The Volunteer State has so much to offer its visitors, and it is a great place to do a road trip. In fact, there are several ways that you could design a Tennessee-focused road trip. Here are a few suggestions for an amazing time on your road trip through Tennessee.
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Music is not only a significant part of Tennessean culture, but different parts of the state have their own unique musical focus. Most significantly is a focus on country music in Nashville and another on the blues in Memphis.
There are so many ways to enjoy the historic and present-day offerings of country music in the state’s capital.
One would be to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. However, that is not the only music-focused museum here. The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, which is focused on all genres and instruments, the National Museum of African American Music, and the Johnny Cash Museum are all in Nashville. Grab a Nashville Fun Pass while you’re there and hit all the amazing places for a super-discounted rate.
You can also take in a performance at the Grand Ole Opry House, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Ryman Auditorium, The Bluebird Café or numerous other venues throughout the city as well as enjoy the artistry shown by Nashville’s street performers. Or for a really good time, take in a trip on the Nashville Tractor. Hey, why not?
Memphis is perhaps best known for the blues music that has been created here over the years and of course by the man only known as Elvis Presley.
Its Blues Hall of Fame, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum are must-see attractions for blues enthusiasts. There is also Graceland, which was home to “The Elvis Presley” himself, which brings in so many music lovers.
To experience live music in Memphis, head to Beale Street as there are numerous music-focused clubs here, and they are open pretty late, so it’s game on when you get there!
As I have heard many people say: Once you hit Beale Street some never want to leave. With the combination of music, clubs, food, and nightlife it is simply a place many can enjoy.
If you are looking for a food-focused road trip, there are few better places to do so than Tennessee, particularly if you want to enjoy some barbecue. In that case, Memphis should be your primary destination.
Numerous places throughout this city provide some of the world’s tastiest barbecue, but, if you want to simply focus on one, many recommend stopping at Rendezvous while others swear by Corky’s or Payne’s Bar-B-Q or will convince you to go to all three.
However, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the barbecue offerings that are found in Nashville. Many feel that its best barbecue can be consumed at Edley’s Bar-B-Que and Butchertown Hall. For those sweet heat-lovers who also do not want to focus on barbecue completely, there is also Hattie B’s Hot Chicken which is a delicacy to many.
You might want to schedule a nap between your activities, you’re going to need a little time and relaxation after eating all of the glorious food. You also may want to avoid wearing any white and make sure to have on your stretchy or comfy pants.
Best Road Trip Idea is Football
If you are a sports enthusiast, many would say that you need to attend at least one SEC football game in your lifetime to truly get a feel for just how much this sport means to so many in this part of the country. And few places are more revered than Knoxville’s Neyland Stadium, where you can enjoy the strains of “Rocky Top” while watching the action on the field.
You could also take in SEC football at Nashville’s Vanderbilt Stadium, although do note that the crowds are a bit smaller there, with fans who traveled and are cheering for the opposition comprising a considerable percentage of those in attendance in many cases. Or make sure you make your way to a Tennessee Titans game while you’re in Nashville. It’ll be worth the trip. If you would prefer to be around Memphis, though, they too are a sports-centered place and back their home team known as the Memphis Tigers.
As these cities are college towns, you can expect them to be so lively during football season. A favorite time of many is simply going and finding a food joint around town to watch the game in and throughout the day watch as the post-game crowd increases along with the nightlife.
If you want to enjoy some nature on your Tennessee-focused road trip, check out the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is situated just southeast of Knoxville and features many incredible natural attractions along with wildlife, such as bears, wolves, deer, elk, etc.
One destination option there is Clingmans Dome. Visiting it would allow you to be at the third-highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi River at 6,643 feet. Other popular activities include taking in Laurel Falls, which requires a hike of just over a mile, and driving around Cades Cove, which tends to be a family favorite. Cade’s Cove closes its main road to cars during certain parts of the year, which makes it a beautiful place and a great time for a bike ride!
Also, if you want to trek some of the Appalachian Trail, you can do so here as it traverses the park.
Or if you are focusing your road trip on Nashville and want to add a nature-filled spur, consider the nearby Burgess Falls State Park, which features four waterfalls. Its River Trail allows you to not only see all of them but also enjoy the forest that you are walking through.
Chattanooga and Nashville should be stopped on a road trip that is focused on trains. The former is home to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum while the latter features the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, which is also where you can enjoy the 168-mile Tennessee Wine Train. The people here are super friendly, and as the trains roll through, you can stop and walk over the riverwalk.
If you want to travel to this beautiful state via the rails, ride the City of New Orleans Amtrak train that will take you from points between New Orleans and Chicago to Memphis.
Or maybe you want to focus your time in Tennessee on resorts or add a resort element to a visit that is otherwise geared towards music, sports, or otherwise.
If your travels take you to Memphis, then you will surely want to check out the Big Cypress Lodge. The Big Cypress Lodge’s name may sound like a place in a forest somewhere, but it is instead inside of a pyramid. Seriously. It is enclosed by the Memphis Pyramid, known for its basketball arena that had hosted NBA and NCAA games until 2004 and is the current home of restaurants, shopping, and other activities.
Make sure you note that the Big Cypress Lodge does make you feel like you are in the woods with its beautiful woodsy decor.
Other resorts to consider include Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort and, just outside Knoxville, Gatlinburg’s Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Water Park and Pigeon Forge’s Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa.
So, no matter where you choose to spend your time in the great state of Tennessee, always remember to Travel Till You Drop!
Written by Taylor McKnight, Author for Oak Haven Resort