Aerial view of Tennessee's oldest town, Jonesborough.

8 Of The Friendliest Towns In the Appalachians

North America's highland system, the Appalachian Mountains, is also the eastern counterpart of the Rocky Mountains. It extends for nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada to central Alabama in the United States. The region was originally home to Native American tribes such as the Cherokee, then settled primarily by Scottish, Irish, and English settlers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Living in a closed-off environment makes for an extra friendly population in the small towns of Appalachia, willing to share the pristine natural features of their vastly diverse region with new, curious faces. Choose a small Appalachian town for your next mountain adventure in the southern United States. You will find traditional hospitality enhanced by the unique alpine lifestyle that only keeps giving as you power through these treasured lands.

Berea, Kentucky

Berea Pedal with the Police- A group of kids participating in a pedal with the police event posing in front of the Kentucky Artisan Center
Berea Pedal with the Police- A group of kids participating in a pedal with the police event posing in front of the Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea. Editorial credit: Steven J Hensley /

This town in the cozy snuggle of the Appalachian lowlands overflows with friendly energy, natural charms, and cultural sights. Visit Berea for a scenic overload where rich artistic delights blend with the mountainous environment for a supremely aesthetic villagescape that few others can compete with. Stroll through the pretty town and its inviting small businesses to see why it is the "Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky." Berea glows with a remarkable mix of imaginative energy as home to many painters, artisans, and musicians who can do anything but hide Barea's overbearing charms.

Find your own ray of positive creativity amid the inspiring Appalachian nature and specialties such as weaving, woodworking, and pottery. Venture outdoors to the beguiling Berea Pinnacles of sandstone bluffs and climbing trails for stunning area perspectives. The charming Owens Fork Reservoir is full of bucolic sights throughout your favorite fresh air pursuits like angling, cruises, and hikes, where all kinds of wildlife roam free on the land, the skies, and the waters.

Blairsville, Georgia

A cyclist does a weekend ride on a hilly road through the North Georgia mountains Blairsville, Georgia..
A cyclist does a weekend ride on a hilly road through the North Georgia mountains Blairsville, Georgia..

This tiny town with a nostalgic name is a friendly place to spend a vacation, minutes away from a number of lakes. The crowds disperse throughout all the water recreation sites for your joyous solitude, even during the hot summer months. Take up your favorite water sport, learn something new, or have fun while relaxing with your family in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Find multiple state parks for hikes with lookout posts and trails, like adventures at Vogel State Park. Where else can you see four states at once other than via a single trek down the Brasstown Bald, intertwining Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee?

Once home to the Cherokee Indians, the town thrived through the gold rush era as the source of the purest gold in the North Georgia mountains, reaching its current popular tourist status today with small businesses and outdoor recreation galore. Choose among the Lake Trahlyta Waterfall Trail, Nottely Reservoir Trail, or through the Appalachian Mountains, followed by a cooling dip and swimming at the popular Lake Nottely. The downtown, laden with local shops and restaurants, will appease all tastes, with Grandaddy Mimm's Distilling Co. for a glass of moonshine and the Historic Union County Courthouse.

Damascus, Virginia

Hiker rests outside Damascus, Virginia.
Hiker rests in the grass outside Damascus, Virginia.

Damascus, Virginia, is a charming town at the meeting point of the state's two most famous trails, the Appalachian and the Virginia Creeper, just a hop from downtown. Start your morning at a choice of fine cafes and take on a trail stretch to return for the awaiting restaurants and shopping post-hike. The gear stores and outdoor-themed inns are a nature enthusiast's dream in this town full of eco-minded residents. Mingle on a stroll along the streets with cultural sights or take a bike ride, where every corner is postcard-like.

Damascus, a friendly town big on charm, sits just north of the border with Tennessee amid peaking Appalachian views. Enjoy a whole vacation's worth of exciting pursuits through natural scenery along some of Virginia's most extraordinary hiking trails. Explore Damascus inside and out with a laid-back, friendly downtown area, offering a piece of the envied Appalachian lifestyle with on-demand cultural attractions.

Davis And Thomas, West Virginia

Spectacular waterfalls located near Thomas and Davis communities in West Virginia.
Spectacular waterfalls located near Thomas and Davis communities in West Virginia.

For real two-in-one treat, find these friendly neighbors side-by-side in Tucker County, West Virginia's scenic Highlands, with trails fanning around to waterfalls, nature preserves, and Blackwater Falls State Park. Hurtle down the renowned 8-mile Plantation Trail on a mountain bike amid the Monongahela National Forest's Canaan Mountain. Roam the remote, windswept terrain of Dolly Sods Wilderness, unfurling glorious views from the top of the Allegheny Plateau. The boggy Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge calls for a post-hike gathering over hearty burritos at Hellbender Burritos or a rowdy evening with craft beers at Stumptown Ales in Davis.

The twin charmers are equally exciting former mining towns revitalized with new businesses that foodies and culture vultures adore, like Mountain State Brewing in Thomas, which boasts state-wide followers for its generous flights. Start the morning with a mocha latte and a fresh pastry from Tip Top Coffee, and make it ground zero to end the night over cocktails here, too. Choose the friendly Purple Fiddle hostel, a revamped Billy Motel, or find great accommodations at nearby state parks like Canaan Valley Resort State Park and Blackwater Falls State Park, with lodges, cabins, and camping.

