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Martin, TN, Is a Charming College Town With Big-City Amenities, Natural Beauty

By Livability on April 3, 2023

Land Between the Lakes in Paducah, KY

Martin, Tennessee, exemplifies the best of small-town Southern living. It’s a college town rich with country traditions, blessed with an outstanding fishing, hunting and outdoor heritage, and connected to the global economy through high-speed fiber internet.

Tucked away in Tennessee’s northwest corner not far from the Kentucky border, the small town of Martin is proud of its rural and agricultural legacy and natural scenic beauty. Martin is just south and east of the Obion River’s north fork. U.S. Route 45E rolls through Martin, and along with State Routes 22 and 43, provide easy access to cities in every direction throughout Tennessee and Kentucky. 

Martin is in many ways a quintessential Southern town. But don’t let its quaintness and diminutive size fool you! Martin punches above its weight as a college town within the respected University of Tennessee system. Its revitalized downtown business neighborhood has cafes, shops and restaurants to enjoy — and because this is a college town, Martin also has its fair share of nightlife entertainment, too!

Paducah, Kentucky, is only an hour’s drive from Martin. And when the amenities of bigger cities lure you, they’re just a short drive away — just over two hours to Memphis and just over two and a half hours to Nashville.  

Though located in a largely rural setting, Martin is just as connected to the internet as any large city in America due to its fiber internet service. Martin’s advanced fiber network is provided by WK&T, a local telecom company serving western Kentucky and northwest Tennessee. Fiber internet is the fastest available today, enabling Martin’s residents to stream TV and movies pristinely or conduct clear and stable video conference calls for business or pleasure. 

Keep reading to see why Martin may be an ideal Southern small city for your family! 

A Charming Downtown 

With its population of around 11,000 residents, Martin has a bustling downtown area lined with boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants. Residents enjoy exploring its specialty shops for homemade soaps and candles, or indulging themselves at the local salon and spa. 

And for a small town, there is a surprising diversity of dining options! Sushi, Mexican food, oysters and steak — and of course, barbecue — are all available in Martin. Bakeries and cafes serve up great Southern-style breakfasts and sundry treats for any time of day. Bars and other shops also dot Martin’s downtown, fostering a lively atmosphere. 

Martin is particularly proud of its new 20,000-square foot public library. Centrally located in downtown Martin, this beautiful library is far more than a collection of books to browse. It provides many programs, from evening classes and book clubs, to game nights for teens. It also houses the Tennessee Room, which helps preserve and recount local and state history. 

A Proud Agricultural Heritage

Martin is steeped in rural and agricultural traditions. Of course, the region’s economy has long been supported by its main cash crop, the soybean, which is widely grown here. A considerable portion of the regional economy supports soybean production, whether directly through farming or through agricultural supply, warehousing or distribution. 

Martin’s rich farming heritage is celebrated throughout the year by locals, but perhaps no more enthusiastically than during the famous Tennessee Soybean Festival. Held annually in Martin, the Soybean Festival is a major event that draws thousands from across the state and around the country. 

Live music and performers provide entertainment, while delectable locally produced edibles will tempt your taste buds. Local artists and crafters show off their talents, too, as the Soybean Festival is truly the highlight of the year in northwest Tennessee!

College Town Amenities 

Martin is home to the University of Tennessee, Martin, one of the five campuses within the University of Tennessee system. Outside of Memphis, it is the only public university in western Tennessee. Among its notable alumni are Pat Summitt, the legendary former head coach of the acclaimed women’s basketball team at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and well-known attorney and CNN commentator Van Jones.  

Over 6,000 students are enrolled at UT Martin, which is known for many programs in business, education, engineering and health, and particularly for its agricultural-related studies. Indeed, its experimental agriculture and farming program and related extension services provide insight and resources to local farmers and the broader Martin economy.

Martin residents can take advantage of the university’s arts, theater and music program, as well as its athletics. There are artistic, cultural or sporting events almost every week, most of which are open to the public. 

The university enlivens the small town of Martin, bringing a youthful vibe that fosters creativity and diversity. International students are enrolled as well, bringing with them life experiences that few Southern towns of Martin’s size can enjoy. Having the amenities of a mid-size university in a small town genuinely adds to its appeal, and helps distinguish Martin from other towns, too. 

Spectacular Scenery

Martin is surrounded by a truly gorgeous natural landscape. Lakes, river, and forests abound, providing countless options for enjoying the great outdoors and connecting with the natural world. 

The town is not far from the north fork of the Obion River. The primary river system of northwestern Tennessee, the Obion provides Martin residents with outstanding fishing, particularly largemouth bass. Boating, kayaking and other water activities are also accessible here. 

Just over an hour’s drive away from Martin is the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Established on a 170,000-acre peninsula straddling both Kentucky and Tennessee, this protected area includes hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding and biking, providing ample opportunity to relish nature. 

The area’s varied forest, wetland and water habitats are home to immense biodiversity, including a staggering number of bird species — around 240! Three-hundred miles of undeveloped shoreline attract wildlife and nature-lovers alike. And this national recreation area’s treasures aren’t limited to our own planet! You can learn about the stars at its Golden Pond Planetarium & Observatory, where state-of-the-art projections display the night sky with phenomenal imagery. 

Fiber Internet

WK&T provides Martin’s high-speed fiber internet. A longtime local telecom, WK&T utilizes sophisticated technology that transmits internet through fiber-optic cables, delivering speeds up to 20 times faster than ordinary copper-based cable. 

Thus, multiple users can stream simultaneously on multiple devices, and you can rest assured that your internet will be more reliable. And WK&T offers speeds of up to 1-Gig per second, ensuring that your home or business will have enough speed and bandwidth for almost any online activity!

From its small college town atmosphere and conveniences, to its stunning natural beauty, to its access to high-speed fiber internet, Martin is a surprisingly compelling Southern town. You may just find that Martin is the right fit for you and your family, too!

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