Who doesn’t love a memorable excursion via land travel to The Volunteer State? Planning your Tennessee road trip can be fun-packed, especially if you’re excited about all things music and nature. Whether you’re going alone, with friends, or family, you will definitely have a lot of adventures along the way and create photo-worthy experiences to be kept for a lifetime. We have compiled top Tennessee road trip destinations to make it easier for you to plan your next vacation.
Docking a couple of days of the year to explore Tennessee on a ride can be quite the escapade for you. Before you start arranging your schedule, you might want to check out these awesome attractions in the state that you should see and visit while you’re in the vicinity. Let’s see where the country roads could take you!
We have volunteered to speed up your planning of the road trip to the Volunteer State; Check out the slides below!
- 1 Nashville: World’s Country Music Capital
- 2 Graceland: Tennessee’s Elvis Legacy
- 3 Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Trails, Falls & More
- 4 Big South Fork: Cacophony of outdoor activities
- 5 Knoxville: College Football town
- 6 Cherohala Skyway: 2 Iconic National Parks
- 7 Antebellum Trail: Ghost Tour, Cemetery Tour, Civil War History
- 8 Memphis: Legendary city along the Mississippi River
Nashville: World’s Country Music Capital
Can you really be in Tennessee and not say hello to Nashville? The capital is a fitting road trip attractions because it opens a world of discovery to what the state represents. It’s praised as the World’s Country Music Capital, producing some of music’s greatest such as Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and Tina Turner, just to name a very few. The influence of country music is alive in Nashville, and you’ll see it when you stop by the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
More than the music, the city has more to offer in terms of shopping and food. You can take a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour, getting a clearer picture of the city thanks to a local guide offering expert commentaries. Visit the Gulch, where the hip meets industrial, providing a great mix of boutique shopping, exquisite food, and amazing murals that serves as the perfect backdrop to your photos.
The city is also teeming with honky-tonk bars where you can enjoy live music and some drinks if you’re planning to stay the night. If you’re an aspiring musician yourself, head to Bluebird Café on Mondays, and you might just find the mic and the spotlight in your direction.
Graceland: Tennessee’s Elvis Legacy
Drive down to Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis and find the second most visited mansion in the US next to The White House. It’s a 13.8-acre mansion once owned by the world-renowned singer Elvis Presley. This is one of the never to be missed Tennessee road trip destinations. The estate cost more than half a million USD per year, including taxes and maintenance, which made it logical to open the mansion’s doors to the public, which commenced on June 7, 1982. It has hosted over 20 million visitors since 1982, reinforcing the tourism industry in the city.
The museum displays an interactive tour via an iPad hosted by John Stamos. It also has commentaries by the man himself Elvis Presley and his only daughter, Lisa Marie. You’ll find lots of rooms to explore within the mansion, including the Jungle Room and his grand living room. You can also pay respects at the Meditation Garden where his remains lie. The only closed-off room in the entire house is the bathroom upstairs, where Elvis was found on his death day.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Trails, Falls & More
You need to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at least once and find out why it’s the most visited US National Park. It’s consistently at the top the lists for Tennessee getaways, and there’s a reason why. This fun-filled park is perfect for family vacations, with a picturesque view of the Great Smoky Mountains that stands between the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Pigeon Forge, passing through the Tail of the Dragon, is a twisty-turny path that tickles the fancy of sports car enthusiasts and bikers alike. While there, you can hike to Clingmans Dome, which is the tallest viewpoint in the park at 6,643 feet. You can also take the trail to the Grotto Falls, where you can walk behind the waterscape for a different perspective.
Another special attraction in Smoky is the Cades Cove Loop, an eleven-mile circuit where you can bike and enjoy the refreshing scenery around you.
If you love hiking, Tennessee has one of the most challenging hikes in the US, find out more by checking out our dedicated sampling.
Big South Fork: Cacophony of outdoor activities
The last ten thousand years has built the story that is the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. This eastern Tennessee attraction should take a spot in your Tennessee road trip destinations simply because it’s a cacophony of outdoor activities to entertain the family. You can hike up to the Twin Arches or Angel Falls and snap some spectacular photos of the park’s natural wonders. This 125,000-acre park features a forested plateau and rugged gorge filled with lush greeneries.
