Here are our top picks for historic wanderings near the gateway town of Townsend at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
1. Cades Cove
This preserved pioneer village in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a visitor favorite. Meander through the historic homesteads, watch the miller grind grain and sit in the churches. You’ll picture yourself living in a simpler time. The closest lodging to Cades Cove is in Townsend, Tenn. where you can rent a cozy mountain cabin of your own.
2. Tuckaleechee Caverns
In the 1700s during hot summers, women would do their sewing chores at a cool spot in the valley near Cades Cove. Nearby, school children also liked to nap near the cool breeze escaping from a sinkhole venting air from a cave. Today, a Tuckaleechee Caverns tour featuring 12-foot tall stalagmites in the year-round 58-degree temperature is a great way for vacationing families to escape the heat. Learn more at (865) 448-2274, www.tuckaleecheecaverns.com.
3. Antiquing Heaven
Just 20 miles from the national park entrance, there is a smattering of over 15 antique stores in Maryville, Tenn. Start your treasure hunt at stores with names like Druid Hill, Good Morning Glory, Good Ole Girls and Hoo La La. Many store owners have been collecting for over 30 years, and there’s one shop that specializes in antique clocks.