As one of the largest thriving economies in the world, it should no longer be a surprise that there are countless hidden gems in the United States. Backpackers from all over the world dream of one day exploring the U.S. but with 50 states to choose from, it gets a bit hard to take a pick from where we should go next. This time around, we are going to talk about The Volunteer State, Tennessee.
Located in the southeastern region of the U.S., Tennessee is bordered by Virginia to the northeast, Missouri to the northwest and Kentucky to the north. It is surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains to the east while the Mississippi River forms a natural border between Tennessee and Mississippi on the west. It is one of the smaller states in the U.S. In fact, in only ranks 36th considering land mass.
It’s capital and largest city is Nashville. Following Nashville as the largest and most populous city is Memphis. As a state, Tennessee’s economy is powered by agriculture, manufacturing, and of course tourism. There are a lot of hotspots to visit in The Volunteer State but before we get to the juicy segment, let’s first take a gander at a summary of the state’s history first.
- 1 Tennessee History
- 2 How To Get To Tennessee
- 3 Budget For Traveling In Tennessee
- 4 When Is The Best Time To Visit Tennessee
- 5 Tennessee Activities
- 5.1 For Nature-Lovers
- 5.2 For Music Aficionados
- 5.3 For the Curious and Knowledge Seekers
- 5.4 For the Adventurous
Tennessee was admitted into the Union on June 1, 1796. By that time, it was the 16th state to have been admitted into the U.S. It was also the first state that was created from a territory under the jurisdiction of the U.S. federal government. When it was first admitted, its boundaries were established. The Constitution of the State of Tennessee’s Article 1, Section 31 says that the boundary of the state is measured at the highest point of Stone Mountain where it intersects with Virgina. It will run through the Appalachian Mountains that separates the state from North Carolina. It adds that all the territory, lands and water in the boundaries are for the newly instated limits of Tennessee.
The state had a low-point shortly after being incorporated into the Union as countless Native Americans and Cherokees were uprooted from their settlements and were forced to march to immigration depots located in Eastern Tennessee. Then after this, the state was split as there were some lawmakers that wanted to separate from the Union. The state was also the battlefield of many battles during the Civil War.
On August 18, 1920, the Volunteer State was the 36th and last state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This major change allowed women to vote which was a huge progress for the entire state of the U.S. at the time. Against all odds, the state was able to pull through to become what it is today.
Since one of its defining economic boosters is tourism, you can bet that there are great places to visit in the state of Tennessee. Before you pack your bags and leave for the Volunteer State, you should take note of these important details first.
How To Get To Tennessee
If you are going to Tennessee and are coming from countries overseas, then you may want to book a flight that gets you to the Nashville International Airport. Not only will this land you right at the capital city of the state, it is also the easiest route to the Volunteer State. It handles flights coming from most of the major cities in the U.S. and even London.
Another top airport in the state is Memphis International Airport. It handles most flights coming from all over the U.S. From these major airports, you simply have to take a cab to get to your hotel but that is if you choose to stay at the major cities. If you want to get around Tennessee, you may want to carefully plan your route.
In cities like Nashville and Tennessee, public modes of transportation such as busses and taxis are fairly common. If you are hoping to get around the entire state, your best bet would be to find a car renting service but even these services might limit your travel routes to certain cities only. That means if you want to rent cars all throughout, you may have to coordinate with several providers depending on what city you are on.
If you are in major cities just like Nashville, you’ll have your work cut out for you as ridesharing services are available in these areas. However, you may have to bring some extra budget as you’ll be spending a lot more than when traveling via public transit. On the bright side, this is a convenient way of getting from one point to the other.
Budget For Traveling In Tennessee
There’s a good chance that most of your time in Tennessee will be spent in Nashville. That’s why we’ll use the city as the benchmark for your budget for this trip. Expect the rates in other areas to be lower as Nashville is the main attraction in the city.
The daily average spending for Nashville travelers is tagged at $130. This includes accommodation, transportation, food and tickets to attractions. If you are really pinching your money, then you could whittle down that price to at least $80. Our tip is to book with hotels that have free food. Don’t worry as this is a fairly common offer especially during busy tourist seasons.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Tennessee
The temperature in Tennessee could reach up to the low 90s during the months of July and August so if you want to avoid the heat, it’s best to avoid visiting during these months. The cooler seasons are from December to February where temperatures could drop to the 40s. Rain is fairly common from March to May and from November to December. The month with the least rain is October. That being said, the month of October is the best time if you want to avoid the heat and rain.