Several streams run directly to the Cumberland River’s Big South Fork. You and your companions can enjoy many water activities such as canoeing, fishing, swimming, and more. There’s also plenty of wildlife to witness, making this park rich in both flora and fauna.
Knoxville: College Football town
Known popularly as a College Football town, Knoxville has plenty of surprising features that will make you fall in love with it. It’s the third-largest city in Tennessee, boasting a mix of nightlife and outdoor fun. There’s a little slice of something for everyone! For nature lovers, the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center is your best bet. It is run by the Legacy Parks Foundation and offers a wide range of activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, fly fishing, and more.
Another iconic destination in the city is the Knoxville Sunsphere, a 24-karat gold ball tower standing 266 feet tall. There’s an observation point on the fourth floor where you can see a grand 360-degree viewpoint of Knoxville. For a more relaxing time, head to the Market Square Farmers Market and take a stroll while browsing some of the local produce and delicacies.
Cherohala Skyway: 2 Iconic National Parks
Tennessee is a state of many scenic byways, and the Cherohala Skyway is one of them. It’s a 43-mile drive filled with eye-candy sceneries, making it a consistent topper in local and national rankings for the most beautiful byways. It connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee, and Robbinsville, North Carolina. The name references two iconic national parks, the Cherokee National Forest and Nantahala National Forest.
The road will take you to some of the most breathtaking scenes, including hidden streams and lakes, and majestic mountain views. To know more about the area, head to the Cherohala Skyway Visitors Center for some quick course about the history of the site. To interact more with nature, stop by the Indian Boundary Lake and have a round of kayaking, fishing, or swimming, whichever you prefer.
Antebellum Trail: Ghost Tour, Cemetery Tour, Civil War History
If you enjoy self-guided driving tours, the Antebellum Trail is one of the perfect Tennessee road trip destinations for you. It’s a 90-mile loop that features some of the most historic sites. There are about 50 landmarks you can pass by on the way, with the city of Franklin as the starting point. This trail takes you to the heart of the state, giving you the chance to explore at your own pace. Residences along the path are open to visitors daily. You will encompass five communities and eight pretty antebellum plantations and homes, making the journey quite eventful.
If you are a fan of spooks, the Antebellum Trail Ghost Tour takes you to Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage and visits the cemetery by lantern. You can also try the candlelight cemetery tour in the city of Franklin for a different kind of adventure. Otherwise, you can learn about the history of the trail dating back to the Civil War, passing through plantations to battlefields, monuments, and cemeteries.
Memphis: Legendary city along the Mississippi River
If you take the Blue Highway, you’ll find yourself entering Memphis, the legendary city resting along the Mississippi River. It’s best known for its great Delta blues and delicious barbecue, plus a lot of other attractions that can fill your driving tour. For a little historic visit, get to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took place in 1968. You can also see the Sun Studio, where Elvis Presley began his colorful career.
To hear the soulful tunes unique to the state, treat yourself to an evening along the famous Beale Street and hear live blues, jazz, rock, and other unusual sounds that decorate the night. In the morning, have a hearty breakfast at The Arcade Restaurant, an all-American resto established in 1919. It’s a nostalgic dine-in that’s a fitting experience for the city’s oldest café.
You can also stop by the National Civil Rights Museum, where you’ll be feeling moved by the exhibits that showcase the greatness of America and its people. Many visitors say it’s one of the best museums they’ve ever visited, which makes it a worthy stopover for your road trip in Tennessee .
Ready to explore the Tennessee Road Trip Spots?
These were some of the best Tennessee road trip destinations for you. Before you hop on to that dependable car, make sure that it’s good to go on the road. Always check your gauges and fill up your tank to ensure that you can enjoy the scenery with fewer worries. Stuff your essentials on a handy bag, and don’t forget to bring extras because you never know where the Volunteer State roads will take you. Tennessee has so much history, music, food, and culture to experience, and while you’re there, make sure to bask in them all before you call it a day.
I hope you enjoyed our Tennessee road trip destinations. Book your vacation rental now at Rental Trader. For any more information, fill our web form or give us a call, we will be happy to help you.