From music lovers to history buffs and outdoors enthusiasts, Tennessee’s appeal hits all sorts of travelers, thanks to its incredible diversity of attractions. It’s home to vibrant cities, charming towns, ritzy live venues, historical landmarks, and jaw-dropping natural spots, worthy of being added to your travel wishlist.
Adding the deep-rooted culture and the southern hospitality, the Volunteer is simply one of the most exciting and unique American states you can visit. To get you started, we’ve listed the top places you should visit in Tennessee, each of which is bound to provide you an unforgettable experience and take your breath away.
No other state in the United States can match the rich musical heritage Tennessee possesses. Attesting to that is Nashville, one of the key places on the ascent of country music in the world. Discover its history by visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Johnny Cash Museum, and Willie Nelson Museum.
Afterward, you watch a live radio music program broadcast at the Grand Ole Opry or see celebrated musicians perform at the iconic Ryman Auditorium and Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Of course, don’t miss checking out the city’s renowned Music Row, lined with glitzy live music venues and other music-related points.
With chic boutiques, cozy coffee shops, vibrant bars, fantastic dining scene, Nashville transcends its famous designation as “Music City.” Many old buildings, heritage trails, riverfront parks, and arts centers also dot the state, just waiting for you to explore. With such many different sides, it’s no wonder that Nashville is now a mecca of commerce and culture in the region, serving as another reason for you to visit this beautiful city.
Cummins Falls State Park
Named after the scenic waterfall in its core, Cummins Falls State Park is a picturesque and pristine 282-acre day-use park situated nine miles northwest of Cookeville in Jackson County. Its unequivocal striking feature is Cummin Falls itself, the eighth largest waterfall in the state. Waters plunge from a height of 75 feet on a rugged landscape that looks like a royal staircase, resulting in majestic swimming holes.
After taking a dip in its refreshing waters, you can have a picnic with your family while enjoying the breathtaking scenery. Wild and untouched, it’s also an excellent hiking spot that will allow you to navigate beautiful rivers, streams, boulders, and the spectacular surrounding forest.
Situated along the Mississippi River, Memphis is another music-centered city in Tennessee. While Nashville is famed for its country music, Memphis is the home of blues. It has been instrumental in developing the blues and other genres, such as soul and rock ‘n roll, with artists like Ottis Redding, Al Green, and Elvis Presley recording their songs here and getting their big breaks.
To best experience the city’s music influence, head on Beale Street, which is brimmed with incredible live music venues, and blues clubs, such as the Blues City Cafe, Blues Hall Juke Joint, and the B.B. King’s Blues Club. Other famous music-related attractions include the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum, Sun Studio, and Graceland, which let you delve deeper into Memphis’s musical heritage.
If you’re a history buff, get a glimpse of the past by visiting the Victorian Village, Cotton Museum, and National Civil Rights Museum. Are you looking for excellent outdoor spots instead? Don’t fret! There’s the Shelby Farms Park, Memphis Botanical Garden, and Overton Park, where you can spend hours of fun and relaxation with your family.
Dollywood is a 150-acre amusement park in Pigeon Forge, named after the famous country singer Dolly Parton. Opened in 1961, it has long been one of Tennessee’s popular destinations, enticing over three million visitors annually.
Perfect for families, the site has over 50 rides and attractions scattered across the ten themed areas in the park, such as the Jukebox Junction, Craftsman Valley, and the Wildness Pass, which all offer a uniquely thrilling experience.
Apart from the nine exciting roller coasters, another highlight of this always-busy theme park is the Dollywood Express. It’s a 20-minute mountain journey on an old steam railway circling the park, which provides some of the most fantastic views of the alluring Great Smoky Mountains.
Enlivening Tennessee’s diversity, Chattanooga hosts a chock-full of historical, natural, artsy, and urban attractions. Start off by immersing yourself in nature by taking a trip to the massive Lookout Mountain Cave and one-of-a-kind Ruby Falls, the country’s largest waterfall. To learn more about history and arts, pay a visit to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Hunter Museum of American Art, and the Creative Discovery Museum.
Kid-friendly attractions also dot the city. They will surely enjoy at the Chattanooga Zoo, Tennessee Riverpark, and at the Tennessee Aquarium, the largest freshwater aquarium in the world, all within the city limits. Finish your day by exploring downtown on foot and find some delectable restaurants and breweries to satisfy your cravings.
Knoxville, the Volunteer State’s third-largest city, offers a beautiful blend of urban amenities and outdoor recreation spots. Boasting an emerging food scene, it has a trove of great restaurants, bars, and breweries, ideal if you’re into food and drink. For a dose of nature, head to Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, a 1000-acre forested land that offers great outdoor activities, such as swimming, hiking, and ziplining.
Additional must-sees include the Museum of East Tennessee History, the Knoxville Zoo, Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Neyland Stadium, and the University of Tennessee. Be sure to stay up late to witness the thrilling nightlife scene or enjoy the wide array of music shows, cultural events, and art festivals that happen in this gorgeous Appalachian city throughout the year.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Drawing over 12 million tourists each year, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the country’s most-visited national park, eclipsing the more familiar Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.
