Natural beauty, southern hospitality, and mild weather are just a few of the reasons Tennessee is a great vacation destination. Between Nashville's music scene, the most visited national park in the country, the Great Smoky Mountains, antebellum homes, and Appalachian crafts, it's diverse attractions could satisfy any crowd. Within a day's drive of 65 percent of the United States population, it’s the optimal choice for a quick weekend getaway that checks every box.
But we don't have to convince you to go there -- here's what to do once you arrive.
Rock ‘n Soul Museum
The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum’s exhibition celebrates the birth of rock and soul music. Created by the Smithsonian Institution, it tells the story of musical pioneers who, for the love of music, overcame racial and socio-economic barriers to create a genre of sound that shook the entire world.
Fill Up on the World’s Best Barbecue
Memphis or Nashville; vinegar, mustard or tomato; sweet or hot; wet or dry; pork or beef. Tennessee is barbecue heaven. With a bbq festival or cookoff almost monthly from May-October, get your hands dirty in some delicious grub. The crown jewel is the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational where the best of the best are recruited to grill up some meat sweats.
The Chattanooga skyline features six magnificent glass peaks that top the Tennessee Aquarium's River Journey and Ocean Journey buildings. Featuring stunning freshwater creatures and habitats from the Southeast and around the world, visitors can explore two living forests under glass and get face to face with feisty otters, giant catfish, prehistoric sturgeon, colorful frogs, and American alligators.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
America's most visited national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Smoky Mountains is world renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient rock formations, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture. The sprawling landscape encompasses lush forests and an abundance of wildflowers that bloom year-round.
With miles upon miles of challenging Class III and IV rapids on one of the country's premier rivers, the Ocoee River in Tennessee has become the most popular whitewater rafting destination in America. Located in Cherokee National Forest, the Ocoee flows through a beautiful gorge surrounded by scenic wildlife with over twenty continuous rapids, yet it is within several hours of many major cities in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina.
Fish in Grundy County Goose Pond
Fish among friends on one of Tennessee's 21 county lakes. Set against a gorgeous backdrop of breathtaking wildernesses: cliffs, canyons, lush canopies and cold, clear plunge pools, a day on the water is just what the doctor ordered.
Paddle Boat in Chickasaw State Park
Rowboats, paddle boats, hiking, and biking can all be found at Chickasaw State Park. Set on the highest terrain in west Tennessee, water recreation is available on Lakes Placid and La Joie. A rustic place of classic natural beauty, Chickasaw is fun for the whole family.
Climb in Chattanooga
Called "the regional climbing capital" by National
Geographic, Chattanooga is surrounded by 2,000 feet of Appalachian Mountains.
Beginner to advanced climbers will be challenged by the
crags, and there are plenty of local guides if you're looking to take a lesson.
Chase Waterfalls at Fall Creek Falls
Fall Creek Falls, at 256 feet, is the highest waterfall in the eastern United States. A paradise of more than 20,000 acres sprawled across the eastern top of the rugged Cumberland Plateau, Fall Creek Falls State Park is one of the most scenic and spectacular outdoor recreation areas in the country. Laced with cascades, gorges, rushing water, streams, and lush stands of virgin hardwood timber, the park celebrates nature at it’s finest.
Hike the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail connects the highest point in the North (Mt. Washington in New Hampshire) to the highest point in the South (Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina). America’s premier long-distance hike, the trail stretches 2,175 miles between Maine and Georgia with terrain that ranges from flat woodland paths to near-vertical rock scrambles to challenge even the fittest trekker.