I didn’t expect to be so impressed with a burger and the vibe of a diner as I was with Johnny’s Big Burger near the campus of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. (For a fun side note that will particularly appeal to junior-high-aged boys, the cheer for Austin Peay is . . . you guessed it “Let’s Go, Peay!” and I have the souvenir car tag to prove it).
JOHNNY’S BIG BURGER
Johnny’s has been serving Austin Peay students and townspeople alike since 1965. The burger meat is said to be triple-ground, making it some of the smoothest and most tender you will ever eat. The fries are just as remarkable, as are the thick shakes. But, many students declare they there were able to continue all-night study marathons thanks to a “bun and cream” from Johnny’s. Translation: a honey bun that has been grilled in butter and topped with vanilla ice cream. The sugar rush alone could add 20 points to a test score. 🙂
The prices were, and still are, student-friendly. You’ll be lucky to find a table or a seat at the counter when you get a chance to visit.
JOURNEY’S EYE STUDIO
Journey’s Eye Studio, owned and tastefully stocked by Jodie Isaacs, is one of the prettiest home decor and boutique stores I have visited in a long time. You’ll find every wall, nook and cranny filled with beautiful and unusual items that call out, “Take me home. Take me home.” I just needed more time. I’ll definitely save up and go back.
FORT DEFIANCE CIVIL WAR PARK
I wondered why so many antebellum homes and buildings were still intact around Clarksville when so many other cities in the South were torched by Union troops. What I learned is that Clarksville was full of wealthy tobacco farmers who knew the fate Clarksville faced if they engaged in battle. By that time (1862) they had heard about the destruction in so many other places and knew the odds weren’t good. So, they persuaded the powers that be to surrender and allowed themselves, their homes and property to be used by Union troops during the remaining years of the war. You can learn many more fascinating details when you visit Fort Defiance Civil War Park.
CUSTOMS HOUSE MUSEUM
This building reflecting a number of architectural styles was built in 1898 and to this day is one of the most photographed buildings in Clarksville. In addition to a gift shop and an extensive model train exhibit, you’ll find first class displays paying tribute to the successful citizens of Clarksville and many significant happenings through the years.
Be sure to look for the large collection of Boehm porcelain pieces — one of the largest collections in the southeast, in fact — and take children or grandchildren to see the Bubble Cave. They’ll love it!
What are you waiting for? You’ll be glad you planned a visit to Clarksville.