The state of Tennessee is studded with fascinating historical and cultural attractions. Getting your bearings and deciding what to see first, though, can be challenging. A great way to get the most out of your Tennessee explorations is by following one of the state’s topnotch trails or byways. Here we highlight four of the newest and most intriguing options -- all that's missing is you!
Nashville’s Trace is a great option for anyone who’d like to get an overview of the history and culture of Tennessee. It consists of six compelling loops that span the state from Nashville down to Waynesboro. Whether you choose to travel one of the loops, or all of them, you’re sure to have an educational and entertaining time.
Start your journey at Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation. This famous Greek Revival building was built in 1853. Today, it boasts a charming cafe and has the distinction of being the only winery in Nashville. Scoot out of town and visit the Old Trace Drive and Tobacco Farm to see how this important crop is grown and processed. Stop in Lewis County and visit the Meriwether Lewis Monument and Grave, which pays homage to the intrepid explorer; soak up even more history in Columbia, where you’ll find the home of James K. Polk, the 11th president of the United States. Wrap up your journey with some blueberry picking at Lawrenceburg’s Buffalo Farm, then immerse yourself in Amish culture in greater Lawrence County.
Soak Up Some History on the Old Tennessee Trail
Tennessee has its fair share of major cities, but most of its history was made in its countryside. The Old Tennessee Trail lets you see some of those important sites up close and personal. Start off at Gentry’s Farm, which has been around since the mid-1800s and spans more than 400 acres. See what the transportation of yesteryear was like by visiting the McKnight Station Train Depot in the Leiper’s Creek Valley. In Maury Country, experience a quintessential antebellum home by stopping off at Liberty Hall, which was built in 1844.
Experience Appalachian Traditions on the Sunnyside Trail
Get to know the friendly people of the Tennessee mountains along the Sunnyside Trail. Kick things off at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where abundant natural scenery awaits. Snap up some incredible deals on handcrafted items at the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community and continue the shopping spree with the outlet shops near Sevierville.
Step back through time by viewing the graves of some of the state’s earliest settlers at the Forks of the Little River Cemetery in Sevierville. From there, kick back and relax for a spell at the Smoky Mountain Winery, where more than 20 different wines are available. Learn more about one of the state’s most famous sons at the Davy Crockett Birthplace in Limestone, and learn what life was like for early travelers at the Nulichucky River, an important early travel route.
Civil War and Moonshine Along the White Lightning Trail
To many, Tennessee conjures images of Civil War battlefields and moonshine. The White Lightning Trail lets you soak up some of that history with ease. Start out in Knoxville by spending time in historic Market Square, swinging by the Mountain Dew factory and visiting the White Lily Flour Mill. See where many Civil War soldiers were laid to rest at Old Gray Cemetery and National Cemetery. Educate yourself about the culture of Appalachia at the Museum of the Appalachia in Clinton. Take a quick trip into Kentucky to check out the Daniel Boone Visitor Center at Cumberland Gap, then swoop back into Tennessee to experience the Clinch Mountain Overlook. From this spot, you can take in the Bean Station Civil War Battlefield.