9 Amazing Experiences In Historic Greeneville, Tennessee (2022)

One of the oldest towns in Tennessee, Greeneville beckons with a fascinating heritage set amid gorgeous landscapes and abundant waterways.

The community was established in 1783 and named for General Nathanael Greene, who successfully commanded the southern theater of the Revolutionary War. Greeneville also celebrates its hometown heroes, most prominent among them 17th President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, and frontiersman Davy Crockett. Along the brick-lined sidewalks of the compact downtown are myriad landmarks, churches, homes, and murals. Every block is an intriguing history lesson.

It’s interesting to learn that, due to the quirks of politics and changing boundary lines, abolitionist-leaning Greeneville fell numerous times under the commands of the Union and Confederacy. As a result, visitors will see references to both sides of the Civil War.

Greeneville is accredited as a Main Street community, a designation under the Tennessee Main Street Program in recognition of its economic revitalization efforts and historic preservation initiatives.

Located 70 miles northeast of Knoxville, Tennessee, and 56 miles north of Asheville, North Carolina, Greeneville sits at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The nearest airports are Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville, Tennessee; Asheville Regional Airport in Asheville; and McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville.

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My visit was hosted by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Discover Greeneville, but all opinions and recommendations expressed here are my own.

Here are my amazing experiences to put on your next itinerary, as Americana buffs and outdoor enthusiasts are sure to agree:

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1. David Crockett Birthplace State Park

You probably grew up singing about Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. We did, too. The David Crockett Birthplace State Park honors the life of Tennessee’s famous soldier, bear hunter, and legislator. The 105-acre park along the scenic Nolichucky River is both a memorial to the legendary folk hero and a recreation center for camping, swimming, hiking, birding, boating, and picnicking. Also onsite is a furnished replica cabin — like the one in which Crockett was born in the nearby community of Limestone — and a living history museum depicting pioneer life in the 1700s. Of course, a coonskin cap is prominently displayed.

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2. Margarette Falls At Cherokee National Forest

A stunning fan-shaped waterfall with a 60-foot drop awaits you at the end of the Margarette Falls Trail in Cherokee National Forest. The 1.2-mile trail (each way) starts off as an easy stroll, but it soon becomes a challenging uphill climb over dense tree roots and craggy boulders alongside a rushing creek. When the path dead-ended, we nearly turned around and returned to our awaiting vehicle. Finally, we figured out we needed to cross the creek via the water-covered rocks, and continue on the other side where the path picked up again. The effort was well worth it because the up-close view is thrilling, especially as the late afternoon sun peeked through the treetops onto the glistening falls. Be sure to carry water and perhaps energy bars.

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3. Capitol Of The Lost State Of Franklin

In a compelling chapter from Greeneville’s expansive history book, Greene County and several neighboring counties of abolitionist sentiment were originally within the borders of North Carolina. After disputes about taxation and slavery, in 1785, the counties seceded and declared themselves the independent state of Franklin. A log cabin was erected as their capitol building in Greeneville, where constitutional conventions and other political gatherings were held. Franklin never achieved official statehood, and a few years later rejoined North Carolina. They later became part of Tennessee when the state was admitted to the Union in 1796. The Capitol of the Lost State of Franklin, identified with a historical marker, was lost but rebuilt as an authentic reproduction. The doors are open, so venture inside and imagine the dreams and risks of those pioneers who sought freedom for all.

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4. The Big Spring

Like the wildlife and Native Americans before them, the Scotch-Irish pioneers who founded Greeneville in 1783 were drawn by the abundance of clean, fresh water. The Big Spring, as it is named, is today the centerpiece of a serene public garden with an arched stone bridge, manicured landscaping, mature trees, and octagonal picnic tables. This quiet little waterway meanders through town, where you can catch another view as it emerges from beneath the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site visitor center. From downtown Greeneville, the Big Spring flows into Richland Creek, which joins the Nolichucky River at Kinser Park.

5. General Morgan Inn And Brumley’s

Step inside the lobby of the General Morgan Inn, and you are taken back to the Gilded Age with its coffered ceiling, ornate woodwork, dazzling chandeliers, velvet sofas, grand piano, and brocade wallpaper. The elegant 52-room boutique hotel and fine dining restaurant are the social hubs of the town.

