BBQ and the Great Outdoors Combine for the Ultimate Father’s Day Getaway

Camping, fishing and finger-licking food in Loudon County, Tennessee

Loudon County, Tennessee | I-75 Exit Guide

Loudon County, Tennessee, has all the essentials for the ideal guys’ getaway or memorable Father’s Day weekend. Whether the goal is time on the water or just time with friends, this is the ideal spot. Located between Knoxville and Chattanooga, Loudon County is easy to access via Highway 321 from I-75 and I-40 East. It’s known as the most scenic route to the Smokies and once visitors experience the lake and mountain views, along with the recreational opportunities here, there’s no reason to go anywhere else.

A first stop for many visitors is to indulge in some of Tennessee’s best barbecue. There are lots of options for finger-licking specialties and none of them will disappoint. Here’s a list of not-to-be-missed restaurants for enjoying the many ways to savor this tasty regional favorite. Ask about the by-the-pound options to stock up for the trip.

Calhoun’s (4550 City Park Drive, Lenoir City, Tennessee 37772; 865-988-9838) is dockside, overlooking Fort Loudoun Lake and one of the area’s largest marinas. From a slate of wing flavors to juicy brisket sandwiches to award-winning smoked ribs and salmon, Calhoun’s has a fix for any barbecue craving.

Smokin’ F BBQ & Barn (1821 Lynn Road, Philadelphia, Tennessee 37846; 979-436-3482) brings new options for food and fun. The lunch menu is available from the Smokin’ F Food Truck during the week. The Barn is open Fridays and Saturdays and serves up live music and a barn dance atmosphere with the meal.

Sons of Smoke (304 Cedar Street, Loudon, Tennessee 37774; 865-657-3332) has specialties like the fried pork tenderloin sandwich, smoked meatloaf and pork stuffed baked potato, as well as all the standard fare.

Taste-O-Texas (1562 Highway 72 N, Loudon, Tennessee 37774; 865-657-9684) proudly serves their version of authentic Central Texas style barbecue. The specialties include beef brisket and smoked sausage, cooked over a wood fire. For those who want sauce, their Sassy and Smokin’ versions offer variety.

Thousands of acres of lakes and streams make Loudon County a favorite for serious anglers, casual fishermen and recreational boaters. The waters of the Tennessee River feed lakes, streams and coves that create a haven for those who love to be on the water. Fort Loudoun Lake is known among anglers for its quality largemouth and smallmouth bass and is also a top location for crappie, catfish and bluegill. Tellico Lake is a 15,500-acre reservoir with cooler waters that make it a top spot for rainbow and brown trout in addition to walleye and bass. Located on the Tennessee River, Watts Bar Lake is popular for boating, swimming and fishing. A scenic overlook near the dam gives visitors a panoramic view of the lake and the surrounding landscape.

There is plenty of public access at numerous public boat ramps and marinas in the area. For those who just want to enjoy a fun day on the water, boat rentals are available, too. Tennessee National Marina (8301 Tennessee National Drive, Loudon, Tennessee 37774; 865-657-3617) has pontoon boats for rent as well as kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Fort Loudon Marina (5200 City Park Drive Lenoir City, Tennessee 37772; 865-986-5536) has pontoon rentals, also.

To make the most of a visit to this outdoor paradise, many choose to stay in one of the beautiful campgrounds in the region. Yarberry Campground (4825 Yarberry Road, Lenoir City, Tennessee 37771; 865-986-3993) is located on the shores of Fort Loudoun Lake and has beautiful views. Its large sites accommodate the largest of RVs but tents are also welcome. The property includes a boat ramp and a day use area with a sandy beach, picnic tables and grills. A variety of watercraft are available for rental, from pontoons to paddleboards. 

Soaring Eagle Campground (3152 Buttermilk Road W., Lenoir City, Tennessee 37771;

865-376-9017) is situated with sites on the Clinch River and Watts Bar Lake. It has both large RV sites and secluded primitive tent sites. There is a bathhouse and general store onsite, as well as a dock and boat ramp, picnic area and swimming pool. Kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and canoes are available for rent. 

Tellico Lake has Lotterdale Cove (17177 East Coast Tellico Parkway, Greenback, Tennessee 37742; 865-856-3832), with 90 RV sites and three tent sites, has amenities that include boat docks and easy access boat ramp, beach with designated swimming area and an on-site convenience store.

If you go

There are plenty of off-the-water activities for sports enthusiasts, too. 

  • Windy Hill Farm and Preserve (Breck Ellison Road, Loudon, Tennessee 37774; 865-657-1700) offers specialized quail hunting experiences with professional guides and trained dogs.
  • Loudon County is home to several top-rated golf courses designed by some of the sport’s biggest names including Greg Norman.

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