Many of Granville’s visitors make the trip for a step back in time day of exploring the quaint town’s museums and historic sites, but more and more people are discovering the experiences of the nearby Wildwood Resort, which offers a laid-back waterfront complex full of nature, hiking and boating.

Together they offer a good mix.

Longtime Granville supporter and Granville Museum President Randall Clemons said the two experiences offer visitors the best of two worlds. “It is a great experience,” said Clemons, who said having the historic town so close “makes the marina different in that it has a small town with lots to do with it.”

“And same for Granville to have Wildwood. They both complement each other. (Having both) has taken us to another level,” he said.

“We love the history but also want to complement it and provide a counterpoint to (what historic downtown Granville offers),” said Natasha Deane, who, along with her husband, John, has redeveloped the waterfront Wildwood resort, just minutes away from historic Granville’s center, as a complementary alternative.

“Here they can go out on the water, enjoy nature, have a cocktail and enjoy a broader offering of music,” she said, noting that many downtown Granville visitors are families and history buffs who come for the bluegrass music and a look back at times when life was simpler, while many of the Wildwood customers are young couples who want a getaway with “a different vibe.”

The best scenario for day trippers or overnight travelers is a getaway that easily allows you to experience both.

And to make the destination even more enticing, Granville is within a short drive of several of our state parks that offer a wide range of free activities.

Here are 12 reasons to make the trip:

1. History tour. For history lovers and those in search of a look at simpler times, Granville offers its 1880s T.B. Sutton country store, the Sutton Homestead and a replicated Pioneer Village, all of which you can tour on your own or with a guide. The cost is $7 per person, and a ticket includes all that Granville has to offer.

2. Museums. Granville has many museums: Granville Museum, Antique Car Museum, Granville Whiskey Decanter Museum, Farm to Table Museum, Granville Barber Shop and Post Office Museum, the Mayberry and I Love Lucy Museum, Whistle Stop Saloon, Pioneer Village, the Clemons Car Museum and a new artisan museum. There is also a new quilt museum and shop under construction. And they are all within easy walking distance of one another.

3. Broom making. These days, there are not many chances to see a broom making demonstration, but you can do that at the Granville Broom Works and Granville Textile Shop, operated by Skip and Susan Peek.

4. The Wildwood resort. The Wildwood Resort & Marina is just a mile from downtown Granville, and it offers a variety of accommodations, as well as boating facilities, fire pits and a summer concert series. You do not have to be an overnight guest to enjoy Wildwood’s beautiful boardwalk (the longest in Tennessee at one-fourth of a mile), restaurants, music offerings and other amenities.

Deane said the Wildwood vibe is “easygoing” with its lakefront setting, its summer singer-songwriter concert series and its assortment of water and hiking activities. She offered the example of the creative Wildwood accommodations, which include “harbor cottages” that are houseboats with no motors and spectacular lake views, lots of fire pits, and vintage Airstreams for rent.

“Nowadays, people don’t want to own an Airstream or a houseboat, but they want the experience,” she said.

Other options for accommodations include six bed-and-breakfast operations in Granville.

5. Good eating. The Sutton Country Store features breakfast and lunch — country cooking, sandwiches and homemade desserts in a cozy historic setting Wednesday through Saturday.

Wildwood’s Lakeside Restaurant, which is open Wednesdays through Sundays, has an assortment of popular items including Happy Mountain crab cakes, Enigma Mountain hushpuppies and beer-battered Angler’s fish and chips. There are innovative cocktails and a good wine list, too.

In the summer peak season, Lakeside is open seven days a week and has seasonal specials. The Lakeside Grocery serves sausage and biscuits and sandwiches that get high ratings, and the Wildwood Marina’s Holsten Cafe offers a grab-and-go menu daily.

6. Easy access to water activities. Not only can you fish for striped bass, crappie or sauger on your own or go out with one of the marina’s recommended fishing guides, the Granville Paddle and Board offers kayak and paddleboard rentals. You can also book a sunset or breakfast cruise or a historic boat tour on one of the marina’s rental tritoons.

