When it comes to things to do in Tennessee, the options are endless. From spending time in the great outdoors to checking out some of the state’s amazing historical sites, there’s something for everyone in Tennessee.
If you’re looking for a fun road trip destination, this is the place for you! Below are just a few of the many things you can do in Tennessee.
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in the eastern United States, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The park is managed by the National Park Service and is the most-visited national park in the country.
This park straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountains. The park features more than 800 miles (1,287 km) of trails and numerous waterfalls, including the tallest waterfall in the eastern United States, Smoky Mountain Falls. The park also contains the remnants of ancient mountain ranges and a variety of ecosystems, including grasslands, wetlands, and forests.
Cades Cove is a valley located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The valley was settled by Europeans in the early 1800s and contains many historical structures and buildings from that era.
The cove is now a popular tourist destination, with over two million visitors per year. Visitors can drive through the 11-mile loop road or hike some of the many trails that lead from the cove. The valley is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, black bears, and turkey.
At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The mountain is named for Thomas Lanier Clingman, a Confederate general and United States Senator from North Carolina.
A paved road leads to the summit, where there is a visitor center and observation deck. The summit is often covered in clouds, but on clear days there are spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
The Clingmans Dome area is also home to a variety of plants and animals, including black bears, deer, and wild turkey. There are several hiking trails in the area, including the summit trail, which is a steep half-mile climb. The Appalachian Trail also passes near Clingmans Dome.
CHIMNEY TOPS HIKE
The Chimney Tops Trail is a moderate hike that takes you to the summit of Chimney Tops in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hike is 4.4 miles long and has an elevation gain of 1,400 feet.
The hike is part of the Appalachian Trail and begins at the Grotto Falls Parking Area. The hike is not for beginners, as it is a strenuous hike with steep climbs. The views from the summit are worth the effort, as you can see for miles in all directions.
Memphis is located in southwestern Tennessee and is the largest city in the state. It was founded on the Mississippi River in 1819, and today has a population of over 650,000 people. Memphis is known for its music scene, which helped to launch the careers of Elvis Presley, B.B. King, and others.
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Graceland is a mansion located in Memphis that was once owned by Elvis Presley. It is now a popular tourist destination and museum.
Elvis lived in Graceland from 1957 until his death in 1977. The mansion was opened to the public as a museum in 1982. Graceland has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Details: Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116 | Website
Beale Street is a street in Memphis known for its nightlife, blues clubs, and history.
Sun Studio is a recording studio on Beale Street that played an important role in the development of rock and roll music. It was where many early rock and roll and blues recordings were made. Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison all recorded music at Sun Studio.
Beale Street is also the location of the National Civil Rights Museum, which commemorates the history of the American Civil Rights Movement.
Details: 203 Beale Street, Suite 300, Memphis, TN 38103 | Website
NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM
The National Civil Rights Museum documents the American Civil Rights Movement. The museum is built on the site of the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
The museum contains two floors of exhibits, which chronicle the history of the Civil Rights Movement from the end of Reconstruction to the present. The museum also contains an auditorium, a restaurant, and a gift shop.
Details: 450 Mulberry St, Memphis, TN 38103 | Website
The Peabody Hotel’s rectangular buildings easily stand out from the other small buildings in downtown Memphis. As you drive by downtown, the building is very easy to see, especially with the massive Peabody written on its side. The hotel offers incredible luxury, with each room coming with premium bedspreads and sheets.
The best part about the hotel is easily the Peabody Ducks, a team of the hotel’s ducks that waddle through the main lobby once a day. This attraction is a must-watch, as these ducks look like they are walking on the red carpet.
Details: 149 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103 | Website
The Memphis Zoo is home to more than 3,500 animals representing 500 different species. The zoo is open every day except Christmas Day. It was founded in 1906 as the city’s first public park.
The Memphis Zoo has been ranked one of the top zoos in the country by several publications, including Travel + Leisure and Parent magazine.
Some of the zoo’s most popular exhibits include the Primate Hall, the Cat Country exhibit, and the Zambezi River Hippo Camp. The Memphis Zoo is also home to a variety of educational programs for visitors of all ages.
Details: 2000 Prentiss Pl, Memphis, TN 38112 | Website
DISCOVERY PARK OF AMERICA
Discovery Park of America is a 510-acre museum, nature park, and agricultural attraction located in Union County, Tennessee, about 2 hours north of Memphis.
The park features a variety of attractions, including an amusement park, a zoo, a botanical garden, and more than 100,000 square feet of museum space.
