Welcome to the Appalachian Highlands!

Explore the beautiful region we are proud to call home.


You’ll find East Tennessee State University nestled in the shadows of the mountains
under skies of blue, in a beautiful region known as the Appalachian Highlands.

The Appalachian Highlands is made up of many wonderful towns in Tennessee, Virginia,
and North Carolina that are just a short drive away from campus.

There’s something for everyone to discover in our area, from outdoor recreation to
cultural experiences, dining, shopping, and more.

Explore the Region

Downtown Scenes

The Appalachian Highlands is a vibrant cultural hub. Attend one of our many area festivals, check out the new exhibit at the local art gallery, or catch live music at your favorite venue.

Business and Industry

Our area thrives on local businesses and unique industries. There are plenty of places for you to gain hands-on experience and grow your career.

Arts Scene

Into the fine arts scene? Touring productions, Broadway shows, headlining artists, and student performers take center stage here in our own Martin Center for the Arts.

Outdoor Recreation

ETSU is set in an outdoor lover’s paradise. Whether you enjoy hiking, boating, fishing, biking, or some other unique outdoor activity, there’s always a new breathtaking place to explore.

Surrounding Cities

ETSU is located in Johnson City, which is just one part of the larger region of the Appalachian Highlands. All of these towns are just a short drive away and offer something new to explore!

Johnson City

Venture down the beaten paths of Johnson City’s most treasured nature trails, hikes and biking trails—an endless amount of fresh air and fun for the whole family!



Kingsport is a city full of originals. Pal’s Sudden Service was born here, as was the recipe for the Original Long Island Iced Tea. The hand-carved carousel is a beloved original too, as is our music, brews, cultural experiences and outdoor adventures.

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Welcome to Bristol, TN/VA, an energetic destination with outdoor adventures, racing action and live music!

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Jonesborough was founded in 1779 as the county seat of Washington County, North Carolina, and later served as capital of the “Lost State of Franklin” before Tennessee became the 16th state.

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In a landscape of rolling hills, green meadows and crystal clear waters. Nestled in this pastoral panorama, discover Elizabethton, a quaint, picturesque, history rich gem in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

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Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, the town of Abingdon is known for its artsy vibe, historic charm and its proximity to some of the most spectacular outdoor recreation in the state.

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Experience your own mountaintop adventure right from downtown. With miles of hiking trails in the mountains and tons of dining options, attractions, shopping, and arts and crafts in town, Gatlinburg is your basecamp for adventure in every season.

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Whether your idea of recreation is cutting a raft through churning whitewater, mountain biking through the Cherokee National Forest, enjoying a mild and beautiful night camping in Tennessee,etc. the vast treasures of Unicoi County can excite even the most static spirit.

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In Asheville there’s always a good reason to go exploring. Plan your visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains—find things to do, places to stay, food and drink, music and art—and you may even find a few surprises.

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A Top Adventure College

Ranked #1 Outdoor Adventure College

ETSU was named the 2023 and 2024 Top Adventure College by readers of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine for offering access to some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities in the area.

We came out on top in the bracket-style contest featuring 32 colleges and universities from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Ready to Experience the Appalachian Highlands?

Plan a visit and experience our beautiful region for yourself.
We are proud to call this area home and know you will fall in love with it, too.