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Best Ideas When Road Tripping to Tennessee


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.

Best Music Sites and Sounds To Tennessee

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.

road trip idea is Music



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? 

More Details on The Nashville Music Scene

Music Row: Rockin’ Your Way Through the Recording Studios and More: This historic district in Nashville is not just any old street – it’s the holy grail of the music industry. Get ready to immerse yourself in a world of recording studios, record labels, and all things music-related. Whether you prefer a self-guided tour or want to join a guided tour, Music Row will show you the rhythm and beats that make Nashville’s heart sing.

Honky Tonk Highway: Where the Party Never Stops: This lively strip is the heartbeat of Nashville’s nightlife, filled to the brim with bars, honky-tonks, and live music venues. Trust me, you won’t be able to resist the infectious energy radiating from every corner. Talented musicians will serenade you with everything from classic country to good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. So grab a drink, let loose, and prepare to have the time of your life!

Johnny Cash Museum: Walking in the Footsteps of “The Man in Black”: Time to pay some respect to the iconic “Man in Black” at the Johnny Cash Museum. This place is a shrine dedicated to the life and career of Johnny Cash. Brace yourself for a museum experience like no other, surrounded by memorabilia, artifacts, and interactive displays that bring Cash’s legacy to life. Prepare to walk in the footsteps of a true legend and let his spirit guide you through the mesmerizing journey of his musical genius.

The Bluebird Cafe: Where Songwriters’ Dreams Take Flight: This legendary venue has witnessed countless songwriters’ rounds, where talented artists come together to share their stories through music. Prepare to be captivated by the incredible talents that grace The Bluebird’s stage, showcasing the very best of Nashville’s music scene. So grab a seat, sip on a drink, and let your heart be moved by the magic in the air.

Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum: The Hidden Gem That Deserves the Spotlight: While it may be lesser-known, it’s certainly not any less significant. This place honors musicians from all genres and pays tribute to their invaluable contributions to the music industry. Explore the exhibits, immerse yourself in the memorabilia, and bask in the glory of those who have shaped the musical landscape.

Frist Art Museum: A Dose of Art with a Side of Music: This place often features exhibitions that touch upon music and popular culture. So keep an eye out for any music-related exhibits during your visit. Who knows, you might stumble upon an unexpected connection between art and music that ignites your creativity and leaves you feeling inspired. Go on, explore the intersection of these two powerful forms of expression and let your imagination run wild!

Nashville’s Neighborhoods: Unleashing the Musical Melting Pot: Each one has its own unique charm and musical heritage waiting to be discovered. From the trendy vibes of East Nashville to the historic elegance of Germantown, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the sweet sounds of music wherever you go. Soak in the atmosphere, chat with the locals, and let the melodies of Nashville’s neighborhoods carry you away on a musical adventure like no other.


Beale street

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.

More Details on The Memphis Music Scene

Sun Studio: Where Legends Were Born, Baby! : Known as the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” this studio is where musical legends like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis first strutted their stuff. On a guided tour, you’ll soak up the studio’s history and discover how it catapulted these incredible talents into stardom.

Stax Museum of American Soul Music: Get Your Groove On, Sista! : Get ready to dive into the intoxicating world of soul music at the Stax Museum. This place oozes with the rich history of the genre, celebrating the legendary artists of Stax Records like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Explore the exhibits, bask in the sweet sounds of soul, and learn about the immense impact this label had on American music.

Beale Street: Where the Blues Come Alive and Shake Your Hips: Prepare to be swept away by the vibrant energy of Beale Street, Memphis’ legendary entertainment district. As you wander along this buzzworthy street, you’ll be greeted by an intoxicating mix of blues clubs, restaurants, and shops. Get your fill of finger-lickin’ good food, sip on a refreshing drink, and be immersed in the electrifying music that fills the air. Don’t miss out on catching breathtaking live performances at iconic venues like B.B. King’s Blues Club and Rum Boogie Cafe.

Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum: Where Music History Rocks Your Socks: Get ready to delve deep into the soul of Memphis at the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. As you step into this Smithsonian-affiliated treasure trove, you’ll embark on an extraordinary journey tracing the evolution of rock and soul music in Memphis. Get up close and personal with interactive exhibits, marvel at historical artifacts, and let the rhythm guide you through the rich musical heritage of this incredible city.

National Civil Rights Museum: Fighting for Justice with a Soundtrack: While it’s not solely about music, the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel deserves a spot on your must-visit list. Step into a world where the struggles for civil rights intersect with the power of music and culture. Explore thought-provoking exhibits chronicling the history of the civil rights movement and its profound impact on the fabric of American society. Witness how music played a vital role in spreading messages of hope, unity, and equality.

Blues Hall of Fame: Where Blues Legends Live On: Pay homage to the soul-stirring blues music at the Blues Hall of Fame. Located in downtown Memphis, this museum is a sanctuary dedicated to the pioneers and legends of the genre. Immerse yourself in exhibits that showcase the electrifying history of blues, surrounded by memorabilia, exhibits, and interactive displays.

