Weekend Getaway: Explore Winchester, TN

Winchester is a popular place for summer homes for those living in Williamson County. It sits on Tims Ford Lake and offers a quiet and beautiful location to kick back and get away from it all. But the city is also working hard to build up its downtown business community. In 2014, they became certified as a Tennessee Main Street community, and currently, the buildings downtown are getting a facelift that is paying off in the opening of a number of new businesses.

“Eleven years ago, the city received a grant to reface all the buildings in a nine-block area downtown,” said Jen McCarty, owner of Initial It. “It was a major improvement, but now it is time for an update. Lots of facades are being painted and old awnings are coming down.”

McCarty has been in business on the square for 17 years and she has seen a number of changes. Offering gifts and monogramable items, she likes seeing the new businesses come in and make the downtown more vibrant.

While not new, the 30-year-old bakery does have a new owner. Meredith Jolley of Designer Cakes offers cookies, brownies, and cupcakes, as well as the titular cakes. The quaint shop offers a place to sit and have coffee and a sweet treat in the morning or as a late afternoon break after a long day on the lake.

Local resident Debbie Ragsdale noted that seven new businesses have opened in downtown in the last year. These include a pizza place, an ice cream store and a new coffee shop, which is a big draw.

Located in what was once an old drug store, Walnut Hill Coffee Company, is a busy place that draws locals, weekend visitors, and day trip tourists alike. They offer a scrumptious menu of drinks, sandwiches and desserts in a laid-back atmosphere complete with exposed brick walls and repurposed wood accents. Although they have been around since 2019, their storefront celebrated its grand opening ribbon cutting on July 1, 2021.

Walnut Hill sells the typical coffee house drinks like macchiatos and frappuccinos, as well as their own concoctions, including the Fidgety Fox, which is a combination of triple espresso and handcrafted vanilla syrup shaken with ice and topped off with half and half. On the first Friday of each month, the coffee bar will stay open later and offer tantalizing desserts like mile high cheesecake drizzled with blackberry syrup and whipped cream.

For lunch, they serve a number of sandwiches, including the tasty Turkey Pesto, which is made of turkey, provolone, pesto, lettuce and tomato on toasted white bread with a side of house made chips. Or split a charcuterie board filled with delicious artisanal bread, cheeses, and meats served with seasonal fresh fruit. They also offer tacos and lots of breakfast sandwiches and sweet treats.

Two other restaurants worth trying are The Back Porch and John T’s Barbecue. The Back Port offers burgers, steaks and wings. They have entertainment and dancing on the weekends. John T’s makes great catfish and chicken as well as barbecue, and don’t forget to try the fried pickles.

Another new shop is MESHED. Opened June 25, they offer antiques, candles, and lots of beachy-farmhouse home décor. They have accent tables, pillows, beautiful faux flowers, lamps, and other decorative items.

The Lake Store, which is next door to the bakery, offers more décor, but with a nautical theme. They also offer gifts and locally made wood wall hangings featuring a representation of Tims Ford Lake.

Along with painting the building facades on the square, the city has a number of new murals. There is one back alley that has several different murals next to each other and is highlighted with Edison lights overhead. There is also one of the lake and another of University of Tennessee football coach Phil Fulmer who was born in Winchester.

Finish the day off with dinner on the lake at Drafts and Watercraft. They have steaks, fish and pizza, but their mac and cheese bowls are perfect for those who love their noodles and cheese with a twist. Have a Winchester Mule after dinner and watch the sun set over the lake.

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