Bledsoe Creek Gallatin, Tennessee. Image credit Tracy Burroughs Brown via Shutterstock

7 Most Beautiful Small Towns Near Nashville

Surrounding the entertainment-filled Music City of Nashville are small beautiful towns, each offering a unique slice of authentic Tennessee. These scenic enclaves comprise a convenient escape to outdoor attractions, restaurants, and boutiques filled with locally-made products.

Bell Buckle

Historic district in Bell Buckle, Tennessee
The historic district in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Image credit Brian Stansberry via Creative Commons

Bell Buckle is a beautiful little town in the heart of Tennessee, about an hour southeast of Nashville. The homey railroad village is full of feel-good pursuits, with arts and crafts along the streets and many stores to shop for antiques. Bell Buckle downtown calls for strolls in pure wonder amidst stunning Victorian buildings and churches. Tourists flock to the town for the annual RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival, with many pretty historic inn options for a night's stay. 

Bell Buckle sits in quaint surroundings of rolling hillsides dotted by farms and stables for the best ventures and picnics in the embrace of the southern sun and charm. Horse fans visit for the equestrian history and many displays and exhibits at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Museum south of town. With less than 700 residents, Bell Buckle captures the true essence of a Tennessee small town.


Columbia, Tennessee Courthouse
Columbia, Tennessee Courthouse. Image credit Destiny Seaton via Shutterstock

Columbia is a beautiful thriving town about 45 minutes away from Nashville. It is essentially a "Main Street community" with a concentrated Town Square housing most sights, activities, and attractions. There are many places to peruse and sit outside for people-watching within a lively atmosphere under the gentle southern sun. Main Street hosts unique boutiques and antique shops, along with cool restaurants and cafes for dinners with country music. Other than the massive Mule Day celebration in April, Franklin's quaint streets are perfect for strolling with unobscured views. Grab a pastry and coffee-to-go from the Muletown Coffee Co. and check out the art displays and beautiful bouquets at the Bloom Stall.

Renowned for spectacular fall foliage, Columbia’s countryside alights the town in a scenic spectacle. Take a discovery stroll along the many miles of railroad tracks from the 1900s, strewn with old landmarks of the heyday. Check out the W7thCo Vintage Photo Gallery, the Columbia Arts Building with locally-made items for sale, or learn art at one of the many classes offered by local and regional artists. The town was home to the "dark horse" president, James K. Polk with his legacy in the Ancestral Home's largest collection of the country. Columbia is a perfect escape from the big city for a taste of the Victorian South. In the evening, try a variety of beers at Bad Idea Brewing, and stay at the thematic Blythewood Inn Bed and Breakfast historic mansion.


Aerial view of downtown Franklin, Tennessee
Aerial view of downtown Franklin, Tennessee. Image credit Jason Schultz72 via Shutterstock

The perfect pick for history sight-seekers, the charming town of Franklin calls for a scenic day trip 30 minutes south of Nashville. Its meticulously-preserved atmosphere of the bygone days complements the rich hospitality and modern pursuits amidst more-traditional attractions. Wander the scene of the Battle of Franklin with notable stops such as the Carter House, Lotz House, and Carnton, transformed into Civil War field hospitals and still bloodstained from wounded soldiers.

After the somber stroll, the happy hour calls for unique brews along the Masters and Makers Trail through Williamson County, but not before an unforgettable meal from the Red Pony. The small town consistently ranks among the best in the US and the most picturesque in Tennessee. It boasts a charming Main Street with a wide selection of stores and restaurants scattered in-between historical sites. Choose any of the B&Bs in old buildings for a magical night's stay, a stone-throw away from the downtown scene.


Sunset in Gallatin Tennessee over small lake
Sunset in Gallatin, Tennessee. Image credit Connor Vaughan Morss via Shutterstock

Gallatin is the ideal town to reconnect with nature, only 40 minutes northeast of Nashville. The bounding Bledsoe Creek State Park is a hiker’s dream with seven different trails, many deer, and 116 species of birds. There is also the 22,500-acre Old Hickory Lake, great for fishing, boating, and paddling through glimmering waters. The local Swaney Swift's on the Square is a classic restaurant with picture-perfect craft burgers, fries, and shakes that taste even better than they look.

Spend the day shopping and browsing through the many cute boutiques lining Main Street such as Tennessee Honey, Sassy and Brassy, and Southern Gypsies Boutique, with everything from sculptures to framed art, and textiles to bring home. The Starr Ranch is the destination for southern comfort food, while the Awedaddys Bar and Grill is on the lake’s banks for a scenically-enriched meal.

Leipers Fork

Town sign in Leipers Fork, Tennessee
Town sign in Leipers Fork, Tennessee. Image credit 4kclips via Shutterstock

Tiny Leipers Fork is the central base of the vastly-renowned Natchez Trace National Park. There are 444 miles worth of exploring via hiking, biking, hikers, horseback riding, or even backpacking ventures through three states with camping along the way. Leipers Fork's cute downtown area is home to the very-first Puckett's Grocery.

The town just outside of Nashville and Franklin is home to 650 residents, with only 1,100 acres to its name. It is a great pit stop along the scenic winding country road for the most-known grain-to-glass spirits, especially the traditional Tennessee whiskey. Walk the streets to discover boutique shops, restaurants, and cozy B&Bs that resemble old-timey Tennessee.


Buffalo River in Tennessee
Buffalo River in Tennessee. Image credit dansif via Shutterstock

The lead-up to this charming town an hour and a half west of Nashville is vividly-scenic as Linden spreads along the Buffalo River. Adventure seekers enjoy refreshing kayak and canoe rides through some of the state’s most-lush scenery. The Buffalo River Resort has a variety of boat rentals and even overnight moonlight floats for the most unforgettable time spent stargazing from the dark waters that will eventually lull you to sleep.

The nearby Mousetail Landing State Park includes scenic outdoor pursuits along five shaded hiking trails and two mountain bike trails, where the water fans enjoy fishing, swimming, boating, and paddling. While the fresh air is great, it only racks up the appetite for a filling meal. Choose from fried buttermilk chicken, burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, fried green tomatoes, and more, at the music-filled Commodore Hotel and Cafe.


Trail of Tears Memorial and Museum in Pulaksi.
Trail of Tears Memorial and Museum in Pulaski. Image credit JNix via Shutterstock

The quiet small town is picture-perfect with a complex history dating to the days of the Civil War and Restoration era. It is known as "Tennessee’s Wild Turkey Capital" for the large population of "Thanksgiving" animals and different bird species. April brings about the hunting season to Giles County, followed by a lively banquet and auction right in Pulaski. The historic downtown only an hour and 15 minutes away from Nashville boasts well-preserved public and commercial buildings for perusing and pastimes, with many homes on the National Register of Historic Places. There is the Elks Theatre and Christ Episcopal Church from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, respectively.

The must-visit Milky Way Farm is the historic estate of confectionary legend Frank Mars who created world-sold delicacies of Mars such as M&Ms, Dove chocolate, 3 Musketeers, and more. The farm spreads over 1,000 acres of green pastures to stroll and stack up on treats to go with a drink from the Second Street Coffeehouse back in town. After a day hike along the town's trails, head for an evening show at the Staar Theatre opera house opened in 1868. The nearby Big Creek Winery is a must for the white muscadine, concord, or Catawba, along with free tastings of the extensive fruit wines such as apple, blackberry and cherry, pear, raspberry, cranberry, and peach.

These beautiful towns are full of nature and feel-good pursuits on a refreshing getaway from the big city. The historic downtowns with decorated streets and music-filled establishments will make you feel right at home, in the real heart of Tennessee.

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