by Pankaj Upreti
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Sweetwater is a suburban city in Monroe and McMinn county in the U.S. state of Tennessee. It is located along the Sweetwater Creek of the Tennessee River in Sweetwater Valley amidst the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. In Tennessee, Sweetwater is the sweetest city.

What Is Sweetwater known For?

Surrounded by low hills and farm lands, Sweetwater is known for having America’s largest underground lake in America.
Sweetwater Valley Farm | Photo Credit – Joel Kramer

Surrounded by low hills and farm lands, Sweetwater is known for having America’s largest underground lake in America with an 18th century cave system called Craighead Caverns, Sweetwater Valley Farm, Tennessee’s largest muscadine vineyard etc. Events like the National Muscadine Festival, Veterans day Parade, Small Town Christmas, National Night Out, are also famous in the country.

It is also known for providing day trips options to destinations such as Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Wears Valley, etc. These sites are not more than 2 hours of drive away from Sweetwater.

What Cool Things Are In Sweetwater, TN?

Sweetwater, Tennessee offers plenty of stuff to do in Sweetwater and the area around it that can make your stay exciting. To plan your travel itinerary, read ahead to know about the best activities to do in Sweetwater, TN.


THE LOST SEA | Photo Credit – Joel Kramer

America’s largest underground lake, the Lost Sea is a water body situated deep inside a mountain in Eastern Tennessee and is a part of an extensive and historic eighteenth century cave system called Craighead Caverns.

There are 1.25 hours long, ¾ mile round-trip guided tours of the caverns available. At the start of the tour, visitors walk on wide sloping pathways of the caverns and the Lost sea. Learn about the cavern’s history and geological development of large rooms and other formations in the caverns while walking.

The tour also includes a glass bottomed boat ride in the Lost Sea at the bottom of the cave. The temperature of the water remains pleasant year round. While boating, you’ll get to see the largest rainbow trout in the United States.

After the adventure, stay back at the Lost Sea Village while exploring several seasonal shops. Take a self-guided tour to the Nature Trail. The gift shops in the Village are open seasonally.


best place for cheese lover in sweetwater valley farm.
SWEETWATER VALLEY FARM | Photo Credit – Joel Kramer

Located on W. Lee Highway between Philadelphia and Loudon, TN, Sweetwater valley farm is known for producing cheese in farmstead manner. Visitors and locals alike stop by this farm to enjoy artisan cheese with state-of-art facilities and factory tours. Award winning Cheddar cheese is made here in a highly controlled manner. The farm also has a gift shop.


 It is the largest operating years old railroad in sweetwater,tn.
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum | Photo Credit – Roger W

Founded in 1961, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is dedicated to preserving operating steam passenger trains. It is the largest operating years old railroad in the south.

It offers the visitors to go on a 4 hours long round trip through the beautiful lower Hiwassee River gorge where the tracks cross over themselves as they corkscrew up the mountain near Farner.

You can also enjoy fine dining enroute on select Saturdays of months from March to June. Missionary Ridge tours are also provided by the locals that stay here.


This farm is managed by the fourth generation of the Mayfield family and is one of the nation’s leading dairies. Mayfield Dairy Farms has been in operation for over 100 years.

The Mayfield Visitor Center in Athens, TN (in between Knoxville, TN and Chattanooga, TN on I-75)  allows the visitors to see how Mayfield makes the dairy products using advanced production and packaging technologies. After the tour, stop by their parlor for tasting delicious milk and fresh ice cream, and pick up some gifts at the gift shop.


Beautiful place to visit in sweetwater,tn.
Great Smoky Mountains | Photo Credit – Mike Burton

If you want to indulge in little Native Indian history, visit the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. The museum is located in the Great Smoky Mountains on the shores of the Tellico Lake and is a part of the National Historic Trail.

It’s dedicated to spreading awareness and appreciation of the history and culture of Cherokee Indians who used to stay here. Use this opportunity to find more about Sequoyah‘s contribution to the writing system that preserves the greatness of the Cherokee.

Know about the Cherokee myths and legends, customs, beliefs, family system, and the sadness of the Trail of Tears, the Sequoyah syllabary etc. here. The featured exhibits of the museum depicts 8,000 years of continuous human habitation in the Little Tennessee Valley. Right next to the museum is the Cherokee Memorial. The museum also hosts numerous events all year long and also has a gift shop.