7. Hiking: Between Wildwood and the nearby Indian Creek campground, there is a new 3-mile lakeside trail (three-fourths completed and open, one-fourth in progress). They call it the Periwinkle Trail because it is carpeted with periwinkle for large sections. It’s a relatively easy trail, parts of it along the old road bed that ran through the nearby Enigma community over to Granville before the river was flooded to create the lake in the late ‘60s.

“Bluffs, remnants of old farm homesites flank the lakeside trail that has gorgeous views of the lake,” said Deane, who said hikers might consider hiking over and kayaking or paddleboarding back to Wildwood.

8. State parks. There are four Tennessee state parks within 30 or 40 minutes of Granville, and they all offer ranger-led hikes and other activities, as well as many opportunities to hike on your own and enjoy spectacular waterfalls. The parks are: Burgess Falls (about 40 minutes); Cummins Falls (about 30 minutes), which offers a strenuous but beautiful hike with a wonderful pool at the bottom; Cedars of Lebanon (about 40 minutes); and Rock Island (about 40 minutes).

9. Horseback adventures. The Lake Meadow Farm and Stable offers rides to every skill level, with adventures taking you through beautiful trails and creeks where you might see bald eagles and river otters.

10. Music: “The Sutton Ole Time Music Hour” takes place every Saturday night, with a bluegrass band performing at the Sutton General Store. Reservations are required for the music and a Southern dinner. Wildwood hosts a singer-songwriter series May through November and live music every Friday and Saturday year-round, with karaoke and local artists performing on Fridays and a different local singer-songwriter on stage every Saturday night. Some of these take place in a pavilion on the property and some in the indoor event center adjoining the restaurant.

11. Wineries. Wineries like DelMonaco Winery & Vineyards and Cellar 53 Winery are just 20 to 30 minutes away, offering free tours and tastings. There are also breweries, including Red Silo Brewing, that offer tours and tastings.

12. Gainesboro. Nearby is Gainesboro, the county seat of Jackson County, which is one of the few places in the country in which the entire downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Gainesboro’s beautiful hills served as an Indian hunting ground for the Cherokee, and the town offers some historic attractions like the Gaines House, which was used as a hospital for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Bull & Thistle Pub offers a lineup of live music, and it and the Stolen Coin Oyster Bar and Bistro get good reviews on their food.

Things to know

Historic Granville and the Sutton Store are open Wednesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours and days will likely be extended in the summer months. The Lakeside Restaurant at Wildwood Resort & Marina is open 4-8 p.m. for dinner Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for brunch on Sundays. The Holston Cafe at Wildwood is open Wednesday through Sunday during the winter for lunch and light dinner or “grab and go” and will be open seven days a week during the peak season.

The cost to purchase a “Town Tour” ticket is $7 and allows admission to all of Granville’s historic buildings and museums.

For the most “added value” days, you should visit Granville on one of its many festival weekends, like the Mayberry/Lucy Day coming up April 9. But for a more leisurely visit, make your trip at non-festival times.

Room rates at Wildwood range from $160 to about $350 per night, depending on the type of accommodation, day of the week, demand and season. On most rooms and cabins there is a two-night minimum on weekends.

About Wildwood

The Deanes, who have had a house in Granville for more than 20 years, purchased Wildwood in 2018 and have invested several million dollars to completely renovate and update the resort. They took it from four rustic cabins and four lodge rooms and a campground to today’s complex, which includes 37 rooms, including the renovated lodge rooms, two “harbor cottages,” six vintage Airstreams for glamping, three homes overlooking the river and six one-room cabins situated around a fire pit.

Coming up in Granville

• April 9: Mayberry/Lucy Day

• May 7: Cornbread and Moonshine Festival

• May 28: Heritage Day Antique Car and Bluegrass Festival

For more information see Granvilletn.com, visitwildwood.com or explorejctn.com.

Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column. She also appears on Thursdays on “Talk of the Town” on NewsChannel5. Reach her at mscheap@mainstreetmediatn.com and follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/mscheap.

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