Whether you’re in the capital of Nashville or one of Tennessee’s other cities, you’re sure to have a wonderful experience in the Volunteer State. From some of the most hallowed musical sites in the world to stunning national parks, the state has plenty to offer a variety of travelers.
Tennessee played a major role in the development of rock and roll, blues, country and rockabilly. All through the state, you’ll find venues and museums devoted to music where you can enjoy a live jam session, learn about a genre’s history, find out about famous musicians or try your hand at your own musical stylings.
What to do in Tennessee
Dollywood: Dolly Parton fans are sure to want to stop in Pigeon Forge to spend the day at Dollywood. Owned by Dolly herself along with Herschend Family Enterprises, Dollywood ranks as one of the top 50 most attended theme parks in the world. With amusement park rides, musical performances, shops, dinner theater and other exciting attractions, Dollywood is certain to please fans of the famous country singer and amusement park enthusiasts alike.
Tennessee Aquarium: Chattanooga is home to the Tennessee Aquarium, which is the largest freshwater aquarium in the world. Animal lovers will enjoy seeing fish, amphibians, birds, penguins, reptiles, invertebrates, butterflies and other species up close and personal. With a variety of exhibits as well as an IMAX theater, the Tennessee Aquarium is the perfect place for the whole family to spend the day.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: With entrances from both Gatlinburg and Townsend, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its diverse array of animal and plant life. The park is the perfect location to enjoy the great outdoors, whether you want to lace up your boots and hike or sit on the front porch in your rocking chair. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also a great place to relax, including catching some fish, horseback riding or taking a mountainous bike ride.
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum: Everyone is sure to love the exciting Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga. Here you’ll find a moving museum that provides an interactive experience as you learn about an important aspect of Tennessee culture: the railroad. Climb aboard a regularly scheduled, full-size train and travel back in time as you discover facts about the Tennessee railroad throughout history during your ride.
Belle Meade Plantation: In 1807, John Harding founded Belle Meade Plantation. Situated just minutes from downtown Nashville, this plantation has been an important part of Tennessee history since its founding and now functions as a museum. Enjoy a tour along the many acres of lush greenery and make sure to check out the winery, stable, carriage house, reconstructed slave quarters and the original outbuildings. Through a tour of the plantation, you can learn what life was like at various times in history and get a true sense of Tennessee’s rich past.
Musical sites In Tennessee
Beale Street: If you’re looking for the birthplace of the blues, you’ll find it in Memphis on Beale Street. This 1.8-mile stretch continues to be a haven for music lovers. Typically closed off from road traffic, the thoroughfare is a common gathering ground for locals and travelers who enjoy frequenting a watering hole or two. Beale Street is also a top location for festivals and outdoor concerts throughout the year.
Grand Ole Opry: Nashville is the famous home of the Grand Ole Opry, often considered the “home of American Music” and “country’s most famous stage.” It began as a radio broadcast in 1925 and has since grown into a full live entertainment phenomenon. The Grand Ole Opry is dedicated to displaying country music’s biggest stars as well as contemporary musicians who frequently top the charts. If you’re looking forward to a country music experience unlike any other, the Grand Ole Opry is sure to deliver.
Country Music Hall of Fame: The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville is devoted to identifying and preserving the history and traditions of country music. Since 1967, the Country Music Hall of Fame has been pleasing fans of the musical genre, providing a space where they can learn more about their favorite artists and then take a short walk to the historic Ryman Auditorium or local honky tonks to see the pickin' and strummin' for themselves.
Graceland: Located in Memphis, Graceland was the home of “The King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley. Graceland is an impressively large white-columned mansion resting on 13.8 acres. Once a spacious home, Graceland has been transformed into a museum that opened to the public in 1982. In 1991, the mansion became registered on the National Register of Historic Places and was named a National Historic Landmark in 2006. From the start, you can tell this is a special place with a front gate shaped like a book of sheet music boasting green musical notes and Elvis’ silhouette. Elvis lovers will rejoice at a visit to one of the most visited private homes in America, following the White House and Biltmore Estate.