Nearest big city: Nashville
Known as “The City by the Lake,” there’s no shortage of fun in the sun in Hendersonville, a historic suburb located just northeast of Nashville. Residents can fish, kayak, swim, paddleboard and even charter a sailboat cruise on the town’s Old Hickory Lake — around which Hendersonville was founded in 1784. The area’s many parks, marinas and campgrounds offer plenty of outdoor entertainment, as well.
For history and music buffs, the gravesites of former residents Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash are must-sees, as is the town’s Historic Rock Castle, which offers a well-preserved look at life in the 1780s (specifically that of Daniel Smith, the town’s original settler). The property also plays host to a number of town events, including an annual Easter egg hunt, regular songwriter’s nights and the “Castle of Villains,” a Halloween celebration featuring a full cast of well-known pop culture bad guys such as Captain Hook and Cruella de Vil.
Hendersonville residents also enjoy some serious opportunities — both educational and professional. The city’s Merrol Hyde Magnet School is one of the top-ranked in the country, and Hendersonville’s public high school — Hendersonville High — is great, too. Well known for its performing arts programs, it lays claim to some pretty special former students (ahem, Taylor Swift!)
For those in the workforce, the perks are big. Unemployment in Hendersonville is low at just 4.5% as of June (the national rate was 5.9% at the time), and the number of jobs in the area is projected to jump 14% by 2025. Plus, the bustling economy of Nashville is a mere 23 minutes down the road — though just 6% of residents commute out, according to the town’s data. — Aly J. Yale