Ellijay, Georgia

Sunset during the fall in Ellijay Georgia at the Georgia Mountains
Ellijay cityscape at sunset.

Ellijay, the town renowned for its apple orchards, is an incredibly popular destination during the summer. Anglicized from "Elatseyi," which means "new ground" in Cherokee, it suits the town well, as it was established in a brand new area that was remote until the railroad construction. The nature around the town stayed pure and giving through the years when Ellijay transitioned into lumber and finally thrived with tourism around small businesses and orchards. End your summer vacation on a high note with family-friendly on-the-town pursuits and all-level hikes through the Georgia Mountains.

Swing by the Tabor House and the Civil War Museum and choose from Springer Mountain Area Hiking Trails or the Cohutta Wilderness Area with wildlife viewing, fishing, and hiking. With so much to do here, you can try something new like mountain biking and camping at Mulberry Gap, Adventure Basecamp, or tubing down the river. Visit vineyards with highlights like Ott Farms and Vineyards, Engelheim Vineyards, and Buckley Vineyards, and return for fresh Georgia apples at the peak of the picking season in mid-fall at B.J. Reece Orchards, Hillcrest Orchards, or Apple Orchard Alley.

Hinton, West Virginia

The beautiful Sandstone Fall area in Hinton, West Virginia.
The beautiful Sandstone Fall area in Hinton, West Virginia.

The town, at the confluence of three rivers and the Allegheny Mountains on all sides, keeps a low-key profile as a real gem for family-friendly nature ventures. Once a railroad hub, Hinton today is a cultural bastion of small-town friendliness, with feel-good pursuits down red-brick streets decorated with colorful murals and plentiful venues. Start your morning in the 16-block Historic District with a stroll through the Market on Courthouse Square, including great sandwiches and pizzas for lunch, and stop by the 1929 Ritz Theatre. With so many natural features around Hinton, it would be sinful not to reserve the remaining days of the summer for the outdoors, particularly from this gateway to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.

Relish every step of the eight scenic miles to the park's pretty Sandstone Falls, and take a mere 20-minute drive south to Pipestem Resort State Park with its Adventure Lake & Splash Park, where inflatable trampolines bounce kids into the water. There's memorable fun for everyone at the Adventure Zone, like hurtling through the adjacent forest on a zipline for older kids and trying your hand at ax throwing. If you're looking to relax, what could be more calming than floating under the sun amid a tranquil 2040-acre lake at Bluestone State Park in between Hinton and Pipestem? There's also kayaking and canoeing for some action, campgrounds, and cabins, as well as lodges at Pipestem, overlooking Bluestone Gorge.

Hohenwald, Tennessee

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

Trek in the historically scenic footsteps of Lewis and Clark right here in the tiny, friendly town with a curious name. Hohenwald adapts to all interests and tastes in pursuits, with sights and adventures for every member of your gang on vacation. Make your wildest dreams come true along the Natchez Trace Wine Trail or at one of the nation's largest African and Asian elephant refugee centers, The Elephant Sanctuary, which kids love. The easy access, just over an hour southwest of Nashville, offers a total change of pace from your hurried city lifestyle.

Take a sunny summer's day hike with your family through the refreshing Natchez Trace Wilderness Preserve or ride down the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway when it is overcast. Learn everything about the Lewis and Clark Expedition at the Meriwether Lewis Site, along with his burial grounds just seven miles east of the town, from 1809. Make more memories 24/7 on your vacation when you stay and wake up at the unique Petite Retreats tiny house village at the Natchez Trace RV Campground, perfect for every group.

Jonesborough, Tennessee

People taking photos
Friends at a sidewalk table, in front of the 'Downtown Sweet' coffee shop in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

This small town with a long name and even bigger appeal is a friendly place to vacation year-round with your favorite peeps. Peruse its vibrant streetscape on a shopping spree and enjoy Friday's fun and free live Music on the Square series, perfect for mingling on the warm evenings from July through September. What better place than the "storytelling capital of the world" to return for the fall foliage and the pumpkin patches during the International Storytelling Center's National Storytelling Festival in October? Spend warm Friday evenings with

Browse the charming little ice cream and candy shops with your kids and plentiful homewares from local and regional artisans at the annual Made Around Here Market while the dads head to Brews & Tunes on Sunday afternoons. With nearly 250 years of Tennessee's colorful history right here in the state's oldest town, founded in 1779, don't miss the 1906 Chuckey Depot Museum. Stroll along the scenically old Main Street with historic buildings, antique stores, and carriage ride tours to feel part of the century and return for the Olde Jonesborough Christmas.

The Appalachians form a natural barrier between the eastern Coastal Plain and the vast Interior Lowlands of North America, a division that played a vital role in North America's historical settlement through evolution. It covers the area from southern New York to the northern part of Georgia, through Alabama and Mississippi. Find varying natural beauty and distinctive regional culture in each unique mountain town under the all-encompassing small-town atmosphere, an oh-so-refreshing getaway from the city.

The people who first settled the Appalachian region were hearty people who adapted to living in a different environment relative to many other regions in the lowlands or by the sea. This carried over to present-day appreciation of little things in life while clinging to their roots, including deeply religious aspects. There must be something in the Appalachian mountain air that makes the crowds go friendly in its calm atmosphere that tames even the wilderness.

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