Bell Buckle, Tennessee

Nashville Day Trip: The Charming Town of Bell Buckle, Tennessee

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The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Bell Buckle is just 22 miles from my home and a place I found myself not once, but twice last week alone.

The first encounter was to meet Erin for lunch while she was up working on a story for some little ol’ magazine you may have heard of.

If you’ve been to Bell Buckle before it was likely to visit the famed cafe. It’s one of three places I like to take out-of-towners to eat for a true taste of Tennessee when they visit (the others being Miss Mary Bobo’s in Lynchburg and Loveless Cafe in Nashville).Β And if you haven’t been, well, let’s meet up next time you’re passing through! Aside from having an amazing array of downhome Southern dishes, it also bears the distinction of hosting a live music broadcast and having had huge names from Alan Jackson to Wynonna Judd as guests over the years.

The second encounter was to recreate my lunch with Erin, complete with the pulled pork sammy and the Moon Pie sundae (oh and with my husband in tow). What can I say: I’m a girl who knows what she likes! Only this time, I had the carrot souffle as a side, too, and let me tell you, it might very well have changed my life.

For being a town of only 500 residents, Bell Buckle has some fantastic antiques shops. And apart from Phillips General Store, one shop I would not recommend visiting—the owner is so mean! and his prices are triple what the other shops chargethey’re all pretty affordable.

Can I share something with you in confidence for a minute? SVV and I are super close to being homeowners—though don’t sound the trumpets just yet; we still have to wait for the home inspection to pass—so we were doing a bit of preliminary furniture shopping. We didn’t purchase anything, but no doubt we’ll be back when actually in possession of a set of keys!

And as long as you promise not to swoop in and steal all the lovely things I have my eye on, I’ll tell you my favorite two stores: Hilltop Antiques and Bluebird Antiques. As an added bonus, Bluebird even has an old-fashioned soda fountain and plenty of delicious homemade ice cream and fudge! You know, to help you fuel up while you shop tirelessly.

The pup is also a fan of the town. She loves anywhere that she can prance around at leisure and where everyone will stop and greet her and tell her she’s cute. Narcissist.

Bell Buckle will multiply 40 times in size this time tomorrow when more than 20,000 people home in on the town for the annual RC Cola & Moon Pie Festival. (Oh yes, that is very much “a thing,” and a popular one in these parts at that!) As you probably gathered, both nostalgic treats hail from Bell Buckle; as such, you’ll see RC Cola and Moon Pie paraphernalia for sale in every store.

While I had hoped to drop in tomorrow, we’re hosting an engagement party for a friend at my house, so I fear I’ll be doing manual labor party prep instead of feasting on sugar. Oh well, there’s always next year!

COMMENTS
  • June 15, 2012

    What a charming town – Bell Buckle has got to be one of the best names ever! I’ve never heard of moonpies – are they a Tennessee treat?

    • June 15, 2012
      Kristin

      They’re made here but I’m pretty sure you can get them all over. SVV is from California and had eaten a Moon Pie before we met! They’re delicious; you should try one =)

  • June 15, 2012

    Aw, I love small towns (obviously). I would LOVE to hit up those antique stores.

    (I have no idea what moon pie is. Can we still be friends?)

    • June 15, 2012
      Kristin

      You’re Canadian. You get a free pass on this one.

  • June 15, 2012

    Such a cute town! Remind me about this place when I (one day) start my Southern travel blog!

  • June 15, 2012
    rae

    you know, i haven’t been to bell buckle since i was 13 for the craft fair. i definately need to make a trip down.

    • June 15, 2012
      Kristin

      That’s already on my calendar for this fall! I went once as a kid, but apparently it brings three or four times the number of people to town that RC Cola & Moon Pie does! Insane.

  • June 15, 2012

    I almost feel un-American never having tried a Moon Pie. Shame on me.

    • June 15, 2012
      Kristin

      Well then, you should probably just go ahead and plan a trip to Bell Buckle…

  • June 15, 2012

    Ooo! I went to the Moon Pie festival once and sampled the fried Moon Pie. Talk about a gut bomb.

    BB is definitely a charming Southern town, though!

    • June 15, 2012
      Kristin

      I’m an atypical Southerner in that I don’t actually prefer anything fried. Though I will admit to liking the last deep-fried Mars bar I tried in Virginia (whereas while living in Scotland, I was more partial to the Nutella crepes as late night bar good!).

  • June 15, 2012

    Super cute, small town!!! I love places like this.

    • June 15, 2012
      Kristin

      They are all over the South! Even more reason I’m happy to be home again.

  • June 15, 2012

    The reason I would be 500 [happy] pounds if I lived near you!

    • June 15, 2012
      Kristin

      And you KNOW I’d insist on weekly dates over Moon Pie Sundaes, too! That’s just a given.

  • June 15, 2012

    Fingers crossed about the house! Hope you get it. πŸ™‚

  • June 16, 2012
    Brandy

    What a super-cute town! I see all kinds of goodies I’d like to eat. Good luck with the house! Fingers crossed that the inspection passes.

  • June 16, 2012

    Quaint little place. Can’t go wrong with moon pies. Hope the house deal comes through. Got me wondering if you’ll have a camel as a neighbor.

    • June 24, 2012

      I feel like Bell Buckle is the kind of town you and your fifth wheel would love. Maybe Tennessee should be part of your next major road trip? =)

  • June 17, 2012

    I love that under “Vegetables” on the menu sign they have listed “macaroni and cheese.”

