- Johnson City
With a population of just under 700,000, Nashville is the largest city in Tennessee and one of its most iconic. An estimated two million people live in the greater Nashville metro area, making it one of the largest cultural hubs in the South. It’s also the state capital and the 21st largest city in the US overall. Known as the home of country music and the birthplace of Bluegrass, Nashville is a major focal point of the entertainment industry, offering many fun things to do for residents and visitors.
The second largest city in Tennessee is Memphis, with a population of 633,104. Memphis is the 5th most populated city in the Southeastern United States and the 28th largest in the country overall. An estimated 1.3 million people also live in the broader metro area. Known for its historic music scene and clubs along Beale Street, which gave birth to the Memphis Blues, the city has a unique culture and continues to be a major hub for the media and entertainment industry.
Knoxville is the third-largest city in Memphis, with a population of just under 200,000. It is the county seat of Knox County and the largest city in the East Tennessee Grand Division. An estimated 879,773 residents live in the broader Knoxville metro area, making it the 64th largest MSA in the United States. Nicknamed the Marble City, Knoxville is known for its prolific rock quarries, which have built some of America’s most famous buildings, such as Grand Central Station in New York City. Today, Knoxville is a great place to live, with a vibrant cultural scene and family-friendly atmosphere.
Chattanooga is another one of the largest cities in Tennessee, with a population of 181,009, making it the 4th most populated in the state and 2nd largest in East Tennessee (after Knoxville). The city anchors the Chattanooga metro area, which is home to an estimated 562,647 residents. It also serves as the epicenter of a tri-state area that includes Southeastern Tennessee, Northwest Georgia, and Northeast Alabama. Known for its gorgeous mountains and easy access to the Chattanooga River, the city offers plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventure and a great place to raise a family.
Clarksville is the 5th largest city in Tennessee and the county seat of Montgomery County. An estimated 328,304 people also live in the Clarksville metro area, including Montgomery and Stewart Counties in Tennessee and Christian and Trigg Counties in Kentucky. Clarksville is home to several important institutions, including Austin Peay State University and the nearby Fort Campbell US Army Post. Clarksville offers an artsy vibe with plenty of parks and nature preserves, making it a great place for students and families.
With a population of 152,769, Murfreesboro is the 6th largest city in Tennessee and the 188th largest in the United States. Situated about 34 miles southeast of downtown Nashville, Murfreesboro is part of the greater Nashville metro area of Central Tennessee. With a central location, low cost of living, and easy access to amenities, Murfreesboro offers a high quality of life that attracts residents from all over. It’s currently the largest suburb of Nashville and the 3rd fastest growing city in the US.
Franklin is another Nashville suburb that ranks among the largest cities in the state by population. With a population of 83,547, Franklin is the 7th largest city in Tennessee and third largest in the Nashville metro area. Like Murfreesboro, Franklin has experienced rapid growth since 1990, and the population grew by 25% between 2010 and 2020 alone. A major hub for country music, Franklin is known for its breathtaking architecture, affluent residents, and quiet, tree-lined streets.
Johnson City is another one of the largest cities in Tennessee, with a population of just over 70,000 people. It’s the main city in the Johnson City metro area, which encompasses Carter, Unicoi, and Washington Counties, and is home to 207,285 people. It’s also a critical part of the broader Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol combined statistical area, aka the Tri-Cities region, which includes parts of Tennessee and Virginia. With a total metro population of 514,899, the Tri-Cities region is the 5th largest CSA in the state and 87th in the US.
Jackson is the 8th largest city in Tennessee, with a population of 68,204. Located about 70 miles outside of Memphis, Jackson is the 2nd largest city in Western Tennessee and a regional trade hub for the area. It’s also the center of the Jackson-Humboldt metro area and the largest city in Madison County. Known as the home of rockabilly music, Jackson offers a small-town atmosphere with friendly residents and rich cultural traditions.
Hendersonville is another Nashville suburb that is also one of the largest cities in Tennessee, with a population of 61,753. Located 18 miles from downtown Nashville, it’s the 4th largest city in the metropolitan area and the 10th largest in the state overall. Considered one of the best places to live in Tennessee, Hendersonville has been home to many celebrities who work in the country music scene, including Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson. It's also one of the richest cities in Tennessee. With low crime, great schools, and easy access to amenities, Hendersonville was ranked the 16th best place to live in the US by Money Magazine in 2021.