It’s among Tennessee’s best hiking and backpacking spots, offering over 900 miles of trails through the beautiful dense forests, spectacular mountain ranges, wildflower meadows, and teeming wildlife. Check out the dramatic fog-enveloped peaks where the impressive mountains derive their name.
The best time to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park is from spring to fall. Winter won’t disappoint, though, as it has its own bevy of attractions. Must-sees include Arch Rock, Alum Cave, and Cades Coves, all fascinating natural wonders that will leave you in awe.
Situated within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the area and the entire state at an impressive height of 6,643 feet. You can literally look down at the Volunteer State from this observation tower while being surrounded by the magnificent evergreen forest, hills, and valleys that make up the area. On clear days, 360° views can expand more than 100 miles into seven states.
Nestling at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance, Gatlinburg is one of the most visited mountain resort towns in the country, let alone Tennessee. It’s the perfect base for outdoor enthusiasts, as it’s close to numerous hiking trails, ski slopes, and parks, promising a great vacation.
Take the downtown Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway to Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park to get the best panoramas. You can reach the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needed, which offers 360° awe-inspiring views of the Smokies and Gatlinburg.
Other attractions include the Gatlinburg Arts Community, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Guinness World Records Museum, and Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster. There’s simply no shortage of amazing sights to unravel in this city. So what are you waiting for? Schedule your book now at Gatlinburg Tennessee vacation packages and invite your families and friends then have fun!
Despite being the fifth-largest city in the state, Clarksville’s appeal lies in its ability to keep its old-small-town feel. You can see it evidently in the Historic Downtown Clarksville, where buildings from the 1870s, the iconic Roxy Regional Theatre, and Customs House Museum and Cultural Center stand. Other historical landmarks you must see include the Fort Defiance Park & Interpretive Center, Smith-Trahern Mansion, and the Historic Collinsville, a mid-19th-century settlement just a 30-minute drive from the city.
Of course, Clarksville has its own plethora of outdoor spots, ideal for strolling, walking, and cycling, such as the Liberty Park & Clarksville Marina, Clarksville Greenway. Dunbar Cave State Park is for more adventurous travelers, where you can take a ranger-led torchlit visit to the Dunbar Cave.
Fall Creek Falls State Park
Fall Creek Falls State Park ranks among the most visited state parks in Tennessee. Covering more than 29,800 acres, it is laced by gorges, waterfalls, streams, and gorgeous hardwood timber forests, inviting many nature lovers from across the globe. Its main draw is the 256-foot Fall Creek Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls east of Mississippi. You’ll literally fall in love with its astonishing beauty.
Being conveniently located near Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville, and the Tri-Cities of Tennessee, this oasis serves as a perfect short day or weekend trip. And, boasting an incredible array of family-friendly attractions, such as playgrounds, ropes courses, golf courses, and swimming holes, as well as offering great opportunities for biking, boating, and fishing – there are endless ways to enjoy this scenic wonderland.
Just a 25-minute drive south of Nashville, you’ll reach the small city of Franklin in Williamson County. It’s another haven for history lovers as it’s the setting of the bloodiest battle during the Civil War. Historic and gracious landmarks like the Lotz House Museum, Carter House, and the Carnton Plantation attract thousands of visitors annually.
If you take a break, you can have a picnic at Timberland Park or watch a concert at the Franklin Theatre. Otherwise, you can take a trip to Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile scenic, and recreational drive, which also offers plenty of biking, horseback riding, hiking, and camping opportunities along its track.
Most popularly known as the home to Dollywood, Pigeon Forge has so much to offer. Situated just 15 minutes away from Gatlinburg, it’s a fun and friendly mountain resort town brimmed with shopping malls, souvenir shops, and theaters for the whole family to enjoy.
Besides its famed theme park, other attractions include the Outdoor Gravity Park, Hollywood Wax Museum, WonderWorks, and the Titanic Pigeon Forge Museum. Its relative proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park makes it a unique, alternative gateway to the Smokies.
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, popularly and simply known as The Hermitage, is a 1,000+ property owned by United States’ 7th President, Andrew Jackson. It served as his residence from 1804 until his death in 1845, as well as his final resting place. Located nearly a half-hour drive from downtown Nashville, the site is now a historical and tranquil plantation and museum.
You can join the guided tour of the majestic mansion and get access to the vast expanse of gardens, grounds, and farmlands. If you’re not up for exploring its entirety by foot, don’t worry, as there are horse-drawn group tours you can take instead to see the beauty of the place.
Rock Island State Park
Situated on Center Hill Lake’s headwaters, Rock Island State Park is an 883-acre site, renowned for its spectacular natural sceneries, comprising lakes, pools, beaches, waterfalls, and gorges. One of its best features is the Twin Falls, a picturesque cascading waterfall that plunges from an underground cavern and spills to the state park’s Caney Fork.
Several trails can be found in the area, delighting hiking enthusiasts. Family-friendly activities are also available, from picnicking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, and outdoor sports. There are 60 campsites in the area, so stay for the weekend to fully enjoy this paradise.
That’s the rundown of the top places to visit in Tennessee. With its diverse offerings of impressive landscapes and sceneries, historical landmarks, music-related points of interest, and other attractions to inspire any traveler, it’s indeed a state well worth a trip around.