Aerial view of Tennessee's oldest town, Jonesborough.

10 Off The Beaten Path Tennessee Towns

Tennessee, often celebrated for its iconic cities like Nashville and Memphis, holds a diversity of hidden gems waiting to be explored. Beyond the bustling urban centers lie picturesque towns with distinctive charms that capture the essence of Southern hospitality. If you're yearning for a getaway that offers tranquility and a taste of local culture, these ten off-the-beaten-path towns should certainly be on your radar.

Bell Buckle

Downtown Bell Buckle, Tennessee.
Downtown Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Image credit: Brian Stansberry via Wikimedia Commons.

Nestled in rolling hills, Bell Buckle exudes a historic aura with its Victorian architecture and quaint downtown. Explore boutique shops and dine at the Bell Buckle Café, where you can savor Southern comfort food and homemade desserts at this beloved local eatery. Don't miss the Webb School Arts & Crafts Festival for local crafts. The Bell Buckle Railroad Station, now a community gathering space yet formerly a train depot, unfolds the town's history and is a must-visit while in the town. At the Bell Buckle Antique Mall, you can explore a treasure trove of vintage and antique items.


The charming town of Jonesborough, Tennessee.

History and culture come alive in Jonesborough's Historic District. In this town, you can experience local storytelling at the International Storytelling Center, which hosts various events and workshops. There is even an annual National Storytelling Festival hosted in Jonesborough, offering locals and visitors an unforgettable lineup of tales and performances. The Chester Inn State Historic Site & Museum offers insights into the town's past, and the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre presents engaging performances throughout the year. Jonesborough's charming Main Street provides opportunities for shopping at local boutiques, or alternatively, visitors can join guided walking tours to learn about the town's rich history and architecture.


A historical building in Rugby, Tennessee. Editorial credit: Travis J. Camp /
A historical building in Rugby, Tennessee. Editorial credit: Travis J. Camp /

Step back in time in Rugby, a restored Victorian village. Explore the unique Uffington House and the Rugby Visitor Centre & Theatre. Hike the trails in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, offering stunning natural vistas where you can go horseback riding or enjoy scenic drives. Delight in traditional British fare and afternoon tea in the charming at the Harrow Road Café. For a souvenir of the town, the Rugby Commissary is a must-stop to browse local crafts and books and find the unique gifts you will take back from this historic-building-turned shop.


Aerial view of Lynchburg, Tennessee.
Aerial view of Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Home of the world-renowned Jack Daniel's Distillery, Lynchburg is a town for those with an affinity for a boozy getaway. Discover the craftsmanship behind the world-famous whiskey with guided tours and tastings at the distillery, and learn about the whiskey-making process. The tasting tour ends at the distillery's shop, where you can find exclusive merchandise. If you are rather a wine enthusiast, you can hop to the Lynchburg Winery to sample a variety of local wines and enjoy tastings in a cozy atmosphere. It's not all drinks in Lynchburg; in fact, the culinary treasures are many in the town, including Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House, a communal dining experience with Southern comfort food. At the end of the day, you can unwind in the Tims Ford State Park and opt for outdoor activities like fishing, boating, hiking, and birdwatching.


Watertown Historic District in Watertown, Tennessee.
Watertown Historic District in Watertown, Tennessee. Image credit: Ichabod via Wikimedia Commons.

A nostalgic charm to remember, Watertown is full of cozy ventures. Relive the nostalgia of drive-in movies while watching classic and modern films at Stardust Drive-In Theatre. The Three Forks Marketplace features local artisans with a diverse array of handcrafted goods and artworks. At the Watertown Trail System, outdoor lovers will not want to miss the walking and hiking trails offering scenic countryside views. Join in on one of the rich annual events, like the Watertown Jazz Festival, featuring live performances by local and regional jazz artists, or the Watertown Mile Long Yard Sale, where residents and vendors set up along the streets for a massive yard sale. 

Tellico Plains

Beautiful nature around Tellico Plains, Tennessee
nBeautiful nature around Tellico Plains, Tennessee

Nature lovers will thrive in Tellico Plains. Drive along the Cherohala Skyway for breathtaking mountain views or fish in the pristine waters of the Tellico River, known for its trout population. While there, grab a meal at the Tellico Beach Drive-In or indulge in freshly baked goods, sandwiches, and coffee in a cozy atmosphere from the Tellico Grains Bakery. Cherohala Mountain Trails Campground offers outdoor camping experiences and hike to Bald River Falls, a stunning waterfall located within the Cherokee National Forest. The cherry on top is the Bikers' Paradise, a Tellico Plain stop for motorcycle enthusiasts, offering scenic routes and hospitality.


 Downtown Hohenwald, Tennessee.
Downtown Hohenwald, Tennessee. Image credit: KFlanz via Wikimedia Commons.

The wildlife and nature of Hohenwald will blow your mind. Home to the Elephant Sanctuary, the largest natural habitat refuge for elephants in the United States, visitors may take a guided tour to see retired circus and zoo elephants. While the sanctuary might be the most remarkable stop, Hohenwald has much more to offer, like the Natchez Trace State Park, offering hiking, fishing, and picnicking opportunities, even horseback riding and boating on Pin Oak Lake. Discover local wildlife, fossils, and natural history exhibits at Lewis County Museum of Natural History.


A historic chruch in Erin, Tennessee.
A historic chruch in Erin, Tennessee. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon /

Celebrate Celtic culture at Erin. The town's annual Irish Day Festival features music, food, and dance. In case you miss the festival, you can still enjoy Irish cuisine at the local Bunker's Place. Visit the Houston County Historic Courthouse to learn about the area's history and architecture. As for outdoor activities, Houston County Park is the place to go for camping, picnicking, and hiking in the scenic park. Erin Arts Council Gallery allows you to acquaint yourself with local artworks and crafts created by talented artists in the community.


Rogersville, Tennessee.
The charming town of Rogersville, Tennessee. Editorial credit: Dee Browning /

Rogersville is made for lovers of laid-back getaways. Start by taking a scenic cruise aboard the Southern Belle Riverboat on the Holston River. The Rogersville City Park offers a serene escape with walking trails and picnic spots. The Rogersville Main Street Program organizes an array of guided tours and cultural events. The annual gathering at Hawkins County Heritage Days spotlights the area's heritage with live music, crafts, and food. Whether or not you choose to stay at the Hale Springs Inn, you must make sure to dine at the historic inn and restaurant for unique and elegant flavors of Southern cuisine in an ambient environment.


The business district in Brownsville, Tennessee.
The business district in Brownsville, Tennessee. Image credit: Thomas R Machnitzki via Wikimedia Commons.

There is nothing more exciting than the ideal blend of music, food, and nature that Brownsville offers. Pay homage to Tina Turner's legacy at the Tina Turner Museum at Flagg Grove School, and don't miss the Exit 56 Blues Fest for a taste of local music and culture. Explore the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center, offering music, history, and cultural exhibits. You can hit Helen's Bar-B-Q for soul food to satisfy your taste buds or head down to the Brownsville Farmers' Market to purchase fresh produce, crafts, and goods from local vendors. A natural landmark of the town is the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge, a must-see haven for birdwatching and wildlife enthusiasts as well as outdoor photographers. 

From historic charm to outdoor adventures, these hidden gems offer a welcome escape from mainstream tourist destinations. While they may not be on the top lists of vacation spots, it does not mean they fall short of fun activities or delighful food experiences. Whether you're seeking a taste of Southern cuisine at Rogersville, a glimpse into the past at Rugby, or the natural splendor of Hohenwald, these ten towns are sure to capture your heart.

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