7 Great Smoky Mountains Getaways

Make America’s dreamiest farm hotel your base for exploring the pastoral, flavor-packed Smoky Mountain region.

1471 W Millers Cove Rd, Walland, TN 37886, USA
Set on 4,200 secluded acres of hillocks, ponds, and gardens at the foot of the Tennessee Smoky Mountains, this award-winning resort, a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux brand, is awash in genteel luxury, from its splendid spa to its exquisitely appointed rooms, suites, and cottages. But make no mistake, the family-owned property takes the “farm” in its name to heart: Its James Beard Award–winning restaurant, The Barn, as well as the more informal Dogwood restaurant, were early leaders in the farm-to-table movement, welcoming guests who come to pay homage to the inn’s self-described foothills cuisine.

In addition to several gardeners, the farm employs its own butcher, cheese maker, and beekeeper, along with a preservationist who makes pickles, jams, and jellies. The staff raise their own sheep, pigs, and chickens, and forage the land for mushrooms, berries, ramps, wild crab apples, and muscadines—which you’ll share at the table with other guests (all meals are included in your stay). Thankfully, a roster of on-site activities—including cycling, wakeboarding, archery, paddleboarding, hiking, fly-fishing, swimming, tennis, and golf—allow you to indulge without feeling guilty.
Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902, USA
The South is, of course, known for its buttery, flaky biscuits. Taste the best May 15-17 at Knoxville’s International Biscuit Festival in Market Square. In addition to biscuit bakeoffs there will be a screening of Pride & Joy, a new film from Southern Foodways Alliance, and the Mr. & Mrs Biscuit pageant. While in town, stop at the Knoxville Farmers market. It’s held every Wednesday and Saturday and showcases the region’s best purveyors.
113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY 40601, USA
Buffalo Trace, which works with the Van Winkle family to make its renowned whiskies, offers complimentary tours every hour at its Frankfort, Kentucky distillery. Hard hat tours offer a more detailed behind the scenes look at the distilling process and require a reservation. After a tasting, you’ll want to sop up the whiskey with a pulled pork sandwich from the Firehouse Sandwich Stop, just up the road. This appeared in the May 2014 issue.
2603 US-411, Madisonville, TN 37354, USA
Top chefs clamor for the hams cured at Bentons, an unassuming smokehouse in Madisonville. Online orders can take more than a month; instead, drop in for a tour and take home some bacon. This appeared in the May 2014 issue.
37 Rutledge St, Nashville, TN 37210, USA
With his high-concept McCrady’s and his more rustic Husk—both in Charleston—chef Sean Brock transformed perceptions of Southern cooking from heavy, simple fare to a culinary tradition that is rich, complex, and filled with history. He worked with experts to resuscitate countless heirloom vegetables and grains lost to the agriculture industry, many of which reflect the region’s deep immigration roots (rice varieties from China; spices from Africa). He also changed the game with this simple rule: No ingredient north of the Mason-Dixon may enter the kitchen. Husk Nashville, which Brock opened in 2013, applies the same philosophy, but this time the menu is a nod to the bounty of inland Tennessee. In a 19th-century former residence in downtown Nashville, the James Beard Award–winning chef serves up his modern spin on classics such as pimento cheese, paired here with benne wafers, pickled jalapeños, and chipped beef. The Tennessee-raised pork prime rib, paired with cabbage, pecan butter, and molasses vinegar, is impossibly tender. Leave room for the vegetable plate, which highlights the best of the season’s produce.
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