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TENNESSEE TRAVEL GUIDE

Broadway Street in Nashville, Tennessee Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, Tennessee

Welcome to the bigroads.com travel guide to Tennessee! Hopefully this page helps provide some inspiration and tips to help you plan your next trip to Tennessee.

Take note that I build and maintain this website as both a hobby and public service. I take joy in performing travel research and sharing my experiences and adventures. I do not make any profit from this website, and you will see no ads on it. Your constructive feedback about this site and its content is encouraged. Please email me if you have any suggestions or ideas for improvement.

Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons

OVERVIEW



Tennessee is music-obsessed state, with country and rock-and-roll playing in Nashville and blues rolling in Memphis. Beyond Nashville and Memphis, the state of Tennessee offers many natural attractions, including some of the best waterfalls in the country and many underground caves to explore. What brings most people to the state though, is the Great Smoky Mountains and all the tourist insanity that surrounds it. Gateway towns like Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg are unlike any place you've ever been. Every tourist attraction you can possibly think of is there, and probably 5x each. If you can embrace the touristy madness, you can have a great time.

TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS IN TENNESSEE



Are you short on time or struggling to choose something to do or see in Tennessee? Here are my selections for the top 10 attractions or experiences in Tennessee, in no particular order:

Embrace the tourist madness of Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Sevierville; there are literally dozens of amusement parks and other attractions there
Take a drive and/or hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Enjoy live music at some of the 30-plus bars found on famous Broadway Street in Nashville
Visit Beale Street and the fabulous museums in and around Memphis
Go whitewater rafting on the Nolichucky River, Ocoee River, or Pigeon River
See some of the famous waterfalls in central Tennessee (e.g. Burgess Falls, Cummins Falls, Fall Creek Falls, etc.)
Ride the rollercoasters and other attractions at the excellent Dolly's Splash Country Water Adventure Park in Pigeon Forge
Go underground in one of northeastern Tennessee's caves (e.g. Bristol Caverns, Lost Sea Adventure, Tuckaleechee Caverns)
Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville
Catch a concert at either the Grand Ole Opry or Ryman Auditorium in Nashville

If I could select only one place to visit in Tennessee, I would choose the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Sevierville area. There are literally hundreds of attractions there, plus excellent hiking and scenic views in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you think you would enjoy tourist craziness that is on par with Disney World, you will love this place. I wish I could spend one week per year here with my daughter - she thinks this place is the greatest.

For a list of 10 great attractions in each U.S. state, click here.

5-STAR ATTRACTIONS IN TENNESSEE



Here is my opinionated list of 5-star attractions in Tennessee. I believe each of these attractions should be on your Tennessee bucket list since they are all noteworthy from a national perspective:

Western Tennessee (including Jackson and Memphis)
Beale Street, Memphis - the key entertainment district in Memphis; has many bars and restaurants; "one of the most iconic streets in the U.S."
Children's Museum of Memphis, Memphis - a large and excellent children's museum
Eiffel Tower Park, Paris - features a 60-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower; one of Tennessee's best roadside attractions
Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park, Memphis - excellent zip-lining tours and an aerial adventure park
Graceland, Memphis - visit the kitschy, bizarre home of Elvis Presley
Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area - offers wildlife viewing (elk, bison), an 1850s working farm, and tons of outdoor recreation
Memphis Botanic Garden, Memphis - a large collection of botanical gardens
Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, Memphis - learn about the birth and growth of rock'n'roll and soul music
Memphis Zoo, Memphis - a great medium-sized zoo with more than 4,500 animals
National Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Motel, Memphis - an excellent civil rights museum built around the site where MLK was murdered
Orpheum Theatre, Memphis - a historic, 2,308-seat theater in downtown Memphis
Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Hotel, Memphis - a unique experience where you watch ducks walk through the lobby of a 4-star hotel
Rusty's TV and Movie Car Museum, Jackson - displays more than 50 cars that have been featured in movies and television
Shelby Farms Park, Memphis - one of the largest urban parks in the U.S.; features 40+ miles of trails, fishing, wildlife, playgrounds, and more
Shiloh National Military Park, Shiloh - tour two Civil War battlefields
Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Memphis - one of several excellent music museums in Memphis
Sun Studio, Memphis - visit Elvis's famous music studio; the first rock and roll song was recorded here in the 1950s

