If you’re looking to escape the glitz and big-city feel of Nashville, some of the most picturesque towns in Middle Tennessee are just a short drive away.
Whether you want to explore the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, shop ‘til you drop at a local antique store or check out some amazing wildlife and hiking trails, there is a town on this list for you.
Information provided by Tennessee Vacation.
Photo: Visit Columbia, TN
Fifty minutes south of Nashville, Columbia, also known as ‘Muletown’, is the home of the 11th U.S. president, a thriving arts district and great eats. Start your morning with a cup of coffee and pastry or breakfast sandwich at Muletown Coffee Co. Explore the locally-made items at the shops housed in The Columbia Arts Building. Bad Idea Brewing offers a variety of beers, and you can find beautiful bouquets at Bloom Stall. Art classes are also offered by local and regional artists. Spend some time at W7thCo Vintage Photo Gallery where you can browse photos from the town’s early years. End your day at James K. Polk Ancestral Home, which has the largest collection of the former president’s artifacts in the country.
Photo: Visit Franklin, TN
If you love history, Franklin should be on your day trip list. Only 30 minutes south of Nashville, the town is meticulous about preserving the area’s history and telling the whole story. Hear how the Battle of Franklin occurred at the doors of several homes, including Carter House, Lotz House and Carnton. These homes were transformed into Civil War field hospitals; the bloodstains of wounded soldiers can still be seen. After taking in all the history, sample some brews along the Masters & Makers Trail that winds through Williamson County. Finish your day trip with an unforgettable meal at Red Pony.
Photo: Tennessee Vacation
Recently hailed as Southern Living’s No. 1 Best Small Town in 2021, Bell Buckle has its fair share of antique shops, including Phillips General Store, 1852 Antiques, Simplicity in Bell Buckle and Bluebird Antiques & Ice Cream Parlor. Step into the cozy Bell Buckle Coffee Shop and Book Swap where you’ll find walls of books and a variety of coffees from Americanos to caramel macchiatos. If you’re visiting Tuesdays – Sundays, have a meal at the Bell Buckle Café, famous for their Southern dishes like barbecue, chicken and dumplings and so much more. Leave room for dessert because you’ll want to try the homemade Moon Pie sundae or oatmeal cake. Want to spend even more time in Bell Buckle? Book a stay at the charming Seasons Bed and Breakfast where you’ll find comfort, sun-filled sitting rooms and a beautiful large porch with rocking chairs.
Photo: Real Estate Photographer Pro
The drive to Lynchburg is picturesque and, once you arrive, the fun is nonstop. Take a tour to see how the world’s leading whiskey is made at Jack Daniel’s Distillery. You can even book a tasting in the historic Barrelhouse. Pick up a unique piece at one of the many shops lining downtown Lynchburg like a lavender vanilla candle from Lynchburg Candle Co., sweet treats from Velma’s Candy, collectibles and pottery at Lynchburg Pottery & Gift Gallery and Jack Daniel’s merchandise from Jackie’s Gift Gallery. If you’re still not ready to go home, step into the tasting room of Lynchburg Winery to sample chardonnay, pinot grigio, merlot, strawberry wine and Moscato. Before you head home, stop in Miss Mary Bobo’s for family-style, country dining, or dig into perfectly-smoked barbecue at Barrel House BBQ.
Photo: Historic Downtown Gallatin
Travel only 40 minutes north of Nashville to Gallatin where you can spend the day browsing the cute boutiques on Main Street like Tennessee Honey, Sassy and Brassy and Southern Gypsies Boutique. If shopping isn’t your cup of tea, spend some time reconnecting with nature in Bledsoe Creek State Park with a hike on one of the seven trails. Keep your eyes peeled as you can see deer and 116 species of birds. Old Hickory Lake is great for fishing, boating and paddling along its 22,500 acres of water. When your stomach starts growling, grab a meal at one of the local restaurants. For classic hand-crafted burgers, fries and shakes, visit Swaney Swift’s on the Square. If you’re in the mood for southern comfort food, Starr Ranch is the place to be.
Winding scenic roads lead you to Linden, Tennessee, located about an hour and a half west of Nashville. You’ll want to spend all day traveling the Buffalo River by kayak or canoe. The Buffalo River flows 125 miles, making it the longest, free-flowing river in Middle Tennessee. Buffalo River Resort offers a variety of rentals from canoes to inflatable and hard-shell kayaks, inner tubes and rafts. They even offer overnight moonlight floats for those who want to extend their stay. Mousetail Landing State Park has loads of outdoor activities as well, including five hiking trails, two mountain bike trails, fishing, swimming, boating and paddling. Once the day is over, have a meal and relax while listening to music at the Commodore Hotel & Cafe.
For more information on Middle Tennessee road trips, click here.