What are some of the best things to do in Townsend, Tennessee?
After all, when we think about the city of Townsend in Tennessee, what typically comes to mind?
Well for starters, the city of Townsend is situated inside of Blount County in Tennessee. It is an extremely small city. In fact, the entire area of Townsend, Tennessee is estimated to be around 1.99 square miles.
But even though it is small, there are still people who live here. According to the 2019 Census, the population is estimated to be around 462.
And what’s special about this place is that for thousands of years, this was a site of Native American occupation by varying cultures. Townsend is also one of three “Gateways” to the “Great Smoky Mountains National Park”.
Because of this, there are an abundance of museums and attractions that relate to the natural and human history of the Great Smokies.
But not only that, the city of Townsend, Tennessee is also a visitors dream come true.
There are so many things for people to see and do here. For instance, some of the highlights include places like the Tuckaleechee Caverns, Cades Cove Cellars, Dark Island Swinging Bridge, Next to Heaven Adventure, The Lily Barn Garden, and so much more.
Plus, with an abundance of delicious restaurants, cute cafes, fun galleries, historical museums and awesome attractions, visitors will have the time of their lives exploring everything that this city has to offer.
Which is why, if you’re interested in finding out exactly what you are able to see or do here in the city of Townsend, Tennessee, then you are in luck.
In this post, we’ll be detailing all the best things to do in Townsend, Tennessee.
So if you’re ready, lets get started!
- Things To Do In Townsend, Tennessee
- 1. Tuckaleechee Caverns
- 2. Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing
- 3. Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
- 4. Trailhead Steak House
- 5. Next To Heaven Adventure
- 6. Townsend Visitors Center
- 7. The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum
- 8. The Riverstone Restaurant
- 9. Cades Cove Cellars
- 10. Dark Island Swinging Bridge
- 11. Captain Dave’s Little River Artistry
- 12. Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro
- 13. Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival
- 14. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- 15. Foothills Parkway
- FAQS About Townsend, Tennessee
- Visit Townsend, Tennessee
Things To Do In Townsend, Tennessee
In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Townsend, Tennessee.
1. Tuckaleechee Caverns
If geology is your passion, then one of the best places to visit here in the area around Townsend, Tennessee is a location called “Tuckaleechee Caverns”,
Tuckaleechee Caverns is one of the most popular attractions ever found here in the state of Tennessee. In fact, it is also one of the oldest caverns in the world being estimated to be between 20 and 30 millions years old.
And according to legend, the Cherokee Indians knew about this cavern long before the white man discovered them back in 1850. Called the “Greatest Sight Under the Smokies”, it is a privately-owned attraction that is currently being run by the second generation of the family who opened it.
Visitors who come to this cavern are able to explore it in all of its entirety. Here visitors can go on guided tours that take about an hour or so to explore the entire 1.25-mile out-and-back route through the caverns.
It is during this tour where visitors will be able to see one of the tallest underground waterfalls in the country called “Silver Falls”. Not only that, but they’ll also be treated to the gigantic “Big Room”, that is big enough to hold a full length football field.
With all of that being said, it’s no wonder people consider the Tuckaleechee Caverns to be one of the best caverns in the entire country. With so many things to see and explore, it is definitely a must-see attraction here in the area near Townsend, Tennessee.
2. Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing
One of the best things to do in Townsend, Tennessee, especially during a hot summer day, is to go tubing!
After all, there is nothing better than relaxing around in a floaty tube and calmly drifting down the stream of the rivers where you’ll be surrounded by peace and quiet. It’s one of the most popular things to do here in this city.
And the best place for you to go tubing at is definitely with the “Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing“. They are the premiere company to use for people who are wanting to go tubing along the gentle streams of the beautiful “Little River”.
River Rat offers two different options for tubing in Townsend. One of which is from Outpost A at Wears Valley Road, and is basically a two-hour float down the river to a pull-out at Webb Road. This option is suitable for all ages as it is a gentle and calm experience for people to try.
The other option that they offer is at Outpost B, and is located at the Burger Master Drive In. This option requires a certain age limit because the river portion here includes quite a few rapids which can be dangerous to young ones.
