If you want to find a destination with an active art scene or great farm-to-table restaurants, look no further than the cities and towns around Memphis, Tennessee. When you book a stay at a Memphis vacation rental during the week, look forward to spending a long weekend of fishing and boating in Townsend, or hiking and rock climbing in Gatlinburg. Check out the seven most exciting weekend getaway spots from Memphis.

1. Townsend

overlooking Dry Valley
Source: Flickr/Gary Millar

About a six-hour drive from Memphis, Townsend is a great little town if you want to enjoy some outdoor time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can drive up to Clingmans Dome and walk out to the observation platform that gives you views of the mountains for miles. The fall is a great time to visit when the leaves are changing into a riot of orange, yellow, and red. Learn more about the history of this town that has had inhabitants since 2,000 B.C. at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. Let the kids climb into the driver’s seat of a train at the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum.

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2. Franklin

Carter House cannon
Source: Flickr/Michael Brown

A three-drive gets you a little bit south of Nashville in the town of Franklin that has a lot to offer over a weekend. This small town was a major hub during the American Civil War, and history lovers will enjoy exploring the antebellum homes and plantations that are available for tours. The three best homes to tour that date from before the War Between the States are the Carton Plantation, the Lotz House, and Carter House. During the Civil War, the Carter House served as a command center for the Confederate Army. Covering 16 blocks, the downtown area is a great place for a little shopping at stores, such as the Tin Cottage, and go to dinner at Tupelo Honey with its Southern comfort food.

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3. Lynchburg

Lynchburg Welcome Center
Source: Flickr/Daniel Hartwig

With a drive of a little over three hours, you can feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you drive down Main Street in Lynchburg with its brick buildings, charming restaurants, and eclectic shops. The biggest draw to this small town is the chance to take a tour of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. You can visit the gift shop and buy a bottle to take back to your vacation rental. In the historic center of town, the kids have the chance to climb up in the Big Blue Chair and have a photo taken. Stop by the Lynchburg Hardware and General Store for supplies or Nina’s to find a cool new outfit.

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4. Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg Space Needle
Source: Flickr/Eric

Hit the slopes and enjoy some skiing at Uber Gatlinburg when you book a vacation rental in Gatlinburg during the winter months. This resort town offers a host of activities throughout the year. Take a ride up the Gatlinburg Space Needle and enjoying stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains and the town below. Kids gasp in awe and fright during a visit to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium with its unique collection of artifacts including shrunken heads. The museum includes a mirror maze to see who in your family has the best sense of direction. At the Hollywood Star Cars Museum, see some of the most famous cars from film and television.

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5. Arlington

antique store in Arlington
Source: Flickr/Carl Wycoff

Within easy driving distance of Memphis, Arlington is a hidden gem, where life seems to move at a much slower pace. Most of the residents that you meet in town have been in the area for their entire lives, and many have ancestors who were part of the original settlement. Stop by the general store in town, SY Wilson. Located in a historic building and location of the original general store in town, SY Wilson is a great place to pick up supplies, a little gossip, and some town history. As you walk through town, keep an eye out for the old blacksmith shop and take a tour of the Rachel H.K. Burrow Museum to learn more about the area.

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6. Greeneville

water flowing through Horse Creek
Source: Flickr/Andrew Tyson Thomson Photography

About half a day’s drive from Memphis, the town of Greeneville is worth a long weekend. This small town was the place Andrew Johnson launched his career as a politician. He later rose to the highest office in the land, President of the United States. You can honor this history with a visit to the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. Pack a picnic lunch and drive the short distance over the Margarette Falls to dine alfresco while the kids climb on the rocks at the base of the falls. For dinner, order some good old-fashioned comfort food at Aunt Bea’s Restaurant.

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7. Bell Buckle

wall mural in Bell Buckle
Source: Flickr/Shannon McGee

With a name like Bell Buckle, this town must be quaint and charming. Less than four hours from Memphis, this town is as about as historic as it gets. The Bell Buckle Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places, and your family can enjoy meandering through the area, taking in the beautiful buildings and stopping in antique stores such as Bluebird Antiques and Southern Charm. When you need a break, stop by Bell Buckle Coffee Shop for a caffeine buzz. In late fall, the town hosts the Webb School Arts and Crafts Fair with tons of family fun and homemade items for sale.

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