Despite having a strong history and reputation in the country music industry, Tennessee remains a largely underrated state, and one that often loses out to the more popular coastal regions like Los Angeles and New York.
However, within the state of Tennessee, there are numerous quaint, beautiful small towns that can be visited – each of them offering a little slice of paradise out there in the Appalachian mountains, free from the hustle and bustle of city life.
But what exactly are the best small towns in Tennessee, and what do they have to offer?
Tennessee: The Top Ten Small Towns
To provide you with a little context – not to mention the perfect travel guide for your next trip to Tennessee – we have put together a list of our top ten picks for the best small towns in the state.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
While Franklin is technically a city, it is indeed a small city – and it has all of the charm, quaintness, and sleepy goings on that one would expect from a much smaller locale like a town.
Located 20 miles away from Nashville (Also check out Amazing Nashville Restaurants), Franklin is pretty close to the action, all while offering something far more sedate, relaxed, wholesome, and most importantly calm – with locals living a much more normal pace of existence than the state capital.
Franklin is a great option for a day trip, with plenty of shopping, restaurants, and bars to keep anyone entertained.
Like much of Tennessee, there are also many historical landmarks to visit, including the Carnton House Civil War Tour – which takes an in depth look at the state’s wartime history.
Nicknamed the ‘rising star’ of Tennessee, Tullahoma is a quaint, tiny town that perhaps surprisingly has a lot to do with innovations in the aerospace and flight industries.
This history of engineering and flight can be experienced in the Beechcraft Heritage Museum, where there are over 35 aircraft to view – as well as numerous pieces of memorabilia commemorating the town’s contributions to the field.
There are also several great hiking trails that outdoors enthusiasts will love – including the Machine Falls Trail, a 1.6 mile hike that takes you to the ‘prettiest waterfalls in Tennessee’.
Located just near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is very much a resort town designed for those seeking outdoor adventures – including skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountaineering.
There are also many other attractions for those who aren’t so outdoorsy, including the famed theme park Dollywood, and Ober Gatlinburg. Both of these are great for seasonal getaways, and feature numerous festivals, rides, treats, and shows for people to enjoy.
There are also many museums in Gatlinburg, including the Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum, The Titanic Museum, and the Hollywood Stars Car Museum.
With the exceptions of Nashville and Memphis, Lynchburg is probably one of the most well known regions within Tennessee – made famous by being the official home of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.
Lynchburg is a strange one, as it perfectly marries everything you would want from a charming small town with all the attractions and entertainment venues that tourists would want – including the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, the Lynchburg Old Jail Museum, and the Lynchburg Winery.
Downtown Lynchburg also has much to offer – including quaint little independent stores, bars, and restaurants, including Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House, which is famed for its wholesome, home cooked southern dining.
Morristown is billed as the place where southern hospitality really comes into its own, and this charming town is certainly full of everything wholesome, charming, and quaint.
Located close to Cherokee Lake and Panther Creek State Park, Morristown is great for those seeking outdoor adventures.
Or, for those who aren’t so inclined, the town itself has much to offer, including the Crockett Tavern Museum, the General Longstreet Museum, and the Skymart.
The town is also famous for ‘disc golf’, a regional sport that is played widely throughout the area – allowing tourists and locals alike to have fun and enjoy themselves.
Located in Shelby County, Collierville is the largest town in the state of Tennessee, and is home to many amenities and attractions for tourists and locals to enjoy.
Laden with numerous stores and boutique shops, as well as countless restaurants and bars for evening entertainment, Collierville is a charming, wholesome place to visit and spend a few days.
What’s more, it is also surrounded by one of the largest green belts in the area, meaning that those who enjoy the outdoors don’t have to look far to find it!
The town of Jackson is famous in its own right – having been included in the famous country and western song ‘Jackson’, made famous by Johnny Cash and June Carter.
While the song never specifies which ‘Jackson’ it refers to, many have widely assumed that it is this quaint Tennessee town that takes the credit.
Located midway between Nashville and Memphis, Jackson is a great spot for day trips – and there is much to see in such a small location. One famous spot to visit is the Casey Jones Village, with its famous Old Country Store & Restaurant.
Jackson is also credited as being one of the homes of rockabilly music, and this history can be explored in The Rockabilly Museum. Other attractions include the Railroad Depot – a historic building that is seen as a local treasure.
Located just to the south of the metropolitan area of Nashville, Murfreesboro is a much quieter place than the downtown area – perfect for those looking to engage with history and nature without the hustle and bustle of Nashville’s main street.
Murfreesboro has over 40 miles of trails and green space, allowing people to lose themselves in nature and reconnect with the landscape that made the state famous.
There are also many historic landmarks, including the Oaklands Mansion – a building that found itself on the front lines of the Civil War.
For something a little quieter, this is one worth checking out!
Jonesborough is the oldest town in Tennessee, and has historic status as a result. This of course means that there is much for history buffs and tourists to check out in this legendary little town.
The first thing prospective visitors should do is take a stroll down main street, where the International Storytelling Center is on hand to tell some famous tales about the town and its history.
The town’s historic status has led to it being preserved pretty much as it was at the turn of the 20th century, and as such there is much to experience and see – including a carriage ride around the town, traditional buildings, and plenty of museums and living history centers to show you the ropes of 19th century Tennessee.
Last on our list, but by no means least, we have the town of Shiloh – a town widely thought of as a living history museum thanks to its historic status and attractions.
During the Civil War, the town of Shiloh played an important and bloody role in the fighting, and stands as the spot where around 24,000 soldiers died in battle.
Nowadays, Shiloh is the home of the National Military Park – a green space that celebrates those who gave their lives in the war.
Some other notable locations in Shiloh include the Tennessee River, Shiloh National Cemetery, and the Catfish Hotel – the latter being one of the oldest eateries in Tennessee, offering much in the way of traditional, regional food, including southern classics like Shrimp and (as the name suggests) catfish.
This really isn’t one to miss!
And there you have it, everything you need to know about Tennessee, and the most beautiful small towns that can be found in the state.
It’s true that Tennessee is an underrated and varied state, and one that has much to offer to locals and tourists alike.
Luckily, with this handy guide, you too can find some of the best and most beautiful spots within the state, ready in time for your next family trip.
So if you are headed to Tennessee and are looking for the best places to visit, then why not give one of these a try? Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!
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