Nashville (see below for the rest of central Tennessee)
Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery - guided tours of a Greek Revival-style plantation house; "a sanctuary of southern hospitality"
Broadway Street - famous street with 30-plus bars and legendary nightlife (e.g. live country & rock'n'roll music); the "heart of Nashville"
Centennial Park - the flagship urban park in Nashville; includes a replica of the Parthenon found in Athens, Greece
Cheekwood - visit a historic estate and a 55-acre botanical garden
Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum - the #1 country music museum in the U.S.
Gaylord Opryland Resort - one of the largest hotels in the world; you can visit its indoor botanical gardens even if you don't stay
Grand Ole Opry, The / Grand Ole Opry House - a famous country music stage/performance; features weekly performances
Hermitage, The - visit the home of President Andrew Jackson
John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge - a pedestrian bridge with great views of Nashville; very close to Nashville's main strip (Broadway St.)
Johnny Cash Museum - a museum that celebrates the life of the country music icon
Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum - a museum honoring the musicians, engineers, and producers behind the music we hear
Party bikes and/or party buses in Nashville - drinking is what you are supposed to do in Nashville, and so why not hop on a party bus or bike
RCA Studio B - guided tours of a famous country music recording studio built in the 1950s
Ryman Auditorium - a live performance theatre with 2,362 seats dubbed "the mother church of country music"

Central Tennessee (including Franklin and Murfreesboro; see above for Nashville)
ATV/ORV-ing in Williamsport - Williamsport is a great place to go ATV/ORV-ing in Tennessee
Burgess Falls State Park, Sparta - home of four waterfalls, including the famous 130-foot Burgess Falls
Carter House & Carnton Plantation, Franklin - tour an 11-room plantation
Caverns, The, Pelham - a concert venue inside one of the largest underground cave rooms in the world; guided tours of the cave also available
Cumberland Caverns, McMinnville - guided underground cave tours in the second longest cave in Tennessee
Cummins Falls State Park, Cookeville - one of the premier swimming holes in the U.S.; also one of Tennessee's best waterfalls
Downtown Franklin - an attractive 16-block historic district with more than 70 unique shops and restaurants
Fall Creek Falls State Park, Spencer - features an impressive 256-foot waterfall and several other smaller falls; has 30 miles of hiking trails
Historic Carnton Plantation, Franklin - guided tours of a historic home that has ties to the Civil War; also offers slavery-focused tours
Jack Daniel's Distillery, Lynchburg - one of several excellent distilleries found in central Tennessee
Lotz House Museum, Franklin - guided tours of a historic home linked to the Civil War
Ozone Falls, Ozone Falls State Natural Area, Rockwood - a beautiful 110-foot waterfall reached via a 0.75 mile round-trip hike
Piney Falls State Natural Area, Grandview - a nature preserve with two major waterfalls: 40ft Lower Piney Falls and 80ft Upper Piney Falls
Rock Island State Park, Rock Island - features scenic views, hiking, canoeing, whitewater kayaking, swimming, and a 30-foot waterfall
Sewanee Natural Bridge, Sewanee - an impressive natural bridge that is 50-feet wide and 25 feet tall
Stones River National Battlefield, Murfreesboro - site of one of the bloodiest Civil War battles
Virgin Falls, Virgin Falls State Natural Area, Sparta - a challenging hike visits several waterfalls, including the dramatic 110-foot Virgin Falls
Window Cliffs State Natural Area, Baxter - a nature preserve with large cliffs, natural bridges, and small waterfalls; close to Burgess Falls SP

