Stop at the Bush’s Visitor Center in the Smokies to Taste, Shop and Learn About Beans
Get ready to say, ‘bean there, done that.’
Omnipresent at every summer barbeque, Bush’s Baked Beans are a classic. But have you ever given them more thought than their place on your table? In the Smoky Mountains, you’ll find a deep dive into the humble bean that will have you reaching for your can opener.
Nestled in the foothills of the Smokies in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee, just 45 minutes from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Bush’s Visitor Center is a fascinating journey into America’s favorite canned bean brand. Located in the Bush family’s original general store from 1911, the visitor center is an educational and entertaining stop for the whole family. Start in the museum with the tour video to get a lay of the land before continuing through exhibits where you can learn about the history of the company, how beans are grown and how Condon Bush developed Bush’s Original Baked Beans from his mother, Kathleen’s, recipe. The secret family recipe hasn’t changed in over 50 years and the Bush family still owns and operates the company out of Chestnut Hill. Across the street from the visitor center, the Bush Homeplace can be seen, though you can’t tour the private home.
The tour through the museum is self guided and always free. You can calculate your weight in beans and find recipes to take home and try in your own kitchen.
Beans are naturally high in protein and fiber and are as good for the planet as they are for your body. Beans, which are part of the pulse family, require minimal water to farm and help create healthy soil where they grow. Being committed to sustainability comes naturally to Bush, and you can learn all about that commitment on the tour.
After the tour, head to the Family Cafe and be sure to come hungry. The menu features hot and cold sandwiches, salads, entrees like chili and breaded chicken tenders, all with the same common theme which is, of course, beans. Don’t miss the desserts, which are truly unique. The Pinto Bean Pecan Pie is inventive and delicious, made with pecans and pinto beans.
At the end of your trip to the visitor center, a stop at the general store is a must. This isn’t your typical gift shop. You’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time to the turn of the century as you shop for souvenirs to take home. You can find every product Bush makes, including regional flavors that might be hard to find at your home grocery store. There’s also Bush’s merch for the bean lover in your life, kitchen and homewares and plenty of souvenirs with Duke’s face on them.
Plan to spend a few hours at the visitor center, including eating lunch at the cafe. It’s open Monday through Saturday with the exception of holidays and the days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas. The museum and store are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the cafe opens at 11 a.m. There’s a big parking lot with spaces large enough to fit RVs, and the property is wheelchair and stroller accessible so you can enjoy it with the whole family.
Learn more at www.bushbeans.com.
Bush’s Visitor Center
3901 US-411, Dandridge, TN 37725