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Exploration Tips for Tennessee – Best Travel Advice

Exploration Tips for Tennessee

Written By – Grace Walker

Tennessee offers countless options for exploration and adventure. From world-famous music capital like Nashville to serene natural wonders like the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee offers something for everyone. If you are traveling for the first time, you will need some essential Exploration Tips for Tennessee to make your journey unforgettable.

This guide will highlight the top destinations, ideal seasons, activities, and accommodation options for Tennessee. Read below to make your Tennessee adventure great.

Exploring Major Cities of Tennessee

When you visit Tennessee, it is important to explore its major cities which offer a diverse range of cultural and recreational experiences.

Let’s look at the greatest attractions, places to stay, and times to explore Tennessee’s vibrant cities.

1. Nashville

Nashville is Tennessee’s capital city. It is also known as the “country music city.” You can travel there by bus, taxi, ridesharing, or flying into Nashville International Airport. Here you can explore the rich musical heritage, diverse culture, and historical sites. If you are a true fan of music, then you must visit this iconic destination.

Nashville

 

Best Places to Visit in Nashville

When you are in Nashville, make sure to visit these awesome places that show off the city’s music scene.

  • Grand Ole Opry: It is a renowned venue known for hosting country music performances. Here, you can see weekly live performances that feature a mix of genres within country music, including bluegrass, Americana, and gospel.
  • Ryman Auditorium: It is a historic venue known as the “Soul of Nashville”. The venue has a rich history of hosting concerts, one-act plays, and various events. Additionally, in recent years, the Ryman Auditorium has expanded its entertainment offerings to include comedy shows and drag queen performances. So, if you are looking for a unique combination of cultural and entertainment activities, Ryman Auditorium is a must-visit destination.
  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: This iconic place highlights the history and legends of country music. It is ideal for music enthusiasts. Here you can explore artifacts, interactive displays, and educational events that show the growth of country music and its influence on American culture.

Best Time to Visit in Nashville:

The best time to visit Nashville is during the spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) seasons. In these months, the weather is mild, and many festivals and events are happening throughout the city. If you are a festival enthusiast, you must experience the famed CMA Music Festival in June and the Nashville Film Festival in October.

Nashville Music City

Places to stay in Nashville

Here is the list of the best accommodation options in Nashville.

1. Comfort Inn Downtown Nashville: 3 Star

  • GMB Rating: 4.2/5
  • Price: $140 per night
  • Reviews: 2313 Guest Reviews
  • Address: 1501 Demonbreun Street, Nashville, TN 37203

2. 1 Hotel Nashville: 5 Star

  • Rating: 4.2/5
  • Price: $304 per night
  • Reviews: 231 Guest Reviews
  • Address: 710 Demonbreun St, Nashville, TN 37203, United States

2. Memphis

Memphis is another Tennessee city that is a distance of 212 miles southwest of Nashville. This vibrant city is known for its rich cultural heritage, particularly in music and civil rights history. As you travel to Memphis, you can see various attractions and landmarks that allow you to glimpse into its past and present.

Best Places to Visit in Memphis:

These are the most famous places in Memphis:

  • Beale Street: It is the iconic street renowned for its vibrant nightlife, live music venues, and diverse entertainment options. Here, you can explore iconic blues clubs, savor delicious Southern cuisine, and learn about the area’s rich musical tradition.
  • Graceland: It was the former home of legendary musician Elvis Presley. This iconic mansion is now a museum. At this mansion, you can visit Elvis’ gravesite, and see numerous exhibitions about his life, music career, and personal things.
  • National Civil Rights Museum: This is a famous institution that chronicles the history of the civil rights movement in America. If you are interested in civil rights history, this museum is crucial for understanding America’s past and its impact on the future.
  • Memphis Zoo: This is a popular attraction that features a diverse collection of animals from around the world. You may observe a variety of species, such as pandas, lions, elephants, and more. If you are interested in wildlife and conservation, the Memphis Zoo offers an enriching experience for families and nature enthusiasts alike.