    (Definitely one of my personal favorite vegetables!)

    • June 21, 2012
      Auntie Joy

      Took the words right out of my mouth. Must be one of those southern things. ?

  • June 17, 2012

    I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere in America that looks like this! I really need to plan a road trip someday…

    • June 24, 2012

      More reason to come see me, my dear! =)

  • June 17, 2012

    Great photos! I can’t wait t see what antiques you guys get to fill the new house. I did notice a nice Conway Twitty poster from a back in the day Moonpie Fest — treasures!

  • June 17, 2012

    Did you guys ever go to Bud’s Sporting Goods in Truckee? Your description of Bluebird made me think of that place, since it’s an old fashioned sporting goods/hunting store that also has a soda fountain (with the best chocolate milkshakes).

    • June 24, 2012

      No! Sadly, my time in Truckee was limited to one afternoon of meandering about with Ella while Scott was recovering from a migraine. Every time we were up that way, we spent the whole visit skiing at Northstar.

  • June 17, 2012

    These photos are the reason why the USA is great. I’m from NYC, but it does not mean I don’t love the small towns that dominate our countries landscape. I have never been to Tennessee, but I hope to one day make it there, hopefully in some kind of Cross Country tour… The picture of the carpet with Louisa May Alcott really caught my eye. Little Women is one my favorite classics which makes her one my favorite writers πŸ™‚

    Hope everything goes well with the house hunting. I’m also going through the process here in NY, which is no easy task :p

    Looking forward to stopping by again and reading more posts!! Hope you stop by my blog and travel with me on summer adventures πŸ™‚

    http://www.ladyonaroof.com/

    • June 24, 2012

      I cannot even imagine! Having lived in NYC, I definitely know that house-hunting or even finding an apartment rental is a full-time job.

  • June 18, 2012

    Oh, I absolutely love the photos of Bell Buckle. This is exactly what I picture a small town in the South to look like, all the shops are so pretty! I am definitely moving a trip to the South up the list of places I want to visit next, I’ve never had a moon pie or an RC cola so this is the perfect place to start!
    Fingers crossed for your house, hope everything goes well!! πŸ™‚

    • June 24, 2012

      Ella said should you come back to see her again, she will gladly plan a return trip to Bell Buckle.

      • June 25, 2012

        Well if I get Miss Ella as my personal tour guide too I’m definitely in! She was very good at giving us San Francisco cupcake tips last time I saw her πŸ™‚ Give her a head scratch from me!

  • June 18, 2012

    It’s impressive because you have taken a seemingly boring small town and made it quite interesting through a great blog. As a fellow blogger, I know how hard it is to do something like that, and for that I commend you.

    • June 24, 2012

      Thank you–that’s so nice of you to say!

  • June 18, 2012

    First of all, best of luck with the house! And second, I was just chatting all about moon pies with my southern family over the weekend. Must have gotten your Bell Buckle vibe even though I hadn’t read this yet πŸ™‚ Looking forward to hearing the news for your next big move!

    • June 24, 2012

      So I take it you’ve had one before? I’m sure Mayhem would love her some Moon Pies!

  • June 19, 2012
    Ann

    I just discovered your blog, and was so delighted to read your article about Bell Buckle. I grew up not too far from that charming little town, and I really miss that area.

    • June 24, 2012

      Really, where?!? I’m from Tullahoma!

      • June 24, 2012
        Ann

        Wow! Winchester. We were neighbors. πŸ™‚

        • June 24, 2012

          Oh, how funny! I went to Sewanee, too, so lived on both sides of you. And we actually just moved back to Coffee County in December =)

          • June 25, 2012
            Ann

            Welcome home & enjoy! It really is beautiful there…looking forward to reading about your new adventures.

  • June 25, 2012

    What a cute little town! I always tend to think little antique stores in small towns or along county roads are the best.

  • July 2, 2012

    Cute little town!!! The shops give it the town it’s charm!!! πŸ˜€

  • July 2, 2012

    Kristin,
    So happy to have discovered your blog! I love Bell Buckle with a deep and abiding passion, been going there for day trips for over 30 years. However, I am honestly shocked you had a negative experience with Phillips General Store– the owner is one of my favorite Bell
    Buckle residents, always so kind and accommodating, and a one-man town historian! Can’t imagine what was going on the day you were there– (give him another chance sometime, OK…?)

    • July 2, 2012

      It is a great town, isn’t it? We have a stream of visitors coming in town from the West and East Coasts throughout the summer, and I fully intend on taking every one of them there! Plus, hopefully, we’ll have a need to make some actual furniture purchases soon…

      Funny, I was telling someone in Shelbyville the story of how we were treated in the store (without using the name of the shop or the owner), and she knew exactly who I was talking about and said, “that sounds just like him!” He was just so inappropriately rude, I’m not sure if I can go back there without losing my temper–however, every one of the other antiques store owners in town is just delightful, so BB will continue to get a lot of business from us!

      • July 2, 2012

        Yikes! I’m so sorry you had such an unpleasant experience.
        (Now I’m sounding like I should run for the BB Chamber of Commerce!)
        Anyway, I’m totally with you on the charm factor of the little town– and have you had the chocolate cobbler ala mode at the cafe? Honey, hush…

        • July 2, 2012

          No but I had two Moon Pie sundaes in one week earlier this month, ha. AND a strawberry grits cake. I really could just go there and have all desserts. My goal is to work my way through the menu, but I can’t seem to resist the Moon Pies!

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