Updated: Jan 20, 2021
"Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself." ~Anonymous
The rolling hills of Tennessee capture the beauty and tranquility of this magnificent state. Most of its lure comes from history, laid-back popularity, and it can be summed up in the charming friendly towns that make up the quiet corners of this Volunteer state.
We have list 10 of some of the most "must-see" small towns that can almost be a dot on the map, blink and you may miss it. All have a population under 10,000, starting from greatest to least, but don't let it fool you, they pack a huge punch in this beautiful American quilt.
Nolensville: pop. 9,012
Founded by chance in 1797, by William Nolen and his family. Their wagon broke down. While they waited, William noticed the area had an over abundance of game (let the hunting begin) and clean water creeks.
The family decided to abandon their travels and build their home in what is now, Nolensville.
Located near Nashville, this small rural sleepy town has a big personality. Stop in at the local Amish feed store. Load up on local produce and homemade cakes, pies, and breads. There are renowned antique shops, a cute bed and breakfast, locally-owned shops, and some tasty BBQ. A great stop for the day!
You Don't Want To Miss: Pork Belly Farmhouse: serving up authentic southern style "huge portion" dishes.
Ripley: pop. 8,029
Nestled near Memphis, this picture ready vintage storefront downtown is perfect for a slow stroll.
Don't let this small town fool you, there lots to do to keep you out in the sun. They have a great water park, walking trails, parks, farmer's markets, and parades throughout the year.
Nearby are many museums like the Alex Haley museum, Tina Turner's hometown in Nutbush, and Isaac Hayes birthplace.
You Don't Want To Miss: Kissell's Kitchen serviing up BBQ, chicken, and downhome kind of meals!
Lynchburg pop. 6,411
When you think of Jack Daniel's, does the town of Lynchburg come to mind?
Lynchburg suffered throughout the prohibition era as it was illegal to manufacture alcohol until 1937. We find it ironic that this hugely popular whiskey is distilled in a dry county. More for everyone else, we guess!
This small quaint town, equipped with only one street light, is perfect for a 2 hour day out and a visit to Jack Daniel's Visitor Center (daily tours).
Hungry? Stop in a Miss Bobo's Boarding House for a great southern meal.
Need dessert? There's the famous Lynchburgh Cake and Candy Company. Then, walk it off at the Old Jail Museum!
You Don't Want To Miss: Baker's Antiques is one of the best in the area.
Jonesborough pop. 5,397
Known as Tennessee's oldest town, Jonesborough still one of the areas loveliest towns. It was actually found around two decades before Tennessee even became a state.
Its downtown retains much of its heritage and history. The historic preservation is remarkable all throughout the town.
Check out the Christopher Taylor house built, in 1777, twenty years before Tennessee became a state. If you are in to haunted stories, there is a rumor that the ghost of Andrew Jackson has been seen to walk through the front door. Maybe you will be the lucky one to see him, shake his ghostly vapor hand!
You Don't Want To Miss: While in Jonesborough, sign up for the history walking tour led by locals. Once a year, the famous National Story-telling Festival takes place here.
Rogersville pop. 4,283
Davy Crocket's grandparents settled in the second oldest town, Rogersville, in 1775.
Though it looks peaceful in today's time, Rogersville and the area were steeped in bloodshed during the struggle between the Native Americans and the European settlers.
Expect epic heritage celebrations and one huge 4th of July festival here. The narrow brick-building main street is lined with vendors as far as the eye can see.
Small, genteel, and peaceful, this rural town packs a punch you sure don't want to miss. While here, visit Davy Crocket's home: The Ebbing and Flowing Spring.
Also visit the Hawkins County Courthouse, built in 1836, and is considered the oldest active courthouse to date.
You Don't Want To Miss: Tennessee Newspaper and Printing Museum located in the historic Southern Railway Depot.
Gatlinburg pop. 4144
It's hard to imagine that each year 12 million people visit Gatlinburg and the surrounding mountainous areas.
There are tons of attractions here in this small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains like white water rapids, Dollywood in Pidgeon Forge, skiing in Obergatlinburg, and the famous riverwalk.
Stay a weekend here in one of the chalets or cabins. Have a fun night at Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Try the fudge in one of the shops. Delicious!
You Don't Want To Miss: Gatlinburg Sky Lift or Aerial Tramway.
Tellico Plains pop. 936
Tellico Plains is known as the "Little town with the big back yard." We believe it!
Before the Cherokee moved west in the 1830's, this was the main settlement, Great Tellico, for the Cherokee tribe and was considered one of the most important Native American towns of its time.
After the Native Americans left to settle west, European settlers began to move in and live off of the lush agricultural green lands surrounding the Plains.
While here, visit the Craighead Caverns, on the Lost Sea Adventures glass-bottom boat tour, America's largest underground cavern lake. The Tellico Trout Hatchery is a great way to learn how the trout is raised and released.
You Don't Want To Miss: Got a few more hours, tour the local ice creamery and dairy farm.
Leiper’s Fork pop. 650
Walk the main drag in about 10 minutes, Leiper's Fork still offers small town charm in a laid back setting.
Known as the "come as you are" type of town, you can imagine the front porch picking and sweet tea guzzling with the backdrop landscape of the beautiful hills of Tennessee.
Pop in for lunch at the original Puckett's Grocery and Restaurant, then head over to the newly Leiper's Fork Distillery for a quick dram and tour.
When the day is perfect, sun is shining and the temperature is spring-like, head over to the Lawnchair Theatre and catch a show! Browse the local art galleries and antique stores. This town is sure to impress. Keep an eye out, you may stand elbow to elbow with someone famous in one of the cute boutiques!
You Don't Want To Miss: A great breakfast at the famous Country Boy Restaurant.
Bell Buckle pop. 541
Step back in time to this antique-loving community. It is well worth a night stay.
There is one "strip mall" here in this one stop sign sleepy town. Believe it or not, the antique shops, charming stores, country boy restaurant are like stepping back in time to Mayberry.
Spend hours in these stores. Shop all day and never tire! Stay at the Victorian-style bed and breakfast in town.
Make sure you come back for two HUGE events in the year: The Old Fashioned Christmas and the RC Cola and Moonpie Festival. Both bring thousands and thousands in droves for these two amazing festivals.
You Don't Want To Miss: The Daffodil Day; 3rd Saturday in March.
Townsend pop. 443
Located near the Great Smoky Mountains, this area is sure to please the outdoorsy person.
Hike the Rich Mountain Loop if you want picturesque vistas and cascading waterfalls.
Head up to Cades Cove, a beautiful open-air museum surrounded by these misty mountains.
Drive the Foothills Parkway during the sunrise/sunset during the spring or autumn season. You can't even imagine all the colors! Breathtaking!
This place has all the aesthetic pleasing views. You may never want to go inside again!
You Don't Want To Miss: Townsend Abbey a very cool bar. Located in an old chapel. Some seating on deck and patio located right by the river.