Nature and American History Collide in Greeneville, Tennessee
Go hiking with llamas, relax next to a peaceful river or stay in a historic inn near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Tucked into the rolling and green Great Smoky Mountains, aptly named Greeneville is a fantastic place to get outside and enjoy nature, but there’s also fascinating elements of American history to uncover. One of the only Tennessee counties that voted to stay in the Union during the Civil War and the home of our 17th president and David Crockett alike, you’ll find so much to discover in and around Greeneville, northwest of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Go on a Hike or a Float Near Greeneville
For the most unique hike of your life, book a tour with The Wandering Llamas. Owner Sandy Sgrillo leads guided hikes where you can walk one of her 18 llamas alongside you.
Depending on the tour, you’ll hike to a gorgeous overlook or a waterfall in the Cherokee National Forest. You can also opt to spend the night in a cabin at the llama farm.
Another great way to experience the beauty of the Smokies is by hiking to Margarette Falls. Start from the trailhead 20 minutes south of Greeneville and hike 2.6-miles roundtrip to a striking, 60-foot-tall waterfall.
“You won’t want to miss the fall season here,” Greene County Partnership’s director of tourism, Alayna Smith remarks. “It’s drop dead gorgeous with the leaves changing and the miles of winding backcountry roads.”
Want to cool off and spend some time on the water? Head to David Crockett Birthplace State Park. Spend an afternoon fishing the Nolichucky River for trout, Smallmouth bass and musky. Be sure to budget enough time to explore the history of the state park. It’s a working farm and docents in period costumes will guide you back in time to the 1800s.
After a day spent on the trails or the water, come hungry to The Farmer’s Daughter along Hwy. 107. This family-style, Southern restaurant is homey and the perfect place to try all sorts of local favorites. There’s biscuits, cornbread, baked buttermilk chicken, country ham and sides ranging from fried okra to mashed potatoes and gravy.
Explore Greeneville History
Does the name Andrew Johnson ring a bell? If not, it’s time to brush up on your history and Greeneville, Tennessee is the perfect place to do it. Take a deep dive into the life of the United States’ 17th president, Andrew Johnson, in the city he called home.
The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site comprises four main areas in downtown Greeneville: the visitor center, Johnson’s early home, Johnson’s homestead and the national cemetery. Start in the visitor center where you can watch a short movie, see the bones of the tailor shop where Johnson worked before his career in politics and then decide for yourself whether or not Abraham Lincoln’s predecessor should have been impeached. He was eventually acquitted in the Senate by one vote.
Then, head to Johnson’s early home where you can learn about this president’s early life through self guided audio interpretation. Make sure you get a ticket for one of the four daily tours to visit Johnson’s homestead. They’re offered at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. daily April through November and Wednesday through Sunday in the winter months, December through March. Tours are limited to 10 participants, so grab your ticket from the visitor center early in the day.
When lunchtime rolls around, stop by Tannery Downtown for a sandwich and another dose of history. Housed in the town’s former tannery, you’ll find photos of historic Greeneville on the walls. Another great spot to find a side of nostalgia with your lunch is Tipton’s Cafe. This diner has been serving burgers and fries since 1966.
Spend the afternoon getting to know Greeneville’s local artisans. You’ll find shops specializing in things like handcrafted furniture and antiques downtown. Be sure to stop by Voodoo Rocket, the studio and gallery of Kevin Bradley, an artist who uses antique letterpresses to make his unique artwork.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing Airbnb, a chain hotel or a historic inn, you’ll find a perfect place to lay your head in the Greeneville area. The General Morgan Inn is a favorite of history buffs. This beautiful town changed hands more than 50 times during the Civil War, with the historic hotel and the Dickson-Williams Mansion being the epicenter of the action.
Learn more at discovergreenevilletn.com.