Tennessee offers a unique winter experience with a variable climate from east to west throughout the state. In general, Tennessee winters are mild, with an average of 40 degrees, ideal for enjoying light flurries and cozying up with a cup of hot cocoa in hand. Plenty of winter activities make the small towns of Tennessee desirable destinations, such as frozen fall hikes, winter sports like snowboarding and skiing, and finding a cozy cabin in the woods for an unbelievable winter getaway.
Pigeon Forge sits on the West Fork of the Little Pigeon River, just north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With its positioning at the foothills of the grande mountainscape, the town boasts a cozy, wintery atmosphere. Travelers may take a scenic road trip through the icy tunnels that lead to the Smoky Mountains for an outdoor excursion, or stay within the town's limits and take a trip to some of its more unique attractions such as the Titanic Museum, Dollywood, or the Smoky Mountain Opry.
The annual Winterfest celebration decks the town in over six million holiday lights, bringing the season's spirit to every nook and cranny. Plus, there is a beautifully lit walking trail, a tour of the lights, and live music throughout the season. Pigeon Forge Paradise, as does Riverstone Resort & Spa, offers a luxurious stay, ideal for a rejuvenating vacation.
One of the most gorgeous Tennessee towns, Bristol shares its border with a town in Virginia of the same name. The city has rich musical roots, branding itself the birthplace of country music, even housing the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Its history does not stop there, though, as travelers may also wander the historic downtown, with a winter wonderland featuring holiday decorations and lights. In winter, The Pinnacle Speedway In Lights explodes with color, with over three million lights. The Paramount Theatre and Theatre Bristol also put on holiday shows such as Elf and The Nutcracker. For a weekend getaway, the Bristol Hotel sits smack dab in the middle of Virginia and Tennessee, backdropped by the Appalachian Mountains.
Gatlinburg is one of the prettiest towns in Tennessee, nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. The mountain town offers a lively winter escape, featuring annual events and activities such as Enchanted Christmas at Anakeesta, Lights Over Gatlinburg, and Ole Red's Countrified Christmas Parade Party. There is also the Winter Magic Tunes and Tales, a street performance and festival that depicts stories from as far back as the 1800s.
The town also houses Ober Mountain, the state's only ski resort, ideal for winter activities ranging from skiing downhill to enjoying hot cocoa by the crackling fireplace. Baymont by Wyndham Gatlinburg on the River offers a perfectly cozy atmosphere for an overnight stay.
Townsend is one of Tennessee's most beautiful small towns, just under an hour from Gatlinburg, and well known for its peaceful atmosphere. Situated at the Great Smoky Mountains entrance, visitors enjoy traversing along the trails, viewing frozen waterfalls and crystallized waters. The Smoky Mountains Lights Festival is a great way to experience the joy and brightness of the holiday season. At the same time, a scenic drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail offers picturesque views of the snow-capped mountains and surrounding rocky terrain. The town also houses Cades Cove, a vast valley encompassed by an 11-mile loop, home to white-tailed deer, elk, black bears, and more. Travelers may keep nice and toasty at Townsend Gateway In or Townsend River Breeze Inn.
Cookeville, one of Tennessee's most welcoming towns, maintains an “Old South'' charm and borders Burgess Falls State Park and Cummins Falls State Park. Visitors may enjoy visiting the state parks in the winter season, marveling at the frozen waterfalls and gorges of the area. The town also boasts a storied past, first established in the 1800s. Visitors may learn about the town's vast history on a self-guided walking tour of the downtown.
The Christmas Light Spectacular at Hidden Hollow Park is a family-friendly holiday activity, allowing visitors to drive through and enjoy the decorations and lights. For a weekend getaway, consider Saltbox Inn & Stables, a southern-style bed and breakfast with 22 acres of beautiful property.
Manchester is one of the most scenic Tennessee towns, home to the Old Stone Fort Archaeological Park, a prehistoric Native American site, and Arrowheads/Aerospace Cultural Center, which is ideal for history lovers. Beans Creek Winery and Common John Brewing Co. offer local brews for those searching for a few refreshments. Plus, there is an annual Christmas parade to celebrate the holiday season. The Manchester Downtown Christmas Stroll offers locals and visitors a chance to discover local goods, offering the perfect opportunity to shop for stocking stuffers and holiday presents. Travelers may shack up at top spots such as Leming House Bed & Breakfast or Ambassador Inn.
Sewanee is a wonderful spot in Tennessee for a weekend getaway, home to sights such as the 50-foot-long Sewanee Natural Bridge and the scenic 5-mile Mountain Goat Trail. There are over 65 miles of trails ready for exploring, such as the Bridal Veil Falls Trail and the Shakerag Trail. The Village Christmas Tree Lighting in December is a great way to experience the town's winter charm. Southern hospitality converges with Gothic architecture at The Sewanee Inn, dusted in snow yet exuding nothing but warmth during the cool winter months.
The town of Columbia is well known as one of the best destinations in Tennessee for a weekend getaway. The town is lovingly branded "Muletown" and is just south of the big city of Nashville. The iconic Courthouse Square is a top destination among visitors, especially when it is beautifully decorated with lights and ornaments for the holiday season. Plus, the Columbia Main Street Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting happen each December, offering a unique and memorable vacation.
In terms of scenery, visitors must explore the Duck River area, check out the nearby Forest Gully Farms, or take a scenic drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway, accessible via Highway 50. Tourists may stay at the beautiful Blythewood Inn B&B or the Baymont Inn for a weekend getaway.
Enjoy a Winter Getaway in Tennessee
While hot spots in Tennessee like Nashville or Knoxville are ideal for a summer vacation, Tennessee offers several charming destinations for a winter getaway. From the snow-covered Old Stone Fort Trail along the Little Duck River in Manchester to the rocky cliffs of Sewanee decorated in icicles, there is something beautiful waiting in the small towns of Tennessee. From a romantic getaway to an exciting holiday break, there is something fun for everyone in Tennessee's small towns.