Best Time to Visit Memphis:

The best time to visit Memphis is during the spring (April to May) and fall (October to November). During these months, the weather is beautiful and there are numerous outdoor activities and festivals to enjoy.

Best Places to Stay in Memphis:

There are numerous accommodation options for dining and sleeping, but the best hotels in Memphis to stay are highlighted below.

1. The Peabody Memphis (4 star hotel)

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Price: $259 per night
  • Reviews: 8229
  • Address: 149 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103

2. Big Cypress Lodge (4-star hotel)

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Price: $407 per night
  • Reviews: 1893
  • Address: 1 Bass Pro Dr, Memphis, TN 38105

3. The James Lee House (4-star hotel)

  • Rating: 4.8
  • Price: $423 per night
  • Reviews: 81
  • Address: 690 Adams Ave, Memphis, TN 38105

3. Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a beautiful city located in southeastern Tennessee, along the Tennessee River. It is approximately 135 miles (217 km) from Memphis and 118 miles (190 km) from Nashville. The city’s strategic location and natural beauty have made it a renowned tourist attraction. Here you can enjoy an array of family-friendly attractions and outdoor adventures including hiking, water sports, and so on. If you are nature enthusiastic, then this is a must-visit destination for you.

Chattanooga

Best Places to Visit in Chattanooga

To make your Tennessee journey unforgettable, be sure to visit these places in Chattanooga

  • Tennessee Aquarium: It is one of the largest freshwater aquariums in the world. It displays a diverse array of aquatic animals from rivers and oceans, including a captivating shark tank and a mesmerizing butterfly garden.
  • Rock City Gardens: It is a unique attraction known for its stunning rock formations and natural beauty. Here you can explore the gardens and enjoy the scenic views of this iconic location.

Best Time to Visit Chattanooga

Spring and fall (September to November) are the best times to visit Chattanooga. In these seasons, you can experience mild weather and fewer crowds, which is perfect for exploration and outdoor activities like picnics.

Places to Stay in Chattanooga

For a comfortable stay in Chattanooga, consider these top accommodation options:

1. Bluff View Inn (3- star)

  • Rating: 4.7
  • Price: $198 per night
  • Reviews: 119
  • Address: 411 E 2nd St, Chattanooga, TN 37403

2. The Read House (4- star)

  • Rating: 4.4
  • Price: $255
  • Reviews: 2672
  • Address: 107 W M.L.K. Blvd, Chattanooga, TN 37402

3. The Edwin Hotel, Autograph Collection (5- star)

  • Rating: 4.6
  • Price: $245
  • Reviews: 766
  • Address: 102 Walnut St, Chattanooga, TN 37403

Natural Wonders in Tennessee

Tennessee has an amazing array of natural wonders. Here are some great destinations for amazing outdoor experiences:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It is a beautiful, most visited national park located approximately 60 miles from Knoxville and about 194 miles from Nashville. This park is well-known for its ancient mountain ranges, diverse flora and fauna, and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities.

Best Places to Visit in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • Cades Cove: It is a lovely valley renowned for its natural beauty and historical significance. This location allows you to explore a variety of hiking paths, observe wildlife, and learn about the local culture.
  • Clingmans Dome: This is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This observation tower is 6,643 feet above sea level and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
  • Laurel Falls: Laurel Falls is a must-see stunning waterfall. To get there, you have to hike a medium-hard trail that covers around 2.5 kilometers round trip. Many people come there to enjoy seeing and photographing the flowing water with green trees in the background. The sound of running water creates a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. If you enjoy nature and photography, you must view Laurel Falls when visiting the park.

Best Time to Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers exceptional experiences in spring (April to May) and fall (September to November). Spring brings moderate weather, blossoming wildflowers such as trilliums and lady’s slippers, and waterfalls at their highest flow from melting snow.

While fall provides cooler temperatures and fewer tourists, making it an excellent season for trekking and photography.

