10 Best Places to Visit in Tennessee

Are you planning a trip to Tennessee and looking for the must-visit destinations? Look no further! In this Tennessee travel guide, we have curated a list of the 10 best places to visit in Tennessee. From scenic natural wonders to vibrant cities, Tennessee tourism offers a variety of attractions and experiences for travelers.

Explore Tennessee’s charming towns, indulge in delicious food, learn about its rich music heritage, and enjoy the great outdoors. Don’t miss out on these top tourist spots in Tennessee, which offer something for everyone. Follow our Tennessee travel tips to plan an unforgettable vacation in the Volunteer State.

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Discover the natural wonder of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most beautiful and beloved vacation spots in Tennessee. As the most visited national park in the United States, this awe-inspiring mountain range offers breathtaking vistas, diverse wildlife, and a wide range of outdoor recreation possibilities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and scenic drives. Take your pick from more than 800 miles of hiking trails, and challenge yourself with a strenuous ascent to the summit of Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in Tennessee. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets that transform the mountains into a magical wonderland.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If you’re not up for a hike, consider a drive along the Newfound Gap Road, which spans for 33 miles between Tennessee to North Carolina, and offers some of the best scenic views in the park. You’ll pass through dense forests, wildflower meadows, waterfalls, and historic sites that showcase the unique cultural and natural heritage of the Appalachians. Keep your eyes peeled for black bears, elks, deer, and other native species that call the park home.

2. Nashville

Experience the heart and soul of Tennessee in Nashville, the bustling capital city that’s known as the “Music City.” Immerse yourself in the vibrant music scene and explore the city’s iconic attractions, including the historic Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Take a stroll down Broadway and catch some live music at one of the many honky-tonks and bars.

In addition to the music scene, Nashville offers a range of other must-see attractions, such as the famous Grand Ole Opry and the stunning Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the original Greek structure in Athens. For a taste of Nashville’s culinary scene, be sure to try some hot chicken, a local delicacy that’s sure to satisfy your taste buds.

Whether you’re a music lover or just looking for a fun and lively city to explore, Nashville is a must-visit destination in Tennessee.

Nashville attractions

Famous Attractions in Nashville:

Famous AttractionDescription
Grand Ole OpryA weekly country music stage concert that has been broadcast since 1925
Country Music Hall of Fame and MuseumA museum devoted to the history and legends of country music
Ryman AuditoriumA National Historic Landmark and former home of the Grand Ole Opry
ParthenonA full-scale replica of the original Greek structure in Athens

Explore these famous attractions and more to fully immerse yourself in the Music City.

3. Memphis

If you’re a fan of music history, Memphis is a must-visit destination on your Tennessee travel guide. As the birthplace of blues and rock ‘n’ roll, Memphis boasts a rich cultural heritage that is celebrated in its many museums, historic landmarks, and vibrant music scene. Head to Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley, for an up-close look at the life and legend of the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Take a stroll down Beale Street, known for its lively music clubs, excellent restaurants, and Southern hospitality. Learn about the birth of rock ‘n’ roll at Sun Studio, the recording studio where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and other legends cut their first records.

Memphis Tennessee

Aside from its music scene, Memphis is also home to many other attractions, including the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel the site where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. This museum documents the struggles and achievements of the civil rights movement and is a powerful reminder of the ongoing fight for equality and justice.

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Top Memphis Attractions

GracelandThe former home of Elvis Presley, now a museum dedicated to his life and music
Beale StreetA lively, historic street known for its music venues, restaurants, and nightlife
Sun StudioThe birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and other legends recorded their earliest hits
National Civil Rights MuseumA powerful museum located at the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, documenting the history and ongoing struggle for civil rights in America
Stax Museum of American Soul MusicA museum dedicated to the history and legacy of Memphis soul music, with exhibits and artifacts related to Stax Records and artists like Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes

There’s plenty more to see and do in Memphis, so don’t miss this fascinating city on your Tennessee sightseeing tour.

