Sewanee is a small town in south-central Tennessee. It is known primarily for its natural scenery and association with the University of the South. There are roughly 2,000 residents, of whom about 1,500 are students at the University. Sewanee is positioned about halfway between Nashville and Chattanooga. The town and the roughly 13,000 acres surrounding it -- all of which are owned directly by the University -- are quaintly called "The Domain" by residents.
Sewanee is accessible primarily by automobile. University Avenue (the town's primary street) intersects Tennessee Highway 41A at two locations. Some travelers may also take advantage of the small airport nearby.
The town is small enough to be explored on foot or bike, and this is how many residents (and most University students) move around. Cars are only truly necessary to leave the town and explore the nearby mountain roads.
The University of the South (commonly called just "Sewanee") is renowned for its scenic campus, which consists largely of pink-sandstone Gothic architecture. It is one of a very few American college campuses which attempts Oxford-style architectural principles, though there are plenty of modern buildings which disrupt that atmosphere. Of particular interest is the gorgeous All Saints' Chapel and the University quadrangle.
The other major attraction in Sewanee is the natural landscape. Due to its location on the Cumberland Plateau, there are many scenic vistas overlooking nearby valleys. Some are accessible by car (such as University View on Tennessee Ave., and Green's View on Green's View Rd.), but most are accessible only by foot or mountain bike. University View and its large Memorial Cross are worth a drive down Tennessee Ave. for any visitor. There are also a number of unusual rock formations and other natural oddities in the area, which are outlined in local hiking guides.
None of the above involve an entry fee, and all can be experienced year-round.
Camping and hiking are major activities in the area, and can be done comfortably almost year-round. The best times of year are the late fall and mid-spring, when the natural beauty is at its peak. Camping during the winter is not advisable due to severe weather (usually involving dense fog and snow).
The mountain trails are generally open to bikers and rock-climbers; however, it is a good idea to inquire about whether a particular location is suitable for your activity. Many trails feature steep drops and climbs that are not practical for biking, and some climbing areas can be tricky or even downright dangerous. There are also some accessible caves scattered across the area, but attempting to navigate them without a guide is highly discouraged. Questions regarding trail access and other outdoor activities should be directed to the Sewanee Outing Program .
Most social activities in the area are organized either by the University or local church groups. There are also a few local bars which may have musical guests on any given weekend. It is worth inquiring whether the University is hosting any special exhibits, performing artists, or lectures during your stay. On almost any given day there will be something interesting happening in Sewanee; however, the scale of these events can vary wildly and many are not open to the public. If you arrive during a "dead" time, there is a small movie theater located in the back of Thompson Union on University Ave. that usually shows second-run and foreign films.
University sports are always an option for entertainment. Football games have been played in the stadium for well over a century (making it the oldest field in the South), and are a very unusual sight to behold. There is also a golf course (with unusual sandstone outcroppings) on University Ave., which is reasonably priced.
Holidays are generally the best times to visit, as they typically involve community festivals. The Fourth of July involves a small parade and fireworks, and usually attracts many people to the area for a few days. Christmas, Easter, and University events such as Homecoming, Commencement, and Parents' Weekend also attract local artisans and performers to provide entertainment.
The Sewanee Summer Music Center provides concerts on the University of the South campus for five weeks each summer.
There are a few small stores in Sewanee, but most shopping is found in nearby Monteagle. The University Bookstore has an exceptional collection of books and gifts, especially for those with academic interests. If you are only looking for souvenirs, you can find them in Sewanee; for "real" shopping, you will need to leave town.
Due to the town's economic reliance on both tourists and students, there are more good restaurants nearby than one might expect. Of particular interest is Shenanigans, located in an old building at the intersection of Highway 41 and University Ave. A student favorite and generally good source of refreshments, it is in a building that has a noticeable lean due to its old age. Almost all restaurants are located within walking distance of the University/Hwy 41 intersection.
The Sewanee Inn is the only hotel of consequence in the town of Sewanee, but there are several bed-and-breakfasts and many cabins located nearby. For other accommodations, see Monteagle.
Land leases in Sewanee are notoriously difficult to attain, so your best bet is to talk to a real estate agent soon after deciding to look for a home there.
Many visitors will end up making trips to nearby small towns. Give particular consideration to visiting quaint towns such as Tracy City and Cowan. For additional shopping and/or dining needs, Monteagle is the nearest sizable town.