Originally a railroad hotel built in 1884 to accommodate business travelers arriving at the new train depot, it was family-owned and operated until 1981. It re-opened in 1996 after an extensive renovation and was renamed for General John Hunt Morgan, a Confederate army officer who was killed by Yankees nearby.

One evening I dined at the adjacent Brumley’s Restaurant and Lounge, a fine dining experience with crisp white tablecloths and wood-paneled walls. The menu — which boasts the South’s cuisine with a creative flair — offers starters, steaks, seafood, sandwiches, salads, and oh-so-heavenly desserts. My choice was a filet in red wine demi and bourbon-glazed carrots, and I’d gladly go back for more.

The General Morgan Inn was full when we visited, so I didn’t have the opportunity to stay overnight there. Instead, I booked at the Hampton Inn Greeneville, which has contemporary-styled rooms and an extensive breakfast bar.

(Video) Andrew Johnson National Historic Site - Greeneville, TN

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6. Andrew Johnson Historic Site

Born into poverty in 1808, Andrew Johnson moved to Greeneville as a young man to work as a tailor. He ultimately rose to office as the 17th president after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The Andrew Johnson Historic Site, maintained by the National Park Service, presents the story of his life through four separate sites open for touring. Joining at the visitor center and memorial building is a museum that houses Johnson’s actual log-constructed tailor shop — a building within a building — while artifacts and in-depth informative displays address his complicated presidency and impeachment. Did he deserve to be impeached? At the end of the tour, you can decide for yourself, and vote “Yes” or “No.”

Across the street from the visitor center and memorial building is Johnson’s early home, where he and wife Eliza lived from the 1830s until 1851. Then they moved to their final and larger Homestead a few blocks away on Main Street, where they lived before and after his presidency. Both homes are furnished with family heirlooms and memorabilia.

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7. Andrew Johnson National Cemetery

The fourth site of Johnson’s life story is the family burial grounds, Andrew Johnson National Cemetery. Follow the winding road up to the highest point and you’ll reach a towering marble monument topped with a spread-wing eagle, and circled by an ornate cast-iron fence. It’s the burial site of the Andrew Johnson, who died in 1875, as well as his wife, five children, and members of their extended family. The land was originally owned by Johnson, who chose it for the distant mountain views and requested it for his final resting place. It is now maintained by the National Park Service. On the lower levels of the vast hillside are about 2,000 simple white headstones marking the graves of military veterans and their eligible spouses from the Civil War through the War in Afghanistan. The cemetery has been closed to new burials since 2019.

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8. A Walk With The President Tour

Take a guided tour through Andrew Johnson’s hometown, and you’ll understand some of Greeneville’s complicated political history. Among the sites you’ll visit are the dark, dank Olde Greene County Gaol (jail, in modern-day vernacular) that was built in 1882 with materials previously forged by enslaved labor; a church that was cannonballed during the Civil War; and the Greene County Courthouse with monuments to both Confederate and Union soldiers.

The 90-minute A Walk With The President walking tour starts at the General Morgan Inn Monday through Saturday at 9:30 a.m. from April – October.

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Pro Tip: Can’t make a tour? Download a brochure, complete with a map and illustrations, and guide yourself.

9. Greeneville Mural Trail

A baker’s dozen of eye-catching outdoor murals hand-painted on building exteriors by local artists pay tribute to Greeneville’s history and culture. You’ll find depictions of a uniformed Andrew Johnson appearing to look out a window; a movie poster for the Walt Disney movie, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier; the first train to arrive in Greeneville in 1858; and the tobacco and dairy industries.

The murals are clustered within a few blocks of downtown, so you’re in for a pleasant walk. Follow along on this map of the Greeneville Mural Trail.

Pro Tip: You might miss Mason House Art Gallery if you don’t know where to look. It’s a former alley that was enclosed and rebuilt as a grand display corridor for fine artists in the region. Exhibits change monthly. Enter through the General Morgan Inn lobby or the hotel’s side door on Depot Street.

For more unique Tennessee experiences, check out these stories:

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FAQs

What is Greeneville Tennessee famous for? ›

Greeneville is known as the town where United States President Andrew Johnson began his political career when elected from his trade as a tailor. He and his family lived there for most of his adult years.

What does Greeneville TN have to offer? ›

There are engaging museums and riveting historical landmarks to explore all around the area. But aside from history, you'll also be entertained by the many arts and culture activities in town, like the theater and arts center. Keep yourself busy with the best things to do in Greeneville, TN.