Aside from that, the tubing experience it self is pretty phenomenal. An all day pass is basically $20 bucks for adults or $15 bucks for kids. Once paid, guests will be able to go on either a one hour or two hour float depending on which outpost they pick.
Overall, it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Townsend, Tennessee. By floating down the gentle river, this is one experience you simply can not miss.
3. Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
If you’re looking for a museum to visit, then look no further.
Here in the city of Townsend, Tennessee, visitors can find one of the best museums in the area being the “Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center”.
The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is a special museum that specializes in preserving the heritage and culture of the inhabitants of the Great Smoky Mountains. And what’s amazing about this museum is that it hides one of the best attractions in the entire region of Townsend.
Visitors who come to this museum will find that it’s Main Gallery is actually home to a huge collection belonging to the Native Americans of East Tennessee. It is here where visitors will be able to find an assortment of historical artifacts from the bands of Native Americans who use to live here.
But aside from that, the most unique and interesting attraction about this museum is actually not the artifacts or items themselves. Instead, hidden behind and obscured from sight, the museum is home to a Historic Village with a collection of 13 historical buildings from the Northeast Tennessee Region.
All of which are able to be explored in its entirety and are fully furnished according to the time frame that they were built.
Admission to this museum is also very cheap as it only costs about $10 dollars or under per person for people to visit. Plus, because of its size, it’ll take people roughly an hour to see all the exhibits and attractions that this museum has to offer.
So if you ever want to learn more about the history of the surrounding area as well as the people and culture that lived here, then this is one museum you should definitely visit.
4. Trailhead Steak House
If you’re wanting to eat some really delicious food here while visiting the city of Townsend, Tennessee, then one of the best restaurants you can ever visit is one known as “Trailhead Steak House”.
Trailhead Steak House is one of the most popular restaurants for people to eat at. Here they specialize in serving up delicious steak and seafood type dishes for the public to enjoy. Locals and tourists all love to rave about just how good this spot really is.
In fact, according to Yelp, they are one of the highest rated restaurants as well as being one of the most reviewed restaurants in the entire region of Townsend, Tennessee.
Visitors who come here will find no shortages of food for them to choose from. Some of the food highlights include stuff like Trailhead Burger, Filet Mignon, Sirloin Steak, Country Fried Steak, Pan Grilled Rainbow Trout, Pork Chop, Fried Catfish and so much more.
Best of all is that the staff who works here are all amazingly nice and will go above and beyond to make sure your dining experience is absolutely exceptional. Plus, the food is extremely fresh and the taste is absolutely amazing.
And what’s awesome about this restaurant is that even though it is a little on the higher end of things, the food prices are actually pretty affordable. Most of the dishes cost around $20 dollars or less which is simply amazing.
So if you ever want to treat yourself to some truly delicious foods while not having to pay a fortune, then this is one restaurant you should definitely visit.
5. Next To Heaven Adventure
One of the best places you can take your kids and family to where everyone can have some fun is definitely at a location called “Next To Heaven Adventure”.
Next To Heaven Adventure is a popular attraction where people can come and enjoy a variety of different recreational activities. It is also relatively close to the city of Townsend, Tennessee as it is only a few minutes drive away.
Visitors who come to this spot will find that they’ll be able to enjoy things like zip-lining across some of the most scenic places ever. Or they can even go horse back riding along the trails all while being surrounded by nature and some peace and quiet.
For instance, visitors who opt to go on the zipline adventure will find that they offer 9 different lines for you to choose from. Visitors will be able to soar at amazing heights above trees, mountains and lakes, all while seeing the entire area surrounding them from a birds eye view.
Or if visitors opt to go for the horseback riding adventure, they’ll find that it is one of the most enjoyable things to do ever.
The ride is completely unguided and is the only unguided horseback ride in the Smokies region. Covering more than 45 acres, this 2-mile trail will give you overlooks to 7 different mountain ranges and views all the way to North Carolina.
With all of that being said, if you’re looking for something to do that is fun and adventurous, then a trip down to “Next To Heaven Adventure”, might just be what you are looking for.
6. Townsend Visitors Center
If you are new to the city of Townsend, Tennessee, then one of the best places for you to visit is at a location called “Townsend Visitors Center”.
