Sparta: Small Town Charm and Pottery in Tennessee

Surprisingly Delightful Sparta, Tennessee – Worth your Stop

If you happen to be travelling along the I-40 and you are near Sparta, Tennessee, we really suggest a stop here instead of some exit destination that features the same gas stations and restaurants as just about any other exit.   And if you don’t have much time, you can make a quick visit without much delay.  Or you can cruise US 70 and you’ll be right in downtown Sparta at some point!

Our RV we rented from Cruise America parked along the main street of Sparta, Tennessee.
Our RV we rented from Cruise America parked along the main street of Sparta, Tennessee.

This is part of our 17 day journey in our rented RV from Cruise America.  We had just come from Crossville and were making our way across Tennessee with no particular destination in mind.  We stopped in Sparta and found a charming little town that had a few antiques shops, an incredible pottery and some really cool old architecture and some small town charm.  The town has less than 5,000 people but seems a little bit bigger than that.

The main square in Sparta, Tennessee retains a quaint small town feel and look that seems to have stood still in time.
The main square in Sparta, Tennessee retains a quaint small town feel and look that seems to have stood still in time.

We managed to park along the main road without any trouble in the RV.  We walked a bit to the square and discovered an old hardware store and some other interesting buildings.  A bit further down the main road and we found a real treasure.  The Fragrant Mushroom is alone worth the stop in Sparta.  Its website wasn’t working at the time I wrote this so you may just have to use Google to find it.

The Fragrant Mushroom in Sparta, Tennessee is filled with lots of great merchandise including locally created pottery.  And it is dog-friendly!
The Fragrant Mushroom in Sparta, Tennessee is filled with lots of great merchandise including locally created pottery. And it is dog-friendly!

We meandered around the store with one of our dogs and soon fell in love with some of the incredible merchandise.  We selected a few pieces of locally created pottery – the kid at the register was pleased that it was work done by his “daddy.”

Some of the wide array of pottery at the Fragrant Mushroom in Sparta, Tennessee.
Some of the wide array of pottery at the Fragrant Mushroom in Sparta, Tennessee.

A bit further down the road was a thrift store that we poked into and a few restaurants.  A super cool old theatre, the Oldham, was also on that side of the town.  It dates to the 1930s and today houses the Visitor’s Center.  We didn’t go in but if you’re stopping by, it would be worth making this your first stop and it is located on West Liberty Square.

The 1930s cinema, the Oldham Theatre, now houses the Sparta Visitor's Center.
The 1930s cinema, the Oldham Theatre, now houses the Sparta Visitor’s Center.

One place that I wish we managed to get into was the Sparta Grille.  I didn’t even notice if it was open but I imagined what it would be like and regret not checking it out.  But perhaps you can stop in and see if it is open and what it is like.  I’ve already worked up an imagination about what it is like – as so many small town diners and grills are – magical places with a glimpse back in time.

A view down the hill at the Sparta Grille in downtown Sparta, Tennessee.
A view down the hill at the Sparta Grille in downtown Sparta, Tennessee.

After our visit we popped back into the RV and headed towards Nashville and Knoxville and found ourselves back off the beaten path through the towns of Franklin, Hoehenwald and Linden before settling in for the night on the Tennessee River.  Next blog entry will be about that portion of the trip.

Well worth a stroll: the main street in Sparta, Tennessee is a delight.
Well worth a stroll: the main street in Sparta, Tennessee is a delight.

Discover something new and resolve to enjoy the journey.  If you can only slip off the Interstate for a brief time, it is worth it.  If you’re travelling on US 70 to Sparta, you have a lot more to enjoy.

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