Northeastern Tennessee (including Bristol, Johnson City, and Knoxville; see below for the Great Smoky Mountains region)
Backyard Terrors Dinosaur Park, Bluff City - a favorite (and free) roadside attraction featuring more than 50 life-sized dinosaur sculptures
Bristol Caverns, Bristol - one of several excellent underground guided cave tours in northeastern Tennessee
Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol - a famous short-track racing venue
Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, Petros - tours of a retired maximum-security prison; paranormal tours are also offered
Bush's Beans Visitor Center, Dandridge - one of the best company/factory tours in the U.S.
Foothills Parkway - a scenic drive with several distinct sections; offers great views of the Great Smoky Mountains and parts of eastern TN
Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville - a nature center that offers a variety of outdoor activities (e.g. hiking, paddling, cycling, and rock climbing)
Lost Sea Adventure, Sweetwater - one of several excellent underground guided cave tours in northeastern Tennessee
Market Square, Knoxville - the key tourist area of Knoxville, with many shops and restaurants
Navitat Knoxville, Knoxville - excellent zip-lining tours and an aerial adventure park
Newland Stadium, Knoxville - one of the largest college football stadiums in the U.S.; home of the Tennessee Volunteers
Roan Mountain State Park - mountaineous park with hiking and mountain biking trails, scenic views, historic buildings, and good trout fishing
Smoky Mountain Llama Treks, Cosby - visit a llama farm and/or go for a hike with a llama
Tennessee Theatre, Knoxville - a historic movie and show palace in downtown Knoxville that was built in 1928
Tuckaleechee Caverns, Townsend - one of several excellent underground guided cave tours in northeastern Tennessee
Whitewater rafting on the Nolichucky River - day and overnight rafting trips are offered on this wild river, which has rapids up to class IV
Whitewater rafting on the Pigeon River - day rafting trips are offered on this river; River Rat Whitewater Rafting is one popular guide company
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, Knoxville - the only museum dedicated to women's basketball

Great Smoky Mountains region: Sevierville
Forbidden Caverns - offers excellent guided underground cave tours
Harrisburg Covered Bridge - a historic covered bridge over the East Fork of the Little Pigeon River that was built in 1874
Smoky Mountain Deer Farm - a large petting zoo and farm that also offers horse and pony trail rides
Wineries in Sevierville - there are several highly-rated wineries and tasting rooms in and around Sevierville
Zip-lining tours - many companies offer excellent zip-lining tours in and around Sevierville and Pigeon Forge (e.g. Adventure Park, CLIMB Works, Foxfire Adventure Park, Legacy Mountain, Smoky Mountain, Wahoo, Wears Valley, etc.)

Great Smoky Mountains region: Pigeon Forge
Alcatraz East Crime Museum - one of the best crime museums in the U.S.
Comedy Barn, The - excellent family comedy shows in a big barn-shaped theater
Country Tonite Theatre - live performance theater with country music, comedy acts, and more
Dixie Stampede Dinner - one of several fun "dinner theater" experiences in Pigeon Forge; eat while being entertained by cowboys!
Dolly's Splash Country Water Adventure Park - an excellent medium-sized waterpark; take note that this is not adjacent to Dollywood
Dollywood - the best theme park in Tennessee and one of the finest in the U.S.; Appalachian-themed rides and attractions
Goats on the Roof - a tourist attraction featuring a mountain coaster, gift shop, and real goats that live on the roof of the building
Great Smoky Mountain Wheel - a 200-foot tall ferris wheel in the middle of the popular "The Island" tourist area of Pigeon Forge
Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show - one of several fun "dinner theater" experiences in Pigeon Forge; eat while being entertained by cowboys!
Island, The - a major tourist area with many family-fun attractions, including arcades, a ferris wheel, and many shops and restaurants
MagiQuest - features four family-fun attractions within one building (e.g. MagiQuest game, mini-golf, a mirror maze, and arcades)
Old Mill Square - a popular and attractive tourist area with restaurants and specialty shops centered around a big wooden gristmill
Outdoor Gravity Park - the only place in the U.S. where you can go zorbing (slip and slide down a hill within a giant bubble)
Parrot Mountain & Gardens - a parrot preserve with 100s of birds and a Bible-inspired garden
Paula Deen's Lumberjack Feud - one of several fun "dinner theater" experiences in Pigeon Forge; eat while being entertained by lumberjacks!
Rocky Top Mountain Coaster - one of several excellent alpine/mountain coasters in the Great Smoky Mountains region of TN
Rowdy Bear Ridge Adventure Park - an amusement park with an alpine flyer (suspended rollercoaster), summer and winter tubing, and more
Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster - one of several excellent alpine/mountain coasters in the Great Smoky Mountains region of TN
Titanic Museum - one of several excellent Titanic museums in the U.S.; the exterior of the building is a huge ship (a great photo-op!)
TopJump Trampoline & Extreme Arena - one of the best trampoline parks and indoor kid-climbing wall centers in the U.S.
Zip-lining tours - many companies offer excellent zip-lining tours in and around Sevierville and Pigeon Forge (e.g. Adventure Park, CLIMB Works, Foxfire Adventure Park, Legacy Mountain, Smoky Mountain, Wahoo, Wears Valley, etc.)

