What to do and see in Townsend, United States: The Best Places and Tips

November 6, 2017 Alida England

Townsend is a city in Blount County, Tennessee, in the southeastern United States. The population was 244 at the 2000 census and 448 at the 2010 census. For thousands of years a site of Native American occupation by varying cultures, Townsend is one of three "gateways" to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It has several museums and attractions relating to the natural and human history of the Great Smokies.
Restaurants in Townsend

1. Tuckaleechee Caverns

825 Cavern Rd, Townsend, TN 37882-4505 +1 865-448-2274
Excellent
79%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Tuckaleechee Caverns

Reviewed By TheSmokiesAreGreat - Canton, Georgia

We enjoyed the caverns and so did our teens. Very cool! One piece of advice to the owners...and anyone visiting. We did not notice a sign warning the elderly of the number of stairs you are required to climb down and back up to access the cavern...and all of the stairs that continue down into the caverns. An elderly couple (maybe in their late 60’s/early 70’s) in our group struggled and had to stay behind. She was winded and holding her chest after we had made it down into the cavern about halfway. She had struggled to make it that far. Our guide left her on a bench with her husband while our group finished our tour. My husband offered to go back up and get her help. The tour guide didn’t want to worry the group and wanted everyone, except for that couple, to continue on. We worried about her the rest of the day...wondering how she would ever make it up the remainder of the caverns and the steep steps. If you do not have a sign warning, particularly, the elderly or those in poor health, perhaps now would be a good time to add one. Those selling tickets at the counter should also warn possible customers. Our family enjoyed the caverns and the tour...however, we spent the rest of the day and evening worrying about that couple left behind on the bench.

2. Foothills Parkway

Between Chilhowee Lake and Townsend., Townsend, TN
Excellent
78%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 360 reviews

Foothills Parkway

Reviewed By The_Loup_Garou - Phoenix, Arizona

The Foothills Parkway is one of our favorite drives in the Townsend/Walland Area. We had not driven it in some time, as we had been heavily scheduled with events at near-by Blackberry Farm. On our March trip, we checked out of Blackberry, and had several hours, before we could check into our hotel at TYS Airport, prior to flying home the next morning.

Though late March, the weather was not the best, and the area had found Winter hanging on – with snow, twice in the week before. Spring time had not yet come to the Smokies.

Though the trees were mostly bare, their lack of leaves actually provided us with some great views. We made use of the vistas, which are mostly obscured in the Summer, and Autumn.

Traffic was very light, so we were able to take our time, and pulled out at nearly every opportunity.

On this drive, we just turned around and headed back up the Parkway, to Hwy 321. It’s amazing how much difference one can see, traveling such a road, in both directions.

This is a wonderful road (though through the mountains, the grades and curves are very gentle) to just take a “Sunday drive,” and that is exactly what we did – in both directions. I am just sorry that we did not get the opportunity to drive it on our late October trip, in 2017.

3. Just Get Outdoors

Walland, TN
Excellent
100%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 6 reviews

Just Get Outdoors

Reviewed By Houston N - Franklin, Tennessee

You will enjoy the beauties of nature on the Black Berry Farm experience. Old covered bridge, an old church out in the woods, fishing, and the Spa in the woods.

4. Smoky Mountain River Rat

205 Wears Valley Rd, Townsend, TN 37882-3307 +1 865-448-8888
Excellent
73%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
4%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 695 reviews

Smoky Mountain River Rat

Smoky Mountain River Rat has offered guests tubing adventures on the Little River for 20 years! River Rat is located 15 miles south of Pigeon Forge in Townsend, TN, the Peaceful Side of The Smokies. Tubing trips offer plenty of rapids to satisfy your craving for excitement, but the Little River is mellow enough for even the youngest thrill seeker. This adventure is fun for ages 2 and older. Open 7 days, May - Labor Day. Want something with more PADDLE, SPLASH & PLAY? The River Rat also offers white water rafting with their "sister company". USA Raft Smoky Mountains offers guests white water rafting adventures on the Pigeon River in Hartford, TN. We are conveniently located right off I-40 at the Tennessee, North Carolina border. USA Raft is the closest white water adventure rafting to Gatlinburg, Knoxville and Pigeon Forge. Your next adventure is waiting for you in the Great Smoky Mountains. Whether you are planning a quick weekend getaway or a fun family vacation, USA Raft the premier outfitter for rafting in the Smoky Mountains has an adventure that is just right for you! Our experienced guides combine safety with the rush of an outdoor adventure to give you and your family the thrill of a lifetime! From rafting to ThrillKats to fishing and more, the most fun you will ever have in the water awaits you on the Pigeon River. At USA Raft we believe it is our job to make rafting in the Smoky Mountains your first choice for vacation fun!

