10 Places We Love in Tennessee

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Upfront disclosure: There is so much that we have not seen across the 400 miles of Tennessee. However, last summer, we had a lot of fun exploring the Volunteer State. Driving from New England, we made stops in Pigeon Forge, Nashville, and Memphis. Here are 10 places we loved:

1. Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge- It’s literally Christmas 365 days a year. The entire (and we mean entire) resort is decked out for Christmas Day and Santa visits every day. There are plenty of holiday themed activities and a massive outdoor pool to enjoy.
Highlights: Storytime with Santa; cookies and hot cocoa every night; an ornament gift to take home.
Read our full post of 10 things to do at the Inn here.

2. Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge- The museum has a sister location in Branson, Missouri. The Pigeon Forge museum is built to half scale of the original ship and has 20 galleries of artifacts. Each guest received an audio tour (there is a version geared towards children) and a card with the story of a passenger. Guests can find out at the end of the tour if the passenger survived the voyage.
Highlights: The replica ship made of legos (the world’ largest lego ship); a replica iceberg you can touch; a replica grand staircase (built to scale as the one in the real ship)
Read our full post of 20 can’t miss things here.

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park– We are HUGE fans of the National Park Service and Parks and the Smoky Mountains did not disappoint. You need several days weeks to explore the 500,000 acres and hundreds of trails. There are even 4 Visitor Centers spread throughout the Park and tons of places where rangers offer tours, workshops, and tours. We only spent one full day inside the park, but still managed to see and learn a lot.
Highlights: The Visitor’s Center with interactive exhibits and tons of helpful rangers;  Clingman’s Dome and the view; the Mountain Farm Museum and exhibits.
Read about our adventures and recommendations here.

4. Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greenville- Greenville, just over an hour east of Pigeon Forge, was the home to Johnson, the 17th president of the United States. Johnson held many local political positions in Greenville and there are several sites in town dedicated to various parts of Johnson’s life, which are overseen by the National Park Service. An audio tour is available to narrate the history of each site and many of them are walkable.
Highlights: Earning a Junior Ranger Badge from the main Visitor Center; climbing the stairs to the Monument and National Cemetery; seeing the real tailor shop owned by the Johnson family.
Read our full post and travel tips here.

5. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Nashville- The 1100+ acre compound was the property of the 7th American president and his wife, Rachel for over 40 years in the 1800s. Since 1890, it has been overseen by a nonprofit who welcomes the public to explore some of the dozens of buildings, structures, museums, and attend many of the daily programs. There is also a large gift shop and cafe on site.
Highlights: Children will most be interested in the museum and “How’s that relevant” cards which connect issues and events of Jackson’s lifetime with current events and “Firsts, Lasts, and Only” trivia facts; the mansion tour (go there first as lines form quickly); Alfred’s Cabin.
Read our full post and travel tips here.

6. The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville- What began as a radio “barn dance” in the 1920s has become the premier country music performance venue in America. The Grand Ole Opry hosts hundreds of shows each year in it 4300 seat theater. A variety of tours are offered each day and include the opportunity to go behind and ON stage!
Highlights: Seeing the US Post Office and mailboxes for all members; posing inside the “Circle”; picking a favorite green room (there are 18 to choose from).
Read our full blog post and travel tips here.

7. Country Music Hall of Fame  and Museum in Nashville- The 350,000 square foot museum in the heart of Nashville is the spot to get an education in country music. There are dozens of exhibits (many of which are sponsored by musicians) that feature costumes, memorabilia, replica tour buses, recording studios, and so much more! The Hall of Fame Rotunda features brief biographies of inductees.
Highlights: The Taylor Swift Education Center; recording a personal version of a popular song in a replica tour bus; reading the Wall of Records to find a favorite artist.
Read our full blog post and travel tips here.

8. Mud Island River Park in Memphis- Mud Island River Park is a great outdoor area to explore in the middle of downtown Memphis. You can access the island via a half mile pedestrian bridge (awesome Instagram shots!) or the two mile monorail. The island is also handicap accessible via elevators. There’s a large amphitheater which hosts hundreds of concerts and programs each year.
Highlights: Taking the monorail; walking along the Mississippi Riverwalk, a scaled model of the 1,000 mile journey of the lower Mississippi River reproduced to a half mile scale.
Read our tips on our City Guide to Memphis (#2) here.

9. National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis- A must visit when visiting Memphis. Not only is it on the site where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968 (the Lorraine Hotel), but the museum has over 20 exhibits that chronicle the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibits weave throughout the museum, allow for peaking into the hotel room where MLK Jr was shot, and across the street in a separate exhibit space where the shot was fired.
Highlights: Exhibits on the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Student Sit Ins, and Freedom Rides.
Read our tips on our City Guide to Memphis (#4) here.

10. Graceland in Memphis- Elvis Presley’s home is probably the most popular spot in Memphis and has grown in recent years to include a 200,000 square foot entertainment complex in addition to Presley’s home (located across the street). Start at the main complex and take the tour bus to the home for an iPad audio tour of several rooms, as well as the grounds, gardens, and burial site. Plan on several hours exploring the various exhibition spaces that house Presley’s collections of cars, costumes, and possessions.
Highlights: The decor in the home (themed rooms!), the collection of cars and motorcycles, and PLANES!; the four themed restaurants; the numerous themed gift shops.
Read our tips on our City Guide to Memphis (#5) here.

Bonus: If you’re in Memphis, you must visit (even better, stay over!) the Peabody Hotel and see the famous Peabody ducks.

Check out more of our Top 10 lists for various states here and our 20+ City Guides here.

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3 Comments

  1. Tennessee is one of my favorite states to visit! I hope to settle down in Tennessee one day if I can get my yankee husband on board 😉 Thank you for sharing this great list of things to do across Tennessee!!

  2. Tennessee is one of my favorite states to visit! I hope to settle down in Tennessee one day if I can get my yankee husband on board 😉 Thank you for sharing this great list of things to do across Tennessee!!

  3. Tennessee is one of my favorite states to visit! I hope to settle down in Tennessee one day if I can get my yankee husband on board 😉 Thank you for sharing this great list of things to do across Tennessee!!

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