Details: 830 Everett Blvd, Union City, TN 38261 | Website
Nashville is both the capital and most populous city of Tennessee. It is located on the Cumberland River in the north-central part of the state.
Nashville is the state’s center for the music, healthcare, publishing, banking, and transportation industries and is home to numerous colleges and universities. It is also known for its famous music scene, with many country music and rockabilly clubs.
Read More: 35 Best Things To Do In Nashville With Kids On Your Next Vacation
GRAND OLE OPRY
The Grand Ole Opry is a live music venue and museum. It’s the longest-running radio show in U.S. history and has been staging country music shows since 1925.
Visitors can take guided tours of the historic building and see memorabilia from some of country music’s biggest stars. There’s also a shop and cafe on site. Live music is performed every night, and tickets are available for shows ranging from traditional country to gospel and bluegrass.
Details: 2804 Opryland Dr., Nashville, TN 37214 | Website
Read More: Visiting The Famous Grand Ole Opry Hotel and Concert Hall With Kids
COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is located in downtown Nashville. It is dedicated to the history and preservation of country music.
It features exhibits on the history of country music, including displays of instruments, costumes, and memorabilia. The museum also offers educational programs for school groups and adults.
Details: 222 Rep. John Lewis Way S, Nashville, TN 37203 | Website
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Designed by architect C.W. Davison and completed in October of 1904, the Ryman Auditorium was originally the Union Gospel Tabernacle. The building served as the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974 and is now a National Historic Landmark.
The Ryman Auditorium is renowned for its acoustic quality, which is due in part to the building’s construction materials and design. The auditorium has a vaulted ceiling and hardwood floors, which help to reflect sound throughout the space. Additionally, the seats are arranged in amphitheater-style tiers, with no obstructions between the stage and the audience.
Today, the Ryman Auditorium is a popular concert and event venue, hosting performers such as The Avett Brothers, Willie Nelson, and Jack White. The auditorium also plays host to a variety of special events, including the CMA Awards and the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards.
Details: 116 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219 | Website
The Hermitage is a historical presidential museum and site. The Hermitage allows visitors to walk through President Andrew Jackson’s life and home, a beautiful historic farm and is an important piece of American history.
The museum has won awards for its exhibit on Andrew Jackson and is rated one of the best presidential sites in the nation by USA TODAY. They offer virtual visits as well, with mansion tours and behind-the-glass discussions.
Details: 4580 Rachels Ln, Hermitage, TN 37076 | Website
BELLE MEADE HISTORIC SITE & WINERY
Belle Meade Mansion is a historic mansion that was home to the prominent Harding family. The Belle Meade Plantation was a working plantation that produced thoroughbred horses and other livestock.
It is now a historic site open to the public, with a winery on the grounds.
Details: 5025 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205 | Website
Centennial Park is home to the Nashville Parthenon, a full-sized replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece.
The Parthenon was built as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897 and has been a popular tourist attraction ever since. The structure is made from limestone and features beautiful hand-carved details. Inside, you’ll find a large statue of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.
Details: 2500 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203 | Website
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Located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge is a picturesque town that offers something for everyone.
Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking and biking trails, fishing in the river, and exploring the majestic mountains. Families will love spending time at Dollywood, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and The Island in Pigeon Forge. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants to enjoy in the town.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway or an exciting adventure, Pigeon Forge is the perfect destination.
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Dolly Parton is known as one of the most successful female country singers of all time. She has achieved success in music, film, business, and philanthropy. Dolly Parton is also the founder of Dollywood, a theme park located in Pigeon Forge.
Dollywood is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Tennessee, and it offers a variety of rides, shows, and attractions.
Dolly Parton has said that her goal in creating Dollywood was to create jobs and bring economic development to the area. Dollywood employs over 3,000 people, and it generates more than $500 million in annual tourism revenue for Tennessee.
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THE ISLAND IN PIGEON FORGE
The Island in Pigeon Forge is a popular tourist destination in eastern Tennessee and is an amazing entertainment district.
Located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, The Island in Pigeon Forge is 23 acres of fun. With more than 80 shops, restaurants, and attractions — you can find something for everyone in your group here.
Take a ride on the 200-foot Observation Wheel, and then catch the Island Show Fountains — which perform light and music shows year-round.
The Island in Pigeon Forge area is open year-round and has free parking.