Townsend Visitors Center is the premiere location where visitors can come and ask any and all questions they might have. Whether you are looking for directions to certain places, recommendations for things to do or places to visit and more, this is the spot to visit.
Plus, the staff here are all extremely knowledgeable and will go above and beyond to make sure all your needs are met. They can also tell you things about travel, tourism, natural history, and cultural traditions and more for the city of Townsend as well as the surrounding areas.
Aside from that, the center also has a neat little gift shop where visitors can come buy some really cool souvenirs or gifts. Most of the items found in this shop are heavily influenced by the culture and traditions of Townsend, so they make for some really cool gifts as you can’t find them anywhere else.
And depending on when you visit throughout the year, the Townsend Visitor Center will also be host to various local artisans who demonstrate their skills and sell their work in the exhibit room. Plus, there will also be festivals and other special events that happen here throughout the year as well.
Overall, this visitors center is your one stop source for all the information you can ever want. So if it’s your first time visiting this city, then this is one place you should definitely come check out.
7. The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum
One really cool and interesting museum that you can visit here in the city of Townsend, Tennessee is one known as “The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum”.
The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum is a small local museum that is trying to preserve the logging and railroad heritage of the region around the city of Townsend, Tennessee as well as the surrounding areas.
This museum is ran by the Little River Railroad and Lumber company, which is a non-profit corporation founded back in 1982. The goal of this museum is to preserve the heritage of the Little River Lumber Company and the Little River Railroad.
Visitors who come to this museum will find a wide range of things that deal with the railroad and lumber industry. For instance, one of the main attractions of this museum is the restored Shay Engine that use to have been used by the logging operation.
Not only that, but the depot at Walland was officially moved to the city of Townsend so that it could be part of the museum. Plus, there is even a neat little gift shop onsite for people to browse around and buy some really cool railroad and lumber type items.
Overall, it’s a neat little museum to visit that offers so much in terms of what visitors can see and explore. So if you have the time to spare, then this is one museum you might be interested in visiting.
8. The Riverstone Restaurant
One of the best restaurants you can ever visit here in the city of Townsend, Tennessee is one known as the “Riverstone Restaurant”.
The Riverstone Restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants for people to visit. Established back in 2004, they have quickly grown a huge following of people who love to come here and eat all the delicious foods that they have to offer.
Here they specialize in real Southern home cooking, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day throughout the year, besides Christmas Day. For instance, here you can find things such as Potato Skins, Country Fried Steak Sandwich, Catfish Po Boy, Frog Legs, and so much more.
Plus, with a professional staff and amazing chefs, the experience here is absolutely perfect. If there is anything you need, the staff will immediately come by and try to make sure everything is right and that your dining experience is as good as it can possibly be.
Because of this, it is no wonder they are one of the most reviewed restaurants and also one of the highest rated restaurants in the entire region of Townsend, Tennessee.
So if you’re ever feeling hungry and want some good ole Southern cooking, then the Riverstone Restaurant is definitely the place to be.
9. Cades Cove Cellars
Love drinking wine?
If so, then one of the best places to visit where you can try out some of the most delicious wines here in the city of Townsend, Tennessee is at a location called “Cades Cove Cellars”.
Cades Cove Cellars is a family owned and operated winery that is located at the base of the Smoky Mountains. It’s one of the most popular places to visit as many locals and tourists love to come here to sip on some wine before doing anything else.
And what’s great about this winery is that the area in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains is famously known as the “Peaceful side of the Smokies”. Because of this, it makes for a perfect setting for winemaking and even drinking.
Here guests are able to come and try out a variety of 16 different wines. For instance, some of the wines include wines like Roaring Fork, Icewater Springs, Laurel Blush, Porters Creek Peach, Cabernet Sauvignon, Old Mill Red and so much more.
Best of all is that they offer visitors free tastings of the wines each and every day, and there is no need to make a reservation. And while you’re drinking, there is also a viewing area where visitors can come and observe the laboratory and tank room as well as see the bottling in operation.
And before you leave, be sure to check out the gift shop that is on-site as well. It is here where visitors will be able to find a variety of different wine accessories, gifts, and crafts that are also made by local artisans from the area.
Overall, it’s one of the most enjoyable and relaxing things you can ever do here in the city of Townsend, Tennessee. Definitely worth a visit if you love to drink wine or just want to have a relaxing day.