4. Gatlinburg

Discover the charm of Gatlinburg during your next visit to Tennessee. Located at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, this picturesque town offers plenty of must-visit destinations for every traveler. Explore the vibrant downtown area to find unique shops, restaurants, and galleries. Take a scenic drive through the nearby mountain roads, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains.

If you’re a nature lover, don’t miss a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located just a few minutes away from Gatlinburg. With its stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife, the park offers endless opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, and horseback riding.

For some family fun, head over to Gatlinburg’s amusement parks, including Ober Gatlinburg and the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster. Don’t forget to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, home to thousands of underwater creatures.


Gatlinburg Attractions

Attraction NameDescription
Great Smoky Mountains National ParkExplore the stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife of the most visited national park in the US.
Ober GatlinburgEnjoy skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating at this popular winter sports destination.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the SmokiesDiscover thousands of underwater creatures, including sharks, stingrays, and penguins, at this family-friendly attraction.
Gatlinburg Mountain CoasterRide the mountain coaster to enjoy stunning views of the Smoky Mountains.

Plan your visit to Gatlinburg and explore the beauty of Tennessee’s vacation spots. Experience the unique charm of this small town and take in all the beautiful sights and attractions it has to offer.

5. Chattanooga

Embark on an exciting journey to Chattanooga, situated in the southeastern part of Tennessee. This city boasts natural beauty and a host of fun-filled attractions that will make your visit memorable.

You can start your sightseeing tour by visiting Ruby Falls, a stunning underground waterfall located deep inside Lookout Mountain. You can take an elevator down 26 stories to see this awe-inspiring sight up close.

If you’re interested in marine life, head to Tennessee Aquarium, an educational and entertaining attraction that features more than 12,000 animals from around the world.

For a dose of history, don’t miss the fascinating Chattanooga Choo Choo, a historic train that takes you on a scenic ride around the city.

Table: Top 5 Must-Visit Attractions in Chattanooga

Ruby FallsAn underground waterfall located 26 stories beneath Lookout Mountain.
Tennessee AquariumAn entertaining and educational aquarium featuring over 12,000 animals.
Chattanooga Choo ChooA historic train that takes you on a scenic ride around the city and offers accommodation in historic train cars.
Rock CityA collection of unique rock formations, lush gardens, and stunning views of Lookout Mountain.
Chattanooga ZooA small zoo with a variety of animals, including red pandas, snow leopards, and otters.

Chattanooga, an ideal destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, also offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, and outdoor recreation. Visit Rock City Gardens, a unique natural attraction with stunning rock formations, gardens, and breathtaking views of Lookout Mountain. Additionally, check out Chattanooga Zoo, the perfect place for families with kids. This small zoo boasts a range of animals, including red pandas, snow leopards, and otters.

Chattanooga sightseeing

Whether you’re planning a family vacation or a romantic getaway, Chattanooga should definitely be on your Tennessee travel list.

6. Pigeon Forge

Are you looking for family-friendly fun in Tennessee? Look no further than Pigeon Forge. This charming town is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for an exciting vacation spot. Pigeon Forge is home to Dollywood Amusement Park, featuring thrilling rides, engaging shows, and delicious food. Don’t miss the iconic Wildwood Grove, a magical experience for kids of all ages.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Pigeon Forge is also a great destination for outdoor adventurers. Take a hike or mountain bike through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located just a short drive from town. And for those seeking a bit of relaxation, Pigeon Forge has a variety of spas, golf courses, and wineries to enjoy.

Whether you’re traveling with the family, a group of friends, or just looking for a solo trip, Pigeon Forge has everything you need for a fantastic vacation.

Pigeon Forge

“Pigeon Forge is a hidden gem in Tennessee. There’s so much to see and do for everyone, from amusement parks to hiking trails to wineries. I can’t wait to go back!” – Jen, Tennessee native

7. Knoxville

Make sure you don’t miss the stunning city of Knoxville when visiting Tennessee. Located at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Knoxville offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural offerings.

