I grew up in Georgia, which meant that the Volunteer State was just a hop, skip, and a jump away. My family often trekked to Tennessee for family vacation, so I became very familiar with the famous haunts and hidden treasures of the state. Here are five of my favorite cities to visit:
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This city, named one of America’s prettiest, is at the top of my list. It’s nestled at the bottom of the Smoky Mountains National Park, so it’s the perfect place to relax after a long day of hiking and exploring. It’s gorgeous year round: fresh flowers in the spring, swimming holes in the summer, iridescent colored trees in the fall, and mounds of snow in the winter. Regardless of the season, there are plenty of great activities year-round for outdoor enthusiasts. You can hike to waterfalls, swim in hidden holes, ski, hike, fish, raft, ride horses, or see an aerial view of the city on the Gatlinburg Sky Lift. There are also plenty of cute, quaint shops to enjoy, found in the Mountain Mall or Arts and Crafts Loop.
Memphis is remembered as the former home of Elvis Presley and the birthplace of rock’n’roll. Elvis lovers can tour the fourteen acre Graceland Estate: walk through the Graceland Mansion, view a museum filled with Elvis-themed memorabilia, and see Presley’s private jet, the Lisa Marie. The nearby Sun Studio is also a wonderful place to check out, since it’s where legendary performers like Presley and Johnny Cash once recorded their music. Other must-see Memphis attractions are the zoo, the local breweries, and the historic Orpheum theater.
Image by Ron Cogswell via Flickr
If you love country music, this is the place for you. Music is everywhere—there are even stands set up in the airport so that musicians can play there! Music City lives up to its name with unforgettable concerts and tiny venues dedicated to country music. You can watch a show at the Grand Ole Opry House or Ryman Auditorium, visit the iconic Bluebird Café to hear local artists play, or bust a dance move to the upbeat music found in the honky tonks downtown. You can also check out the Gaylord Opryland Resort, home to a large mall, aquarium, and atrium with over 10,000 plants. During winter, the resort has a Christmas light show with over 2 million bulbs, so be sure to check that out if you’re visiting in the next couple of weeks! If you’re a history buff, check out Belmont Mansion, the numerous civil war sites, The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson’s former home), and the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens that was built in 1897.
Image by jpc.raleigh via Flickr
This quaint, charming town is another one of my favorites. It’s a historic community with mansions and brick buildings built in the 1800s, so it’s a fun place to explore. You can visit the Carter House, a historic home that served as a battlefront during the Civil War, or a number of nearby plantations. The Franklin Theater is a fun place to frequent on the weekends, since they play classic movies and feature small concerts. The Factory at Franklin is also a fun place to visit if you want to visit some cute shops and antique stores.
Image by Kay Gaensler via Flickr
Chattanooga is the perfect place for a day trip. Outdoorsy types will enjoy the natural beauty ranging from an underground waterfall in an underground cavern to the majestic ancient rock formations of Rock City. There’s also a breathtaking panoramic view of seven states.
No matter which city you choose to visit, you’ll be stunned by the authencity, hospitality and beauty of the area. So plan a trip to visit the South’s finest today.
This post was written by Kate McGillicuddy who blogs about travel.