Long noted for the impressive underground marvels of Cumberland Caverns, McMinnville also has a much newer worldwide attraction in the mountaintop Isha Institute of Inner Sciences.
The area is a place to go deep, for sure, both into the planet and the psyche.
And not far away, in neighboring counties, are three state parks with distinctive allure for people who love waterfalls, forests and other natural beauty, and recreational activities. On the subject of plant life, the McMinnville area's 450-plus nurseries have made it the "Nursery Capital of the World."
But the city also has a nicely updated downtown, highlighted by the city-run Park Theater showing concerts and plays in a classic Art Deco setting, and the 10,000-square-foot Falcon Rest Mansion built in 1896.
Sources: McMinnville-Warren County Chamber of Commerce; warrentn.com; cumberlandcaverns.com; isha.sadhguru.org; tnstateparks.com
AT A GLANCE
* McMinnville is the county seat of Warren County and had 13,605 residents in the last official census (2010). The 2016 estimate was 13,761. The county population in 2010 was 39,839.
* Founded on Aug. 4, 1810, and named for former Tennessee Gov. Joseph McMinn, the city was incorporated in 1868. It sits 968 feet above sea level.
* It’s a sister city of Mikawa in Japan.
* McMinnville native and former Warren County High School baseball star Lester Strode is the bullpen coach for the world champion Chicago Cubs. Entertainer Dinah Shore and journalist/author Carl Rowan grew up in the town.
A ROCKIN’ REST STOP
The home of the popular “Bluegrass Underground” televised concerts has more than 32 miles of caves and passageways and offers daily walking tours and adventure trips and overnight “Caveman Campouts.” A U.S. National Natural Landmark, Cumberland Caverns had more than 52,000 visitors in 2016, from all 50 states and 19 other countries, and there were almost 36,000 this year through July 23. The average in previous years was not quite 40,000.
Closed only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it otherwise is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Central time — except for a 1 p.m. start on Easter. (1437 Cumberland Caverns Road; 931-668-4396; cumberlandcaverns.com)
PEACE IN NATURE
The Isha Institute is the North American center for the teachings of Indian yogi and mystic Sadhguru. The compound stands out with its red dome and other distinctive buildings that surround it. It also has almost 1,400 acres to help in its objective of “fostering global harmony through individual transformation.” Hiking trails and five miles of beginner-to-intermediate mountain bike trails are external aids complementing the beginner-to-advanced meditation and yoga practices taught in a variety of sessions, including Inner Engineering for Personal Growth. (951 Isha Lane; 931-668-1900; isha.sadhguru.org/us-en/isha-usa)
POWER OF NATURE
* Rock Island State Park in Warren and White counties is 883 acres and features the cascading Great Falls in the Caney Fork River Gorge. A kayaker’s freestyle paradise, the park also is popular for fishing and hiking.
* Fall Creek Falls State Park in Van Buren and Bledsoe counties, is the state’s largest and most visited park, with more than 26,000 acres. It includes its 256-foot-high namesake falls plus several others and a lake, and it has a golf course, a restaurant, a hotel, an educational nature center and the ArborTrek Canopy Adventures course, among other attractions.
* The multi-site South Cumberland State Park has offerings in four nearby counties, with 25,500-plus total acres divided among nine areas. Spectacular vistas, waterfalls and rock formations and awesome forests highlight the park’s many trails for hiking and backcountry camping.
WHERE TO STAY
* Best Western Tree City Inn (809 Sparta St.; 931-473-2159)
* Scottish Inn (1105 Sparta St., 931-473-2181)
* Falcon Rest Mansion (2645 Faulknerk Springs Road; 931-668-4444)
* The Retreat at Center Hill Lake (358 Relax Drive; 615-597-4298)