The quaint town of Jonesborough, Tennessee.

9 Serene Towns in Tennessee for a Weekend Retreat

Tennesse is a landlocked state in the northern portion of what is widely considered the "South" of the United States. It borders the Appalachians to the east of it and touches the great American prairies the the west. Knowing this, there is no question why Tennessee is popular for having some of the most diverse landscapes in the country, several national forests, and a ton of great parks to visit. That, and all of the other cultural and historic attractions, makes it easy to take a fun-filled weekend road trip/vacation.

Take a deeper look into these small towns that exemplify the charm of the "Volunteer State."

Bell Buckle

Garden at the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall and Theatre
Garden at the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall and Theatre. Image credit Brian Stansberry, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sitting in the serene rolling hills of Tennessee, this town with a tiny population of just over 400 is a perfect destination for a secluded weekend retreat from the big city. Bell Buckle, a haven of peace and quiet is about an hour's drive south of Nashville. One of the highlights is the Bell Buckle Café, serving up delicious Southern cuisine with a side of hospitality. For accommodations, the Bell Buckle Bed and Breakfast offers cozy rooms and Southern hospitality at its finest.

Nature enthusiasts can explore the many trails of Bell Buckle Park or enjoy a leisurely stroll through the historic downtown district, which has a good selection of antique shops and local boutiques. Don't miss the Webb School Arts and Crafts Fair, a bi-annual event showcasing the talents of local artisans. Other landmarks such as the Bell Buckle Water Tower provide picturesque backdrops for your weekend getaway.

Leiper's Fork

Grocery and restaurant at Leipers Fork in Tennessee.
Grocery and restaurant at Leipers Fork in Tennessee. Image credit 4kclips via

Tucked away in the countryside of Williamson County, Leiper's Fork beckons with its rural rustic charm and laid-back vibe. With a population of just around 650 residents, this quaint town has a notable arts scene along with many other fun things to do.

Check out the local galleries showcasing works by talented painters and sculptors, or immerse yourself in the town's rich history with some tasty refreshments at landmarks like the Leiper's Fork Distillery and the Old Town Square. Nature lovers will appreciate the scenic beauty of nearby attractions such as the Natchez Trace Parkway and the serene Harpeth River. For a taste of authentic Tennessean cuisine, stop by Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant, a local favorite serving up hearty meals and live music.

Accommodations at the Pot N' Kettle Cottages offer a cozy retreat surrounded by a wonderful natural landscape.

Tellico Plains

Tellico Plains town square
Tellico Plains town square, By Brian Stansberry - Own work, CC BY 4.0, File:Tellico-Plains-town-square-tn.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Backed by the Great Smoky Mountains, Tellico Plains is an outdoor adventurer's dream that is far from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Explore the natural wonders of the nearby Cherokee National Forest, home to countless hiking trails, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic overlooks. Those looking to know more about this area can pay a visit to destinations such as the Charles Hall Museum, which showcases artifacts from the region's rich heritage.

feeling hungry after a day on the trail? Be sure to visit the Tellico Grains Bakery, where you can try out some freshly baked bread and pastries made from locally sourced ingredients. And don't miss the annual Tellico Plains Bluegrass Jamboree, a celebration of local music and community spirit. Places to sleep like the Tellico Plains Mountain View Cabin provide a cozy retreat with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.


Street view in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA.
Street view in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA. Editorial credit: Dee Browning /

As Tennessee's oldest town, Jonesborough is definitely one to add to your list of interesting places to visit. Treat yourself to walk amidst the downtown core and explore the town's mix of stores, galleries, and places to eat, or take a look at the peaceful surroundings of Mill Spring Park. More in-depth historical information can be found at spots such as the Chester Inn Museum and the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre. Speaking of hotels, accommodations at the Historic Eureka Inn offer you modern comfort and old-world charm in the heart of downtown.

Take time to appreciate the town's proximity to outdoor destinations like Cherokee National Forest and Rocky Fork State Park, offering miles of trails, overlooks, and opportunities for wildlife sightseeing.