Details: 131 The Island Dr., Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 | Website
The Titanic Museum houses many artifacts from the wreckage of the RMS Titanic, including a section of the hull and numerous pieces of furniture and equipment.
The museum also features exhibits on the history of the Titanic, her sinking, and the subsequent disaster investigation. The museum has attracted over 2 million visitors since it opened in 2010.
Details: 2134 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 | Website
Chattanooga is a city located in southeastern Tennessee. It is the fourth-largest city in the state, with a population of approximately 176,000 people. The city is known for its scenic mountain backdrop and riverfront location.
Chattanooga has a rich history dating back to the early 1800s and is home to a variety of cultural attractions.
Read More: 22 AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE
The Tennessee Aquarium is the largest freshwater aquarium in the United States.
The Tennessee Aquarium contains more than 10,000 fish and other aquatic animals from more than 500 different species. Some of the aquarium’s most popular exhibits include the Ocean Journey, River Journey, Tennessee Wing of the aquarium, and the IMAX theater.
Details: 1 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 37402 | Website
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CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO
The Chattanooga Choo Choo is a historic train depot and tourist attraction in Chattanooga. The original depot was built in 1858 by the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. The current structure was built in 1914 and is a designated National Historic Landmark.
The Chattanooga Choo Choo features a hotel, restaurants, shops, and exhibits on the history of railroads. The train station is also home to the Southern Belle, a historic luxury train car. The Chattanooga Choo Choo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tennessee.
TENNESSEE VALLEY RAILROAD
The Tennessee Valley Railroad (TVRR) is a heritage railroad operating in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area. The railroad began operations in 1982 and operates over 15 miles of trackage, including a 7.5-mile-long line that once served the Alstom Plant in Chattanooga.
The TVRR operates passenger excursions as well as freight service. The railroad is owned by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, which also operates the Southern Railway locomotive No. 630 and other exhibits.
Details: 4119 Cromwell Rd, Chattanooga, TN 37421 | Website
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The Incline Railway is a funicular railway that operates alongside the Tennessee River. The railway consists of two cars that travel up and down a steep hill, carrying passengers between the riverfront and Lookout Mountain.
The railway is open year-round and offers stunning views of the river and mountains.
Details: 3917 St Elmo Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37409 | Website
RUBY FALLS AND ROCK CITY
Looking for some beautiful scenery and amazing photo opportunities? Head to Ruby Falls and Rock City, located on Lookout Mountain. These two attractions offer visitors stunning views and plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.
Ruby Falls is a 145-foot waterfall that is open year-round for visitors to enjoy. The falls are located inside Lookout Mountain and can be accessed through the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. Rock City is a park that is also located on Lookout Mountain and is home to massive rock formations, gardens, and a swinging bridge.
Details: 1720 Scenic Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37409 | Website
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The Caverns are a popular tourist destination located in Lookout Mountain. The caves were discovered by accident in 1812 when workers quarrying limestone for use in the construction of Lookout Mountain spotted a hole in the ground and began exploring it.
The caves are estimated to be around 60 million years old and have been used as a shelter by Native Americans and as a hideout by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.
The Caverns are open to the public year-round and offer guided tours of the caves. There is also a gift shop and cafe on site.
Details: 319 W Hills Dr., Chattanooga, TN 37419 | Website
Knoxville is the third-largest city in Tennessee and the largest city in East Tennessee. The city is home to the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee, whose sports teams, called the “Volunteers” or “Vols,” are extremely popular in the surrounding area.
Knoxville also has a strong economy, with several major corporations headquartered in the city, including Regal Entertainment Group and Pilot Flying J. The city’s tourism industry is also booming, thanks in part to attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium and Dollywood.
Read More: 31 Amazing Things To Do In Knoxville That You’ve Got To Try | TOP 8 FUN THINGS TO DO IN KNOXVILLE WITH KIDS
LOST SEA ADVENTURE
If you’re looking for an adventure, and want to explore some of the area’s rich history, then a Lost Sea Adventure is just what you need! These boat tours will take you back in time and teach you about some of the most important moments in Knoxville’s past.
You’ll get to see all sorts of sights, from the Tennessee River to the Old City, and you’ll even get to explore some of the area’s caves.
Details: 140 Lost Sea Rd, Sweetwater, TN 37874 | Website
MUSEUM OF APPALACHIA
Opened in 1984, the Museum of Appalachia is a Knoxville institution dedicated to the history and culture of the Appalachian region. The museum features permanent and rotating exhibitions on topics such as traditional crafts, music, and farming, as well as interactive displays that allow visitors to experience life in Appalachia firsthand.