Places to Stay at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

These are some of the best places to stay when visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

1. Outland Chalet & Suites Great Smoky Mountains (3 star)

  • Rating: 4.9
  • Price: $189
  • Reviews: 104
  • Address: 285 Lone Oak Dr, Whittier, NC 28789

2. Berry Springs Lodge (4 star)

  • Rating: 4.9
  • Price:$275
  • Reviews: 341
  • Address: 2149 Seaton Springs Rd, Sevierville, TN 37862

3. Buckhorn Inn (3 Star)

  • Rating: 4.8
  • Price: $169
  • Reviews: 110
  • Address: 2140 Tudor Mountain Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Cherokee National Forest

Cherokee National Forest is a beautiful natural wonderland that covers over 650,000 acres in Eastern Tennessee’s Appalachian Mountains. It is located approximately 60 miles southeast of Knoxville. This national forest presents a diverse tapestry of landscapes, including lush woodlands, gushing waterfalls, and pristine rivers, making it a haven for about 20,000 plant and animal species.

Best Places to Visit in Cherokee National Forest

These are the best places to visit in the Cherokee National Forest

  • Watauga Lake Area: This area has numerous water recreation activities, including Watauga Lake, rivers, streams, and waterfalls. You can enjoy fishing, swimming, and boating along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
  • French Broad River: It is a popular river, ideal for outdoor sports. Here, you may go on exciting river rafting and kayaking adventures.

Best Time to Visit in Cherokee National Forest

The spring (April to May) and fall (September to November) are considered the best times to visit the Cherokee National Forest. During these periods, you can enjoy mild weather, which is ideal for exploring the vast landscapes and diverse ecosystems of the forest.

Places to Stay in Cherokee National Forest

Here are some of the top places to stay and dine in Cherokee.

1. Creekwalk Inn Bed and Breakfast at Whisperwood Farm (3 Star)

  • Rating: 4.5
  • Price: $137
  • Reviews: 130
  • Address: 166 Middle Creek Rd, Cosby, TN 37722, United States

2. Black Bear Resort

  • Rating: 4.8
  • Reviews: 110
  • Address: 1511 Dennis Cove Rd, Hampton, TN 37658, United States

Picturesque Towns in Tennessee

Tennessee has numerous picturesque towns, each offering a combination of stunning landscapes and an interesting history. Here are some places that you should visit:

Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge is a vibrant mountain town in eastern Tennessee, which is just a 6-mile distance from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is known for its charming atmosphere and wide array of attractions. Because of this, millions of visitors explore this vibrant place every year.

Best Places to Visit Pigeon Forge

These are some of the top places you must visit in this area.

  • Dollywood: It is the iconic theme park named after country music legend Dolly Parton. Here you can enjoy live entertainment and traditional artisan displays that represent Appalachian culture.
  • The Island in Pigeon Forge: It is a vibrant entertainment complex located in Pigeon Forge. This family-friendly destination offers a variety of activities, including shopping, dining, and attractions. Also, you can experience the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, a 200-foot-tall observation wheel that provides beautiful views of the surrounding area.

Best Time to Visit Pigeon Forge

The best times to visit Pigeon Forge are during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to October). These seasons offer pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and natural beauty. The spring is ideal for outdoor activities due to its mild temperature.

On the other hand, fall features stunning scenery and cultural festivals like the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival. Both periods highlight Pigeon Forge’s charm and the scenic beauty of the surrounding area.

Best Time to Visit Pigeon Forge

Places to Stay Pigeon Forge

1. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort (4 Star)

  • Rating: 4.7/5
  • Reviews: 4465
  • Price: $227
  • Address: 2525 DreamMore Way, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is an underground waterfall located around 8 miles from downtown Chattanooga. This lovely hidden gem offers a unique and exciting experience deep within Lookout Mountain’s cave system. And just a few miles down the road is Rock City where you can see 7 States from the lookout point.

Ruby Falls

Best Place to Visit in Ruby Falls

  • Walnut Street Bridge: This old bridge provides a scenic walk over the Tennessee River. You can get there in 20 minutes from Ruby Falls. You can take leisurely walks, photograph stunning sights, and enjoy the wonderful surroundings.

Best Time to Visit

Spring (March to May) and Fall (September to November) are the best times to visit Ruby Falls. Due to lower humidity and fewer crowds, these create ideal conditions for comfortably exploring the underground cave system and viewing the stunning waterfall.

