Four Spots You Must See If You’re In Tennessee
Tennessee is home to some of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a thrill-seeker, music enthusiast, history aficionado, or nature lover — the Volunteer State welcomes all kinds of travelers.
If you’ve never visited Tennessee before, the sheer variety of attractions here can make it challenging to decide where to begin exploring. There are many quaint little towns, music festivals, floats, and musical events you can experience here. Whether traveling solo or with family, there is something for everyone here.
So, to help you, we’ve rounded up a list of Tennessee’s top four tourist destinations.
The Museums at Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge, a small mountain town in eastern Tennessee, is a popular tourist destination. Once there, there are lots of museums you should explore.
We’ll start with one of the most visited museums here, and it’s for car enthusiasts. If you’re a fan of classic cars and car movies, you should check out the Hollywood Star Cars Museum, which features more than 60 unique models of renowned cars from classic movies, like the two Batmobiles (from the 1960s), the Camaro from Charlie’s Angels, and Herbie the Love Bug.
But that’s not all. Pigeon Forge has many more museums you can explore with your family. For starters, the Hollywood Wax Museum allows you to take pictures with your favorite celebs.
Also, The Titanic Museum, Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, The Alcatraz East Crime Museum, and Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium are some of the best, family-friendly Pigeon Forge museums you shouldn’t miss.
When traveling to Gatlinburg, you should dress light and pack the right gear. The area has miles and miles of beautiful nature trails perfect for equestrian riding, hiking, and cycling.
The Anakeesta theme park is a fantastic place to visit while in the area. Here, you can take a stroll and enjoy the stunning views of rock formations in the Smoky Mountains and tall tree canopies that soar as high as 60 feet.
Gatlinburg is also home to the famous Space Needle, an observation tower that stands at a height of 407 feet. An outdoor observation deck at the tower’s peak offers a 360-degree panorama of the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg below.
There’s also the Sky Lift — a 2.1-mile aerial cable vehicle — that connects downtown Gatlinburg with the Ober Gatlinburg ski area and entertainment park. Take a scenic open-air chairlift ride to the top of a 1,800-foot lookout point in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Rated the best in North America, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg has more than 10,000 exotic aquatic animals and ten uniquely themed galleries.
With many interactive, educational exhibits featuring over 350 sea species, this Gatlinburg Aquarium is a must-visit when traveling with kids.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
You might think that the Grand Canyon (Arizona), Zion (Utah), and Golden Gate (California) are the country’s most frequented national parks. But that’s partly true. According to an in-depth visitation report, the Great Smokys Mountains, or simply “Smokys,” received over 14 million recreational visitors in 2021.
We are not 100 percent sure, but perhaps it’s because the park spans 522,427 acres and stretches through Tennessee and into North Carolina. The famous Appalachian Trail passes through its center.
The Paleo Indians lived here long before the European Settlers arrived in the 19th century. You should go to Great Smoky Mountains National Park if you’re interested in the region’s long and colorful history of human settlement.
It’s also an excellent spot for outdoor activities, such as walking, fishing, and riding bicycles. On Wednesdays between May and September, the road around the historic district of Cades Cove is closed to traffic, making it the perfect time to go for a picnic and enjoy a hike to Abrams or Rainbow Falls or ride your bicycle around the scenic Cades Cove Loop road.
While you’re here, visit Cades Cove Visitor Center and check out well-preserved remnants of historic buildings representing old American pioneer life in 19th-century Appalachia. Don’t forget to see the wildlife exhibits at the Sugarland Visitor Center!
Often referred to as the “Cradle of American Music,” Memphis in Southwestern Tennessee is a hub for several musical styles, including rock ‘n’ roll, blues, hip hop, and soul. Hence, it is the best place for music buffs to learn about the state’s musical heritage.
Whether it’s Elvis’s music reverberating off the buildings or the sounds of upcoming artists on Beale Street, music is always playing somewhere in Memphis. The city is home to Sun Studio, where legends like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, BB King, and many more created timeless works.
Graceland, a 13.8-acre estate Elvis Presley called home, is also located in Memphis and receives many tourists yearly. You can delve further into the city’s musical history by going to the STAX Museum of American Soul and the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. Both of these museums are located in the same neighborhood.
In addition to its prominent place in music history, Memphis is a powerful symbol of the civil rights movement. In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. led a march and rally here demanding that black sanitation employees be given the same rights as white workers.
After successfully organizing a nonviolent demonstration in March, Martin Luther King Jr. came back to the city on April 3, only to be killed the following day at the Lorraine Motel, which is now the location of the National Civil Rights Museum.
If you find yourself in Memphis, indulge in finger-licking barbecue chops and a spicy, comforting bowl of creamy grits. Sampling a few uniquely Southern culinary favorites is essential to a Memphis travel plan!
With its attractive sites, national and historical landmarks, and unique destinations, Tennessee offers everyone a treasure trove of experiences regardless of age and interests. Even if you are only going to be in Tennessee for a few days, your visit to the places mentioned above will make your trip unforgettable!
If you think we missed a spot you visited in the past, tell us about it in the comments below. We would love to know how it went. Also, suggest this article to your friends and share it with others.