Things to see and do in the “Volunteer State”
While country music might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Tennessee, there are many other things to see and do in the “Volunteer State”. Tennessee vacations appeal to visitors for a variety of reasons, from the beauty and majesty of the Great Smoky Mountains to the ornate decay of Elvis Presley’s Graceland. There is something to be seen in every corner of the state. In fact, you might love these Tennessee vacation spots so much that they can become an annual tradition for you and your family. Check the best places to visit in Tennessee.
The city of Nashville is probably best known as the home of country music and fans of this nostalgic genre will definitely not be disappointed during their visit. In addition to the Country Music Hall of Fame, it is also home to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and the famous Grand Ole Opry. But it’s not just about music in Nashville. There are also city walking and tram tours to explore, historic homes to visit, and of course, several distilleries to visit for tastings, including Jack Daniels. You’ll also find plenty of dining options here, from local mom and pop locals to fine dining and everything in between.
Music lovers may also want to plan a Memphis vacation to see Elvis Presley’s famous home – Graceland, as well as the Rock n’ Soul Museum of Memphis Soul. Meanwhile, history buffs can enjoy the National Civil Rights Museum, the Cotton Museum on the Memphis Cotton Exchange and the Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants and shops to explore in downtown Memphis, and if you’re on vacation with kids, the Memphis Zoo and Children’s Museum of Memphis for family fun.
For the best family vacation, check out Pigeon Forge. This town at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains has everything you could possibly imagine in a long range. It’s like a family Vegas. In addition to tons of hotels and restaurants, you’ll find miniature golf, laser tag, all kinds of live shows like music and comedy, karting, shopping, museums and unique attractions like the massive Titanic attraction that will make you feel like you are aboard the famous ship. A short drive from Pigeon Forge, you’ll find the entrance to Cade’s Cove – a beautiful 6,800-acre valley in the Smoky Mountains National Park.
Just down the road from Pigeon Forge is another popular Tennessee vacation destination – Gatlinburg. Although it is right next to Pigeon Forge, the feeling on this beautiful mountain is very different. The pace is slower, there are no bright lights or flashing signs, and the focus here is on the area’s natural beauty. Many of the buildings along downtown Gatlinburg’s Main Street have the look and feel of a Swiss ski town, and inside them you’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants and unique attractions such as the Guinness World Records Museum and Ripley’s Aquarium. You should also check out the views from the top of Gatlinburg’s Space Needle and take a trip up the mountain to Ober Gatlinburg, where you can ski, ice skate and tubing.
Sports enthusiasts, especially racing fans, know Bristol as home to one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. But there are also several other attractions for the whole family to visit here, including the Birthplace of the Country Music Museum, the Bristol Caves and historic downtown State Street, where you can stroll through a variety of shops and restaurants, watch to a show at the Paramount Theater and even stays in two states at once, as the VA/TN state line runs right through the middle of State Street. While you’re there, also visit Blackbird Bakery (although it’s technically on the “Virginia city side”) and try one of their amazing treats, like a pink almond muffin or a coffee and cream brownie.
The southern Tennessee city of Chattanooga is a great place to visit if you like history. First, you can explore the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, then spend the night in a guest room or an old train car at the former historic hotel-turned-station, the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Other historic places to explore include the historic Civil War battle site at Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park and the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center. During your Chattanooga vacation, you can also visit the Chattanooga Zoo, the Tennessee Aquarium and ride the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, a vertical railway that takes you up the mountain for incredible views!
Located in the eastern part of the state, Knoxville is a picturesque town located on the Tennessee River. That’s why the riverside is one of the most popular spots in the city. You can take a relaxing walk or jog along the boardwalk here or sit down to a beachside meal. While you’re downstairs, also check out Market Square in the heart of downtown, where you’ll find a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as live music and a weekend farmers’ market. If you’re on vacation with the little ones, there are also great family attractions like the Knoxville Zoo and Muse, a children’s science museum and a planetarium.