Between the foothills of the Smokies in the East and the big bends of Mississippi River in the West, Tennessee is famous for whiskey, barbeque, and rockabilly and blues music. Experience the allure of culture and grandeur of history in ‘The Volunteer State.’ Be it Confederacy or Civil Rights Movement, Tennessee – a state of many facets – is where it all began and infiltrated through the world. Tune up to the rhythms of Tennessee — a state that nurtured the spirit of America.
Places to Visit in Tennessee
Elvis Presley’s Graceland – It is a former home of ‘The King’ who ruled the music when every beatnik “was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock.” Take a self-guided platinum tour which lasts for nearly three hours or see photographs, costumes, cars, awards, and memorabilia that celebrate the life of Elvis – the artist who legitimized rock and roll. Elvis fans like to check into the Heartbreak Hotel near this mansion and “cry away their gloom.”
Dollywood – Located in Pigeon Forge, it’s a theme park named after the country singer Dolly Parton. Covering an area of 150 acres, it features 40 thrilling roller coasters, entertaining water rides, and restaurants. Inside, a craft village demonstrates the traditional crafts of glass making, wood carving, and blacksmithing. Showstreet, Jukebox Junction, The Country Fair, and Wilderness Pass are main attractions here.
Museums – National Civil Rights Museum chronicles the historic Civil Rights Movement in the United States. It is built around the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. While American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge allows an insight into the history of nuclear energy, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibits the largest repository of country music artifacts in the world.
Creative Discovery Museum, Museum of Appalachia, STAX museum, Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, Hunter Museum of American Art are other notable places to ponder on when you are in Tennessee.
Parthenon – Built in 1897, a full-size replica of the ancient Greek temple in Athens stands proudly as the centerpiece of Centennial Park in the state capital, Nashville. It houses a beautiful statue of the Greek goddess Athena and American art galleries. No two columns have the same size, nor the columns are placed at the same distance apart.
Aquariums – Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies showcases marine animals from around the world, live shows, hands-on exhibits, and a 5D Theater. The Titanic Museum and WonderWorks – a indoor amusement park – in Pigeon Forge boggle the minds of children and adults alike. Housing 12,000 animals of almost 800 species, Tennessee Aquarium on the banks of Tennessee River in Chattanooga is the largest freshwater aquarium in the world.
Zoos – More than 3,500 animals call Memphis Zoo their home. This 76-acre zoo is often ranked among the best in the US. Operating seasonally, a tram ride provides guided tours of different exhibits such as Once Upon A Farm, Animals of the Night, Cat Country, and Northwest Passage. Furthermore, Nashville Zoo displays a wide array of animals like tigers, kangaroos, giraffes, alligators, and birds.
Craighead Caverns, Adventure Science Center, Tennessee State Capitol, and Downtown Presbyterian Church are other famous tourist attractions in Tennessee.
Things to Do in Tennessee
For those who crave tunes of down-home blues music with like-mama-used-to-make cuisine and sips of oak-barrel-aged whiskey, Tennessee knows how to fuel it.
Live Music – If places had soundtracks, Tennessee’s would be like no others. From the lively honky tonks of Broadway to the symphony halls, there are more live music shows in Memphis (Home of the Blues) and Nashville (Music City) than anywhere else. After all, singers like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison took their last breath around here. From bluesy rhythms around Mississippi to the folk songs of Tri-cities (Kingsport, Johnson City, and Bristol), Tennessee’s music is America’s soundtrack.
And perchance, you’re wondering “how I got to Memphis?”, in the heart of downtown with several nightclubs and blues bars, the Beale Street is the mecca of music. Hear soul-saving and foot-tapping music in B.B. King’s Blues Club, Minglewood Hall, and Levitt Shell. While in Nashville, live music venues like Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry frequently host local musicians and national acts.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Not Yosemite, Grand Canyon, or Death Valley but it is the most visited national park in the US. With a wondrous diversity of flora and fauna, it’s a splendor spread across 521,454 acres with up to 800 miles of hiking and riding trails. Recreational activities like hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and zorbing are on offer. Conquer the Appalachian Trail, drive along mist-shrouded mountains and hidden waterfalls, and explore rural countryside for the vestiges of Appalachian traditions of simpler times.
Kayaking and rafting in Cherokee National Forest and birding in Frozen Head State Park delight the outdoor enthusiasts.
Road Trips – Travel the highways and byways like the Cherohala Skyway that winds through evergreen forests near Tellico Plains and the Great River Road along the meandering Mississippi river. Natchez Trace Parkway is a two-lane parkway road extending from Natchez to Nashville. Quaint historical towns like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg offer cabin rentals, shopping excursions, and seasonal events. Pull over in Jonesborough, Hendersonville, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, and Jackson for tons of southern charm and shop for souvenirs only “made in Tennessee.”
Near Chattanooga, trek the Lookout Mountain, a vantage point that allows spectacular views of 44-m-tall Ruby Falls or return with a train ride from the mountain to the valley below.
Festivals – Most festivities in the state focus on music and cuisine. Here are some events: Dogwood Arts Festival Knoxville, May International Festival, Bonnaroo Music Festival, CMA Music Festival, Riverbend Festival, Elvis Week, and National Storytelling Festival.
Following are the major airports in Tennessee –
Memphis International Airport (MEM)
Nashville International Airport (BNA)
McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS)
Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (CHA)
It is a landlocked state in the upper southeastern United States. The state borders North Carolina to the East, Kentucky and Virginia to the North, Arkansas and Missouri to the West, and Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to the South. It is bounded by the Great Appalachian Valley and the Mississippi River in east and west respectively.
How to Reach?
By Air – Memphis International Airport in western Tennessee and Nashville International Airport in central Tennessee are two international gateways to the state.
By Train – City of New Orleans, an Amtrak passenger train between Illinois and Louisiana, has two stops in the state: Newbern Depot and Memphis Central Station. The Music City Star is a commuter rail network that serves Nashville. MATA Trolley, a heritage streetcar transit system, has three operating routes in Memphis.
By Road – Interstate Highways (I-40, I-24, I-75, and I-65) and U.S. Highways (US 64, US 70, and US 41) traverse the state. Moreover, SR 1, SR 2, and SR 76 are major state routes in Tennessee.
Facts about Tennessee
It was the 16th state to enter the union on June 1, 1796.
The old Yuchi Indian word ‘Tana-see’ evolved as Tennessee which means “The Meeting Place.”
Davy Crockett, Morgan Freeman, Quentin Tarantino, Aretha Franklin, Carl Perkins, and Myles Horton are some of the famous Tennesseans.
Distilled in Lynchburg, Jack Daniel’s is the most selling American whiskey in the world.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
The state has over 3,800 documented caves.
The Lost Sea in Sweetwater is the largest underground lake in the US.
Bristol is reputed as “The Birthplace of Country Music.”