Memphis Music Hall of Fame: Unleashing the Powerhouses of Music: Make your way to the Memphis Music Hall of Fame to honor the brightest stars of the city’s musical legacy. From blues and soul to rock ‘n’ roll and gospel, this museum showcases the contributions of legendary musicians across various genres. Explore the tales of these remarkable game-changers, celebrate their immense talent, and feel the spirit of Memphis pulsating through your veins.

Best BBQ To Try

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.

Other Decent Places To Try BBQ

  1. Central BBQ: Central BBQ is a local favorite known for its delicious smoked meats, including ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and chicken. Their signature dry rubs and tangy sauces add flavor to every bite. Don’t miss their BBQ nachos, a popular dish among visitors.
  2. The Bar-B-Q Shop: Located in Midtown Memphis, The Bar-B-Q Shop is famous for its award-winning ribs, smoky pulled pork sandwiches, and savory BBQ spaghetti. Their homemade sauces complement the tender meats perfectly, creating a memorable dining experience.
  3. Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous: For a unique BBQ experience, head to Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, a Memphis institution since 1948. Known for their dry-rubbed ribs cooked over charcoal, Rendezvous offers a distinctive flavor that has earned them national acclaim. Pair your ribs with their famous beans and slaw for a classic Memphis meal.
  4. Payne’s Bar-B-Q: If you’re looking for authentic, no-frills BBQ, Payne’s Bar-B-Q is the place to go. This family-owned establishment serves up tender pulled pork sandwiches, smoked sausage, and ribs, all served with their signature mustard-based sauce. Don’t forget to try their famous BBQ bologna sandwich for a unique twist on traditional BBQ.
  5. Germantown Commissary: Situated in Germantown, just outside of Memphis, Germantown Commissary offers a cozy atmosphere and mouthwatering BBQ dishes. From tender ribs and pulled pork to flavorful smoked turkey and brisket, there’s something for everyone on the menu. Be sure to try their homemade sides, like baked beans and coleslaw, for the full BBQ experience.
  6. Cozy Corner Restaurant: Cozy Corner Restaurant is a hidden gem known for its delicious BBQ and down-home hospitality. Their signature BBQ Cornish hen, smoked over hickory wood and served with tangy sauce, is a must-try. Other menu highlights include their succulent ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, and homemade desserts.
  7. Corky’s Ribs & BBQ: Corky’s Ribs & BBQ has been serving up mouthwatering BBQ since 1984. Their slow-smoked ribs, pulled pork, and BBQ chicken are cooked to perfection and served with your choice of sauce. Don’t forget to pair your meal with classic Southern sides like fried okra, macaroni and cheese, and baked beans.

Best Road Trip Idea For 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.

Best Nature Sites

Viewpoint along Alum Cave Trail
AppalachianCentrist, CC BY-SA 4.0

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.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Beauty that’ll Knock Your Socks Off: Nestled in eastern Tennessee, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is like nature’s giant playground. Picture this: jaw-dropping hikes, glimpses of wildlife roaming free, and scenic drives that’ll have you feeling like the queen of the Smoky Mountains. It’s a breath of fresh air (literally) and a chance to bask in some seriously stunning natural beauty.

Shelby Farms Park (Memphis): Where Urban Oasis Meets Outdoor Fun: Shelby Farms Park is flexing its green muscles as one of the largest urban parks in the whole darn country. We’re talkin’ over 4,500 acres of pure outdoor bliss right here in Memphis. Lace up those hiking boots, hop on a bike, or paddle around its lakes – there’s no shortage of ways to get your outdoor fix.

Wolf River Greenway (Memphis): Unlocking Nature’s Hidden Treasures: This little gem is a network of trails and green spaces hugging the Wolf River, and it’s your golden ticket to scenic river views, peaceful wetlands, and enchanting forests. Lace up those hiking boots or jump on your bike – it’s time to embrace nature and keep your eyes peeled for some prime birdwatching action.

Radnor Lake State Park (Nashville): Mother Nature’s Rejuvenating Getaway: Surround yourself with over 1,300 acres of protected wilderness, where a picturesque lake, lush forests, and critter-filled habitats await your embrace. Hiking trails with dreamy lake views, birdwatching that’ll make your heart sing, and photography opportunities that’ll make your feed the envy of all your friends – it’s all right here, waiting for you to dive in and reconnect with the raw beauty of nature.

Percy Warner Park (Nashville): Unleash Your Inner Wilderness Warrior: With miles of scenic trails that are practically begging for your hiking boots, trail running shoes, or mountain bike tread, this rugged wonderland is your personal playground. Feel the lush woodlands wrap around you, soak in those jaw-dropping scenic overlooks, and revel in outdoor vibes that are anything but ordinary.


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.

Resorts on The way To Tennessee

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

About Jill

Hi, Jill Here

Hi! I’m Jill, a Dallas, Texas girl traveling the world. After a career in the Air Force and touring over 50 countries later, my need to explore keeps going! It’s time to rock & roll and find all those places I never knew I was missing.

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