Best Places to Stay

These are the top options near Ruby Falls for dining and staying there.

1. The Changor Memorial Resort

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Reviews: Excellent for amenities, scenic views, proximity to Ruby Falls
  • Address: 743 Scenic Highway, Rising Fawn, GA 30738

2. Suites Chattanooga Downtown

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Reviews: Praised for spacious suites, friendly staff, convenient location
  • Address: 1300 Carter St, Chattanooga, TN 37402

3. Hampton Inn & Suites Chattanooga/Downtown

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Reviews: Positive for cleanliness, comfort, easy access to Ruby Falls
  • Address: 441 River St, Chattanooga, TN 37402

Safety Tips for Traveling to Tennessee

When exploring Tennessee, it is crucial to prioritize safety. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind while visiting Tennessee:

  • Regularly check local news and weather forecasts, especially for outdoor activities.
  • Save important local emergency numbers, including the nearest embassy or consulate if you are an international visitor.
  • Stick to marked trails and wear appropriate footwear when hiking or exploring natural areas.
  • Do NOT take an electric only powered car into Cades Cover. The route is long and only has 1 lane.  Too many times they run out of juice and end up blocking everyone behind them for hours.
  • Always have sufficient water and snacks when engaging in outdoor activities.
  • Maintain a safe distance from wildlife and refrain from feeding them while exploring the natural areas like the Cherokee National Forest.
  • Stay in well-lit, populated areas and avoid walking alone late at night in urban areas.
  • If you are planning to rent a car while visiting, it is essential to familiarize yourself with local driving regulations and ensure you are always familiar with them. Safety should be your top priority, so always wear a seatbelt while driving.
  • Be polite and respectful towards local traditions and people.
  • Stay hydrated, especially on hot days.

By following these safety tips, you can enjoy all that Tennessee has to offer, from its iconic music scenes and historical sites to its beautiful natural parks, with peace of mind.

Conclusion

In conclusion, familiarizing yourself with essential exploration tips before your journey can significantly enhance your experience and make your journey unforgettable. Tennessee offers an incredible array of exploration opportunities with a wide variety of activities to see and do.

The above-provided exploration tips for Tennessee aim to serve as a comprehensive roadmap for travelers. By following this guide, you can elevate your trip to Tennessee into a truly special and memorable adventure.

Travel Till You Drop offers everything you need to plan your next adventure! From country guides to trip ideas, resources, and dreamy destinations, we’ve got you covered. Also, remember, safety is paramount, so consider what to carry accordingly to ensure a secure and enjoyable adventure. So why wait? Start planning your Tennessee adventure today and get ready to immerse yourself in Tennessee’s unique beauty and rich culture.

FAQs

1. What Are Some Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in Tennessee?

Must-visit tourist attractions in Tennessee include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Graceland, and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

2. What are Some Unique Culinary Experiences to Try in Tennessee?

Unique culinary experiences in Tennessee include sampling hot chicken in Nashville and trying barbecue in Memphis.

3. What Outdoor Activities are Available in Tennessee During Different Seasons?

In Tennessee, a wide range of outdoor activities is available throughout the year, varying by season. You can enjoy activities like hiking, biking, waterfall trails, wildlife viewing, climbing, zip lining, rafting, geocaching, off-roading, biking along scenic routes, and more

4. Are There Any Unique Cultural Festivals or Events to Attend in Tennessee?

One unique cultural festival in Nashville is the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Another unique cultural festival in Tennessee is the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough. These events offer distinctive experiences that showcase the diverse cultural landscape of Tennessee.

5. What Should I Pack for a Trip to Tennessee?

The packing list for Tennessee is as follows:

  • Comfortable walking shoes or boots
  • Weather-appropriate clothing, including layers for changing temperatures
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Hat or cap for sun protection
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Camera or smartphone for capturing memories
  • Portable phone charger or power bank
  • Personal identification and any necessary travel documents
  • Cash or credit cards for purchases and tips
  • Snacks or energy bars
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