Historical district of Greensville, Tennessee, via Dee Browning / Shutterstock.com

6 Underappreciated Towns to Visit in Tennessee

An important part of the Southeastern United States, the “Volunteer State” of Tennessee is a culturally rich and geographically splendid place that is ideal for a vacation. The 15th most populous State in the nation, while such major cities like Nashville and Memphis still attract the most attention, Tennessee also has a number of smaller, charming towns that are equally deserving of their own spotlight. From wonderful river towns to fascinating historical centers, these underappreciated Tennessee towns are full of great fun and enjoyment for anyone looking for a special road trip in the State. So take the road and visit Tennessee. Explore these often overlooked towns, and be sure to create a most positive impression for travelers of all ages!


Lake County Courthouse in Tiptonville
Lake County Courthouse in Tiptonville, By Flickr user chiacomo, CC BY 2.0, - Wikimedia Commons

The town of Tiptonville lies very near the border with the States of Kentucky and Missouri respectively and lies along Reelfoot Lake and famed Mississippi River. Established in the 1850s, this seat of Lake County is home to a modest population of just under 4,000 residents, where great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors are always on hand. Visit the Reelfoot Lake State Park for chances to go biking, hiking, camping, and fishing, while close encounters with local wildlife are a true delight at the nearby Lake Isom National Wildlife Refuge. In addition, guests can explore a charming downtown area with several 19th-century edifices, while a stop at the Civil War Battle of Island No. 10 Monument informs and commemorates Tiptonville as an important center during the conflict. Add in a welcoming array of local businesses, restaurants, and shops, and this pleasant Tennessee community will definitely create a renewed appreciation for the concept of small town, USA.


Dover Hotel at the Fort Donelson National Battlefield Civil War Site in Dover, Tennessee
Dover Hotel at the Fort Donelson National Battlefield Civil War Site in Dover, Tennessee. Editorial credit: EWY Media / Shutterstock.com

Scenically situated along the Cumberland River, the charming town of Dover is conveniently located just some 67 miles from Nashville. Home to nearly 2,000 inhabitants, Dover is indeed a nice place to escape the big city life and enjoy beautiful nature and fascinating American history. Enjoy the wonders of nature at the Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge, where a variety of waterfowl, splendid river vistas, and other aquatic plants make for a most photogenic outing. From there, why not wind down at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area, where camping, swimming, biking, and simple contemplation await? Meanwhile, history aficionados can also appreciate Dover, and an exploration of Fort Donelson and the National Battlefield Historic Site is a must. Commemorating an 1862 Civil War battle, guests can marvel at a range of preserved artillery weapons and the Fort area that truly transports one back to this important period of America’s 19th century history.


Waverly, Tennessee, overlooking an old mountain town from the main road.
Waverly, Tennessee, overlooking an old mountain town from the main road. Image credit Sabrina Janelle Gordon via Shutterstock.com

With a modern history dating to the 1830s, Waverly is one of Tennessee’s oldest communities, and today, just under 4,300 people call it home. The seat of Humphreys County, Waverly, is scenically situated along the Tennessee River, and it offers loads of natural wonder and cultural allure. Enjoy time along the Tennessee River and the nearby Buffalo River, where fun opportunities for cycling, jogging, and even some canoeing combine with awesome panoramas. Meanwhile, Waverly’s historic importance cannot be ignored, and it served as an industrial centre for the Confederacy during the 1860s Civil War. Visit the Civil War Fort and Humphreys County Museum, which commemorates the conflict through its collection of items from the era and the people who lived through it. From there, do not forget about the Johnsonville State Historic Park, which looks back at the important battle of the same name in 1864.


The intersection of Main Street and Depot Street in downtown Greeneville, Tennessee
The intersection of Main Street and Depot Street in downtown Greeneville, Tennessee, By AppalachianCentrist - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:Main & Depot Intersection - Greeneville.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Greeneville was founded in the 1780s, making it the second oldest town in the State. The seat of Greene County, today, just under 15,500 inhabitants, calls this historic community home, which is also charming with its vicinity to the Appalachian Mountains. Explore the historic district and marvel at numerous restored buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, which definitely create a sensation of time travel. Among the landmarks of note include the Andrew Johnson Home (1851), the Hotel Brumley (1884), and the Antrium Log Cabin (1800), which are included on the National Register of Historic Places. Meanwhile, Greeneville also boasts an inviting cultural ambiance and several fun fairs and festivals are held throughout the year. Including the Greene County Fair, there is plenty of live entertainment, tasty food, and another family-friendly entertainment to be had when in Greeneville, where summers are hot, and winters are mild.


The courthouse square in Linden, Tennessee.
The courthouse square in Linden, Tennessee.

Located along the course of the 125-mile Buffalo River, Linden is a pleasant community of nearly 1,000 inhabitants. The seat of Perry County, the town can trace its modern history to the 1850s, and it maintains an old-world charm that is evident through its Main Street and friendly atmosphere. Explore such historic landmarks as the County Courthouse (1925) or visit the nearby Mousetail Landing State Park for awesome chances to go fishing, sailing, and camping. Meanwhile, like any inviting smaller town, Linden has plenty of quaint local shops, restaurants, and other businesses that make it a most authentic snapshot of life outside the big city.

Kingston Springs

Kingston, Tennessee, United States, viewed from 4th Street. The Old Courthouse is left of center.
Kingston, Tennessee, United States, viewed from 4th Street. The Old Courthouse is left of center, By Brian Stansberry - Own work, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Just a short 30-minute drive from Nashville’s city center, a day trip to the lovely Kingston Springs is indeed a great way to experience small-town Tennessee. With a humble population of just under 3,000, this town boasts warm winter and hot summer temperatures, while the stunning surrounding forest makes it a relaxing place of reflection. Situated along the Harpeth River, Kingston Springs has plenty of outdoor splendor to enjoy. Relish such activities as cycling, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and jogging along the water’s edge while lush greenery and local wildlife create postcard-perfect imagery that all ages can appreciate. And with a welcoming assortment of local diners, shops, and other proudly run businesses, one can truly immerse themselves in some small-town culture, all within the vicinity of the big metropolis of Nashville.

When visiting the Southeastern United States, the beautiful “Volunteer State” of Tennessee should most definitely be on anyone’s itinerary. Filled with intriguing episodes of American history, beautiful natural surroundings, and loads of Southern charm, Tennessee and its smaller, underappreciated towns are great alternatives to the big city centers. From the historic streets of Greeneville to the natural splendor of Tiptonville, experiencing Tennessee through its small towns is indeed a nice alternative for any road trip vacation. Come and see the “Volunteer State” and appreciate its unique beauty through a visit to these awesome and often underappreciated towns, where something special for all ages of travellers awaits.

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