In addition to its galleries, the Museum of Appalachia also operates a research library, gift shop, and cafe.
Details: 2819 Andersonville Hwy, Clinton, TN 37716 | Website
HISTORIC BRUSHY MOUNTAIN STATE PENITENTIARY
Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, the Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary is a former prison that is now open to the public as a museum. The prison was in operation from 1896 until 2009, and during that time, it housed some of the most notorious criminals in Tennessee history.
Today, visitors can explore cell blocks, watch prison documentaries, and learn about the history of crime and punishment in the United States.
Details: 9182 TN-116, Petros, TN 37845 | Website
Market Square is a historic public square located in downtown Knoxville. The square dates back to the city’s early days as an important commercial center.
Now, it’s home to entertainment, dining, shopping, festivals, and more.
IJAMS NATURE CENTER
IJAMS Nature Center is a 300-acre nature preserve. The center offers environmental education programs for school groups and the general public, as well as recreational activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, and canoeing.
Details: 2915 Island Home Ave, Knoxville, TN 37920 | Website
WORLD’S FAIR PARK AND SUNSPHERE
Completed in 1982, World’s Fair Park is a 96-acre park located in downtown Knoxville.
The centerpiece of the park is the Sunsphere, a 266-foot tall steel tower that was built for the 1982 World’s Fair. The Sunsphere offers visitors views of Knoxville from its observation deck and also houses a gift shop and restaurant.
World’s Fair Park also features a variety of sculptures and other art, as well as a lake and walking trails. The park is a popular spot for concerts, festivals, and other events.
Details: 810 Clinch Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902 | Website
MCCLUNG MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY & CULTURE
The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture is affiliated with the University of Tennessee. The museum’s collections focus on the natural and cultural history of East Tennessee, but it also has collections on Native American culture, archaeology, and earth sciences.
The McClung Museum was founded in 1948 as the Museum of the University of Tennessee. It was renamed in honor of Governor John Sevier McClung in 1990.
Details: 1327 Circle Park, Knoxville, TN 37996 | Website
Gatlinburg is a mountain town located in eastern Tennessee. The town is known for its scenic views, its entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and its many tourist attractions. Gatlinburg is a popular destination for vacationers and offers a wide variety of activities and attractions, including hiking, fishing, skiing, tubing, and golfing.
Read More: 31+ Essential Things to Do in Gatlinburg TN for Family Fun | 29 Delicious Gatlinburg Restaurants & Foodie Treats Our Family Devoured
Ober Gatlinburg is a resort in Gatlinburg, TN, featuring skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. There is also an amusement park on the premises with various rides and attractions.
In addition, Ober Gatlinburg is open year-round, making it an excellent destination for tourists any time of the year.
Details: 1339 Ski Mountain Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 | Website
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Anakeesta is a mountain about 1600 feet high and has wonderful views of the Smoky Mountains. Visitors can hike to the top or take the Chondola (a combination gondola and chairlift) to the summit. There is also a playground, restaurant, and other shops at the top.
Anakeesta is a short drive from Gatlinburg and is open from late spring to early fall.
Details: 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 | Website
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Skylift Park is a great place for visitors of all ages to visit. It features a chairlift ride that takes visitors up to the top of Crockett Mountain, where they can enjoy beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains.
There is also a playground, hiking trails, and picnic areas at the park. Visitors can purchase food and drinks at the park’s concession stand.
Details: 765 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 | Website
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TENNESSEE WHISKEY TRAIL
The Tennessee Whiskey Trail is a scenic route that takes visitors to some of the most famous whiskey distilleries in the state. The trail starts in Nashville and winds its way through the rolling hills and backcountry roads of Middle Tennessee, ending in Chattanooga.
Along the way, visitors can visit distilleries like Jack Daniel’s, George Dickel, and Prichard’s.
Details: Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203 | Website
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO TENNESSEE
- WATER PARKS IN TENNESSEE: 7+ Water Parks In Tennessee Your Family Needs To Visit Now
- CHATTANOOGA: 22 Amazing Things To Do In Chattanooga, Tennessee
- BEST THINGS IN GATLINBURG: 31+ Essential Things To Do In Gatlinburg, TN for Family Fun
- AMAZING THINGS IN KNOXVILLE: 31 Amazing Things To Do In Knoxville That You’ve Got To Try
- MEMPHIS: 34 Amazing Things To Do In Memphis You’ll Love
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