10. Dark Island Swinging Bridge
One of the most unusual and strange attractions you can ever visit here in the city of Townsend, Tennessee is one known as the “Dark Island Swinging Bridge”.
The Dark Island Swinging Bridge has one of the coolest names ever and is a popular attraction for many people to visit. It’s conveniently located right behind the Little River railroad and Lumber Museum.
Although it is purely just a bridge, it still makes for a perfect place to visit where you can spend a few minutes having some fun.
What makes this bridge special is that visitors can come onto the bridge and walk on it (if they are not scared), and will be able to see down into the beautiful Little River. Although one thing to note is that visitors can only go on one end of the bridge, as the other end leads out to private property.
And while visitors are walking on the bridge, it will also shake around a little. Although the shake isn’t too strong, it still makes for a fun experience. Plus, it’s not the shaking that gets people scared but more of the bounce. This bridge is surprisingly very bouncy.
The bridge can only support the weight of 4 people standing on it at a time, so do make sure to take turns. And while visitors are walking around, the views from the bridge up and down the river are absolutely spectacular.
So if you have a few minutes to spare, see if you can take a trip down to this bridge. It’s one of the last swinging bridges in the area that is still open to the public. Because of this, it is definitely worth a visit just to experience this bridge in all of its glory.
11. Captain Dave’s Little River Artistry
One of the most interesting and unique places you can ever visit here in the city of Townsend, Tennessee is at a location known as the “Captain Dave’s Little river Artistry”.
Captain Dave’s Little River Artistry is a popular place to visit because here they specialize in various kinds of wood sculptures. They have been serving the city of Townsend as well as the surrounding areas for many years.
Here visitors will find that their wood sculpting skills are second to none. In fact, some of the things they are able to do includes stuff like Chainsaw Carvings, Wood Carvings, Sculpture, Chainsaw Sculptures, Pottery, Fireplace Mantels, Cedar Mantels, Cedar Chandeliers and Carved Bears.
Visitors who come here might even run into “Dave Lavoie”, who is the master sculptor behind many of these amazing and creative creations. He has been carving various kinds of wood sculptures ever since he was a teenager.
With so many sculptures and items being made, visitors are able to come visit and see the beauty and craftsmanship that were put into each and every one of these sculptures. Plus, if they so want, they can even purchase some of these items to bring back home as gifts or souvenirs.
Overall, it’s a really neat place to visit and one which will bring a lot of joy and excitement to peoples lives. I mean, where else can you see so many masterfully crafted sculptures in one place? Definitely worth a visit if you have the time to spare.
12. Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro
If you’re ever visiting the city of Townsend, Tennessee and want to get something delicious to eat, then one restaurant you should definitely visit is one called the “Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro”.
Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro is a popular restaurant to eat at as they specialize in serving up delicious American style dishes for people to enjoy. Established only a few years ago in 2015, they are a relatively new restaurant that has quickly rose in popularity for all the delicious foods they serve.
In fact, according to Yelp, they are one of the highest rated restaurants as well as being one of the most reviewed restaurants in the entire region of Townsend, Tennessee.
Visitors who come to this Farm-To-Table restaurant will find that they serve regionally inspired dishes in an elegant surrounding and calming wooded vistas. For instance, some of the foods you can find includes stuff like Asparagus Soup, Lamb Chop, Bistro Burger, Seared Rainbow Trout and more.
Plus, they also have an amazing wine bar menu which features some of the most popular and regional wines you can ever find. From things like Red Wines to White Wines or even Beer and Cocktails can all be found here. All of which pairs perfectly well with your food.
The only thing to note is that depending on what you get to eat here, it can either be pretty affordable or it can be really expensive. But either way, the food is totally worth it as it is extremely fresh and tastes delicious.
So if you are ever wanting to go eat at a really enjoyable restaurant that serves delicious foods, then this is one restaurant you simply can’t miss.
13. Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival
If you’re ever going to be visiting the city of Townsend, Tennessee during the month of August, you might just be able to attend one of the biggest festivals the city will ever have.
Known as the “Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival“, it is an annual festival where thousands of beautiful hot air balloons fly up into the sky and brings fourth one of the most beautiful views you’ll have ever seen.
