In addition to its awe-inspiring natural beauty, Townsend, TN offers an array of unique experiences for those visiting the area. Here are some of the most popular activities to fill your itinerary during your next visit to Townsend:
River Tubing at the Smoky Mountain River Rat
Perhaps the local favorite activity in Townsend is River Tubing at the Smoky Mountain River Rat! It’s an adventure for the entire family. Your time on the river will include lots of time to splash and play, enjoy a great swimming hole, or simply relax and float down river away from the stress of everyday life.
Choose Outpost A for a family-friendly, dog-friendly river tubing journey down-river, suitable for those ages 2 and up. You can paddle, swim, or jump from the rock that marks our favorite swimming hole.
Choose Outpost B for the thrill-seekers six and older in your group who’d like to up the ante and enjoy some exhilarating rapids along their float trip. This course also features some gorgeous swimming holes along the way and you’re sure to catch a glimpse of our Private Riverside Cabana rentals near the riverside exit of this route.
Tube once, all day, or all season long! Curious about our tubing adventures? Check out all the fun right here!
Riverside Cabana Rentals in Townsend, TN
Soak in the beauty of the mountains and enjoy a relaxing day riverside when you rent one of our beautiful riverside cabanas. Situated feet from the Little River, your riverside cabana is a luxurious way to while away the time with up to five of your favorite people. Your fully-stocked cabana at the foot of Outpost B’s float includes a $25 food voucher to Burger Master and towel service, along with a cooler filled with sodas and water.
Whether you choose to pair your riverside cabana rental with a day of fun-filled river tubing adventures, bring your fishing gear along, or simply unwind by the river and enjoy the lovely swimming hole nearby, we promise you’ll thoroughly enjoy this unique Townsend, TN experience.
Cavern Tours in Townsend, TN
Traditionally open March through November of each year, the Tuckaleechee Caverns are known to locals as the “Greatest Site Under the Smokies” and feature millions of formations throughout the round-trip 1.25-mile adventure-filled tour. The Tuckaleechee Caverns of Townsend, TN are carved into the interior of the Great Smoky Mountains and are a wonderful place to learn about the rich history of the area and enjoy hearing local lore. Inside, you’ll marvel at the “Big Room” which could almost fit a football stadium inside and “Silver Falls, ” the 210-foot subterranean waterfall along thought to be the largest in the Eastern United States.
Visit the Great Smoky Mountain “Missing Link” during your Townsend, TN adventure
In late 2018, the long-awaited, scenic 16 mile stretch of the Foothills Parkway from Walland, TN to Wears Valley, TN was officially completed and is now open for the public to enjoy. Approved by Congress in 1944, this highway project that would offer exceptional views of the Great Smoky Mountains came to a halt about 20 years later, leaving an unfinished 1.65 mile stretch in the middle; this unfinished portion of the Foothills Parkway became known as the “Missing Link.” The good news is, the Missing Link delivered on those expectations of incredible views of the oldest mountain range in America. The newest section of the Foothills Parkway is located off Wears Valley and is now accessible through Townsend, after more than 50 years of planning. It offers one of the most beautiful drives in America, featuring stopping points with nothing short of breathtaking Smoky Mountain views.
Cades Cove in Townsend, TN
Cades Cove is a beautiful valley, surrounded by picturesque views of the Great Smoky Mountains on all sides and is a popular destination among tourists and locals alike. Opportunities to view a wide array of wildlife and the extensive biodiversity that the Smokies have to offer, make this spot a must during your Smoky Mountain vacation. Your chances of catching a glimpse of a white-tailed deer, black bear, or coyote in Cades Cove are quite good; and don’t forget the ground hogs, turkeys, raccoons, and skunks. You might even see an elk or two!
In addition to wildlife viewing on your drive around the Cades Cove Loop, there are lots of chances for picnics and hiking, or to participate in a tour of the widest variety of historic buildings of any area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Bicycle enthusiasts may also want to mark Wednesdays on their calendars, as the Cades Cove Loop is often blocked off for safe riding on this day.
Horseback Rides in Townsend, TN
Townsend is ideal for horseback riding, and several local stables offer guided horseback tours. Whether you are a new or experienced rider, you’ll love getting to know Townsend, TN better on horseback!
The Cades Cove Riding Stables are very popular and offer rides into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Davy Crockett Riding Stables also offer guided tours. Read more about riding in the Smokies here.