Great Smoky Mountains region: Gatlinburg
Doc Collier Moonshine Distillery - one of several excellent distilleries in the Great Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee
Downtown Gatlinburg - an extremely popular tourist area with tons of shops, restaurants, and moonshine/distillery tasting rooms
Gatlinburg SkyLift Park - take a chairlift to walk across the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America
Hollywood Star Cars Museum - features more than 40 vehicles shown on TV and movies
Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine - one of several excellent distilleries in the Great Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies - one of the best aquariums in the U.S.
Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum - a quirky museum displaying thousands of salt and pepper shakers; an inexpensive and awesome attraction!
Sugarlands Distilling Company - one of several excellent distilleries in the Great Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee
Tennessee Cider Company - Gatlinburg's original hard cider tasting room

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Adams Falls - a 5.0 mile round-trip hike from a trailhead in Cades Cove will bring you to this scenic 20-foot tall waterfall
Alum Cave - one of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains; visits a geologic landmark and eventually climbs to Mount LeConte
Cades Cove - an isolated valley with a scenic drive and several historic cabins and other buildings; wildlife is commonly seen (e.g. bears)
Clingmans Dome - the highpoint of TN (6,643'); in season, you can drive to a high parking area and hike 1.3 miles to the top for scenic views
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - the #1 most popular national park in the U.S. has awesome trails, scenery, waterfalls, & scenic drives
Grotto Falls - a 3.0 mile round-trip hike from a trailhead on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail will bring you to this 85-foot waterfall
Laurel Falls - a 2.6 mile round-trip hike will bring you to the lower and upper Laurel Falls
Newfound Gap Road - a scenic drive through the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains; connects Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC
Rainbow Falls - a 5.4 mile round-trip hike from a trailhead on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail will bring you to this 80-foot waterfall
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail - a 5.5 mile scenic driving loop with old-growth forests and several historic buildings; closed in winter

Southeastern Tennessee (including Chattanooga)
Bald River Falls, Cherokee National Forest - a spectacular 90foot waterfall; access is via Tellico River Road (NFRS 2010) but parking is limited
Chattanooga Ducks, Chattanooga - popular duck boat sightseeing tours that travel on both land and water
Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga - an excellent children's museum
Foster Falls, Foster Falls Recreation Area, Sequatchie - a pretty 60-foot waterfall that spills into a deep pool; part of South Cumberland SP
Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga - drive or take an incline railway up to great views; also has a scenic but man-made waterfall (High Falls)
Raccoon Mountain Caverns, Chattanooga - offers walking and "wild" underground cave tours; there's also a campground on site
Ruby Falls, Chattanooga - take a cave tour to visit a large brightly-lit underground waterfall
South Cumberland State Park, Monteagle - a huge state park with nine separate areas; offers some of the best hiking and backpacking in TN
Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga - supposedly the world's largest freshwater aquarium
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Chattanooga - see a collection of historic trains and take a scenic train ride
Walnut Street Bridge / Coolidge Park, Chattanooga - walk across one of the world's longest pedestrian bridges
Whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River - several different rafting trips are offered on this wild river, including some with major class IV+ rapids

Are you aware of any other 5-star attractions in Tennessee? If so, please email me at gparsons66@hotmail.com.

For a list of 5-star attractions in neighboring states, click on any of these links:  AL  |  AR  |  GA  |  KY  |  MO  |  MS  |  NC  |  VA

BEST TOWNS & CITIES TO VISIT IN TENNESSEE



These towns and cities in Tennessee are generally regarded as the most interesting to travelers:

Chattanooga - a mid-sized city in southeastern TN famous for its outdoor activities, nature parks, family attractions, and Civil War history
Franklin - a small city near Nashville that has a lively historic downtown/main street area with many shops, restaurants, and art galleries
Gatlinburg - one of several mega-tourist destination towns near Great Smoky Mountains National Park; has dozens of tourist attractions
Lynchburg - a small city famous for its distilleries, including Jack Daniel's Distillery; many historic buildings; visit Cave Spring Hollow
Memphis - a major city with world-famous BBQ, live music (blues, soul, rock & roll) and great museums; visit Beale Street
Nashville - a major city dubbed the "capital of country music"; Broadway Street has more than 30 bars (many with live music)
Pigeon Forge - a small town with an enormous amount of tourist attractions; several excellent performance theaters and amusement parks
Sevierville - a small town with dozens of popular tourist attractions; several awesome distilleries and wineries; next to Pigeon Forge

My favorite city in Tennessee is Nashville - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 2-3 nights there. You will obviously want to visit Broadway Street, which has all the live music and bars you've heard about (there are more than 30 bars!). The rest of your time in Nashville can easily be spent visiting its excellent museums. If you have a vehicle, you could also take a day trip to historic Franklin.

