If you’re looking for some fun and exciting places to visit in Tennessee, you’re in luck. The Volunteer State has something for everyone, from stunning natural scenery to vibrant cities to rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re a fan of music, history, art, or adventure, you’ll find plenty of attractions to suit your interests. Here are some of the top destination spots in Tennessee that you won’t want to miss.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
No visit to Tennessee is complete without exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most-visited national park in the country. This park covers more than 800 square miles of land across Tennessee and North Carolina, and offers incredible views of the Appalachian Mountains. You can hike, bike, fish, camp, or horseback ride on more than 800 miles of trails, some of which lead to beautiful waterfalls like Abrams Falls, Grotto Falls, and Laurel Falls. You can also spot wildlife like black bears, deer, elk, and turkeys, or learn about the history and culture of the people who lived in the area at the park’s visitor centers and historic buildings.
Gatlinburg is a charming mountain town that serves as a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a popular destination for families, couples, and solo travelers who want to enjoy the outdoors and experience some local attractions. You can ride the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway or the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park for panoramic views of the town and the mountains, or visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle for a 360-degree observation deck. You can also check out Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, one of the best aquariums in the country, or explore the many shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues along the Parkway.
Nashville is known as Music City for its legendary role in the country music industry. You can immerse yourself in the musical heritage of Nashville by visiting iconic venues like the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. You can also catch live performances by famous and emerging artists at one of the many honky-tonks on Broadway, or join a guided tour of some of the stars’ homes and studios. Nashville is not only about music, though. It also has a thriving culinary scene that features Southern classics like hot chicken and barbecue, as well as a vibrant arts and culture scene that showcases museums, galleries, and festivals.
Memphis is another musical mecca in Tennessee that celebrates blues, soul, rock ‘n’ roll, and gospel. You can visit Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley, or tour Sun Studio, where legends like Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded their hits. You can also listen to live music on Beale Street, the birthplace of blues, or visit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum to learn more about the history and influence of these genres. Memphis is also known for its civil rights legacy, which you can explore at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Chattanooga is a scenic city on the banks of the Tennessee River that offers a mix of natural beauty and urban charm. You can take a ride on the Incline Railway to the top of Lookout Mountain, where you can enjoy spectacular views of the city and visit attractions like Ruby Falls (a 145-foot underground waterfall), Rock City (a garden with rock formations and trails), and Point Park (a Civil War battlefield site). You can also visit the Tennessee Aquarium, one of the largest freshwater aquariums in the world, or explore the Creative Discovery Museum, a hands-on museum for kids. For some outdoor fun, you can bike or walk along the Riverwalk, a 13-mile path that connects parks, restaurants, and landmarks.
Cookeville is a small city in central Tennessee that boasts a rich history and culture. You can visit historic sites like Cookeville Depot Museum (a restored railroad station), Cookeville History Museum (a museum that showcases local artifacts and exhibits), and Cookeville Performing Arts Center (a theater that hosts live shows and events). You can also enjoy some shopping and dining at Cookeville’s downtown square,