Farmers' Market in Jonesborough. Tennessee draws residents and tourists.

10 Friendliest Towns to Visit in Tennessee in 2024

Tennessee is often referred to as the Volunteer State since much of the war volunteers during the American Civil War, the War of 1812, and the Mexican-American War all hailed from Tennessee. But these days, Tennessee is known for being the friendliest town to visit in 2024. From the birthplaces of globally acclaimed whiskeys and country folk music to pristine mountain towns in the Great Smoky Mountains, there is no deficit of destinations you can pick in the Volunteer State of Tennessee. So, volunteer yourself for a much-desired vacation to some of the friendliest towns to visit in Tennessee in 2024.


Morristown, Tennessee
Morristown, Tennessee, USA. Editorial credit: Dee Browning /

Morristown is a fascinating exploration into both the natural and historic attractions of Tennessee. The town happens to be the birthplace of Davy Crockett, "King of the Wild Frontier" who contributed much to Westward expansion and the pioneering age. One can learn all about this folkloric hero at the Crockett Tavern Museum. For alcohol aficionados, you can sample exotic craft brews and cider from the 1907 Brewing Company, Hamblen County’s first taproom and brewery.

Elsewhere, history buffs can pay homage to honorary Revolutionary War heroes at the Nathanael Greene Museum. The General Longstreet Museum, on the other hand, memorializes Confederate General James Longstreet who fought the Civil War. Outside these historic landmarks, one can undertake a brief drive towards the Great Smoky Mountains, aka the Smokies for short. Nearby, you can also wade and fish on the Cherokee and Douglas Lakes or traipse about in Panther Creek Park at your leisure.


Street view in Jonesborough, Tennessee
Street view in Jonesborough, Tennessee, via Nolichuckyjake /

Approximately seven miles away from Johnson City, Jonesborough is widely regarded as “Tennessee’s Oldest Town.” For the longest time, Jonesborough has attracted thousands of storytellers and audience members with magnificent performances at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre. It is because of these artists and literary creators that Jonesborough has also been hailed as the Storytelling Capital of the World. During the first full weekend of October, the townsfolk and visitors are entreated to the International Storytelling Festival. It is when writers and storytellers from all over America—whom the acclaimed Teller-in-Residence program sponsors—congregate to Jonesborough to share their tales and legends old and new. If you are one of these invested audiences or an aspiring storyteller, then you should definitely purchase a room at the Blair-Moore House, the Franklin House, or Jonesborough Bed & Breakfast while you spend your days and nights at Jonesborough.


Rhea County Courthouse, site of the Scopes trial; Dayton, Tennessee
Rhea County Courthouse, site of the Scopes trial; Dayton, Tennessee. Image credit Dan Goro via Shutterstock

Dayton is situated on the banks of Richland Creek which is near the Tennessee River. Only 36 miles from the city of Chattanooga, travelers can experience the forested splendors of the Laurel Snow National Area, home to a number of Tennessee’s vibrant flora and fauna. You can also purchase bouquets in Lorenzen Flower Farm or fish some elusive bass at Lake Chickamauga. Aside from these bucolic paradises, you can head over to the historic Rhea County Courthouse where the infamous Scopes Trial of 1925 was held. This unusual trial found high school science teacher, John T. Scopes, guilty of teaching evolution. More information about this strange and unwarranted conviction can be observed during the Scopes Trial Play and Festival every July. No need to feel unwanted in Dayton, because you can live your days and nights merrily in the PB Lodge.


Historic downtown Pulaski, Tennessee
Historic downtown Pulaski, Tennessee. Image credit JNix via

Approximately 30 miles from the city of Columbia, you will find yourself in the geographic and cultural heart of Tennessee in the town of Pulaski. Admire the tallest and most aesthetically beautiful courthouse in Tennessee, the historic Giles County Courthouse. Tour the well-preserved grounds of the Sam Davis Home and Museum, former home and now living museum highlighting Confederate hero Sam Davis who fought in numerous skirmishes in Tennessee. No need to go beyond the planet when exploring the Milky Way Farm, which is so named not because of the Milky Way Galaxy but because of the famous candy bar inventor, Frank Mars, who made both the Mars Bar and Milk Way bars. For those of you interested in seeing more of Pulaski’s wonders, let the Giles Hotel Inn & Suites entertain and entreat you.


Lynchburg, Tennessee
Lynchburg, Tennessee. Editorial credit: Paul McKinnon /

Grab a pint of the world-famous Jack Daniels from the town of Lynchburg, the venerable birthplace and headquarters of the Jack Daniels Distillery. As a small town with big contributions to the world, one can be more knowledgeable about the beer company’s history in the distillery itself. You can also know more about the company’s founding father, Jasper “Jack” Newton Daniels. Beyond the bubbly confines of Jack Daniels Distillery, travelers can revel in scenic strolls through the Tims Ford State Park or kayaking through the underground waters of Pennington Cave. More history can be inferred at the Lynchburg Old Jail Museum and the Beechcraft Heritage Museum. Consider attending the annual Lynchburg Music Fest every April for lively music and festivities. Only about 74 miles from Nashville, you can drink your bottle of fresh Jack Daniels at The Hopestead, Mulberry House, or The Cats Meow.