My favorite small town in Tennessee is Pigeon Forge - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least a full week in this area. The amount of attractions (both tourist and outdoor) is astounding. If you don't like tourist chaos, stay far far away from this place. For the rest of us, it's a ton of fun. Take note that Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are all next to each other, and all three have dozens of attractions. This entire area also serves as a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If you want to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, stay in either Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Sevierville.

Click here if you'd like to see a complete list of towns and cities that I find interesting across the entire U.S.

WHAT IS TENNESSEE FAMOUS FOR?



Here are some things that Tennessee is famous or well-known for:

aerial adventure parks
amusement parks - e.g. Dollywood
BBQ - e.g. Memphis-style BBQ
blues music
caves / cave tours
Civil War history / military parks / battlefields
country music
dinner theaters - the town of Pigeon Forge has several excellent dinner theaters
Elvis Presley
live music
moonshine - the towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg have several distilleries/moonshine tasting experiences
mountain coasters / alpine slides
music museums
tourist attractions
waterfalls
whiskey distilleries
whitewater rafting
zip-lining tours

Click here if you'd like to learn what other U.S. states are famous for.

NATIONAL PARKS IN TENNESSEE



There is one national park and many other federally-managed parks and properties in Tennessee, including:

National Parks
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - the #1 most popular national park in the U.S. has awesome trails, scenery, waterfalls, & scenic drives

National Recreation Areas
Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area
Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area

National Forests
Cherokee National Forest

National Historical Parks / Other National Parks & Properties
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Fort Donelson National Battlefield
Manhattan Project National Historical Park
Natchez Trace Parkway
Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail
Obed Wild & Scenic River
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
Shiloh National Military Park
Stones River National Battlefield
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

If you are visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the first time, I recommend staying for a full week. Between the attractions of the national park and all the tourist attractions of the nearby towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville, you'll find plenty to do.

For more information on Tennessee's national parks, visit the Tennessee page of the National Park Service. For an overview of all U.S. national parks, click here.

STATE PARKS IN TENNESSEE



Tennessee has more than 50 state parks. Here is a list of many of Tennessee's finest state parks:

Central Tennessee (including Franklin, Murfreesboro, and Nashville)
Burgess Falls State Park / Burgess Falls, Sparta - home of four waterfalls, including the famous 130-foot Burgess Falls
Cummins Falls State Park, Cookeville - one of the premier swimming holes in the U.S. below one of Tennessee's best waterfalls
Fall Creek Falls State Park, Pikeville - features an impressive 256-foot waterfall and several other smaller falls; has 30 miles of hiking trails
Ozone Falls State Natural Area, Rockwood - a beautiful 110-foot waterfall visible from a 0.75 mile round-trip hike
Piney Falls State Natural Area, Grandview - a nature preserve with two major waterfalls: 40ft Lower Piney Falls and 80ft Upper Piney Falls
Rock Island State Park, Rock Island - features scenic views, hiking, canoeing, whitewater kayaking, swimming, and a 30-foot waterfall
Virgin Falls State Natural Area, Sparta - a challenging hike visits several waterfalls, including the dramatic 110-foot Virgin Falls
Window Cliffs State Natural Area, Baxter - a nature preserve with large cliffs, natural bridges, and small waterfalls; close to Burgess Falls SP

Northeastern Tennessee (including Bristol, Johnson City, and Knoxville)
Roan Mountain State Park, Roan Mountain - mountaineous park with hiking trails, mountain biking trails, scenic views, historic buildings, and trout fishing

Southeastern Tennessee (including Chattanooga)
South Cumberland State Park, Monteagle - a huge state park with nine separate areas; offers some of the best hiking and backpacking in TN

To see my list of the top 100 state parks in the country, click here.

