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10 Must-See Places in Tennessee: The Ultimate Guide to the Volunteer State

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Roopa Sandhir
Roopa Sandhirhttps://nomadlawyer.org/
With over a decade as a PR professional, Roopa is an avid backpacker, a raconteur of words who shares an almost romantic relationship with nature.

Best Places to Visit in Tennessee: Home to the country music capital of the world, Nashville, Tennessee, is also known for its high-quality whiskey and famous landmarks, which include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

What is Tennessee famous for?

The state has been home to many legendary singers, including Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton.

Visitor attractions in the city include awe-inspiring lush mountains, vibrant and ethereal landscapes, mysterious caves, breathtaking waterfalls, amusement parks and a bustling nightlife.

Is Tennessee a friendly state?

The classic Southern charm of Tennessee has earned the state a reputation as one of the friendliest places in America. Travelers love the locals’ enthusiastic  attitude and eagerness to show off their city.

Add in the live music scene, and it’s clear why so many fall in love with this place.

Still, deciding which are the best places to visit in Tennessee?

Look no further!

Here is a list of the best places in Tennessee to visit with awe-inspiring lush mountains, mysterious caves, magnificent waterfalls, amusement parks and buzzing nightlife.

#1 Nashville

Located along the Cumberland River in the north-central region of Tennessee, Nashville is known for its music, art and culture and has been dubbed ‘Music City’.

The city has a lot to offer with its scenic parks, wildlife, riverside trails, historical buildings, and museums. The Cumberland River flows through downtown Nashville making it a convenient location for kayaking or canoeing during the summer months.

Places to Visit in Tennessee

This vibrant city has become a tourist destination because of its musical heritage and rich entertainment history. Travellers can visit a diverse mix of large music festivals every year.

Visitors also love the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, home to thousands of artefacts from country music history. These include Elvis Presley’s 1950s Cadillac and Johnny Cash’s first guitar.

Another major attraction is The Grand Ole Opry which hosts a weekly country music show that has been running since 1925. You can also get tickets to see a performance in person or attend one of their annual events, such as the Fan Fair or the CMA Music Festival.

2nd Avenue Entertainment District is a vibrant area of downtown Nashville with buzzing nightlife, fine restaurants and shopping. Several bars, clubs, and restaurants are located here.

Ideal for visiting with your family and friends, the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere has over 1,000 animals representing 150 species worldwide.

Famous as one of the leading zoos in North America for breeding endangered species such as giant pandas. You can also see sharks, rays, and other fish that are native to Tennessee’s waters in the aquarium.

#2 Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Located in the southern Appalachian mountains and straddling western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers an area of 522,427 acres.

With over 800 miles of hiking trails, it is renowned as the most visited national park in the country, making it a favoured destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The mountains have been home to a long line of human settlers—from the prehistoric Paleo Indians to 19th-century European settlers.

Over 10 million people visit the park yearly to enjoy scenic drives along Cades Cove or the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

However, the best place to view wildlife is in open areas like Cataloochee and Cades Cove, where visitors get some of the best opportunities to see elk, white-tailed deer, black bears, raccoons, turkeys, and woodchucks.

Visitors are thrilled by the lush landscape and love to indulge in outdoor activities like hiking, biking and fishing. Pack a picnic for breathtaking hikes to Abrams or Rainbow Falls.

Be inspired by the park’s historic gristmill and Cable Mill at the Cades Cove Visitor Center.

Be inspired by the park’s historic gristmill and Cable Mill at the Cades Cove Visitor Center. Stop by the Sugarlands Visitor Center to see wildlife exhibits and pick up unique souvenirs in the gift shop.

#3 Memphis

Located near the Mississippi River in Tennessee’s southwestern corner, Memphis is the largest city in the state.

Known for its nightlife and rich musical history, Memphis offers visitors a vibrant music scene and some of the country’s most renowned barbecue restaurants.

It’s recommended to visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Several visitors also explore the National Civil Rights Museum and the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.

Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum

You can soak up the atmosphere of bustling Beale Street, a premier place to experience the city’s vibrant nightlife. The area offers many bars, restaurants, live music venues, and delicious barbecues.

There’s no better place to learn about Memphis’ deep musical history than Beale Street, where you’ll find blues clubs and the legendary Sun Studio.

Get close to wildlife at the Memphis Zoo and learn about the animals that live here. The family-friendly activities and educational programs make it perfect for all ages.

Memphis’ cultural

Fishing on the Mississippi River and hiking in Mud Island River Park are just some of the outdoor activities available in the city. Among Memphis’ cultural offerings are the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

Visitors can attend a classical music performance at the symphony and view artwork in the museum.

#4 Pigeon Forge

Recognized for its Southern culture, stunning scenery, exciting attractions, gorgeous foliage, crafts, entertainment, five-star restaurant and theme parks, Pigeon Forge is one of the most visited destinations in the state.

If you’re in the mood for unparalleled entertainment, shopping, fine dining and thrill, this city has something for everyone!

Visitors from across the globe visit this vibrant and spectacular city to go on a rafting trip or ride a horse through the mountains, while others love hiking or walking through the woods.

Dollywood theme park is one of the most popular attractions in the area. It features rides, shows, entertainment and more than 100 rides for children and adults alike, with live music performances throughout the day!

Pigeon Forge

Other popular places include witnessing the shows at Wonderworks and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and hiking Cade’s Cove. The city also has several museums, including Titanic Museum Attraction, Titanic Museum Attraction II and Titanic Museum Attraction III.

These museums will take you back in time to experience life during the early 20th century when the Titanic sank.

Dollywood theme par

The Dixie Stampede dinner show features a fantastic dinner with all the fixings and an elaborate show featuring horses and riders from across America performing stunts while they cook your meal right in front of you!

Visitors can also indulge in bass fishing on Douglas Lake or hiking at Cade’s Cove or Little River Canyon National Preserve.

#5 Knoxville

Surrounded by spectacular views, the mountain town of Knoxville is a popular tourist destination with lush verdant foliage and a few hidden gems near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The town is an artsy place with a laid-back vibe. Visitors can indulge in exhilarating outdoor adventure activities, delectable food, civil war history and warm southern hospitality.

The city is a cultural hub with a vibrant music scene, fun nightlife and many other attractions that make it a great place to visit. One of the most popular attractions in all of East Tennessee is the iconic structure of the Sunsphere Observation Tower.


This breathtaking viewpoint from the tower gives visitors an enthralling view of the landscape and stunning views of nearby downtowns, such as Oak Ridge and Maryville.

Head to Bearden Hill Nature Park and Recreation Center to indulge in some exhilarating outdoor activities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, swimming pools and more! Concerts, festivals, and cultural events are also held in the city.

The Dogwood Arts Festival

The Dogwood Arts Festival is one of the popular annual events held in April that celebrates the area’s blooming of Dogwood trees. Some of the most notable historical landmarks in the country, including James White Fort and the Tennessee Theatre which you must visit.

Shop at Market Square Park is terrific since this outdoor shopping mall features some of Knoxville’s best boutiques, restaurants and cafes, and live music every weekend during spring and summer (May through September).

The Knoxville Zoo is another favourite attraction for visitors. It is home to over 1,000 animals from all over the world. Plenty of exhibits and shows are sure to please any zoo tourist.

You can even rent one of their cabins if you want to stay overnight at this park!

Finally, visit the Bicentennial Mall State Park while you’re here in Knoxville! Again, this park offers diverse tourist attractions, including hiking trails and scenic overlooks.


What is the number 1 attraction in Tennessee?

With over 3 million visitors each year, Dollywood is the most popular attraction in Tennessee

Does it snow in Tennessee?

It can snow anywhere in Tennessee during winter, but in reality, only a few places have the certainty of snowfall. The Appalachians are one such place; it has the highest chance of seeing snow.

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