Weird Tennessee: Offbeat spots keep an entertaining rhythm
By Jon Waterhouse for the AJC
You've gazed at the Parthenon in Nashville, hollered on thrill rides at Dollywood and bunked on the Chattanooga Choo Choo. What's left to explore in Tennessee? They may be offbeat to some, but the following suggestions each pack their own brand of unique.
Buford Pusser Home and Museum
"Walk tall and carry a big stick." OK, so that's not quite the quote that illustrated former President Theodore Roosevelt's foreign policy. But it would definitely fit the late Sheriff Buford Pusser. Pusser rose to fame for practically being a one-man wrecking machine against organized crime along the Mississippi–Tennessee state line in the 1960s. His story inspired the "Walking Tall" film franchise and TV series featuring an ax-handle-wielding law man keeping order while busting heads. His actual home, nearly frozen in time since his death in 1974, serves as a museum with Pusser's possessions and other memorabilia on view. Adamsville plays host to the annual Sheriff Buford Pusser Festival, which takes place May 26-28. This year country music artist Daryle Singletary is set to perform.
11 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. $8; $5 ages 62 and older, and active military and law enforcement; $3 ages 7-17; free ages 6 and younger. 342 Pusser St., Adamsville, Tenn., 731-632-4080,bufordpussermuseum.com.
Eye-popping portions put the kooky in Kooky Canuck, a casual eatery with locations in both Memphis and Cordova, Tennessee. The anvil-size burgers remain its claim to fame. Gobble up the Kookamonga, featuring a 4-pound beef patty and all the fixings, in less than one hour, and you eat for free. And a photo of your mug gets emblazoned on the Kooky Canuck Wall of Fame. The King Kookamonga and Humonga Kookamonga burgers, weighed down by 6- and 12-pound patties respectively, have their own challenges. Other ginormous bites include the Avalanche, a yeti-worthy dessert starring 18 scoops of ice cream. Visit the downtown Memphis location and waddle across the street to the Peabody Hotel where its ducks make their daily procession from the rooftop to the lobby fountain.
11 a.m.-3 a.m. daily. 97 S. 2nd St., Memphis, Tenn., 901-578-9800,kookycanuck.com.
Do you prefer your tourism hue a bit blue? For nearly 20 years, the NashTrash Tour has been hauling Nashville visitors around town, dispensing gaudy gossip about country music royalty along the way. With a mix of music and improv comedy, sisters Sheri Lynn and Brenda Kay Jugg attempt to fracture the funny bone aboard a bus so pink it would make Mary Kay blush. Those looking for less raunch can opt for the Music Row Confidential tour with Steve Pippin as your musical host. In between tidbits of Music City trivia and history, Pippin bursts into song. Both tours last one hour and 45 minutes. They tend to book up in advance, so plan ahead.
NashTrash Tour: $36 ages 15-55; $33 ages 56 and older. Music Row Confidential: $33. 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, Tenn. nashtrash.com.
Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens
Gatlinburg, Tennessee — a land of goofy golf, junky gift shops and schmaltzy dinner shows — may seem like the odd locale for a museum depicting the life of Jesus Christ. Yet this roadside attraction does just that featuring life-size figures worthy of a wax museum. Posed in a variety of dioramas, from a detailed nativity scene to Christ's crucifixion, these creations help bring the stories of the New Testament to life, complete with a soundtrack and special effects. Tours typically take an hour and begin every 15 minutes. Located nearby the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, travelers may just find inspiration indoors and out.
9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. $10 online, $12 box office; $4 online, $5 at box office ages 6-12. 510 River Road, Gatlinburg, Tenn., 865-436-5155, christinthesmokies.com.
Bush's Visitor Center
That naughty, grade-school rhyme claims that beans are good for your heart. If so, then the home of Bush's Baked Beans must be pumping full throttle. Located inside the original A.J. Bush & Company general store, which opened its doors in 1897, the center includes a short film filled with beautiful bean footage. Walk through a giant can of Bush's Baked Beans to learn about how baked beans are made, and ingest the history of Bush's by perusing a company timeline. Belly up to a table in the Bush's Family Cafe for legume-laden grub, including the trademark pinto bean pie. Cruise the gift shop, and maybe even score a plush version of Duke, the talking pooch featured in Bush's commercials.
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays. Free. 3901 U.S. 411, Dandridge, Tenn., 865-509-3077, bushbeans.com/en_US/visitors-center.