BEST WATERFALLS IN TENNESSEE



Tennessee is one of the best states for waterfall hunting in the United States. There are at least 500-600 natural waterfalls in the state. Here are some of the best and/or most popular waterfalls in Tennessee:

Central Tennessee (including Franklin, Murfreesboro, and Nashville)
Burgess Falls - Burgess Falls State Park, Sparta
Cummins Falls - Cummins Falls State Park, Cookeville
Fall Creek Falls - Fall Creek Falls State Park, Spencer
Great Falls - Rock Island State Park, Rock Island
Machine Falls - Short Springs Natural Area, Tullahoma
Ozone Falls - Ozone Falls State Natural Area, Rockwood
Piney Falls - Piney Falls State Natural Area, Grandview
Virgin Falls - Virgin Falls State Natural Area, Sparta

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Abrams Falls
Grotto Falls
Indian Creek Falls
Laurel Falls
Rainbow Falls
Ramsey Cascades

Southeastern Tennessee (including Chattanooga)
Bald River Falls - Cherokee National Forest
Conasauga Fall - Cherokee National Forest
Foster Falls - Foster Falls Recreation Area, Sequatchie
Greeter Falls - South Cumberland State Park, Altamont
High Falls - scenic but man-made waterfall on Lookout Mountain on the TN/GA border
Ruby Falls - a privately-owned cave and waterfall attraction in Chattanooga

For a listing of all known waterfalls in Tennessee, visit the World Waterfall Database.

BEST SHOW CAVES IN TENNESSEE



This section coming soon!

BEST SCENIC DRIVES IN TENNESSEE



Here is a list of the best scenic drives in Tennessee:

XXXX - a XX-mile paved route from XX
XXXX - a XX-mile paved route from XX
Natchez Trace Parkway - a 444-mile paved route from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN with many historic sites and scenic overlooks
XXXX - a XX-mile paved route from XX

For a list of great scenic drives in each U.S. state, click here.

BEST RAIL TRAILS IN TENNESSEE



Here is a list of some of the best rail trails (or similar cycling paths) in Tennessee:

Western Tennessee (including Jackson and Memphis)
Shelby Farms Greenline

Central Tennessee (including Franklin, Murfreesboro, and Nashville)
Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail
Stones River Greenway

Northeastern Tennessee (including Bristol, Johnson City, and Knoxville)
Kingsport Greenbelt
Maryville-Alcoa Greenway
Tweetsie Trail

Southeastern Tennessee (including Chattanooga)
Chattanooga Riverwalk

For detailed information on all known rail trails in Kansas, visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.

BEST AMUSEMENT PARKS / THEME PARKS IN TENNESSEE



There are a few notable amusement parks in Tennessee, including:

Dollywood, Pigeon Forge
Dollywood's Splash Country, Pigeon Forge
Lake Winnie Amusement Park, Chattanooga
Soaky Mountain Waterpark, Sevierville
Wild Bear Falls Water Park, Gatlinburg
Wild Water Dome Indoor Waterpark, Sevierville

In addition to the amusement parks listed above, the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area near Great Smoky Mountains National Park has literally dozens more small to medium-sized amusement parks, including some excellent mountain coasters and go-kart tracks. That area also has more than a dozen miniature golf courses.

BEST MUSEUMS IN TENNESSEE



Tennessee has an amazing assortment of museums - one of the best collections of museums of any U.S. state. The music museums of Tennessee are especially notable. The best museums in Tennessee include:

Western Tennessee (including Jackson and Memphis)
Graceland, Memphis
Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, Memphis
National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, Memphis
Rusty's TV and Movie Car Museum, Jackson
Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Memphis
Sun Studio, Memphis

Central Tennessee (including Franklin, Murfreesboro, and Nashville)
Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, Nashville
Carnton, Franklin
Carter House, Franklin
Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, Nashville
Frist Art Museum, Nashville
Johnny Cash Museum, Nashville
Lane Motor Museum, Nashville
Lots House Museum, Franklin
Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, Nashville
RCA Studio B, Nashville
Tennessee State Museum, Nashville

Northeastern Tennessee (including Bristol, Johnson City, and Knoxville; see below for Great Smoky Mountains National Park)
Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville
Museum of Appalachia, Clinton
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, Knoxville

Great Smoky Mountains area (including Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville)
Alcatraz East Crime Museum, Pigeon Forge
Hollywood Star Cars Museum, Gatlinburg
Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, Gatlinburg
Titanic Museum, Pigeon Forge