Lake Tellico | Photo Credit – Lisa Chamberlain

Situated in the valley, near the Appalachian Mountains on the banks of Lake Tellico, TN, Fort Loudoun State Historic Area gives the experience of life during the time of the French and Indian War. The area played a great role in that war where Native Americans struggled to protect their homes and way of life.

At the Park, visitors can see a replica of the 18th Century British fort.  Also, there are ruins of the Tellico Blockhouse that used to stay in the area in the mid-1700’s.

Here, one can enjoy scheduled battlefield reenactments on Garrison Weekends, and take pleasure in various other amenities provided by the park. The park has attractions like tours, a picnic spot, a fishing pier, a swimming and boating dock, hiking trails. It also has a visitor museum, a gift shop and a photo gallery, and hosts numerous events. On the weekend Labor Day, they host an 18th Century Trade Fair. There are a lot of places to stay near the park.


ZOO KNOXVILLE | Photo Credit – Daniel Thornton

The Knoxville Zoo, TN is the place where visitors will experience fauna from around the world. It  houses about 800 animals. Visitors can see animals in their naturalistic outdoor habitats in exhibits like Black Bear Falls, Chimp Ridge, Grasslands Africa etc. You can see mammals like giraffes, langurs, lions, rhino etc., birds like laughingthrush, hornbills etc, and reptiles like rattlesnakes, turtles etc. here.

Find about the various conservation programs of endangered species at the Knoxville zoo and try to volunteer as you please. Animals like red pandas, white rhinos and African elephants have been bred here.

Indoor attractions at the Knoxville zoo include Night Club, Barn Loft, a large reptile collection, and Clayton Family Kids and Cove Wee Play Zoo for the kids. Click here to know more about the ways you can enhance your experience and provide aids at the time of your visit to the zoo.


Go on a shopping spree at the Sweetwater Flea Market that has almost 800 vendor booths. Check out the various vendors who are selected in a way to provide the best shopping experience to all its visitors.

Many of the shopkeepers here have an experience of years of the flea. The flea has both an outdoor as well as indoor place that attracts a lot of businesses offering their goods at less prices. There are a lot of products that can be only found at this flea market.

Moreover, the shopping area is climate controlled and also has free parking. The market is open on weekends, year around.


Oak Ridge | Photo Credit – Carol Norquist, NGC Chairman

If you want to explore the nuclear energy history of America, make sure to stop by at the American Museum of Science & Energy (AMSE). It is situated at Oak Ridge, TN. Oak Ridge used to be a super secret city of 75,000 residents during the time of the second world war.

The museum hosts a signature exhibit called “Secret City – The Oak Ridge Story”. It tells the visitors the story of the Manhattan Project. It also has a NOAA weather station, Van de Graaff generator, nuclear weapons directory, solar energy demonstration project etc. By models, movies, demonstrations, devices, gadgets, and machines, the museum tries to spread awareness about energy.


CHEROHALA SKYWAY | Photo Credit – Dzmitry (Dima) Parul

This magnificent skyway connects Tellico Plain, TN to Robbinsville, NC. Look forward to a beautiful drive and stunning views of Cherokee and Nantahala forests while driving on the road of this skyway.


A must see nearby attraction in sweetwater,tn.
BALD RIVER FALLS | Photo Credit – US Forest Service – Southe

A must see nearby attraction, Bald River Falls are scenic, 90-foot waterfalls in the Cherokee National Forests.

It is popular for nature observation, hiking, photography, and kayaking and canoeing in the spring season and other recreational activities. There are a lot of cabins and lodges available for visitors to stay in the area.


Situated in Madisonville and surrounded by green foothills, Tsali Notch is the largest commercial vineyard in TN. The vineyard specializes in wines and products from the Muscadine. Muscadine is indigenous to the Southeastern United States.

With the view of the Cherokee National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the vineyards are also popular as beautiful locations for weddings and other social events. Various events like harvest picking and wine tasting sessions are also hosted here.

Make sure to stop by this hidden gem to stock up your wine collection.


At the Depot and Visitor’s Center, a replica of Sweetwater’s original train depot, get a Sweetwater Visitor’s Guide to know about the historic sites of the area. Take the historic walking or bus tour which features a detailed itinerary to the historic Downtown and shopping district.

See attractions like Civil War Trails Marker, Appalachian Quilt Trail Square and the historic train car, fountain at Circle Park, Lily Pad, Gay theatre, Heritage Museum etc.

Please also read about things to do in Downtown San Diego.

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