Shops in Lynchburg, Tennessee
Shops in Lynchburg, Tennessee

Lynchburg is a relatively small, yet modern town, with a population under 6,500 people. This community is best known as the home of the world-famous Jack Daniel's Distillery, where visitors can tour the historic facilities and sample Tennessee's finest whiskey. Accommodations at the

Explore Lynchburg's historic district, where beautifully preserved buildings house local shops, antique stores, and cafes. Don't miss the Lynchburg Old Jail Museum too, which offers insight into the town's colorful past.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to enjoy in the surrounding countryside, from scenic drives along the Jack Daniel's Distillery Tour to hiking trails in nearby Tims Ford State Park. For food before or after your day out, try Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House Restaurant, where diners gather for family-style meals. Find a place to rest your head at the Lynchburg Country Inn, which has a variety of rooms just minutes from downtown.


A historic building in Rugby, Tennessee.
A historic building in Rugby, Tennessee. Image credit Travis J. Camp via

Sitting on the Cumberland Plateau, Rugby is a good place to get lost in the dense forests of the western Appalachians. This historic town was founded as a utopian community in the 1880s and contains many very well-preserved Victorian-era buildings that you can see for yourself.

Step back in time as you explore the town's charming streets, lined with historic buildings, cottages, and lush gardens. Learn about Rugby's fascinating past at landmarks such as the Thomas Hughes Free Public Library and the Rugby Commissary Museum.

Find outdoor adventure in the closeby wilderness, from hiking and birdwatching in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area to kayaking on the crystal-clear waters of Clear Creek. Taste some local food at the Harrow Road Café, where you can savor homemade dishes. Find a place to sleep during your stay at the Historic Rugby Boarding House, which provides a unique opportunity to experience life in a 19th-century village.


University Ave with a church and tower in Sewanee, Tennessee.
University Ave with a church and tower in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Sewanee is another town that offers breathtaking views of the Cumberland Plateau. With a population of 3,000, Sewanee is home to the University of the South, a prestigious liberal arts college nestled in a backdrop of dense forests that are typical to the area.

You are able to explore the campus of the University of the South, whether you are a student or not, where historic buildings, lush gardens, and other photogenic spots offer an opportunity to spend the afternoon in both a leisurely and educational way. Don't miss the Sewanee Natural Bridge, a natural rock formation that spans over 50 feet and offers stunning views of the surrounding wilderness.

If you are feeling a little more adventurous and want to get out of the confines of town the Fiery Gizzard Trail and the South Cumberland State Park both have miles of hiking trails, wonderful waterfalls, and panoramic vistas. For food options, Blue Chair Café & Tavern is a welcoming little spot for an excellent homestyle meal. For sleeping options, The Sewanee Inn is a luxurious and popular hotel.


Quaint Clover St. in Granville, Tennessee.
Quaint Clover St. in Granville, Tennessee.

On the banks of the Cumberland River, Granville is an ideal place for a weekend retreat in the heart of central Tennessee. This charming town is steeped in history, being home to several popular American politicians like former Vice President Al Gore and his father before him. There are also several preserved Victorian-era buildings left over from previous generations of Americans who called Granville home.

Step back in time as you pass through Granville's historic downtown. Don't miss the Granville Museum, which contains artifacts and other exhibits that highlight the heritage of this region. The Granville Bed and Breakfast Inn is a cozy bed and breakfast that can be found downtwon too.

Make a point of seeing the surrounding countryside, where fishing and boating on the Cumberland River to hiking and birdwatching are abundant in the Cordell Hull Wildlife Management Area. Need some snacks before you go? Go to the Sutton General Store first, where you can sample homemade fudge and enjoy live music on the weekends.


Fishing pier at Watauga Lake, in Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee
Fishing pier at Watauga Lake, in Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee

On the edges of the Appalachian Mountains to the far northeast of Tennessee, Watauga is a fantastic destination for a weekend retreat full of outdoor activity. A highly recommended hotel for your stay can be found at the Watauga Inn. More amenities can be found in the nearby, and much larger, town of Johnson City.

While in town, don't miss the Watauga Historical Association Museum, a top-notch museum that gives a fascinating glimpse into the history of Watauga, from the time of the pioneers to the present.

There are many ways to get a taste of adventure outdoors in the nearby Appalachian Mountains, from mountain biking and hiking on the Appalachian Trail to fishing and boating on Watauga Lake.

Discover Tennesse this Weekend

As this journey through some of Tennessee's small towns comes to a close, one thing is abundantly clear: this is home to an array of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. From the hills of Granville to the historic charm of Rugby, each town has a blend of natural beauty, culture, and small-town hospitality. Whether you're seeking outdoor adventures, artistic inspiration, or simply a peaceful retreat, Tennessee's serene towns have something to offer everyone. So pack your bags and get ready for your own adventure.

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