Sewanee Traveler’s Guide to the Mountain

Sewanee Traveler's Guide

Middle Tennessee is full of breathtaking locations. Sewanee is one of my favorites.  There are few places where I feel more connected than this mountain town. It has it all, from outdoor recreation to some of the most beautiful architecture in the state.  The campus of the University of the South is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. There are so many things to do in Sewanee, but I’m going to give you a run down of my favorites. Please Note: This post contains Affiliate links.


Sewanee Overlook


Where to Stay

Sewanee Inn

Located next to a golf course, tennis courts, and hiking trails, the Sewanee Inn is a great place to stay.  This hotel was renovated recently and has unbelievable views. Rooms start at around $170 per night and have amenities ranging from wireless internet to complimentary loaner bicycles.

Red Oak Hollow

This approximately 1000 square ft 2 bedroom cottage is located on 30 acres.  Red Oak Hollow has native and butterfly gardens, stocked ponds (Catch and Release), and hardwood trees.  They also provide Television, internet, and hammocks by the pond! Search for them on VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner


This family owned property is conveniently located and has a restaurant on site.  At the Smokehouse, you can stay in either a hotel room with all of the standard amenities, or a cabin if you want something a little more private. Rooms start around $80 nightly, but this price may vary depending on season.

Monteagle Cabins

Another family owned rental property you should definitely check out is Monteagle Cabins. Home to Lil’ Bear and Monteagle Cabin, the cabins are spacious with high beam ceilings, large windows, an open loft and breathtaking bluff views. This is a great place to relax after spending a day on the trails or out sight seeing.

Monteagle Inn & Retreat Center

Monteagle Inn & Retreat Center is a perfect setting to relax on the mountain. The Mediterranean atmosphere, Rocking chairs on the front porch, and beautiful gardens all lend the,selves to your complete relaxation. Rooms are around $165 and up.

Where to Eat

Stirling's Sewanee

Ivy Wild 

Open since 2010, Ivy Wild owner and chef Keri Downing has been creating amazing meals with seasonal and local ingredients.  Add in the wonderful drink menu (try the Annie Oakley) and perfect service and you get a fine dining experience not to be missed.  Although definitely in the higher price range, this is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.

Crossroads Cafe 

Crossroads Cafe is located right next door to Ivy Wild and serves Singaporean Cuisine.  I like to start with the Shanghai Dumplings and finish with the Malay Chicken Curry.  Both are excellent! Vegeterian options are also available.


This iconic Blue Building has been a local favorite for years.  Great Sandwiches, Cold Beer, and Good pie, what else could you want?  How about a great atmosphere too!  You can dine inside or enjoy your meal on the spacious upper level deck.

Blue Chair Cafe, Bakery, & Tavern 

Tuesday Night Trivia, Craft Beer, free wifi, and Milk Shakes are all staples of this great little joint. They also sell Out of the Blue Granola which supports Blue Monarch, a long-term residential program for women and their children recovering from abuse and addictions.


Owned by The University and staffed by students, Stirling’s Coffee Shop keeps the mountain supplied with great coffee drinks!  My favorite is the All Saint’s.  They also have sandwiches and small snack items.

What to Do in Sewanee


Perimeter Trail

Running for 20 miles around “the domain”, the perimeter trail is excellent for hiking, biking (in select areas), and trail running.  This trail has enough to keep you busy for a long time.  Take the 3.5 mile loop hike through Shakerag Hollow, or hike from the Memorial Cross to Morgan’s Steep.



Mountain Goat Trail

rail to trail project to convert an abandoned railroad right-of-way into a multi-use trail running straight through Sewanee on its way to Grundy County.  Currently approximately 5 miles between Sewanee and Monteagle and is accessible to bikes, runners, and hikers.  The ultimate goal for this trail is a 35 mile connector between Franklin and Grundy Counties.


The Course at Sewanee is a 9 hole course right on the campus that was renovated in 2013.  Play a round in this picturesque setting.




Lemon Fair

The Lemon Fair is the longest continually owned business in Sewanee. Originally opened shortly after women were permitted to attend the University of the South, as a needlework shop.  Today they carry dorm decorations, beautiful cards & fabric, premium chocolate & snacks, local pottery, jewelry, tapestries, and angels (You must have a Sewanee Angel).


Locals is an Art Gallery featuring regional artists. The building has been home to many things in its past but has found new life housing the creative works of some of the finest artists in the area.


Buy new or used bikes, rent a bike, or have your bike serviced here. Woody’s is the go to place for cyclists in the area.

Mountain Outfitters

Located just outside of Sewanee in Monteagle, Mountain Outfitters has all of the gear you need for outdoor recreation.

Mooney’s Market &Emporium

Natural Foods, yarn, antiques, this unique little stop on the road between Sewanee and Monteagle is definitely worth checking out.



Natural Bridge

The Natural Brindge is a natural sandstone arch with a span of 50 feet that provides a scenic overlook of Lost Cove.  This area is part of the South Cumberland Recreation Area managed by the State of Tennessee. You may get a little light headed crossing this bridge (I do).

Natural Bridge Sewanee


Memorial Cross

Located at the end of Tennessee Avenue is the Memorial Cross erected in 1922 to honor WWI soldiers who did not return home, now it honors every soldier from Franklin County died in war.  Set over an amazing view of Cowan below, this is a must see.

Sewanee Tennessee Memorial Cross


Greens View

Located at the end of Green’s view Road you will find Green’s View overlook.  This parking area also serves as a trail head for the Perimeter Trail.  As much as I enjoy hiking, my favorite thing to do here is just sit and think.

