There’s no place like home. That’s how I feel about it anyway. I love living in Tennessee, and I love it when people come to visit this awesome state. Sure, we have our problems like anywhere else, but in my mind, there aren’t many places better in the US of A.
As a somewhat well-traveled local, I feel like I have enough experience to tell you where you should visit, what you should skip, and what sorts of hidden gems are nestled in between. This is the Officially Unofficial Ultimate Guide to Traveling in Tennessee.
Historically, Tennessee is pretty neat. It was one of the first real frontiers that was explored with the founding of the country, and we have Daniel Boone to thank for much of what we know about today. We’ve produced our fair share of stinkers--cough, Andrew Jackson cough--but we also have Dolly Parton. In fact, I’d say that Dolly’s star outshines AJ’s blight any day. You’re not here for a history lesson, so here’s some travel stuff.
Tennessee is one of the more topographically diverse areas in the entire country. The Smoky Mountains in the east give way to tabletop plateaus in the middle which turn into the plains of the west. In between are rivers, lakes, streams, and some of the neatest cities in our great big union.
When you’re making your way across Tennessee, and it’s a very long state, you’ll have to make some decisions about what to see and what to skip. To keep things simple, I’ll break the big destinations down into three lists for can’t miss, shouldn’t miss, and pass on by.
College Football Game at Neyland - I’m not a Tennessee fan; I went to the University of Georgia. With that being said, games at Neyland are must-see for any sports fan. It has one of the largest seating capacities of any sports stadium in the world. In fact, on game days, it becomes the 5th most populous city in the state!
Hike at Clingman’s Dome - Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in Tennessee, and it’s also the best way to see the world famous Smoky Mountain National Park. Gaze at the lush green mountains while gray clouds snake their way through the valleys. It’s superb!
Tennessee Aquarium (pictured) - One of the best aquariums in the world, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is an awesome daytime destination. Complete with alligators, river monsters, sharks, penguins, and more, you can see animals from all over the world. Don’t skip the butterfly garden!
Music Row in Nashville - Nashville is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, but it’s most famous for one thing: country music. Music Row in Nashville is a collection of bars and music venues that have something going on every single night. If you love music, you can’t miss place.
BBQ in Memphis - I love BBQ. There’s nothing like getting a big rack of ribs, plowing through them, and waiting for the itis take over all of your senses. Memphis is famous for its BBQ, and you should definitely stop by and enjoy some smoked deliciousness.
Camping at Foster Falls - As far as natural beauty is concerned, Foster Falls is one of the best views Tennessee has to offer. Go swimming in the natural swimming pool at the base of this 100 ft. fall, then rough it in a tent at night. You can choose bougie camping in the paid spots, or you can venture out to the primitive spots. I choose primitive every time.
Day at Dollywood - Dolly Parton is a national treasure. End Sentence. Dollywood is fun-filled, excitement-inducing, and magic-filling. Enough said.
River Rentals in Chattanooga - The city of Chattanooga sits right on the Tennessee River. Because of that, watersports is a big component of what makes this town tick. Rent a kayak, paddleboard, or go on a river cruise. Do something on the water. It’s awesome.
Pass on By
Graceland - I’m a huge Elvis fan. Seriously. With that admission, I have to say that I think Graceland is a little weird. If it were me, I wouldn’t bother.
So get packed and head over to Tennessee. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures and videos along the way! If you have any old travel photographs, film, or tapes, get them digitized with Southtree. We’ll take care of your precious memories and save them in a permanent digital format so you can relive the joys of the past.