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Cookeville, Tennessee is a small town getaway tucked within the Upper Cumberland region of the state with upscale fashion, delicious culinary creations, music and hidden murals throughout. It’s about an hour from Nashville and the drive to Cookeville is a pretty one. Here's how to spend the perfect weekend trip from Nashville that includes Cookeville and nearby towns Monterey and Crossville if you have time.
Where to Eat in Cookeville
Start your trip with coffee and breakfast at Poet's Coffee, located in the Historic Putnam County Courthouse Square. Enjoy the laid back atmosphere and pull up a chair in front of the large windows to watch the world pass by. Get your caffeine fix with an Americano, Cuban or Espresso. If you love tea, Poet's has a variety of selections from green tea tropical to white orchard and the classic Earl Grey. The Avo Bagel with avocado, cream cheese, everything seasoning, arugula and tomato makes for a great breakfast as does the Morning Magic Cheese bagel topped with sausage, provolone, spicy mustard and herb cream cheese. You can always opt for a classic meal with sausage, egg, cheese and herb cream cheese on a bagel.
If you need something sweet while hunting for the cool murals around downtown Cookeville or strolling the square and its shops, go to Cream City Ice Cream & Coffee House for a scoop or two of creamy ice cream. You'll want to try every flavor from peanut butter cup, Tennessee fudge, black cherry, caramel cone, cookies and cream, butter pecan and cake batter. Cream City also can make you a milkshake, smoothie, banana split, Affogato or sundae.
Seven Senses Food & Cheer serves Southern and American-style dishes with fresh, local ingredients. Stop in for lunch or dinner for starters like fried pickles, poached shrimp cocktail or the boneless chicken wings. The menu includes salads, sandwiches, tacos, burgers and wraps as well as entrees like chicken mac - grilled chicken over elbow macaroni in white cheddar sauce with bacon, tomatoes and scallions on top. The shrimp & scallops will have you wanting more and the Tennessee meatloaf is a favorite with two loaves of meatloaf, Parmesan mashed potatoes and green beans.
Step into Crawdaddy's for New Orleans-inspired cuisine like crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, gumbo and po boys stuffed with fried shrimp, crawfish or oysters. The bar serves up craft cocktails, local beers and an extensive wine and liquor list. Check out one of their weekly special events like Sunday Brunch with Jazz to performances by local bands.
Soak up the classic pub atmosphere at Father Tom's Pub while enjoying wine, spirits, local brews and incredible food. Savor large sandwiches, fish 'n' chips, the signature quesadilla or The Bernie Mac - house-made white cheddar mac and cheese topped with hot chicken. The pub is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Poke around The Market on the Square, a multi-level shopper's paradise. The street level is full of different types of foods, condiments and have-to-have kitchen decor. Venture downstairs for the cute home decor and even a whole room dedicated to Christmas decor. Here's where you can get all your holiday shopping done at on stop.
Continue your shopping spree by popping into the cute boutiques in the downtown area. Start at 31 Twenty-Five Boutique, where many of their merchandise in the window will lure you in for hours. You can then visit Cigi's. This boutique has such a great selection and a wide range of sizes. They also have the cutest accessories and decor. After Cigi’s, head to the WestSide Cultural District where you'll find shops like Broadway Boutique Mall and Luxe Boutique.
The Cookeville Depot Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to many artifacts from the Tennessee Central Railway. Originally built in 1909, the Depot hosts a 1912 Baldwin steam engine, a 1920's classic red caboose, a 1960's caboose and two track cars which were used to move track workers to repair or work on the railroad tracks. Have fun learning about Tennessee railroad history and marveling at the HO scale replica of what Cookeville looked like in 1955.
If you are planning to embark on some outdoor adventure while in the Upper Cumberland region, Outdoor Experience is where you should go. This is your go-to place for all your outdoor equipment and gear. Kayaks, canoes, hiking boots and more are available for your next climbing, fishing or hiking excursion.
