Things to Do in Townsend, Tennessee

Things to Do in Townsend, Tennessee
Townsend, Tennessee, calls itself the "Peaceful Side of the Smokies." It traces its founding back to 1912, when workers of the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company chose the area to settle down with their families. It's found near the less-frequented west entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; although this town has only about 244 year-round residents (2000 census), there are quite a number of things to do in Townsend that will have a lot of appeal to traveling families and the solo outdoor enthusiast.

Visit Little River Railroad Museum

Children, who might thus far only be familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine, will find the Little River Railroad museum worth a visit. There is a historic water tank, various flat cars, a caboose, a boxcar, a log loader and a depot. These are outdoor exhibits that invite hands-on exploration and encourage play. Interior exhibits showcase the history of the railroad and Townsend itself.

Admission is seasonal; in June, July, August and October, the museum is open daily. In April, May and September, hours are restricted to weekends only--Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. November through March, you need to contact the museum curator for an appointment. There is no charge, but you may give a donation to support the museum's upkeep.

Little River Railroad Museum
Between U.S. 321 and River Road
Townsend, Tennessee 37882
(865) 448-2211

Walk in the Gardens Surrounding the Lily Barn

The Lily Barn is a historic cantilever barn that houses a restaurant--Miss Lily's Café---and also a reception hall; you notice cabins surrounding it, which are actually vacation rentals. Visit this venue for a walk around the pond or along the creek and through the day lily fields. There is also a maze made with evergreen flora for children.

The restaurant serves lunch and dinner every day, except on Sundays, when it only provides brunch; Monday through Saturday, hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Brunch on Sunday is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The food is traditional Southern cuisine with smokehouse meats and grits.

The Lily Barn
1116 Carr's Creek Road
Townsend, Tennessee 37882
(800) 448-8697

Go Spelunking in the Tuckaleechee Caverns

The Tuckaleechee Caverns offer opportunities to marvel at nature's underground wonders. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the caverns offer a cool respite in the hot summer. Sightseers enjoy the vistas of stalagmites, stalactites and an underground river. In 2009, admission is $14 for adults and $7 for children ages 5 to 11. Guided tours start in the gift shop above ground. Be sure to budget about 1 1/2 hours.

Tuckaleechee Caverns
825 Cavern Road
Townsend, Tennessee 37882
(865) 448-2274

Article Written By Sylvia Cochran

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.

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