5 Places to See on a Tennessee Road Trip

Rock a Little Travel

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If you're looking for a unique road trip destination this summer with lots of history, big cities, and a few outdoor opportunities, look no further than a Tennessee road trip.

Tennessee has a little something for everybody including national parks, great food, and a ton of interesting history to go along with it.

If you've never been to Tennessee before, I think you're in for a really good time. Let's get started.

1. Memphis

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Music lovers are going to love spending time in Memphis. The city is home to the famous Beale Street, which hosted many of the most famous Blues musicians of all time from the 1920s to 1940s.

Today, the Beale Street Entertainment District is home to dozens of live music venues, bars, and restaurants.

Music fans will also know that Memphis is home to the infamous Graceland mansion, the former home of music icon Elvis Presley. If you plan to visit Graceland during your visit to Memphis, you definitely want to purchase your entrance and tour tickets in advance at their website prior to your arrival.

Besides the city's rich music history, the city also played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement. It was here that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel. The former site of the Lorraine Motel is now the National Civil Rights Museum.

If all that wasn't enough to convince you to visit Memphis, then how about Memphis style barbecue. The city is known for its barbecue and you'll find excellent barbecue spots all around the city. Ask a local for their recommendations.

2. Nashville

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Nashville is located near the center of Tennessee and is famous for its country music scene. Music fans will love stopping into the various bars and clubs lining Broadway, including the famous Bluebird Cafe.

First time visitors will also want to stop into the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame. Live events have returned to the Opry so you can visit their website for to see the events calendar and purchase tickets.

In addition the city's music scene, Nashville also has an incredible food and restaurant scene. Check out Husk or Butcher and Bee, then ask a local for their favorite spots.

3. Great Smoky Mountains

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in eastern Tennessee about an hour south of Knoxville. The park is a popular destination in the fall months when the leaves turn to bright oranges, yellows, and reds.

The park is also a good place for spotting wildlife as the park is a habitat for a large population of black bears.

Popular activities in the park include hiking, nature walks, biking, and camping.

4. Gatlinburg

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Gatlinburg, Tennessee sits just outside the gates of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is located about three hours and thirty minutes east of Nashville.

While most visitors to Gatlinburg come to visit the park, there are other activities available in Gatlinburg itself.

First time visitors will want to visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle and Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway, both of which offer incredible views of Gatlinburg and the surrounding Smoky Mountains.

If you're a Dolly Parton fan (who isn't?), then you also want to stop by Dollywood, located just 20 minutes north of Gatlinburg in Pegeon Forge. Get tickets in advance at their website.

5. Knoxville

Photo by Nathan Anderson

Knoxville is located about 2 hours and 45 minutes east of Nashville and while not as popular as the other destinations on this itinerary, it still deserves a visit.

Knoxville's biggest attraction is the city's Sunsphere, which is a large 266 foot tall tower built for the 1982 World's Fair. The Sunsphere now contains an observation deck and has become a popular tourist attraction.

While the Sunsphere is currently closed due to pandemic restrictions, it will hopefully reopen later this summer. Be sure to check their website for the most up to date information before your visit.

First time visitors will also want to spend time in Market Square in the downtown area. This is where you'll find many of the city's best restaurants, bars, and local shops.

The Tennessee River also runs through downtown where you can enjoy kayaing or canoeing.

I hope you've enjoyed this guide to 5 places to see on a Tennessee road trip and that I've inspired you to plan a trip of your own. If you enjoyed this article please consider giving me a follow for more local travel guides such as this one. As always, thanks for reading.

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