What president lived in Greeneville TN? ›

The picturesque setting of Greeneville, Tennessee frames the life of the 17th president, Andrew Johnson. His arrival to town in 1826 as a humble tailor launched his unexpected political career.

What is there to do in Greeneville TN tonight? ›

Why is Greeneville called Titletown? ›

Over the past ten years, Greeneville has been given the nickname, "Titletown" for the athletic success of numerous teams throughout Greene County most notably the Greeneville High football program that has won four state championships since 2010 including the last two.

Are there mountains in Greeneville TN? ›

Nestled at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains, Greeneville's rich heritage as the home of the 17th U.S. President features the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and National Cemetery.

Is Greenville TN in the Smoky Mountains? ›

Greeneville, town, seat (1783) of Greene county, northeastern Tennessee, U.S., near the Nolichucky River, in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, about 70 miles (115 km) northeast of Knoxville.

Is Greeneville TN a good place to live? ›

The city continues to expand, while so many buildings are just sitting around not being used. The scenery and views of the mountains are breathtaking in some areas. People in Greeneville are friendly, for the most part. There is a wide Christian community that offers an abundance of help for ones in need.

What is Greene County TN known for? ›

Greene County is the home of Tusculum College, the oldest college in Tennessee; the state's oldest Methodist congregation (the Ebenezer Methodist Church, near Chuckey), and the state's second oldest continuously cultivated farm (Elmwood Farm, part of the Earnest Farms Historic District).

Where is Andrew Johnson buried? ›

Andrew Johnson National Cemetery was established in 1906 on a hilly tract of land outside Greeneville, TN. It included the gravesite of Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, and a small burial ground for his immediate family.

Where was Andrew Johnson born? ›

What is the zip code for Greeneville Tennessee? ›

Greeneville

Is titletown a true story? ›

Our show is real,” Sciavicco said. “It's real people in a real part of Georgia. It's showing them and how they deal with real, every day problems.” He added: “At the core of it, this is a coming of age story about a group of kids with a coach that demands a lot.

What is the crime rate in Greeneville Tennessee? ›

Greeneville Annual Crimes
ViolentTotal
Number of Crimes71553
Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents)4.5935.73

What city is known as Title Town? ›

With a metro population that's just north of 300,000, Green Bay, Wisconsin, is the NFL's smallest market by far. At the same time, with 13 championship seasons (including four Super Bowls), it fields one of its winningest, most popular teams, earning its nickname and then some.

How big is Greenville Tennessee? ›

What is the elevation of Greeneville TN? ›

What is the elevation of Mosheim Tennessee? ›

How close is Greenville to the mountains? ›

Just 30 minutes north of downtown Greenville is what we call The Mountain Region — home to The Cliffs at Glassy, The Cliffs at Mountain Park, and The Cliffs Valley.

What planting zone is Greeneville TN? ›

Greeneville, Tennessee is in USDA Hardiness Zones 7a.

What county is Greenville TN in? ›

Does it snow in Greeneville TN? ›

Greeneville, Tennessee gets 44 inches of rain, on average, per year. The US average is 38 inches of rain per year. Greeneville averages 8 inches of snow per year. The US average is 28 inches of snow per year.

Is Johnson City TN a good place to live? ›

Johnson City was recognized this year as one of the best places in the U.S. to live. The designation was announced by Livability.com, one of the leading online authorities used for researching communities, as part of their “2018 Top 100 Best Places to Live” list.

What major city is near Greeneville TN? ›

Morristown, TN. Johnson City, TN. Kingsport, TN.

Is Greeneville TN a nice place to live? ›

The city continues to expand, while so many buildings are just sitting around not being used. The scenery and views of the mountains are breathtaking in some areas. People in Greeneville are friendly, for the most part. There is a wide Christian community that offers an abundance of help for ones in need.

Is Greenville TN in the Smoky mountains? ›

Greeneville, town, seat (1783) of Greene county, northeastern Tennessee, U.S., near the Nolichucky River, in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, about 70 miles (115 km) northeast of Knoxville.

What is the crime rate in Greeneville Tennessee? ›

Greeneville Annual Crimes
ViolentTotal
Number of Crimes71553
Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents)4.5935.73

What major city is near Greeneville TN? ›

Morristown, TN. Johnson City, TN. Kingsport, TN.

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