Wild Laurel Golf Course in Townsend, TN
Avid golfers in your group are certain to enjoy the Laurel Valley Golf and Country Club near the Laurel Lake Nature Preserve and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This exquisite golf course is a full-service, par 70, 18-hole golf course, neighboring Cades Cove. The Course was designed by Edmund D. Ault, ASGCA, and features Bermuda fairways, bent grass greens, and a wide array of amenities.
Fly Fishing in Townsend, TN
You can bring your own gear to fish the Little River, or choose the convenience of renting from Little River Outfitters Fly Shop and Fishing School. Fishing in the National Park is an option as well, though you will need a permit. The Little River, which runs through Townsend and later meets up with the Tennessee River deeper into the park, boasts an assortment of trout- including rainbow, bass, brown, and brook- along with many other fish species, offering the opportunity for both great fishing and beautiful scenery.
Other fun things to do in Townsend, TN
While we wish this outdoor activities list could be all-inclusive, there are just so many more things to do in Townsend, TN! Check out this great list of attractions to find even more family adventures and Smoky Mountain fun!
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend, TN
The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is a museum that focuses on preserving, interpreting, and sharing the history and culture of the diverse groups who have lived and worked in the Southern Appalachian Mountains (an area including the current Great Smoky Mountains National Park). The Heritage Center provides various programs and exhibits for educational purposes and cultural enrichment and features the Tennessee Historical Village, home to thirteen historic buildings, each furnished according to its unique time period in the story of Tennessee. Check out their Calendar of Events for workshops, concerts, and other happenings throughout the year.
Little River Railroad Museum in Townsend, TN
The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company was founded in 1982 to preserve the heritage of the Little River Lumber Company and the Little River Railroad. It features a Shay engine, which was once used in the local logging operation and has been restored for the purpose of educating the public about one of the largest commercial logging operations in southern Appalachia. It boasts an array of memorabilia collected from the days of the railroad and lumber operations.
Please be respectful of property owners along the river. Do not allow your dog out of the water to walk along the property. Also, be respectful of our property by picking up after your dog if they use the potty on our lawn.
The Burger Master in Townsend, TN
Nationally known and locally loved, the Burger Master has been a staple in Townsend since 1967. Specializing in burgers, ice cream, and a variety of other sweet treats and savory eats, this food is guaranteed to hit the spot after a day of river tubing, horseback riding, or exploring caverns.
Food Trucks at the River Rat Tubing Company in Townsend, TN
Join us onsite at Tubing Outpost A for delicious lunch options from a variety of local food trucks that arrive daily. Curious about what’s on the menu for the day of your next visit? Check out our Food Truck Schedule here.
Little River Pub and Deli in Townsend, TN
Craft beer and a relaxed environment, along with delicious food have visitors to Townsend coming back season after season. The Little River Pub and Deli offers comfortable seating including a beer garden on the river. Vegetarian and kid’s meals are also available.
The Little River Pub also offers all River Rat tubers a 10% discount on your bill when you visit their pub and present your River Rat invoice or receipt. Check out our Discounts & Savings page and look for their listing to learn more about redeeming this discount.
Townsend Abbey in Townsend, TN
Located along the riverbank of the Little River, The Abbey is a local, family-friendly craft beer pub that offers shareables, sandwiches, salads, flatbreads and a fantastic atmosphere. Ask about their Weekend Specials on live music nights.
Other Places to Eat in Townsend, Tennessee
For an updated list of additional, great local eateries, you can always check out Explore Townsend.
Little Arrow Outdoor Resort
Gorgeous cabins, unique tiny homes, and top-tier RV hookup spots all await you at the Little Arrow Outdoor Resort! This one-of-a-kind resort offers exceptional views, plenty of onsite activities, and an array of wonderful accommodations. Formerly known as Tremont Campground, it has been lovingly restored and is a great option for glamping, swimming, and relaxing in the Smokies.
There are campground options to suit your family’s needs and tastes throughout and around Townsend, whether you’re looking for a classic camping experience or want to enjoy some luxury glamping accommodations. If both campgrounds and more sheltered accommodations are your cup of tea, check out Lazy Daze Campground and Mountaineer Campground. For a full list of local campgrounds in Townsend, TN, please click here.
We hope you thoroughly enjoy your stay in Townsend, Tennessee! Want to explore local events here in the Peaceful Side of the Smokies? Make sure to check out this Townsend Event Calendar for more great ways to enjoy your stay in this wonderful city.