East Tennessee is a region renowned for its natural beauty, rich history and culture, and warm hospitality. While popular destinations like Knoxville, Gatlinburg and Dandridge often steal the spotlight, there are several secret havens that offer a unique blend of history, outdoor adventures, character, and real estate opportunities. 

From the mountain retreat of Townsend to the historic allure of Jonesborough, let's explore these 6 hidden gems in East Tennessee!

Jonesborough: Tennessee's Oldest Town

Since 1779, Jonesborough had proudly held the title of the oldest town in Tennessee, and its historical significance can be felt throughout. The downtown area is adorned with beautifully restored buildings, quaint shops and boutiques, a vibrant arts scene, and historic sites. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and nearby the Cherokee National Forest, Jonesborough offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. With its strong sense of community, cultural events, and a wide range of housing options, Jonesborough offers a unique living experience steeped in history and charm.

Townsend: The Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains

Nestled at the entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Townsend is a true hidden gem perfect for outdoor adventures and scenic views. Townsend is often referred to as the "Quiet Side of the Smokies" due to its peaceful and less crowded atmosphere compared to other towns near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Due to its proximity to one of the most beautiful and biodiverse areas in the country, Townsend offers endless opportunities for nature enthusiasts. Escape to the nearby Cades Cove, a scenic valley renowned for its breathtaking beauty and rich history, or Little River, famous for its pristine waters perfect for tubing.

Harriman: A Unique Blend of History and Beauty


Harriman is a hidden gem known as much for its history as it is for its breathtaking scenic beauty. Harriman is nestled in the picturesque valley along the Emory River, offering stunning views of the surrounding natural beauty both residents and visitors can take in. The Emory River provides a picturesque setting for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing, while the nearby Frozen Head State Park provides hiking trails, camping areas, and breathtaking vistas. The city itself showcases stunning views of the river, charming downtown streets, and a rich railroad history (highlighted in the Herriman Heritage Museum). Real estate options in Harriman include historic homes, waterfront properties, and spacious lots.

Rogersville: A Quaint Town With Endless Character


Rogersville is Tennessee’s second oldest town behind Jonesborough, but that doesn’t make it any less steeped in history and nostalgia! Located in Hawkins County, Rogersville is another hidden gem that transports visitors back in time, offering glimpses into the state's early days through its numerous landmarks and historic sites. These sites include The Hale Springs Inn, the Hawkins County Courthouse, the Crockett Springs Park, and the Rogersville Train Depot. The beautifully preserved architecture in Rogersville includes Federal, Georgian, and Victorian-style homes. Alongside the outdoor possibilities of Cherokee Lake and Holston River, Rogersville offers a vibrant arts scene, numerous festivals throughout the year, and a close-knit community. 

Sweetwater: A Small Town with a Big Heart

Sweetwater is a small but mighty community in East Tennessee known for its warm southern hospitality and recreational opportunities. Located in Monroe County, Sweetwater offers a peaceful and close-knit atmosphere that attracts both residents and visitors alike. The town is known for its annual events, including the Sweetwater Valley Farm Cheese Festival, which celebrates the local dairy heritage. The Sweetwater Jaycees' Annual Antique Street Fair is another annual highlight, featuring antique vendors, live music, and delicious food. Perhaps Sweetwater’s largest draw is the “Lost Sea” Adventure! Sweetwater is home to the "Lost Sea," an enchanting underground lake recognized as the largest underground lake in the United States. Visitors can take a guided tour through the caverns, gaze at awe inspiring structures, and even take a boat ride on the crystal-clear waters of the Lost Sea.

Granville: A Step Back in Time

Granville is a hidden gem that exudes small-town charm and a rich history. Located in Jackson County, this community showcases well-preserved historic buildings, including the T.B. Sutton General Store (a two-story 1865 landmark!), and a charming downtown area. Granville showcases its living history through lovingly maintained period houses, old world atmosphere, and the aesthetic of a bygone era. Though real estate in the area is limited, Granville offers a rare opportunity for those looking for an immersive cultural experience alongside a serene and close-knit community.


East Tennessee is home to a myriad of hidden gem communities that offer a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and a strong sense of community. These towns provide residents and visitors with an opportunity to experience the best of East Tennessee living. Whether you're seeking a peaceful lakeside retreat or a small-town with rich cultural heritage, these hidden gems offer a range of real estate options to suit every preference. Explore these hidden gems firsthand, discover their unique charms for yourself, and find your perfect East Tennessee community to call home!


Looking for advice on the best places to live or visit in East Tennessee? Young Marketing Group can help provide you with the tips and guidance to help you make the most informed decisions! Leave us a message here or call us at 865-281-1321 to speak to one of our Knoxville realtors today.

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Posted by Carl Young on
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