Although the hot air balloons here are purely for display purposes only as they don’t offer rides to wandering visitors, it is definitely a sight to see. Many of these hot air balloons will be specially designed with certain shapes, colors and even themes of certain famous shows.
But it’s not just the hot air balloons that are the main attraction here at this festival. In fact, alongside the balloons, there will also be quite a bit of activities for people to see or do.
For instance, visitors who come here will find all kinds of interesting family-friendly activities, beer tents, live entertainment, food truck court and so much more. Plus, there will even be tons of crafters on site who are both demonstrating and selling their work.
With so many things to see or do, visiting this festival will definitely be one of the best things you’ll ever do here in Townsend, Tennessee. So if you ever find yourself visiting this city during the month of August, then this is one event you’ll definitely want to attend.
14. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
For those who don’t know, the city of Townsend, Tennessee is famously known as being one of the three “Gateways” to the “Great Smoky Mountains National Park”.
Because of this, one of the best places you can ever visit is the famous “Great Smoky Mountains National Park“. It’s located only minutes away from Townsend and offers so much in terms of what people can see or do.
For instance, one of the most popular activities to do here is to simply go hiking. After all, this place is filled with over 850 miles of trails and unpaved roads for people to explore. This includes the famous Mount Le Conte, which is one of the highest summits in the park.
But besides the hiking aspect, sightseeing, fishing, horseback riding, bicycling and more are also very popular activities to do here as well. Plus, because the park is so big, it offers visitors a chance to see a wide range of wildlife which lives around the area as well.
Aside from the recreational activities, visitors who come here will also be pleasantly surprised that there are quite a bit of historical areas for people to see and explore. From things like the Cades Cove Historic District to the Noah Ogle Place or even John Ownby Cabin, there are simply so much to see.
Overall, with everything that this park has to offer, it’s no wonder it is always regarded as being one of the best National Parks in the entire country for people to visit.
15. Foothills Parkway
One of the best things to do in Townsend, Tennessee is to simply go on a scenic drive around the entire area. And one of the best places to do that at is definitely the famous “Foothills Parkway“.
This scenic drive offers visitors a chance to enjoy over a 33-mile stretch of land between Wears Valley and U.S. Highway 129. It is basically Tennessee’s version to the famous “Blue Ridge Parkway”.
In fact, the vision for the state was that they wanted to create a 72-mile route alongside the mountain ridge that offers some of the most beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
There are currently two sections for this parkway, one of which is the original section and has been around for decades but has always remained one of the least-visited areas of the national park. Although it’s interesting because it includes several beautiful overlooks, most notably the Look Rock Observation Tower.
The new section which was built only a few years ago back in 2018, has much fewer overlooks than the original, as well as no official hiking trails. However the newer section has much better views of the surrounding area for people to see and explore.
Because of how long and amazing this parkway really is, visitors who come here will definitely be delighted to see all the amazing views that this place has to offer. It’s truly one of the most enjoyable drives anyone can ever experience and is definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the area.
FAQS About Townsend, Tennessee
The distance between Townsend, Tennessee and Pigeon Forge is about 13.73 miles or about 18 miles if driving by car non-stop.
The distance between Townsend, Tennessee and Gatlinburg is about 14.04 miles or about 25 miles if driving by car non-stop.
Peaceful Side of the Smokies refers to a quiet mountain community known as Townsend, Tennessee. It marks a change of pace from the rest of the Smoky Mountain region.
Yes, it snows in Townsend. In fact, Townsend, Tennessee averages about 7 inches of snow per year.
Visit Townsend, Tennessee
Overall, the city of Townsend in Tennessee is definitely one of the best places you can ever visit. You’ll find that here in Townsend, Tennessee, there is simply so many awesome things for you to see or do.
So hopefully this post about the “15 Best Things To Do In Townsend, Tennessee” was able to help you out in some sort of way. This way if you ever find yourself visiting the city of Townsend in Tennessee, you will know exactly what things you are able to do for some fun.
Also, if you’re going to be traveling around to the state of Tennessee anytime soon, you might be interested in some of my other Tennessee related posts:
Or you can check out all my blog posts by clicking this link.
Hope you have a safe and fun trip~