Southeastern Tennessee (including Chattanooga)
Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga
International Towing & Recovery Museum, Chattanooga
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Chattanooga

BEST DAY HIKES IN TENNESSEE



Tennessee has many great hiking trails, especially in the central and eastern sections of the state. Here are some of the best day hikes in Tennessee:

Central Tennessee (including Franklin, Murfreesboro, and Nashville)
Burgess Falls Trail, Burgess Falls State Park
Colditz Cove Trail, Colditz Cove State Natural Area, Jamestown
Cummins Falls, Cummins Falls State Park
Fall Creek Falls State Park trails - includes a relatively easy hike to one of Tennessee's best waterfalls
Honey Creek Loop Trail, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area
Rock Island State Park trails (e.g. Twin Falls)
Savage Gulf State Park trails (e.g. Greeter Falls Loop, Stone Door Trail)
Twin Arches, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area
Virgin Falls, Virgin Falls State Natural Area
Window Cliffs State Natural Area, Baxter

Northeastern Tennessee (including Bristol, Johnson City, and Knoxville; see below for Great Smoky Mountains National Park)
Laurel Falls, Pond Mountain Wilderness
Pinnacle Mountain Fire Tower, Cherokee National Forest

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (in eastern Tennessee)
Abrams Falls
Alum Cave
Charlies Bunion
Chimney Tops Trail
Clingmans Dome - relatively easy walk of 1.3 miles round-trip to the TN highpoint (take note that the road is typically closed Dec-Apr)
Grotto Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Laurel Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Mount Cammerer, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Mount LeConte, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Rainbow Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Ramsey Cascades, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Southeastern Tennessee (including Chattanooga)
Conasauga Falls, Cherokee National Forest
Edward's Point Trail, Prentice Cooper State Forest
Fiery Gizzard Trail to Raven's Point, South Cumberland State Park
Foster Falls, South Cumberland State Park
Snoopers Rock Trail, Prentice Cooper State Forest
Stone Door Trail, South Cumberland State Park

The highpoint of Tennessee is Clingmans Dome (6,643') in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In season, you can drive to a parking area and then do a 1.3 mile fairly easy round-trip walk to the top. Expect fantastic views!

BEST BACKPACKING TRIPS IN TENNESSEE



Tennessee offers several great backpacking opportunities. Some of the premier backpacking routes/areas in Tennessee include:

Central Tennessee (including Franklin, Murfreesboro, and Nashville)
Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail - 290 miles from northern Kentucky to Pickett State Park in Tennessee; only a small portion is in TN

Northeastern Tennessee (including Bristol, Johnson City, and Knoxville)
Appalachian Trail - about 66 miles of this 2,200 mile long trail is located in Tennessee
Bald Mountains Ridge Scenic Area trails - within Cherokee National Forest
Cherokee National Forest trails
Shady Valley Loop - includes the Iron Mountain Trail and the Appalachian Trail

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (in eastern Tennessee)
Appalachian Trail - about 66 miles of this 2,200 mile trail are in Tennessee
LeConte Lodge on Mount LeConte

Southeastern Tennessee (including Chattanooga)
Cherokee National Forest trails
South Cumberland State Park trails

CLASSIC OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN TENNESSEE



Tennessee offers many excellent outdoor adventures, including these classics:

Backpacking the Appalachian Trail
Backpacking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Backpacking to LeConte Lodge
Backpacking the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail
Bouldering at Stone Fort (aka Little Rock City)
Canoeing/kayaking on the Buffalo River
Canoeing/kayaking on the Caney Fork River
Canoeing/kayaking on the Duck River
Canoeing/kayaking on the Harpeth River
Canoeing/kayaking on the Little River
Canoeing/kayaking on the New River
Canoeing/kayaking on the Wolf River
Cycling the Chattanooga Riverwalk
Cycling the Shelby Farms Greenline
Day hiking Charlies Bunion
Day hiking Chimney Tops
Day hiking Mount Cammerer
Day hiking Mount LeConte
Hot air ballooning in Franklin
Mountain biking Baker Creek Preserve in Knoxville
Mountain biking the Knoxville Urban Wilderness
Mountain biking the Raccoon Mountain Trail Network in Chattanooga
Mountain biking the Tanasi Trail System in Cherokee National Forest
Mountain biking White Oak Mountain
Mountain biking Windrock Bike Park
Rock climbing in/near Chattanooga (e.g. the Tennessee Wall)
Rock climbing at King's Bluff
Rock climbing along the Obed Wild & Scenic River
Rock climbing at Prentice Cooper
Rock climbing at Suck Creek Canyon
Rock climbing in Sunset Park in Lookout Mountain
Skydiving in Greenville, Jasper, New Market, Tullahoma, Waverly, and Whiteville
Tubing the Buffalo River
Tubing the Harpeth River
Tubing the Little River
Tubing the New River
Whitewater rafting the Nolichucky River
Whitewater rafting the Ocoee River
Whitewater rafting the Pigeon River