Columbia, Tennessee Square.
Columbia, Tennessee Square. By Flickr user jdj150, CC 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The town of Columbia in Tennessee should not to be mistaken with British Columbia in Canada or the country of Colombia in South America. It certainly lacks the frigid winters of the former and the humid tropical air of the latter—Columbia is, for all intents and purposes, just right. Most of all, Columbia happens to be the “mule capital of the world” or simply “Muletown.” Every April, the townsfolk celebrate the yearly Mule Day where they flock to the Mulehouse and listen to some unique Appalachian music. Besides the offspring of horses and donkeys, you can tour the Presidential Residence of James K. Polk, a residential museum showcasing President Polk’s life and works during his presidential term. More attractions can be found in this town along the Duck River, so pick your choice of lodgings between Richland Inn of Columbia, Forest Gully Farms, or Candlewood Suites.

Pigeon Forge

Old Mill District in the tourist area of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Old Mill District in the tourist area of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Image credit littlenySTOCK via Shutterstock

Forge your own path or follow the pigeons towards the town of Pigeon Forge. Strangely enough, though, Pigeon Forge neither has any pigeons or forges. Instead, it is home to the wild and whimsical Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s Appalachian theme park comprised of rides, a water park, and a museum exhibiting the singer’s career and iconic costumes. Beyond the jolly grounds of Dollywood, you will also come across other theme parks such the Titanic Museum Attraction, which showcases images, artifacts, and stories from the fatal ship, The Titanic.

There are also the Hollywood Wax Museum, WonderWorks, and The Island in Pigeon Forge for you to peruse and admire. You can take a roller coaster ride through the Smoky Mountains or perhaps zipline through the slopes and forests in the region. You might also want to watch exhilarating performances at Dolly Parton's Stampede. Even though Pigeon Forge lacks both pigeons and forges, it certainly has an abundance of lodgings for you to stay at, like the Dollywood DreamMore Resort & Spa, Berry Springs Lodge, Riverbend Campground, and much more.


Sweetwater, Tennessee: Historical section of the town
Sweetwater, Tennessee: Historical section of the town, via Dee Browning /

Sweeten your adventure through Tennessee by visiting the lovely town of Sweetwater. Situated midway between Knoxville and Chattanooga, visitors can treat themselves with history lessons from the Sweetwater Depot and Visitor Center. The town is renowned for campaigning a local theme park called the Lost Sea Adventure where one can experience thrilling rafts and spelunking in the Lost Sea, the largest underground lake in the US. When crossing the Lost Sea, you will come across the Tsali Notch Vineyard which is Tennessee’s largest muscadine vineyard and one of the first producers of grape in the state. You can uncover more about the town’s delightful past at the Sweetwater Heritage Museum. Feel joyful while roaming the Craighead Caverns State Park, which is also connected to the Lost Sea. Last but not least, book a room at either the Rodeway Inn or Remedies Inn if you intend to stay a while at Sweetwater.


The Main Street in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
The Main Street in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Editorial credit: David S Swierczek /

Once you have finished your tour of Pigeon Forge, travel about seven miles towards the Smoky Mountains towards the mountainous town of Gatlinburg. As the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can savor the Smokies’ major landmarks like the Space Needle observation tower where you can survey the mountains and valleys in the area.

Hop aboard the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, a leisurely aerial cable car that will take you from Gatlinburg all the way up to the luxurious ski resort of Ober Gatlinburg. The Anakeesta's Rail Runner Mountain Coaster will have you zooming through the slopes and cliffsides of the Smokies for adrenaline-rushing fun. And even though you are so high up from sea level, you can still be immersed in the depths of the ocean at the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. For those of you interested in seeing more of what the Smoky Mountains have to offer, you can stash your belongings safely at the Gatlinburg River Inn, Tree Tops Resort, or Bearskin Lodge On the River.


St. Francis of Assisi church on the Little River in Townsend, Tennessee
St. Francis of Assisi church on the Little River in Townsend, Tennessee, By Nheyob - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Send yourself away to the majestic town of Townsend, another humble community in the Great Smoky Mountains. Only 50 minutes away from Gatlinburg, you can enjoy different kinds of attractions deep within the Smokies. For instance, the Cades Coves a photographer’s paradise of a valley filled with nature’s finest forests teeming with Tennessee’s wildlife. Adventurers can go spelunking in the nearby Tuckaleechee Caverns where mesmerizing underground waterfalls await.

On the surface of the Smokies, you can survey the whole land from atop the Townsend Wye, The Sinks, and Meigs Creek Cascade. At the Little River Railroad/Lumber Museum, you can learn more about the lumberjacks and railroad builders who contributed to the economic and social development of Townsend. Should you desire a luxurious rest in the high-altitudes, you can always seek warmth and comfort at Riverstone Lodge, Townsend Gateway Inn, or Tremont Lodge & Resort.

The Takeaway

Meet new places and people along winding and bending rivers in a state named after the Cherokee word “Tanasi,” meaning “meeting place," "wind river," or "river of the great bend." Along the Tennessee River or other rivers and tributaries, or in high-altitude destinations and places deprived of waterways, you will be enamored by the friendliest towns to visit in Tennessee this 2024. Travel beyond the major cities like Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville and head over to mountainous towns like Townsend and Gatlinburg to quirky communities like Columbia and Pigeon Forge. In a state whose people have volunteered to the security, prosperity, and liberty of the US, you can now be merry and content when exploring what Tennessee has to offer.

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