7 Best Small Towns in Tennessee

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Main street in Franklin, TN, a small town with historic charm.
Main Street, Franklin, TN | Photo courtesy of Travel South USA

Are you planning a vacation through Tennessee? The state has some of the most charming and unique small towns in the south. From mouth-watering cuisines to must-see attractions, you’re sure to have memorable experiences. 

We identify seven of the best small towns in Tennessee in this article. Whether you visit one or take a road trip to all of them, we guarantee you’ll find something you love at each. 

Buckle up, and let’s take a tour of small-town Tennessee! 

Tennessee Is Full Of Small-Town Charm

While Nashville and Memphis are popular destinations for travelers, small towns are the most alluring. You’ll find rolling hills, charming downtowns, historical landmarks, cute neighborhoods, and more when you visit.

When you arrive, we recommend talking with locals to find the best eateries and experiences. But keep reading, as we have you covered on the overall must-sees of Tennessee’s best small towns.

Merridee’s Bakery & Restaurant, Franklin, TN

7 Charming Small Towns in Tennessee

A charming vibe and welcoming atmosphere are what these seven small towns in Tennessee have in common. Let’s take a closer look at why you should visit.

1. Tullahoma, TN

About the Town: Tullahoma is in south-central Tennessee. It has a population of a little over 19,500 people. The small town is known as “Tennessee’s Rising Star” due to the flight and engineering research. Its coffee shops, breweries, and distilleries are big draws to Tullahoma.  

Must-See Attractions: The Beechcraft Heritage Museum is one of the must-see attractions in Tullahoma, TN. It’s an air museum with memorabilia and over 35 aircraft on display. If you’re looking for outdoor activity, Short Springs Natural Area has a 1.6-mile loop that leads to a waterfall you can dip your toes in. 

Summertime in Tullahoma, TN

Why You Should Visit: Tullahoma is famous for its coffee and breweries. So you can spend the day hopping from one to another. Places like the Whiskey Trail BBQ and Steakhouse have southern cooking to keep your energy up.

2. Copperhill/McCaysville, TN

About the Town: Copperhill/McCaysville is in the most southeastern region of Tennessee, and the twin towns share a border with Georgia. Located in the Copper Basin of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the towns have just over 1,000 residents. The elevation is 1,463 feet, which keeps the weather temperate.

Must-See Attractions: The towns have two rivers and two bridges, and the Riverwalk Shops are a must-see. It has three restaurants and around eleven shops in a market-style building. 

Why You Should Visit: Copperhill/McCaysville, TN, has the quintessential small-town vibe. The bonus of these towns is that the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains surround you. It’s pretty easy to fall in love with their charm. 

3. Paris, TN

About the Town: Paris is the oldest incorporated town in West Tennessee, with a population of around 10,300. You’ll find the 1897 Richardsonian Romanesque Henry County Courthouse in the center of the historic downtown. Paris also has its “World’s Biggest Fish Fry” annual event.

Must-See Attractions: A town named Paris wouldn’t be complete without an Eiffel Tower! You can visit the 60-foot replica in Eiffel Tower Park. It has plenty of room for walks and picnics. 

A community fish fry in Paris, TN | Photo courtesy of Travel South USA

Why You Should Visit: Paris is a laid-back small town, but you’ll find that it has history, art, and natural beauty that make it a worthwhile destination. 

4. Morristown, TN

About the Town: Morristown, TN, is about 45 miles northeast of Knoxville. It has a population of approximately 30,000. The town is a short drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park so that it can serve as your base camp for a visit.

Must-See Attractions: You’ll find Cherokee Lake and Panther Creek State Park in Morristown. It’s a beautiful setting for outdoor enthusiasts and historians.

The Cherokees populated the area before 1785. Today, you can walk the 17 hiking trails in the park and be transported back in time.  

Why You Should Visit: Morristown is Tennessee’s Disc Golf Capital. If you enjoy the sport, you’ll want to visit to play one of the four championship disc golf courses in this small town.

5. Jonesborough, TN

About the Town: Jonesborough, TN, is a small town in the northeast of the state with around 5,700 people who call it home. Some refer to it as “Tennessee’s Oldest Town,” founded in 1779 when North Carolina still claimed the state. The historic town is in the low hills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Must-See Attractions: We recommend going on a historical walking tour during your visit. You’ll learn more about the town and see where you might want to go back to later. In addition, downtown offers various shops and restaurants to keep you occupied for hours.

Downtown Jonesborough, TN | Photo courtesy of Travel South USA

Why You Should Visit: Jonesborough has a charming historic downtown, and you’ll quickly fall in love with it. There’s always something happening in the town, from festivals to live music and more, including the National Storytelling Festival

6. Franklin, TN

About the Town: Franklin, TN, is a southern suburb of Nashville. It has grown significantly over the years and has a population of just under 80,000. However, it still has a small-town feel and beautiful sprawling Tennessee farmlands. 

Must-See Attractions: One of the most visited attractions in Franklin is Carnton. It was the site of one of the bloodiest battles during the Civil War. You can take a guided tour of the Carnton grounds and outbuildings, including the Carter House.

Carnton Plantation, Franklin, TN | Photo courtesy of Travel South USA

Why You Should Visit: The 16-block historic district in Franklin is on the National Register of Historic Places. You’ll be surrounded by beautiful Victorian architecture when you visit and experience its famous main street.

7. Bell Buckle, TN

About the Town: Like Franklin, TN, Bell Buckle’s downtown district is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Located southeast of Nashville, it’s the smallest town on our list, with a population of around 540. It was once a railroad village, and many Victorian homes and churches were preserved and restored.

Must-See Attractions: Bell Buckle is known for its antiques, quilts, and country music. There are many shops and restaurants in the historic downtown to visit. You can also attend any number of the annual festivals here.

Why You Should Visit: Visit to see what a town with under 1,000 residents is like. You’ll be likely to be surprised by the charm and good food.

Traveler’s Tip: Need a little bit more convincing? Here are 5 reasons to make Bell Buckle, TN, your next small-town getaway!

Take a Trip to Small-Town Tennessee

Are you ready for a trip to small-town Tennessee? Then pack your bags and head out to one or more of these charming destinations. Whether you’re a foodie, historian, shopper, or outdoor enthusiast, there’s something for everyone in these towns. And since Tennessee is a relatively small state, there’s plenty of time to visit more than one town during your trip. 

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