7 of the Most Charming Tennessee River Towns

Tennessee, bordered by the beauty of North Carolina and Virginia, boasts its own excitement. The state wows with locations such as Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry, and national parks. Tennessee also encompasses plenty of rivers, each streaming through an abundance of unique and getaway-worthy small towns.

Cozy, friendly, and inviting, these small towns in Tennessee are the place to be. Whether you are planning a romantic weekend outing, a family trip, or want a break from the city life of Nashville, one of the towns on this list might be your next stop!

1. Pigeon Forge

Beautiful landscape of Old Mill in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Image credits: eakkarat rangram via Shutterstock

Pigeon Forge is a small mountain town located at the bottom of the Smoky Mountains. The town is home to a multitude of outdoor adventures, including nature trails and fall foliage located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The town is also situated on Little Pigeon River, which gets its name from the number of birds that flock to the area. There are also many fun games for visitors, including mini golf, go-karts, and theater shows.

While you are there, check out Dollywood, which is country singer Dolly Parton’s Appalachian-themed park. In it, you will find carnival rides, a waterpark, and a museum filled with her old costumes and nostalgic memorabilia.

2. Tiptonville

Sunset over Bald Cypress from Grassy Island on Reelfoot Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee. Image credits: anthony heflin via Shutterstock

A small town with plenty to do year-round, Tiptonville is ideal for anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors. Visitors will also enjoy numerous historical sites and family activities. The town is home to Reelfoot Lake State Park, which is perfect for birdwatching, hiking, and camping.

The state park is accessible via the Great River Road scenic byway, which runs parallel to the Mississippi River. Visitors can also check out the Civil War at the Battle of Island No. 10 Monument and relish in a little history. Turn a well-spent day into a weekend getaway and stay at Boyette's Resort.

3. Franklin

Civil war landmarks in Franklin, Tennessee. Image credits: Globe Guide Media Inc via Shutterstock

Located just south of Nashville, Franklin is a key site of the American Civil War. The Carter House and Carnton Plantation are both located in the town, which is perfect if you have a keen interest in the history.

Visitors can also enjoy the downtown shopping area, dining and entertainment, and different festivals throughout the year. The Harpeth River streams through the town, where visitors can canoe, fish, and enjoy the soundscape of wildlife as they please.

4. Collierville

Charming gazebo in Collierville, Tennessee. Image credits: Bopp via Shutterstock

Collierville is part of the Wolf River Watershed and near the Mississippi River. The town also offers numerous trails for hunting and hiking alongside plenty of wildlife. In 1857, the town's railroad, named the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, became the first to link the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River.

In the town square, visitors will find unique architecture and old buildings. There are bookstores, specialty shops, and boutiques, in addition to restaurants and attractions for foodies. You can also extend your stay in one of the bed and breakfasts, inns, or hotels.

5. Jonesborough

Aerial view of Tennessee's oldest town, Jonesborough. Image credits: Mihai_Andritoiu via Shutterstock

A town in, and the county seat of Washington, Jonesborough is home to year-round family-friendly events and activities. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, the town boasts attractions such as a waterpark, historic town tours, and a theater featuring different shows and musicals.

Visitors can stop in the International Storytelling Center on the town's main street and listen to tales from the local storytellers. Located near the Mississippi River and Nolichucky River, you can enjoy fishing, rafting, camping, and more.

6. Tellico Plains

View of the rapids above the baby falls on the Tellico River in Tellico Plains. Image credits: Patrick Jennings via Shutterstock

Located in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, Tellico Plains is the perfect town to access the Cherohala Skyway and the Cherokee National Forest. Visitors will find themselves engulfed in nature and adventure in this town.

Activities include hiking near Bald River Falls, watching the seasons change throughout the Gorge, and checking out the mountain view from one of the famed log cabin rentals. The Charles Hall Museum is also worth a visit, containing unique and interesting artifacts chock full of town history.

7. Townsend

Picturesque view of Abrams Falls in Townsend, Tennessee. Image credits: Delaney Van via Shutterstock

Nestled just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Townsend, Tennessee, is a peaceful and relaxing location. There are plenty of activities to engage in, including golfing, shopping, scenic hikes, and a trip to the Little River for fishing and tubing. 

There are also many different cabins and resorts for visitors, making this outdoor oasis perfect for a break from city life. And if you do choose to stay a while, consider attending one of the town's many events, such as the Bigfoot Festival or the Mountain Lights Christmas experience.

Check Out These Small Towns!

Brimming with charming places to visit, Tennessee is the perfect state to stop if you want to enjoy unique histories, beautiful landscapes, and relax the weekend away. These scenic towns offer plenty in terms of beauty and things to do, especially if you are looking forward to river views and water activities!