Tennessee is famously known as the birthplace of country music, where legends like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash found their voices and made history. While this put places like Nashville, Memphis, or Knoxville on the map, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is also a big draw if you're less of a city slicker and more of a nature lover. Somewhere in between that all you'll find Tennessee's small towns, which are real sweet spots in the state if you ask us. They too will make your heart sing and welcome you with open arms. Check out our 5 favorite best small town in Tennessee where you'll also find HomeExchange ready to welcome you.

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1. Gatlinburg

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Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg will first strike you with its enchanting beauty much in thanks to its stunning natural surroundings. Located in Sevier County, Gatlinburg has a rich history dating back to its establishment in the early 1800s. Originally settled as a logging town, Gatlinburg evolved into a vibrant tourist destination. It has a charming downtown area, lined with unique shops, tasty restaurants, and attractions like Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort. This charming small town is a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well, surrounding it with stunning mountain vistas, outdoor adventures like hiking, and family-friendly entertainment, all reasons why it's topped our list of the best small towns in Tennessee!

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2. Franklin

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Just south of Nashville in central Tennessee, you'll find another small town we're fond of – Franklin. Founded in 1799, Franklin played a significant role in the Civil War and showcases its storied past through beautifully preserved antebellum homes and historic sites like the Carter House and Carnton Plantation. Its main street is particularly charming and a big attraction for the small town, where the downtown hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, including the renowned Main Street Festival. Here you'll also find great shops and galleries, as well as award winning restaurants where you can savor some of the finest southern cuisine. As one would expect in Tennessee, that surrounding natural beauty also adds to the many charms of this small town ready to welcome you with open arms and southern hospitality to take in the best of Tennessee here!

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3. Cumberland Gap

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At junction of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia, you'll find the town of Cumberland Gap. It holds historical significance as it played a crucial role in early American history as a prominent passage for pioneers and explorers making their way westward. Visitors today can follow in the footsteps of these pioneers past exploring the local historic trails and visiting the Hensley Settlement. Its hiking trails are a big draw but the town itself is sweet as can be. A quick stop at the visitor's center here will impress you will all there is to do in and around the town. You can go bird watching, fishing, and hike to take in the stunning views and nature as a place that offers true serenity. Cumberland Gap's small-town charm, coupled with its outdoor adventures and historical allure, make it one of the best small towns in Tennessee.

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4. Cookeville

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Also in the Cumberland region of Tennessee, Cookeville is a cute small town with a warm and welcoming spirit. Like all the best small towns in Tennesee, its size isn't indicative of just how much it has to offer. With a history dating back to the early 1800s, Cookeville has evolved into a thriving town while maintaining its small-town charm and friendly atmosphere. The town is home to Tennessee Technological University, infusing it with a young and energy and diverse cultural scene. It has a bustling downtown with unique boutiques, art galleries, and an plenty of dining options to showcase the town's culinary talents. Nearby you can enjoy the Cummins Falls State Park and numerous picturesque lakes which attracts visitors for the recreational outdoors activities. Cumberland is just 80 miles outside of Nashville so if you're in the area, it's definitely worth a visit as one of the best small towns in Tennessee.  

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5. Nolensville

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Closing out our list of the best small towns in Tennessee is Nolensville, a hidden gem. Its roots dating back to the late 18th century, with a rich history steeped in agriculture and commerce. You can see both alive and well today at the town's favorite Farmer's Market sample fresh produce and artisanal goods. It's the best way to experience Nolensville's culture and warm and welcoming tight knit community. The thriving small town is known for its historic district too , which showcases beautifully preserved buildings and a glimpse into its past. The district is alive and well with unique boutiques and great restaurants. Nolensville's convenient location provides easy access to the attractions of Nashville while offering a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere.

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Visit the Best Small Towns in Tennesee with HomeExchange

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These small towns pack a big punch, so trust us when we say they're worth the trip! If you're ready to visit and fall for their southern charm, consider a HomeExchange. It's a great way to get a local's feel for the best small towns in Tennessee with recommendations from your hosts and a home away from home feel to return to each evening.

In fact, in our humble traveller's opinion, there's no better way to visit small towns in America than through HomeExchange. Our members agree and you can see their nearly 10,000 reviews that have earned us a 4.6 stars on Trustpilot. Visit with HomeExchange to come and see just how much these small towns truly have to offer as you settle in and uncover their best kept secrets. We hope to see you soon in Tennessee!

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