaurant.


The franchise will be open, though some stores may have different hours than others or closed in some location. They will be serving their regular menu items instead of a special Thanksgiving special holiday offering.

Bob Evans

Just off the interstate at the Boones Creek exit, you can find a Thanksgiving meal hear with the trimmings normally associated with a traditional feast. Bob Evans normally has turkey and dressing on their menu - so it's not a stretch to find it here.


If you're coming in from out of town and planning to stay at the Carnegie Hotel on State of Franklin Road, across from ETSU, you'll have the benefit of a special holiday meal "from" Wellington's. The restaurant unfortunately is only offering take-out meals, so you'll need to pre-order and plan accordingly. It could be a nice option for those who like to camp-out and eat in their rooms. You may also be invited to a relative's home for dinner and want to bring the meal with you - here's your ticket!

The Burger Bar at the Double Tree hotel is also going to be open, if you're in the mood for a less traditional meal. Those traveling have many options here.

Cracker Barrel

Everyone who gets around and eats out for their "homestyle" meal, knows you can get a homestyle holiday meal at Cracker Barrel. You'll have options of the traditional turkey or going wild and having ham (for those rogue souls). In true fashion, you'll find all of the regular side dishes you're accustomed to - in addition to their traditional menu. Some people may prefer a holiday breakfast at dinner time.

Golden Corral

Overlooking North Roan Street, and across the way from Walmart, you can belly up to the trough at the Golden Corral. You'll find your normal buffet ensemble ready to meet your needs here. If you go away hungry from the 'Corral, it's your own fault. You'll find an assortment of meats, vegetables, treats, and salad offerings.


Open all the time, you'll find IHOP with it's typical menu ready to serve you the usual diner food. Maybe you'll partake of pancakes and pile them high to go with your lunch or dinner? Go wild and try the specialty syrups - it is a holiday after all.

Waffle House

We mentioned diners, burgers, and pancakes - why not waffles? Waffle House is always open and you can find their traditional menu ready to serve you. In fact, when I responded with a disaster strike team to Florida and South Carolina for hurricane response, we found Waffle House was often the only place you could find to eat a hot meal. I have a special place for them in my stomach after finding them and getting the only hot meal I'd had in days.

Wild Wing

I've just learned the Wild Wing downtown plans to be open from 4 P.M. to midnight this year. They may close early if the crowds aren't there to support overhead costs, but it's another option for those in the downtown area.


It's been all over the news - Target and Walmart are closing shop for ThanksgivingAs stores like Target and Walmart are deciding to shut their doors on Thanksgiving Day. Don't fret, there will be some grocery stores open for last-minute food purchases (hours will vary).

You'll be able to shop in Bristol at Bass Pro Shops/Cabela's if you want to make the trip. You'll also have opportunities right here in Johnson City. You need look no further than CVS, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Big Lots, Five Below, Walgreen's, Starbucks, and many of the other national chains.

Normally Dick's Sporting Goods is open, as are other stores in the mall - with limited hours. You may want to check your favorite store's website for information about their hours or status for Thanksgiving.

Black Friday has lost a little of its luster during the pandemic, with many retail and online stores offering price cuts as far back as last month. Postal service delays and increased mail costs have not helped the unofficial shopping holiday either. You can find great deals from many online sources today, and most likely even better ones - or even additional ones - on Friday, and later. My favorite stomping grounds for online Black Friday shopping are:

  • Amazon
  • Best Buy
  • Kohl's
  • Walmart

The other options are personal preferences within my photography and travel niche - B&H Photo, Adorama, and others.

Do you part too! Join me in continuing to support local retail establishments as well. I like to buy local every chance I get, even though the options continue to dwindle as the big-box stores compete with the mom & pop shops.

Shopping and eating not your thing

Don't forget there's always an opportunity to get outside. The Turkey Trot is back this year on its normal route, though there will still be a virtual option. Grab a family member or friend, register, and move it at your own pace with the crowd. It's lots of fun.

You can always find time at the movies too. The AMC 14 in Johnson City will be open on Thanksgiving Day. Shows will begin playing just after 2:00 P.M. My wife and I saw the new Ghostbusters movie last Sunday. Ghostbusters: Afterlife was thrilling, nostalgic, and very moving at times. There was plenty of action... and I'm ready to see it again already. The new movies out are a decent draw for a family outing, date, or even just to get out on your own.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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