Get some fresh air at Dogwood Park with walking trails, a rose garden and plenty of places to set up a picnic. If you're traveling with kids, they’ll love the imaginative playground and water feature during the summer. You'll also spot some great murals around this area and the whole of downtown. Allot an hour to go mural hunting for plenty of photo opportunities.
Pull up a seat at Red Silo Brewing Company to try their small batch beers. A variety of beers are brewed including brown ales, pilsners, stouts, sours and even a lemon hard seltzer and their own root beer. Watch the world go by on the outdoor patio and enjoy live music from the silo stage.
Sip some Tennessee spirits at Tennessee Legend Distillery in downtown Cookeville. Free tastings are offered every day and you can try in-house drinks made with Tennessee Legend spirits. Hang out at this location that has a chill atmosphere and bartenders who can steer you toward a great spirit while talking about Tennessee's famous state parks and other fun things to do around the area.
Take a short drive to Monterey (about a 23-minute drive from Cookeville) to hike Bee Rock. It's a short hike up, but has incredible views of the mountains and valleys of the region. Take a few photos or just soak up the quiet and enjoy the sounds of nature.
Learn the origins of this charming small town at the Monterey Depot Museum. The replica depot and visitors' center has artifacts, photos and stories on early settlers as well as Native American history. Locals share the unique things to do in the area and can point you in the right direction on how to make the most of your time in Monterey.
Get your coffee and a a new dress in the same place at The Lovely Brew Coffee Shop & Boutique. You'll find casual, fashion-forward pieces from dresses to tops to jewelry. Grab a coffee, breakfast, lunch and homemade ice cream. Signature coffee flavors include raspberry white chocolate, chocolate, maple and caramel mix, chocolate and marshmallow for a s'mores twist and chocolate orange. Get a drip coffee, espresso, Boba tea, smoothie or a lotus energy drink (plant-based caffeine). Bagels, breakfast sandwiches, power bowls with chicken, quinoa, guacamole, salsa black beans, corn and queso, shredded chicken salad and turkey sandwiches on sourdough are great grab-and-go options.
Muddy Pond Amish Community
Travel the winding, country roads from Monterey to Muddy Pond where you'll find some of the best sorghum and fried pies around. The area is home to several Amish-Mennonite communities and local farms. You'll love the shopping and gorgeous natural sights of the area. Do some shopping at the Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill and Variety Store, Muddy Pond General Store, The Leather Shop, have a meal at The Country Porch and more.
4th of July Events in the Upper Cumberland
The Old Gray is the newest open-air entertainment venue in the Upper Cumberland featuring over 75 acres. Their first event, Freedom Fest takes place July 1-2, 2022 with live music entertainment by Chris Janson, Ty Herndon, Andy Griggs and Darryl Worley. Tickets are $35 and a two-day pass is $50. Friday night ends in a fireworks show and a wide array of craft, local business and food vendors will be onsite both days. A barbecue cook-off will take place Saturday afternoon with live music from opening acts beginning at 3 p.m.
Enjoy family-friendly fun and live music by the band LEGACY beginning at 6:30 p.m. July 3, 2022 during Freedom, Fishing and Fireworks at Twin Lakes Catfish Farm. Be there for the great Independence Day celebration featuring one of the best fireworks shows in Tennessee starting at 9 p.m.
Celebrate America with Cookeville’s fun, festive and free Red, White & BOOM July 4th Celebration July 2, 2022 and July 4, 2022. Cookeville knows how to put on a show for our country’s independence through a variety of activities. A classic car cruise-in, parade, patriotic program and performances by Jake Hoot, The Smoky Nights and Resurrection - A Journey Tribute. Then, the second largest fireworks show in Tennessee lights up the night sky.
It's clear Cookeville and nearby towns are some of the best small towns to visit in the U.S.A. Full of shopping, fun murals and memorable food, the area is also close to outdoor activities and family-friendly attractions. Check out more small towns that make great day trips from Nashville.