The problem with visiting from April to October though is that hotel rates are a little higher than usual so be sure to plan and book your trip ahead so you can save up even for a few dollars only. During these months, tourism is at its peak as well so prepare for some long lines and queues at Tennessee’s attractions.
If you want to bag the best deals on hotels and airfare, visit the state from December to February. Aside from having the best prices, these months will also have the least visitors too. Just try to avoid visiting during Christmas week as that is when visitors start to come back again.
There are a lot of things to do in Tennessee. And there is enough for everyone. Whether you’re craving for some adrenaline, arts, or whatnot, you can find it all in Tennessee. What’s even better is that this state has activities and attractions for people of all ages. However, it might take forever for us to enumerate all of them. But we can give you a glimpse of the activities that you can do. Here’s a rundown of them.
If you want to get closer to nature, exploring the Lookout Mountain should be on top of your list of things to do in Tennessee. As you reach the top, you can fill your eyes with one of the best views from above. The best part of this place is that it has several other activities to offer too. It has an underground waterfall and cave for you to explore. In addition to that, it has a playground for kids and a cafe with snacks up for sale.
Keep in mind that this trip will require quite the trek so come equipped with the proper attire such as hiking shoes, light and breezy clothing, a bottle of water, and of course, a camera for the best photos in Tennessee. At the very top of this mountain is a view that you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
2The Lost Sea
Exploring caverns is one of the things to do in Tennessee that you will enjoy too. The Lost Sea, for instance, is one of the caverns you shouldn’t miss. Aside from the cave that you can get to explore, it also has the largest underground lake where you can have fun boat trips and have a glimpse of its history with the guided tours being offered.
When inside the caverns, be sure to listen to the guide carefully as there will be some instances where your actions are going to be limited. These are all for your safety and well-being though so it’s best to follow their simple but necessary instructions.
3Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hiking is one of the best things to do in Tennessee as well. And what better way to do it than by exploring the trails that Great Smoky Mountains National Park has. It may have a long trail that stretches up to 850 miles but doing this activity is all the more worth it as you’ll get to see a beautiful natural scenery and biodiversity. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers one of the magnificent views of nature that it’s even hailed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This place is amazing especially during the summer and spring where it is dry and breezy. If you don’t want to get your stuff wet or your boots muddy, be sure to check out the weather advisory if rain is going to come to the state. If you persist on visiting during the rain, make sure to wear anti-slip shoes as it can get very slippery in some areas.
4Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium
Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium offers more than 3,500 acres of nature preserve that any nature-lover will definitely enjoy. Here, you can go hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium also offers rope courses and zip line for those who are looking for some adventure. What’s even better is that it also has a 44-acre lake, a planetarium, and plenty of exhibits that even kids will enjoy too.
Aside from being a site for amazing views and even better experience, the Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium will also offer a knowledgeable experience for your kids and family. The amount of knowledge you’ll get here will be worth more than anything else you get in Tennessee.
For Music Aficionados
5Graceland and the Elvis Presley Memphis Complex
This attraction is one of the most popular rock n’ roll residence around the globe. Many music-lovers travel far and wide to visit this mansion. This is because here, you can get a glimpse of the life of the King of Rock, Elvis Presley with tours that allow you to see his living quarters. The place also includes exhibits about Presley and his influence – from his outfits to even his impressive collection of private planes.
If you are a fan of the King of Rock then you should definitely visit this place. Aside from knowing more about the man himself, you’ll also be struck with a sense of nostalgia upon visiting this place.
If you’ve been a music aficionado for some time now, you probably know Sun Studio. This known as the birthplace of rock and roll and visiting it is one of the best things to do in Tennessee, especially if you are a true music-lover. Yes, the Sun Studio offers tours for those who want to personally see the place where rock and roll started. And who knows, you might get to meet some singers too as the studio is still recording.
If you are up for it, you can even record some songs of your own. However, the highlight of visiting this place will be the up and coming musicians that you’ll be meeting along the way. Listening to their hopeful and inspiring music will certainly get you your groove on.
