About the Area
Situated in the heart of East Tennessee, Tennessee Wesleyan is centrally located between the historic attractions and metropolitan appeal of both Chattanooga and Knoxville, in the rolling foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. We truly have something for everyone.
Southeast Tennessee offers boundless opportunities for outdoor recreation, including camping, mountain biking, hiking, and rafting.
McMinn County serves as a gateway to the Cherokee National Forest and the Cherohala Skyway, and the Hiwassee, Ocoee and Tellico Rivers can be reached by car in approximately 30 minutes or less. The Ocoee River is best known as host to the 1996 Summer Olympic kayaking events and home of the Ocoee Whitewater Center. Area residents and visitors from around the world enjoy the course between spring and fall when the course has whitewater flowing through it.
Also, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the attractions of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are 90 minutes away by car. This area offers a multitude of campgrounds, bike trails and the infamous Cades Cove, an 11-mile loop road that follows many of the grades and turns of the old wagon roads and offers an incomparable view of area wildlife.
Traveling west of Athens, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area offers outdoor enthusiasts miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs, is rich with natural and historic features, and has been developed to provide visitors with a wide range of outdoor recreational activities.
Lakes are numerous throughout East Tennessee and offer opportunities for water recreation, such as boating, fishing, skiing, swimming and tubing. Throughout the summer, you will find East Tennessee residents and tourists enjoying one or more of these area lakes.
The area also offers golfers a multitude of courses on which to practice and compete. In McMinn County you will find the following courses: Chestuee Golf and Country Club, Springbrook Golf and Country Club, Ridgewood Golf Course, Rock Springs Golf Course, and White Oaks Golf Course.
Links of interest:
- The Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association
- Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park
- Tellico River Recreation Corridor
- Ocoee Whitewater Center
- Attractions of the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, Tenn.
- Raccoon Mountain Caverns
- Rock City Gardens
- Ruby Falls
- Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Cultural events, music festivals, art exhibitions and concerts are plentiful in McMinn County and the surrounding communities. The Athens Area Council for the Arts offers world-class performers and entertainers at local venues, including the college’s Townsend Memorial Hall, throughout the year. The city of Athens and the Downtown Business Association also sponsor a number of fun, family-friendly events throughout the year, including the National MooFest Dairy Festival and Pumpkintown.
In Etowah, the Gem Theater, built in 1927 as a movie house, has been renovated and adapted for performing arts and other entertainment events. Home to the Gem Players, the theater hosts numerous events including the Cousin Jake Bluegrass Festival.
If singing is your passion, the Athens Area Community Chorus invites members of McMinn County and the surrounding areas to join vocalists of various backgrounds and levels of musical experience in performing annual concerts.
McMinn County also offers residents and visitors alike the opportunity to learn more about its past through local museums and historical sites. The McMinn County Living Heritage Museum, Louisville & Nashville Railroad Station Museum, and Swift Aircraft Museum are just a few examples of these locations.
Links of interest:
- The Athens Area Council for the Arts
- National MooFest Dairy Festival
- The Gem Players
- The McMinn County Living Heritage Museum
- Monroe Area Council for the Arts
- Monroe Area Opera and the Monroe Consort
Shopping & Dining
Athens and the surrounding communities offer a variety of specialty shops, boutiques, unique outlets, department stores and locally-owned restaurants. For those who seek the excitement, entertainment and shopping opportunities of larger cities, Knoxville and Chattanooga are less than one hour away by car, and Nashville and Atlanta can be reached by car in less than three hours.