Although Tennesee is considered a southern state, the state still experiences the stunning color show that autumn puts on each year. In Tennessee, the leaves typically change from green to autumnal hues of crimson, orange and gold in late October and early November, so pack your bags and discover the scenic highways and byways. During your road trip, be sure to stop in these small towns that come alive in the fall with their festivals, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, sweeping mountain vistas, and outdoor activities.
Autumn in Gatlinburg is nothing short of magical. The Great Smoky Mountains that surround the town come alive with vibrant fall foliage, cozy cabins beckon visitors to relax for a weekend or more, and miles of hiking trails are available for exploring native wildlife, flora and fauna. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is yours for exploring right outside Gatlinburg. The park has almost 3,000 miles of streams if you want to do some fall fishing, as well as miles of diverse hiking and biking trails, complete with historic sites, waterfalls and other natural attractions. Both the Smoky Mountain Fall Festival at Ober Mountain and the Bear-Varian Fall Festival takes place in town everyday from September through October 31st.
When you walk through the historic streets of the charming southern town of Jonesborough, you'll be following in the same footsteps of Andrew Jackson, Daniel Boone, and David Crockett. Known as the "Storytelling Capital of the World" due to its rich history, Jonesborough hosts the National Storytelling Festival each October. Jonesborough, which is Tennessee's oldest town, is home to Persimmon Ridge Park, which bursts into a fiery spectrum of colors each fall. Visitors are encouraged to explore the 130-acre park via its hiking and biking trails, the Lost State Scenic Walkway, or the 18-hole golf course. The local Mill Spring Park is also available for scenic autumn adventures.
The small town of Erwin is considered the "Playground of the Appalachian Highlands" for good reason. Martins Creek Falls is a beautiful place to spend an autumn morning or afternoon, as its known for its lush foliage and 20-foot-tall waterfall. The hiking trails is ideal for all age and skill levels, and is about 2 miles round trip. Located right in town, the Erwin Kiwanis Park is another relaxing outdoor space to enjoy nature or have a picnic lunch during the fall months. Each October, Erwin hosts the Unicoi County Apple Festival, which brings in visitors from all over the area. The festival features more than 400 craft and food vendors, two entertainment stages and plenty of family activities and contests.
Leap into the fall season with a trip to Leiper's Fork, a quaint town just 45 minutes south of Nashville. The quintessential southern small town, Leiper's Fork is home to a unique collection of boutiques filled with cozy apparel, as well as antique shops. The Leiper's Fork Distillery is known for its small batch, handcrafted whiskeys made with local ingredients and pure limestone-filtered water. Fall foliage is ablaze in shades of gold, crimson and orange at town's local parks, which offers miles of hiking and biking trails.
Best known as the home of Dollywood, an amusement park owned by singer Dolly Parton, Pigeon Forge is small, quaint mountain town in eastern Tennessee. Situated in the Smoky Mountains foothills, Pigeon Forge is the ideal vacation town year round, but really comes to life during the autumn. The Great Smoky Mountains is nearby, and offers scenic fall views from Clingmans Dome. The Little Pigeon Rivers beckons visitors to spend a day fishing or boating surrounded by fall colors, or if you're feeling a little more adventurous, whitewater rafting. The Dollywood Harvest Festival takes place each September and October, and celebrates all things autumn.
The charming small town of Gallatin holds onto its rich historic roots while offering visitors modern amenities and experiences that bring people back time and again. The town is located near Old Hickory Lake, which is the ideal place to explore during the beautiful autumn months. You can either bring your own personal watercraft or rent one, and go fishing on the lake while taking in the surrounding fall colors. Historic downtown Gallatin hosts the Main Street Festival every 1st Saturday in October. The event typically welcomes more than 30,000 visitors, and features arts, crafts, live entertainment, and celebrates all things fall.
No matter what type of fall experience you crave, from mountain hiking to boutique hopping for cozy home decor and apparel, you'll find it in a small Tennessee town. While the state is the perfect host year round, it especially shine in fall when its mountainous landscape pops with vibrant color, and the air is crisp enough to enjoy an afternoon hike. As if its natural attractions aren't enough to beckon you for an autumn visit, Tennessee also offers a variety of well-known fall festivals and other special events.