GSM Heritage Center

It’s not just Cades Cove that functions as a great testament to the history and culture of Tennessee Appalachia, the Heritage Museum of Townsend is also a must-see for anyone with even a passing interest in the Smoky Mountains.

Larger and more in depth in the subject of the area than even Sugarlands Visitor Center, the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving everything that makes up the Tennessee man – from Native American to European Pioneer and on. A large, wide, store with books of all kinds and a friendly person behind the desk both welcome you to Townsend and the museum. From there, a small admission can be paid to see a larger room with hundreds of pieces of Tennessee antiquity. Interactive items engage both the children and adults and it is well worth bringing a family to.

In the back are many buildings and dwellings that take the experience further, showing exactly what a church, cabin, wheelwright shop, and cantilever barn really looked and acted like back in the old days (and there are still more buildings to see). At the heart of the establishment is a well-designed amphitheater that hold concerts and other engagements throughout the year. The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Museum could be a day trip by itself if you go on the right day!

Don’t get us wrong, we love any museum dedicated to the Smokies no matter its size, but if you only get to see one museum on your trip to the Smokies, this is the one to visit. Visit them at for more information.