7The Grand Ole Opry
Visiting The Grand Ole Opry is probably one of the best things to do in Tennessee for music aficionados too. This is because this place serves as a stage for countless music performances, particularly shows devoted to honoring country music and its history. Even if you’re not a music-lover, you will still love it here as it offers one-of-a-kind entertainment experiences for people of all ages.
Before you visit The Grand Ole Opry, be sure to check out the schedule of performances. Who knows, you might see some of your favorite artists perform. Even if you don’t know the artist, try watching a show or two and you might discover new tunes to rock out to.
For the Curious and Knowledge Seekers
8Creative Discovery Museum
Of course, your travel experience in any place won’t be complete without a trip to its museums. This is to get to know more about the place’s history. But a visit to the Creative Discovery Museum is one of the most recommendable things to do in Tennessee for museum hoppers. This is because it offers a fun, interactive, and educational experience with its 8 permanent exhibits. People of all ages will surely have fun.
The Creative Discovery Museum is a hands-on experience for your kids so be sure to educate them along the way. While this place is usually focused for the kids, you’re sure to have fun in it as well trust us.
If you want some history, visiting the Carnton Plantation is one of the things to do in Tennessee that you will enjoy. This museum-historic plantation played a huge role during the American Civil War. And because of that, you’ll surely get a much deeper understanding of the property, as well as the Civil War and its impact on Franklin, Tennessee, and the whole nation. On top of the educational tour in Carnton Plantation, you can also score some history books and collectibles, available at the plantation’s gift shop, to take home.
Though simple and plain, the Carnton Plantation is a soothing and relaxing experience around one of the most historic places in Tennessee. Don’t forget getting some extra money for souvenirs!
10Jack Daniel’s Distillery
Have you ever wondered how the world’s most famous whiskey, Jack Daniel’s, is made? Then feed your curiosity and tour Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Seated in Lynchburg in Moore County, this well-known distillery offers a tour that unveils the history of Jack and the business. Aside from that, you can also get to know how your (probably) favorite whiskey is made and, of course, do three tastings. There are also rare special edition or commemorative bottles being sold in its alcohol shop.
Now this trip isn’t one for the kids. It’s definitely for the adult travelers in your group. Of course, a little taste of the legendary Jack Daniels will be a part of this drink so prepare your taste buds for an amazing trip.
The Titanic movie was a hit when it hit the big screens in 1997, and it sure is still popular today. Too bad we can’t get to see the original ship. But you can still get a glimpse of it as Tennessee has a half-scale replica of it, the Titanic Museum. As its name suggests, this 2-story attraction has galleries filled with hundreds of artifacts that are directly from the ship and its passengers. The interiors will make you feel what it’s like to be inside the original Titanic ship too.
12National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is filled with artifacts that are related to the US Civil Rights Movement’s history. Aside from these displays, you can also get to explore several interactive multimedia exhibits. The best part of this museum is that you can rent it for events such as holiday parties, corporate events, and the likes.
13American Museum of Science and Energy
Visiting the American Museum of Science and Energy is one of the cool things to do in Tennessee, particularly if you love Science. Here, you can get to learn more about the history of nuclear energy. Some of the highlights in this museum are videos, photos, and other artifacts and documents that tell the story of Oak Ridge’s part in the development of the Manhattan Project and the nuclear bomb. There are fun hands-on displays as well that kids will enjoy.
For the Adventurous
Named after Dolly Parton, Dollywood is one of Tennessee’s most popular attractions. In fact, millions of visitors, on average, flock Dollywood per year. This is because it’s a perfect place for family fun. But aside from that, it’s also a place for adrenaline seekers. It has more than 40 rides for you to enjoy. One of the crowd favorites is the Lightning Rod and you shouldn’t miss it if you’re visiting this place as this is known as the fastest wooden roller coaster in the world. There are also seasonal festivals, stage shows, and other events that will make your visit all the more enjoyable and memorable.
There’s nothing more fun and exciting than skydiving and it’s also one of the best things to do in Tennessee. Tennessee has several sky diving schools that will let you get a different view of Tennessee – and that is high up in the sky. You can dive with an instructor or you can learn how to skydive alone. Suit up and dive with Tennessee’s top skydiving schools such as Sky Dive Tennessee, Adventure Sky Diving, and Sky Dive King Air.
There’s still a lot more to explore and try out in Tennessee for everyone. These activities are just the tip of the iceberg. Have you tried these activities? Tell us your experience in the comment section below.