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Enjoy Rural Living, Modern Conveniences in Cookeville, TN

Cookeville, TN, is a rural, small-town haven offering the great outdoors and hometown living in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland.

By Livability.com on March 28, 2023

Cummins Falls State Park in Cookeville, TN

Cookeville is a rural, small-town haven offering the great outdoors and hometown living in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland.

Cookeville is in the heart of the Upper Cumberland, a picturesque region of central Tennessee known for its rich history, rolling farmland, hills and forests, recreational offerings, relatively mild weather year-round, and small-town life that affords residents the best of the rural mid-South. 

Cookeville’s own mix of small-town charm and modern amenities make it an especially popular destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment for visitors and area residents alike. The city is home to about 34,000 people and is deemed a “micropolitan” by the U.S. Census Bureau, which means it’s the economic hub for the surrounding area, in this case an area of about 100,000 residents. Cookeville also is the Putnam County seat and home to Tennessee Technological University (Tennessee Tech) and its nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. 

Nestled roughly halfway between Knoxville and Nashville just off Interstate 40, this micropolitan has been one of the fastest-growing in the country in recent years as retirees and working families relocate to a better quality of life and a lower cost of living. Twin Lakes Telecom is an important piece of this progress as a provider of high-speed fiber internet service that lets people moving here from everywhere do their work from anywhere.

Enjoying the Great Outdoors Is Easy

More than a few of the Cookeville area’s new residents first came here as weekend visitors or vacationers taking advantage of the abundant boating, fishing, camping, hiking, and other outdoor opportunities.

A centerpiece of this is Center Hill Lake, an 18,000-acre reservoir with 415 miles of shoreline that includes Burgess Falls and Rock Island state parks less than 20 miles from Cookeville. Another favorite is Cummins Falls State Park, with its 75-foot waterfall and swimming hole on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River about 15 miles from town.

And without even leaving town, Cookeville residents enjoy Cane Creek Park with its hiking trails, fishing and camping facilities. There’s also City Lake Natural Area and Dogwood Park, and especially for the smaller folk, the Heart of the City Playground.

Cultural Activities Abound

As a college town, county seat and hub of the area’s economic activity, Cookeville offers a variety of cultural activities and events that showcase the region’s history, art and music. 

For example, the Cookeville Performing Arts Center — housed in the historic Masonic Lodge built in 1909 — hosts plays and concerts year-round, while the Tennessee Tech School of Music features recitals, concerts and operas presented by talented students and staff.

Cookeville also hosts festivals and events throughout the year, including the Tennessee Craft Fair, Upper Cumberland Wine Festival, Muddy Roots Music Festival, and other events that attract visitors from near and far to take in the music, food, arts and crafts and more. 

Speaking of art, the Cookeville Art Studio and Gallery and the Appalachian Center for Craft in nearby Smithville offer workshops and exhibitions showcasing local and regional artists. And for history lovers, there’s the Cookeville History Museum for exploring the history and culture of Cookeville (founded in 1854) and the Upper Cumberland region, while the Cookeville Depot Museum focuses on the history and impact of the railroad here. 

Cookeville also has a diverse dining scene, with options ranging from casual cafes to upscale restaurants. The charming downtown features several of those eateries, as well as a variety of locally owned clothing stores, gift shops and antique stores, many of them in vintage buildings reflecting their original glory. There also are shopping centers and malls, such as the Cookeville Mall and Jackson Plaza, that offer a mix of local and national retailers.

Education, Healthcare Support the Economy

The Cookeville area has a well-respected health care system, anchored by Cookeville Regional Medical Center, considered one of the Volunteer State’s top local hospitals. Urgent care, pediatric, primary care and women’s clinics, and other specialized medical providers also serve the community.

Tennessee Tech occupies a 267-acre campus in the heart of Cookeville. Regularly ranked as a top public university in the state, the school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, business, education, and the arts, helping to provide the area with educated employees for a diverse, growing employment base.

For the younger learners, there are the 3,800-student Cookeville City Schools and 11,500-student Putnam County Schools, two separate districts that frequently collaborate on programs and initiatives to benefit students and their communities across the county.

Doing Digital the Right Way With Twin Lakes Telecom

Homes and businesses in and around Cookeville have benefited from the member-owned cooperative spirit embodied by Twin Lakes Telecom long before it earned the designation of Certified Gig-Capable Provider from the NTCA — The Rural Broadband Association in 2019. Twin Lakes subscribers enjoy access to big-city digital amenities with the service and reliability that comes from hometown professionals serving their friends, neighbors, and communities. 

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