SKI RESORTS IN TENNESSEE



Tennessee only has one ski resort: Ober Gatlinburg. It's a very small ski area (10 trails) and it doesn't get all that much snow.

TENNESSEE TRAVEL TIPS



For offbeat and unique Tennessee attractions, visit one or both of these amazing websites: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

UNIQUE / SPECIALTY FOODS TO TRY IN TENNESSEE



Here are some unique / specialty foods to try while you are in Tennessee:

barbecue pork sandwich
barbecue ribs
hot chicken
hot fish sandwich
Memphis-style ribs
moonpies
moonshine
pancake houses
pimento cheese
sorghum syrup

For a list of unique foods and mom-and-pop type eateries and restaurants in Tennessee (or any other U.S. state), visit the Roadfood.com website.
For a list of unique foods to try in each of the 50 U.S. states, click here.
For a list of the top-rated beers to try in Tennessee (or any other U.S. state), visit the Beer Advocate website.

OTHER KEY TENNESSEE INFORMATION



State Capital:
Nashville

Major Airports:
Nashville International Airport (BNA), Memphis International Airport (MEM), or McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) near Knoxville

Largest Cities:
Nashville (707,091). Memphis (630,348), Knoxville (193,114), Chattanooga (183,783), Clarksville (173,480), Murfreesboro (161,571)

Primary U.S. Interstates:
I-24, I-26, I-40, I-55, I-65, I-75, I-81

State Highpoint:
Clingmans Dome (6,643') in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee; a 1.3 mile fairly easy round-trip walk from a seasonal road (which is typically open May-Nov) is required to reach the top

Professional Sports Teams:
NBA: Memphis Grizzlies
NFL: Tennessee Titans
NHL: Nashville Predators

Funny or Unique Town/City Names:
Bucksnort, Bugscuffle, Disco, Finger, Lick Skillet, Nutbush, Skullbone, Sweet Lips, and Wartrace

Take note that in general this travel guide intentionally excluded restaurants, lodging/hotels, breweries, wineries/vineyards, and certain other types of attractions (like arcades, ax-throwing, bowling alleys, and escape rooms). These types of places tend to come and go, and keeping up with that would be too challenging. I encourage you to use Google Maps, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other travel sites that have reader reviews to find the latest and greatest places that I haven't covered here.



Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, Tennessee
Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, Tennessee

Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee
downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee

historic cabin in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
historic cabin in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

moonshine in Tennessee
moonshine distilleries thrive in Tennessee

Broadway Street in Nashville, Tennessee
the famous Broadway Street in Nashville, Tennessee

World's Largest Rubik's Cube in Knoxville, Tennessee
World's Largest Rubik's Cube in Knoxville, Tennessee

Harrisburg Covered Bridge in Sevierville, Tennessee
Harrisburg Covered Bridge in Sevierville, Tennessee

Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee


ROAD TRIP GUIDEBOOKS



In addition to the information found on my website, I personally recommend purchasing these road trip/travel-related guidebooks. Click on any book cover to read reviews and/or purchase these books on Amazon.com.

        


MORE U.S. STATE TRAVEL GUIDES



Did you enjoy this state travel guide? If so, here are links to more of my comprehensive U.S. state travel guides:

Alabama Maryland Oregon
Arizona Massachusetts Pennsylvania
Arkansas Michigan Rhode Island
California Minnesota South Carolina
Colorado Mississippi South Dakota
Connecticut Missouri Tennessee
Delaware Montana Texas
Florida Nebraska Utah
Georgia Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana New Mexico Washington DC
Iowa New York West Virginia
Kansas North Carolina Wisconsin
Kentucky North Dakota Wyoming
Louisiana Ohio  
Maine Oklahoma  

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