Green's View Sewanee


All Saint’s Chapel

If you find some quiet time during your trip check out this Gothic Style Chapel.  The inside is unbelievable, and word on the street is that there may be a Volkswagen Beetle in one of the pieces of stained glass (I have to go again to see this).

All Saint's Chapel Sewanee

Lake Cheston

Perfect for a short walk around the lake, or a Summer swim, Lake Cheston is right off of Texas Ave. I have never seen this lake crowded, in fact we were just there during Homecoming weekend and only saw 2 or 3 other people at the lake.


Abbo’s Alley

Abbo’s Alley runs parallel to University Ave and Florida Ave and is almost magical. It is at its most beautiful in the Spring when the Dogwoods are in bloom, but worth visiting in any season.  Stroll through during the Summer Music Festival, you might even get to hear some of the musicians. Do not miss this if you visit Sewanee.

University Cemetery

Across the street from Stirling’s is the University Cemetery. This beautiful moss covered cemetery is the final resting place for bishops, generals, and university officials. Take some time to learn the storied history (good and bad) of this beautiful university.

Be sure to visit some of the other small towns nearby: Winchester, Manchester, Lynchburg and Tullahoma all have something to offer.

Did we miss something? What are your favorite places in Sewanee?  Tell us in the comments.

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32 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this!! We are planning a trip to go up there!! Your photos are amazing!!

    1. Thanks! I hope you guys have a blast when you visit.

  2. This looks like such a cute area! Although I’ve always preferred to live by the ocean there is something that draws me to the mountains as well… I love your pictures!

    1. Thanks! I love a trip to the beach, but the mountains are my favorite for sure. I would really like to travel to the PNW where there is a mix of both.

  3. This post made me so nostalgic! When I was 15 I did a writing camp at Sewanee University and had a magical 2 weeks. We stayed in University housing and explored the campus. I have fond memories of sitting in the cemetary at dusk in the summer heat and writing heartfelt, angsty poetry in my little Moleskin notebook. I think I might just have to make the trip down here again from my hometown in Kentucky next year 🙂

    1. I’m so glad! I bet there was some truly inspired writing going on those weeks.

  4. We are planning a massive road trip next summer, and have yet to decide on places to visit! Will definitely be adding this to our list as it looks so beautiful and ‘American’ if you know what I mean! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. There is no better way to see the United States than from a car. There are so many small towns and back roads to explore. I hope you folks enjoy your trip, I can’t wait to see your posts about it.

  5. Looks like a perfect place for an introvert like me. So isolated and peaceful.

    1. As a fellow introvert, I agree. It is hard to beat a quiet place in the woods to recharge.

  6. This post looks so beautiful and shows us part of America I haven’t seen before. I do love myself a good Malay curry. I clicked on a few of the links too.

  7. Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing.

  8. That is a very elaborate help with relevant info.
    Saves lot of homework from my side. 🙂
    Hope I can visit some day.

  9. Wow! I had no idea Tennessee was so beautiful! I would love to visit someday!

  10. Makes me want to go there right now! Not sure when I’ll get to Tennessee, but I feel like I’ve been there now, and will definitely put it on my list of places to see! Great review!

  11. Wow I just came back from Blue Ridge Mtns and I’m ready for another vacation! Now I have something to do besides go to the Tennessee aquarium.

  12. This place looks awesome and for $170per night, that pretty good!

  13. What a great post! As a travel nurse I’m constantly driving across the US. My best friend lives in Nashville so I drive to see her quite often. I’ll definitely have to make some stops on my future road trip to see her.

  14. This sounds very strange but as someone from Ireland this all looks very American (I know it is the US but it feels like the US we see in movies and books!) Looks like the perfect place for an outdoorsy person like me!! The natural bridge is very cool.

    1. I can see how it captures that classic American feel. It is a great place for outdoor lovers.

  15. Wow! Sewanee does have a lot to do! I love that you highlighted all aspects of this area so that a person could actually make an itinerary just from your blog post. Think I’ll have to put Sewanee on my list of to-do road trips. One thing, how dog friendly is the area? I love traveling with my pittie when my husband can’t make it.

    1. The area is pretty dog friendly. Almost every time I hike there, or visit the lake, we run into lots of people with dogs. There is actually a little dog parks near lake Cheston that looks pretty neat.

  16. I never heard of Sewanee before, but it sounds like a great place. The pictures are very beautiful. I love the outdoors and the Perimeter Trail and Mountain goat trail sound particularly interesting. Thanks for your comprehensive guide and giving attention to this place full of natural beauty.

  17. This is great and I love how you took so many nice shots. I like to fly but there are so many benefits to driving and seeing nature and places by car. LOVELY post

  18. Sewanee looked very peaceful and quiet. It’s a lovely place and the landscapes are gorgeous especially the bridge.

  19. Wow! The place looks beautiful! Does the Mountain Goat trail have give the chances of actually spotting mountain goats? The natural bridge looks impeccable! I haven’t been to the USA yet, so thanks for this virtual tour!

    1. Unfortunately there are no real mountain goats on the Mountain Goat Trail. It was actually named that because when it was a railway, it was one of the steepest railroad ascents in the world.

  20. Hello from Memphis! We love hiking and camping and are always looking for new places to explores in our beautiful state. Pinning this for later!

    1. I really want to revisit Memphis sometime. It has been a few years, and I didn’t get to really dig in to the city.

  21. I’ve heard this area had some really beautiful drives, and this post has confirmed that for me! Great post!

  22. Bookmarking this for when I am planning a visit here. Great guide of what to do and I always appreciate getting food tips. I like that there are a couple of trails here too

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