One of the must-visit destinations in Tennessee, Knoxville has something for everyone. Take a stroll through the vibrant downtown area that is filled with unique shops, restaurants, and galleries. A visit to the Knoxville Museum of Art is a must-see, with its collection of contemporary art and local artists’ works.

You can fulfill your appetite for Tennessee attractions by watching a University of Tennessee Volunteers game at the Neyland Stadium, surrounded by enthusiastic fans. If you are into the outdoors, visit the Ijams Nature Center, The Tennessee River, or many surrounding lakes.

Knoxville, Tennessee sightseeing

Knoxville is the perfect destination for those who want to explore Tennessee’s artistic and cultural side while enjoying its natural beauty. Book your trip to Knoxville today to experience all the city has to offer!

8. Franklin

Step back in time in Franklin, a historic town located just 21 miles south of Nashville, Tennessee.

This charming town is filled with unique shops, boutiques, and galleries, as well as restaurants serving up delicious Southern cuisine. You can spend hours strolling along Main Street, taking in the historic architecture and quaint atmosphere.

But Franklin is also home to some fascinating Civil War-era sites. Don’t miss the Carter House, where you can learn about the historic Battle of Franklin, or the Carnton Plantation, one of the best preserved plantation homes in the country.

Franklin Tennessee travel guide

Overall, Franklin is a must-visit destination in Tennessee, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and Southern charm.

9. Jack Daniel’s Distillery

If you’re a whiskey lover, a visit to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg is a must-do on your Tennessee travel guide. Here, you can learn about the distilling process and see where the famous Tennessee whiskey is made. Jack Daniel’s is not just a brand but a legend, and a tour of the distillery is a chance to experience its rich history and heritage.

The distillery offers different tours depending on your interests, ranging from the standard tour to a special tasting experience. The standard tour provides an overview of the production process and a visit to the angel’s share barrelhouse. The tasting tour offers a sample of several whiskies and a souvenir glass. For a more in-depth experience, the dry county tour gives you the chance to see rare bottles and historic memorabilia.

Visitors to the distillery can also check out the gift shop, which sells a variety of Jack Daniel’s merchandise, including its famous whiskey and collectible bottles.

Jack Daniel's Distillery

10. Bristol Motor Speedway

If you’re a fan of motorsports, don’t miss the opportunity to experience the thrilling atmosphere at Bristol Motor Speedway, one of the most exciting NASCAR tracks in the country. Located in Bristol, Tennessee, the speedway is known for its steep banking and short lap times, making for intense and action-packed races. In addition to NASCAR events, the Bristol Motor Speedway hosts a variety of exciting races and events throughout the year, including drag racing and monster truck shows. Get your heart pumping with a visit to this iconic track.

For more information and to plan your visit to Bristol Motor Speedway or other must-visit destinations in Tennessee, check out our Tennessee travel guide.

Bristol Motor Speedway

Race Schedule

Race EventDate
Food City 500 NASCAR Cup SeriesApril 17-19
Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 NASCAR Xfinity SeriesApril 25
Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race NASCAR Cup SeriesSeptember 18-19
Alsco Uniforms 300 NASCAR Xfinity SeriesSeptember 17

Other Notable Attractions in Tennessee

While the top 10 places to visit in Tennessee are a great starting point for your travel itinerary, there are many other notable attractions in this beautiful state that you don’t want to miss.

Ryman Auditorium

Known as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville is a must-visit destination for music lovers. This historic venue has hosted legendary performers like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Elvis Presley. Take a backstage tour to learn more about the venue’s fascinating history and see notable artifacts from its past performances.

Tennessee State Capitol

Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, the Tennessee State Capitol is an impressive building that boasts exquisite architecture and a rich history. Take a guided tour to learn about the state’s legislative process and take in the beauty of the building’s stunning interior.

Tennessee Sightseeing

Natchez Trace Parkway

Take a scenic drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway and enjoy some of the most beautiful sights Tennessee has to offer. This 444-mile route stretches from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi and takes you through lush forests, rolling hills, and picturesque valleys. Stop at designated overlooks and hiking trails to take in the breathtaking scenery along the way.

