As the temperatures cool and the leaves begin their fall fashion show, head out for a day or a weekend to one of these charming Tennessee towns within an easy drive of Knoxville.
Sweetwater: Head south on Interstate 75 from Knoxville and it won’t be long before you’re at the Sweetwater exit. Its historic downtown features a variety of locally owned boutiques, eateries, and lodging options. Nearby Craighead Caverns is an extensive cave system that contains the country’s largest non-subglacial underground lake. Sweetwater is also the gateway to the Cherohala Skyway, which winds through national forests to Robbinsville, North Carolina.
Muddy Pond: Head west to Cumberland County and the Amish-Mennonite community of Muddy Pond. Muddy Pond Road twists and turns past fields of sorghum cane to the Muddy Pond General Store and the Country Porch, among other charming stops. There are cabins to rent, a campground, leather shops, a plethora of other shops, a greenhouse, and a sorghum mill open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays through October. Drop in for lunch at the Country Porch and stick around for some visiting around the picnic tables.
Cumberland Gap: Nestled at the foot of Cumberland Mountains where Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia meet is the Historic Town of Cumberland Gap. Within three blocks, the downtown area boasts quaint and crafty shops, restaurants and inns. Other attractions include the Iron Furnace, Bicycle Museum and lots of walking trails. It’s also within the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, which offers hiking, caving, the historic Hensley Settlement and views of the mountain pass that led many a pioneer west.