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Five Splendid Towns to Visit, Enjoy in Tennessee

1. Bell Buckle. Located in central Tennessee, about 50 miles southeast of Nashville, this quaint and historic town of 500+ people is known for its southern hospitality as well as being a center for antiques, quilts, and homemade crafts. The town also has the distinction of being the smallest town in the state to be a Tree City USA. At one time, the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad came through the town -- and it hit a population of about 1,000. Visitors will find many preserved and restored Victorian homes, shops, and churches in and around the downtown -- and the entire downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (as the Bell Buckle Historic District). Bell Buckle hosts two annual events, the RC Cola & Moon Pie Festival in June and the Webb School Arts & Crafts Fair in October. For drinkers, take a little side trip to the George Dickel Distillery in Cascade Hollow, which is part of the American Whiskey Trail and offers tours and sales of a rye whiskey. Find more at Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce.

2. Franklin. Located in central Tennessee, just 20 miles south of Nashville, this city of 68800 people blends southern hospitality with historic preservation and modern sophistication. Visitors love strolling along the 16-block Downtown Historic District (on the national Register of Historic Buildings), which includes award-winning antique stores, gift shops, bookstores, art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and restored homes. Whatever time of year you visit, there is something going on, from Franklins Art Scene (the first Friday of each month) to the Main Street Festival and Dickens of Christmas to the Franklin Hot Air Balloon Festival. Founded in 1799, and named for Benjamin, Franklin, it is the seventh-largest city in the state. Besides the downtown and festivals, plenty exists nearby, including of course, Nashville. Consider visiting/touring Arrington Vineyards and Mill Creek Brewery. For outdoor adventure, nearby Long Hunter State Park (2,600 acres, including hiking trails, boat launches, J. Percy Priest Lake), Radnor Lake State Park (1,332-acre natural area day-use only, aviary education center, visitor center, trails), and Edwin and Percy Warner Parks (3,100 acres of forest, field, trails, equestrian center, picnic shelters, and dog park). Leanr more at Downtown Franklin.

3. Jonesbourgh. Located in northeast Tennessee, about 95 miles northeast of Knoxville, this town of about 6,000 people is known for being the state's oldest town -- and for being capitol of the state of Franklin for a short period. Wait? Yes, Franklin was the 14th state in 1784, but that ended in 1788 when it was never recognized by Congress and became part of North Carolina until Tennessee became a state in 1796. The town was named after North Carolina legislator Willie Jones, who had supported the state's expansion westward across the Appalachian Mountains. You will definitely want to visit if you love historic and well-preserved buildings, including the Chester Inn, built in 1797; in fact, the Jonesbourgh Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Be sure to visit the International Storytelling Center, which hosts the annual National Storytelling Festival in early October. Enjoy museums, shops, and dining, as well as the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre. For a different kind of history, make a stop at the Tennessee Hill Distillery for a tour and tasting, located on Fox street in Jonesborough. No stop is complete without a stop at the 130-acre Persimmon Ridge Park, which includes hiking and biking trails, fields, playground, water-park, and disc golf course. Finally, check out the Eldridge-Jonesborough Scenic Trails and the Lost State Scenic Walkway. Learn more at the town site: Jonesbourgh.

4. Lynchburg. Located in south-central Tennessee, about 75 miles southeast of Nashville, this town of 6,300 people is home to the world famous Jack Daniel's Distillery, a major tourist attraction in a dry county, but there is much more to this charming town, including Lynchburg Winery, which is next to the Jack Daniel's Distillery in the square in downtown. Once there, stroll through the entire Lynchburg Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Depending on when you visit, you might run into one of several annual festivals and events, including Spring in the Hollow, Frontier Days, jack Daniels BBQ, Christmas in Lynchburg, Corvette Cruisin', and Tennessee Walking Horse Show. Stay in nearby Tims Ford State Park, an 1,321-acre state park on Tims Ford Reservoir, one of the most picturesque lakes in the state, with 20 fully equipped cabins and two campgrounds for RVs. And a trip to this area of the state would be incomplete without a stop at Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park, in Manchester, a 400-acre park that contains an old stone fort built in the Middle Woodland Period, about 2,000 years ago. Learn more at the town site: Lynchburg.

5. Pigeon Forge. Located about seven miles northwest of Gatlinburg in central-eastern Tennessee, about 31 miles southeast of Knoxville, this town of approximately 5,875 people is mountain town and vacation destination that caters to Southern culture, country music, nature, shopping, and eating. One of the top attractions is Dollywood, county singer Dolly Parton's Appalachian-themed amusement park and museum. Other attractions include the Smoky Mountain Opry. Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame, Pigeon Forge Mill, Hollywood Wax Museum, Titanic Museum, and smoky Mountain Ziplines. The Little Pigeon River is a great place for whitewater rafting, and the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers hiking, horseback-riding, and other nature and history-related adventures (including Cades Cove). The name of the town comes from an iron forge built in the early 1800s along the Little Pigeon River. Learn more at the town site: Pigeon Forge.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.



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