Outdoor Activities in Tennessee

If you love the great outdoors, Tennessee is the perfect destination for you. With its abundant natural beauty and diverse landscapes, the state offers a variety of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the scenic trails at Fall Creek Falls State Park, where you’ll be treated to stunning waterfalls and breathtaking views.

Tennessee outdoor activities

For a more adventurous experience, head to the Big South Fork National Recreation Area where you can go camping, kayaking, and rock climbing. Set up camp and spend the night under the stars, surrounded by the peaceful sounds of nature.

Anglers will love the fishing opportunities in Tennessee, which boasts some of the best trout streams and bass fishing spots in the country. Grab a rod and reel and head to the Caney Fork River for a day of fishing and relaxation.

If you prefer to be on the water, Tennessee’s many lakes and rivers offer plenty of opportunities for boating and water sports. Visit the beautiful Norris Lake and enjoy a day of water skiing, wakeboarding, or tubing.

No matter what your outdoor interests are, Tennessee has something for everyone. Plan your visit today and experience the natural beauty and excitement of this wonderful state.

Unique Experiences in Tennessee

Make your journey to Tennessee unforgettable by experiencing something truly unique. Try exploring the beautiful underground caves at Cumberland Caverns, where you can go on guided tours and even explore the caves in the dark. Alternatively, take a scenic ride on the Chattanooga Choo Choo train and witness the breathtaking beauty of Tennessee’s countryside, with its rolling hills and stunning rock formations. For music lovers, don’t miss the opportunity to attend the renowned Bonnaroo Music Festival, where you can enjoy live performances from an eclectic mix of artists.

Tennessee unique experiences

With so many captivating experiences to choose from, Tennessee is the ideal destination for anyone seeking adventure and excitement. Plan your trip today and discover all that this incredible state has to offer.

Delicious Cuisine in Tennessee

When it comes to food, Tennessee has something for everyone. Whether you are a fan of hearty Southern dishes, finger-licking barbecue, or spicy, hot chicken, Tennessee cuisine will tantalize your taste buds.

One of the most famous foods in Tennessee is Nashville’s hot chicken. This spicy dish is made by marinating chicken in buttermilk and hot sauce before frying it to crispy perfection. Served with pickles and white bread, it’s a must-try for any foodie.

Another must-try dish is Tennessee barbecue. Slow-cooked over a variety of woods, Tennessee barbecue is known for its smoky flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Ribs, pulled pork, and brisket are just a few of the many varieties available at the state’s numerous barbecue joints.

If you’re looking for classic Southern comfort food, try dishes like fried catfish, cornbread, and collard greens. And if you still have room for dessert, don’t miss out on Tennessee’s famous banana pudding or pecan pie.

Tennessee cuisine

Tennessee Food Festivals

One of the best ways to experience Tennessee’s diverse cuisine is by attending one of its many food festivals. The RC Cola MoonPie Festival in Bell Buckle celebrates two Southern staples with live music, a parade, and of course, plenty of MoonPies and RC Cola. The International Biscuit Festival in Knoxville is a must-visit for biscuit lovers, featuring a biscuit bake-off and biscuit-themed art and activities. And in Memphis, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest brings together pitmasters from around the world to showcase their skills and compete for the title of world champion.


Now that you have a better understanding of the top 10 places to visit in Tennessee, it’s time to start planning your trip. Whether you’re interested in exploring natural wonders, immersing yourself in music history, or indulging in delicious cuisine, Tennessee has something for everyone. With this handy Tennessee travel guide, you can easily discover the must-visit destinations in the state and make the most of your Tennessee tourism experience.

Don’t hesitate to explore beyond these top 10 spots, as there are plenty of other hidden gems throughout the state. From outdoor adventures to unique experiences, Tennessee offers endless opportunities for adventure and discovery.

Start packing your bags and get ready for an unforgettable journey through Tennessee. Plan your trip today and discover why this state is one of the best vacation spots in the country.

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