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The Best Small Towns in Tennessee to Relax in 2024
The Best Small Towns in Tennessee to Relax in 2024

The “Home of Country Music,” Tennessee is a musician’s paradise and offers numerous outdoor attractions that draw tourists from all over the world. The state’s natural beauty and historical significance always make for an eye-opening, peaceful escape. These small towns have something unique to offer for those seeking a quiet and relaxed atmosphere alongside more adventurous excursions. From the lively activities in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to the historic charm of Jonesborough to the quiet beauty of Spencer and Monterey, each town offers its own distinctive laid-back vibe. Take a trip to these seven wonderful places and learn why Tennessee is a worthwhile destination.

PigeonForge

Old mill in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Image credit: eakkarat rangram via Shutterstock.com
Old mill in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Image credit: eakkarat rangram via Shutterstock.com

Family time is a breeze in Pigeon Forge, population 6,342! Considered one of the best theme parks in the world, Dollywood is known for its award-winning shows, rides and special events. Each season brings a new festival. Entertainers and artists from around the world visit Dollywood each spring during the Festival of Nations. Barbeque & Bluegrass brings the park into summer with delicious meals and free celebrity concerts throughout the park.

Don’t miss the biggest and most photographed attraction in Pigeon Forge: the world-famous Hollywood Wax Museum. This unique museum allows visitors to get up close and personal with A-list celebrities and take fun photos.

Anyone can enjoy affordable daytime and evening entertainment at The Island in Pigeon Forge. As one of the newest and most unique shopping, dining and entertainment complexes in Pigeon Forge, The Island is perfect for all ages and occasions, whether you’re on a family vacation or traveling with friends. The island is home to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant, the Margaritaville Island Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.

Gatlinburg

Downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Image credit: Kosoff via Shutterstock.com
Downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Image credit: Kosoff via Shutterstock.com

Although it has a variety of fascinating attractions, Gatlinburg has a population of just 3,750. Visit the popular Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, where you can marvel at 12-foot sharks, giant sea turtles, thousands of exotic marine animals and more. Visitors can touch jellyfish and stingrays and enjoy interactive dives and feeding shows every hour.

Visit Gatlin’s Mini Golf, which features two 18-hole outdoor miniature golf courses. Each hole tells a story about Gatlinburg’s history, making the experience both fun and informative. Arcadia, the area’s largest family entertainment center, offers over 100 popular arcade games, video games, and bowling. Conveniently located near the Gatlinburg Space Needle, this facility promises an unforgettable adventure.

Jonesborough

Aerial view of Tennessee's oldest town, Jonesborough.
Aerial view of Tennessee’s oldest town, Jonesborough.

Jonesborough is a quiet town with a lot of personality. This small town has a population of 6,669, but despite its small size, it offers countless outdoor activities and attractions. Downtown is home to Persimmon Ridge Park, an open park perfect for many activities, from dog walking and hiking to playing baseball, biking, or a game of disc golf.

Wetlands Water Park offers a cool escape from the sun on hot days. Just a short drive from downtown, this attraction offers relaxation areas for everyone, including a large swimming pool, water slides, a lazy river and more.

Located near the city center, Brights Zoo offers the opportunity to explore wildlife. This place is dedicated to animal welfare and features a diverse bird, mammal and reptile population. Brights Zoo actively participates in conservation efforts to protect endangered species, making it a meaningful place for visitors of all ages.

Lake landscape

View of Garner Lake in Lakeland, Tennessee.
View of Garner Lake in Lakeland, Tennessee.

Lakeland is a great place with a rural atmosphere. 14,186 people live in the town, which has retained its modesty and coziness. Experience relaxation at Delta Blues Winery, a picturesque vineyard and winery. It is open Tuesday through Sunday for wine tasting, wine by the glass and wine by the bottle, accompanied by live music on a grassy amphitheater.

Stonebridge Golf Club’s tree-lined course presents a challenge for golfers of all levels. The course’s well-placed hazards make for a challenging but entertaining game of golf.

If you like to get outdoors, International Harvester Managerial Park is large and features rolling hills, a 5-acre fishing lake, “The LAMP” amphitheater, and convenient amenities. There are also 2.8 miles of mountain biking, hiking, and walking trails around the lake and through wooded areas!

Lexington

First United Methodist Church in Lexington, Tennessee. Photo credit: Brent Moore via Flickr.com
First United Methodist Church in Lexington, Tennessee. Photo credit: Brent Moore via Flickr.com

Perfectly located halfway between Memphis and Nashville, Lexington offers countless recreational opportunities despite its small town status with a population of 7,999. First of all, the Beech River drainage basins provide the necessary water surface and shoreline for recreational activities.

Just a short drive away is Natchez Trace State Park. The park’s trails range from half a mile to nearly five miles long and include a longer overnight trail. The trails meander through forests and fields and along the lakeshores and rivers of Natchez Park. This park even has a restaurant to stop at during a quiet stroll.

History buffs will enjoy exploring this Civil War site, Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield, as there is a museum and a guided tour of the battlefield. For the convenience of visitors, the park is well maintained and offers detailed information about the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads.

Spencer

The beautiful Fall Creek Falls in Spencer, Tennessee.
The beautiful Fall Creek Falls in Spencer, Tennessee.

The outdoors in the small town of Spencer is a draw for many visitors. This small town of 1,564 residents is proof that small towns are often underestimated. While in Spencer, visit Fall Creek Falls State Park, a local gem that features cascading waterfalls, walkable bridges and easy hiking trails for all ages, making it a great place for a day of exploration and adventure.

Nearby, Piney Creek Falls is another natural wonder worth visiting and offers breathtaking views. Dead Zero Shooting Park is a great shooting attraction for visitors interested in shooting sports. This facility attracts visitors from all over the world and offers a safe, fun and family-friendly environment. Regardless of experience level, Dead Zero is a fascinating place to visit.

Monterey

View of East Commercial Avenue in Monterey, Tennessee
View of East Commercial Avenue in Monterey, Tennessee

“Where the mountain peaks kiss the sky,” Monterey is conveniently located between Nashville and Knoxville.

One of the town’s highlights is the Bee Rock Overlook, which sits atop a cliff and offers visitors a close-up view of the lush landscape below. The trails to the overlook are open to hikers of all ages, offering an easy but strenuous outdoor adventure.

From May through October, the Monterey Farmers Market is the place to go for those seeking fresh vegetables and local produce. By supporting local farmers, visitors can stock up on plenty of food during peak season. The community-focused Old Gray Event Center and Amphitheater brings world-class music and events to the Upper Cumberland region, offering guests a variety of performances and shows just five minutes from downtown Monterey.

If you’re looking for a destination that appeals to a wide range of interests, Tennessee should be at the top of the itinerary for 2024. No matter where you stay in this blues and country state, Nashville’s inviting music scene, stunning Smoky Mountains and unpretentious small towns guarantee an unforgettable time. The state is a lively and relaxed choice for any traveler thanks to its abundance of outdoor activities and friendly Southern hospitality. Visit Tennessee in 2024 and take part in a variety of relaxing activities that will create unforgettable memories.

By Liam