Best Cities to Visit in Tennessee
Travel + Leisure

Best Cities to Visit in Tennessee

Best Cities to Visit in Tennessee

In Tennessee, there are so many great places to visit in this fun state. While we are kind of partial to our fave, Chattanooga, we are also sharing a few places to visit in Maryville and the surrounding areas of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, Alcoa, Knoxville, and Greenback. We hope that this Best Cities to Visit in Tennessee post inspires you. 

Best Cities to Visit in Tennessee



Maryville, Tennessee, located in Blount County, has a rich history. Cherokee trails once ran through the fertile valleys, leading to the establishment of the town in 1795. Maryville became a center of commerce and education, and in 1819, the Southern and Western Theological Seminary, later renamed Maryville College, opened its doors.


During the Civil War, Maryville was a strong supporter of the Union, and after the war, the town experienced a period of industrial growth. In the 20th century, Maryville became a hub for education and the arts, attracting renowned scholars and thinkers. Today, visitors can explore the town's history at the Maryville College Museum or enjoy the scenic Foothills Parkway.


Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply seeking a charming escape, Maryville promises a warm welcome and an unforgettable experience.


Lakes and rivers are in abundance such as; Douglas, Chilhowie, Tellico, and Fort Loudon for those who swim, fish, ski, or just like to drift down the Little River in an inner tube. Besides drifting down the river many areas for swimming are easily accessible.


Many rope swings are hung over the river for thrill seekers. Also If you are into the outdoors beautiful vistas can be seen in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cades Cove and the Loop are wonderful places to see wildlife and be together as a family. Trails in the park will lead you to discover the mystic views from mountain tops or riversides. Abram's Falls is one of the most beautiful trails one can go on.


Adventures By Disney Nashville Long Weekend

Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, has a rich history shaped by frontier spirit, tourism, and controversy. Settlers arrived in the mid-19th century, and the town was named “White Oak Flats” for the abundance of its namesake trees.


Radford Gatlin, a flamboyant preacher, lent his name to the community in 1856. However, his Confederate sympathies caused conflict, and he left in 1859. Gatlinburg's story unfolded with lumber mills, moonshine stills, and Appalachian music.


The establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934 transformed the town into a bustling vacation destination, with hotels, amusement parks, and Ripley's Believe It or Not! Today, Gatlinburg is proud of its past and present, with historic cabins and modern attractions like Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.


Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is a popular tourist destination with a rich history. Centuries ago, the Cherokee people roamed its fertile valleys, and European settlers arrived in the late 1700s. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park's creation in the 1940s transformed it into a bustling vacation spot. Pigeon Forge combines its past with modern attractions like the Titanic Pigeon Forge, offering visitors a memorable experience.


Soak in the Scenic Beauty of Pigeon Forge Tennessee

Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg offer arcades, shows, and parks. A NASCAR-themed park is one of the more popular attractions. The Dixie Stampede puts on a great show and a wonderful meal is served. Dolly Wood, and its sister park Splash Country, are fantastic places for family fun. Dollywood is the most popular theme park in the area and on occasion the residence of Dolly Parton herself. Shops offer many places for souvenir hunters to search for special gifts.


Best Cities to Visit in Tennessee



Knoxville's history began in 1786 as James White's fort on the Tennessee River. It was named after Henry Knox and became a commercial center. The arrival of the iron horse in the 1850s fueled an industrial boom. Despite the Civil War's impact, Knoxville became an industrial powerhouse and attracted immigrants and investors.


Today, the city blends its past with modern universities and a thriving arts and culture scene. The Tennessee River played a significant role in shaping the region's future. Knoxville's story is a testament to resilience, reinvention, and the tenacious spirit of the South.


Knoxville offers many clubs for those who like to stay out late. Knoxville is also the home of the University of Tennessee and The Knoxville Zoo. The Zoo offers great family fun and hours of entertainment, much more than the zoo in Fort Wayne IN. Knoxville also offers many malls for those who love to shop.


Hunting, camping, and ATV enthusiasts will enjoy the Wildlife Management Area, Royal Blue, north of Knoxville towards the Kentucky border. It is a great place to hang out with friends and ride the many trails through the woods and up the mountains or make a family vacation and camp while you stay. Night riding is an adventure your children will remember for many years to come. Hunting is legal on the land but be advised please hunt on the west side of the interstate. 


The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee


Bristol & East Tennessee

If you are up towards Royal Blue a trip to Bristol, Tennessee should come next. Bristol offers many races to fans of the sport and should be a stop for anyone who has a passion for motorsports. East Tennessee is a very beautiful area and should be visited by everyone at least once in a lifetime. The people are nice and the views are great. For anyone, there is something to do and have fun with.


Bristol is a historic town located in East Tennessee with a unique “twin city” identity as it straddles the state line with Virginia. It was established in 1853 and its claim to fame is the birth of the “Bristol Sound” in the 1920s, which was a blend of blues, country, and Appalachian ballads that laid the groundwork for the genre we know today.


The town is home to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and Bristol Motor Speedway, making it a vibrant center for arts and culture. Whether you are a music enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking Southern charm, Bristol promises a warm welcome and an experience that resonates long after you leave.


No matter where you go in Tennessee, nature abounds and so do lots of amazing cities, fun activities, and good food. These are a few cities we think you should consider checking out. We hope that you are inspired by this Cool Cities to Visit in Tennessee post. Happy travels.


Visiting Nashville, Tennessee

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