Reviewed By ANDREA B - HOLLAND

As far as it goes for tubing in Townsend River Rat is number one! They have quality tubes and staff. Everyone was helpful and organized. They leep your keys safe for free. We happened to tube during the total eclipse, which was one of the best experiences of my life! The river is beautiful, low in some spots but those are called rapids and help to keep the river clean. There are areas deeper and a jump off point. The rocks are slippery so take your time and wear shoes. Dogs are allowed.

5. Next to Heaven Adventure

1239 Wears Valley Rd, Townsend, TN 37882-3416 +1 865-448-6947
Excellent
85%
Good
9%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 270 reviews

Next to Heaven Adventure

Reviewed By Tracy390 - Palm Harbor, Florida

We always visit Next to Heaven for horseback riding when we are in the Gatlinburg area. It's actually located in Townsend but the drive there is scenic and not bad at all. This is the only stable that offers unguided riding. The horses have walked on these trails long enough to know exactly where to go so don't let the "unguided" rides scare you away. There is a beautiful scenic area about 1/2 way through at the top and the horses even stop for you so have your cameras ready! It's a little expensive but well worth it. They say it's a 45 minute ride but I think it may be a bit less. The owner has been there since the early 90's & my first experience with them was around 1992. They also offer zip lining but I cannot comment on that because we have not tried their zip lines. I would definitely recommend Next to Heaven whenever you're in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area!! The owner remembered a story about a certain horse the first time I went there. Ask him about "old blue"!

6. Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center

123 Cromwell Dr, Townsend, TN 37882-4323 +1 865-448-0044
Excellent
64%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 198 reviews

Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center

A nonprofit organization formed to preserve and present the heritage of the East Tennessee region. The mission of the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center is to preserve, protect and promote the unique history and rich culture of the residents and Native Americans who inhabited the East Tennessee mountain communities that were incorporated into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its surroundings. The Heritage Center is located on a five acre site along state highway 73 in Townsend, Tennessee.

Reviewed By Nancy M - Knoxville, Tennessee

Went on a 6 1/2 hour guided tour through Cade's Cove with tour guide, Mike Meldrum, from Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. Very informative and fun tour. Mike was a long time park ranger, retired now doing volunteer work for the Heritage Center. Such a delightful day, great box lunch; more than I count eat. We did several short hikes to places of interest like a bat cave, The Pearl Harbor Tree, CCE (Civil Engineers old camp site area, and several other points of interest. Check out the centers Facebook page or website for scheduling. Lots of interesting things are happening all year.

7. Townsend Visitors Center

7906 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Townsend, TN 37882-4028 +1 865-448-6134
Excellent
75%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 94 reviews

Townsend Visitors Center

Townsend Visitors Center is located in the back yard of Cades Cove. Stop by for area information regarding accommodations, restaurants, and things to do during your visit! As well as Great Smoky Mountain National Park info and gift store ran by the Great Smoky Mountain Association!

Reviewed By sheffie1304 - Townsend, Tennessee

Centrally located in Townsend, the VC provides a well stocked store....with books, clothing and more about the Smokies. And any purchase you make helps Great Smoky Mountain Association provide funds for the park.
The folks behind the counter can help with directions and hiking choices.
And they have a clean bathroom.

8. The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum

Us 321, Townsend, TN +1 865-661-0170
Excellent
58%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 115 reviews

The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum

Reviewed By ccchVincennes_IN - Vincennes, IN

At first glance this place didn't look like much but since it was free we thought we would stop. So glad we did. Inside the small museum are many pictures and historical photos of the area. For those who love history and also those who love trains this is a great place to explore. Has a nice gift shop and also they are currently working on improvements to the outside and making additions in the future. Not a lot for smaller children but they can climb up to one of the old trains out in front. We spent around an hour just looking and reading the displays. We truly enjoyed it and will visit again when we are in the area.

9. Cades Cove Cellars

Hwy 321, Townsend, TN +1 865-325-9463
Excellent
66%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 103 reviews

Cades Cove Cellars

Reviewed By kingbyriverk - Mid Coast Maine, Maine

On our way to Gatlinburg from the Knoxville airport we saw the winery sign and had to stop. A pleasant tasting room with friendly staff. The tastings were free and some of the wines quite nice. Small gift store as well.

10. Dark Island Swinging Bridge

Old State Highway 73 & Depot Avenue, Townsend, TN
Excellent
57%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 70 reviews

Dark Island Swinging Bridge

Reviewed By hawrivergal - North Carolina

We tried to use the map included in the Townsend Heritage Trail to find this place. Yikes! That map needs help. When we did find the bridge, we were delighted. It crosses a very pretty section of the river. There's enough sway in the bridge to give you a little thrill but not enough to be terrifying. Unfortunately, like many other sites around the world, some fools have begun adding "locks of love" to the chain link that encloses the bridge. This is definitely worth exploring. One caveat: the property on the other side of the bridge is private and labeled no trespassing, so you must turn around at the end and go back the way you came. No problem for us: we got another trip on a lovely piece of history.

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