Tennessee stands distinct in the South and indeed around the country: It boasts of four major cities, including Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. And between these metropolitan hubs are stretches of pristine wilderness, and tucked among their rolling hills are some of the most beautiful cabins in the United States. Whether you’re looking for a slice of solitude or just the feeling of being out there, the eight best cabin rentals in Tennessee provide something for everyone.
Hanging from the side of Lookout Mountain and a stone’s throw from Chattanooga, Treetop Hideaways’ two treehouses (Element and Luna) provide breathtaking views across the valley to the opposing peaks. Constructed from 19th-century barn wood, they’re authentically rustic, but with the rounded edges of heated floors, walk-in rain-head showers, and queen beds with Tuft and Needle mattresses. A stocked mini-fridge, fire pit replete with seasoned wood, and super-fast Wi-Fi ensure you’re not fully removed from polite society.
Exactly how much canvas does it take to change a cabin to a glamping tent? We’re not sure, but then again, we’re not sticklers for labels. Minutes from Chattanooga and tucked into the western slopes of Signal Mountain, its humble dirtbag appeal might fool you into believing it doesn’t have air conditioning, attached indoor bathroom and shower, and postcard-worthy vistas. The real appeal for a place like this is easy access to the outdoors: Kayak rentals are a few minutes from the property, and miles of hiking trails are just outside the door. But pack light — you’ll need to scale more than 150 stairs to reach its threshold.
Just look at these rad little teardrop campers. Tens of feet from the Caney River, Middle Tennessee’s premier trout fishing stream, they’re owned by a fly fishing guide who draws anglers and would-be anglers from around the state and beyond. The fishing is great, and the instruction is even better. The digs themselves may be modest, sleeping one or two in twin beds, but for the man who wants to go deep into A River Runs Through It, it’s a minor sacrifice. Note that these campers are included as a part of a whole fishing package.
The sister property to Blackberry Farm, the Cottages at the new Blackberry Mountain sit on the side of a slope overlooking beautiful country that only gets better in the fall. Less than an hour to Knoxville, no expense was spared; jetted tubs, king beds, Bose radios, and your own private golf cart provide a pampered stay among nature. Granted, it’s still somewhat rustic, so there are both indoor and outdoor fireplaces with provided wood and some of the brightest stars you’ll ever see. But you’re also a quick cart-ride to luxury dining, spa services, and more. It’s truly a blend of the Great Outdoors and a luxury resort. A final tip: Try the house-label beer.
Tell me you won’t feel like a Star Wars Ewok while staying at this Nashville-area cabin-slash-treehouse. New for 2021, it lies 30 minutes from the city on a private 11-acre property. A swing bridge connects the two separate spaces lofted into the trees. Each includes a queen bed and walk-in shower. Gas fireplaces, inside and out, are perfect for communal hangs, while the main cabin’s bedroom ceiling has 49 LED stars, mimicking the outdoor experience while having none of the bugs. Owners Chip and Crystale encourage guests to collect their own free-range eggs from property chickens each morning for one of the freshest omelets you’ll ever eat.
While Natural Retreats has areas of focus across the country, our favorite is its suite of properties in the Great Smoky Mountains. Projecting into chasms that are truly dizzying when examined from the side, once you are surrounded by blonde wood and lounging in a jacuzzi on a balcony, you’ll forget all about physics and architecture and simply enjoy the view. While this cabin sleeps six, many in Natural Retreats’ portfolio house 20 or more, making it a perfect choice for bachelor parties and various secret society initiation rituals. What happens in the Smokies, stays in the Smokies.
Drive east from Nashville, skirt the Kentucky border, and after an hour-plus in the car, you’ll squirrel your way into Getaway. These tiny homes pack in a ton, from a stovetop to fridge and an uber-plush queen bed or double-queen for you and up to three of your closest friends. While indoor plumbing, including shower, is standard, loud talking and cell phone reception are not. (The company even encourages guests to store their iPhones in a special lockbox to avoid screen time.) Leave your car parked and enjoy the fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs. Listen to the cicadas. Turn in early and read for an extra 20 minutes.
On the bluffs of the Cumberland River, which bisects Nashville, this former summertime vacation home perches like the last sentry on duty. Lovingly restored, it nevertheless has its quirks. (“In cold weather the downstairs bedroom can get very chilly,” its owner writes, “[but] there is a wood stove and space heater to help with that.”) With windows on all sides, it provides a ton of ambient light, and its neighborhood was once home to country music royalty. As a bonus, it’s near Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge, which many assert is the city’s best bar, bar none.
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