Nashville Skyline with stadium

10 Best Places in Tennessee You Need to Visit

Tennessee is known for its vibrant music scene, stunning natural landscapes, and rich history. It offers a range of experiences waiting to be discovered. From Nashville's energetic streets, the home of country music, to the serene beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee has diverse attractions. History buffs can explore Civil War sites, while nature enthusiasts can enjoy scenic parks and trails. Cities like Memphis and Chattanooga provide unique cultural and commercial experiences. If you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or cultural enrichment, Tennessee has something for everyone. Here are 10 of the best places in Tennessee that you need to visit.


Nightlife in downtown Nashville. Editorial credit: Photo Spirit /

Known as "Music City," Nashville is the heart of America's country music scene. A visit isn't complete without stopping by the iconic Grand Ole Opry, home to legendary performances for nearly a century. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum dives into the rich history and evolution of country music. Besides its musical roots, Nashville boasts a vibrant food scene, offering Southern comfort food and innovative culinary delights. Explore the historic streets of downtown Nashville, where you'll find lively honky-tonk bars, unique boutiques, and an infectious energy that captures the spirit of this incredible city.


Memphis, Tennessee Downtown Skyline Aerial.

Memphis is famous for its key role in rock 'n' roll and blues music. This vibrant city is full of cultural and historical landmarks. No visit to Memphis is complete without seeing Graceland, Elvis Presley's lavish estate, where fans can learn about his life and legacy. Beale Street, the city's musical hub, offers a lively scene with neon lights, music clubs, and delicious barbecue joints. The National Civil Rights Museum, at the former Lorraine Motel, provides a detailed look at the American civil rights movement. For some outdoor fun, Shelby Farms Park offers a large green space for various activities and leisurely walks. Combining history, music, and natural beauty, Memphis offers an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of Tennessee.


Gatlinburg, Tennessee downtown in the summer season.

Gatlinburg, located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is a gateway to many natural and commercial attractions. Adventure seekers can start with a hike through the scenic trails of the national park, where they’ll find lush forests, waterfalls, and stunning views. History enthusiasts can visit the historic Old Mill, a working gristmill from the 1830s, to learn about the area's past. The town itself features the bustling Parkway, filled with souvenir shops, artisan galleries, and delicious eateries. Don't miss the Gatlinburg SkyLift for breathtaking views of the Smokies from Crockett Mountain. Families should visit Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, which has a wide variety of marine life and interactive exhibits. With its natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant commercial scene, Gatlinburg is a must-visit on any Tennessee trip.


 Aerial of Downtown Chattanooga TN Skyline, Coolidge Park and Market Street Bridge.

Chattanooga, known as the "Scenic City," is famous for its beautiful landscapes and rich history. A visit to the Tennessee Aquarium along the picturesque riverfront offers an engaging look at both freshwater and saltwater ecosystems. History enthusiasts can explore Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, the site of important Civil War battles. For stunning natural beauty, Lookout Mountain is a must-see, featuring Rock City Gardens and panoramic views from Lover's Leap. The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo, once a busy railway terminal, now serves as a charming hotel, entertainment complex, and dining spot. With its mix of natural wonders, historical sites, and modern attractions, Chattanooga offers a diverse and enriching experience for visitors.


Knoxville, Tennessee Downtown Skyline.

Knoxville is a lively city with a great mix of historical sites and modern attractions, making it a must-visit spot in Tennessee. Start your trip at Market Square, a bustling area full of shops, restaurants, and cultural events that showcase the local lifestyle. For a bit of history, check out the East Tennessee History Center, where you can learn about the region's past through interesting exhibits and archives. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the Ijams Nature Center, an urban wilderness with trails, water activities, and scenic spots perfect for relaxing. Don’t miss the Sunsphere, a remnant of the 1982 World's Fair, which offers panoramic views of the city and stands as a unique symbol of Knoxville's blend of history and modernity. With its mix of commercial energy, natural beauty, and rich history, Knoxville offers a diverse and enjoyable experience.

Pigeon Forge

Great Smoky Mountain Wheel at The Island in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Editorial credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Pigeon Forge is a lively destination that combines entertainment with natural beauty. One of the top attractions is Dollywood, a theme park named after the country singer Dolly Parton, featuring thrilling rides, musical performances, and cultural crafts. Nature lovers can explore the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with its many trails and stunning views. History enthusiasts will enjoy the Titanic Museum Attraction, an immersive experience that replicates the grandeur of the ill-fated ship and tells its story through interactive exhibits. Additionally, The Island in Pigeon Forge offers shopping, dining, and entertainment, including a grand Ferris wheel with panoramic views of the Smokies. With its mix of natural landmarks, historical sites, and commercial attractions, Pigeon Forge offers a delightful experience for all travelers.


Civil war landmarks in historic Franklin, Tennessee.

Franklin, a charming city just south of Nashville, combines historical significance with modern amenities. You can see the city's rich past in landmarks like the Carter House and Carnton, both important during the Civil War and now museums that offer detailed historical insights. For nature lovers, the Natchez Trace Parkway offers scenic beauty ideal for hiking, biking, or simply enjoying the diverse landscapes. Downtown Franklin is lively, featuring charming boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops, perfect for shopping and dining. The Factory at Franklin, a renovated industrial complex, has a unique mix of artisanal shops, eateries, and events, reflecting the town's vibrant community spirit. With its blend of cultural, historical, and natural attractions, Franklin offers a well-rounded and enriching experience for visitors.


Lynchburg Hardware and General Store.

Located in the heart of Tennessee, Lynchburg is a charming town filled with historical, commercial, and scenic landmarks. The most famous attraction is the Jack Daniel's Distillery, where visitors can take guided tours to learn about the history and craftsmanship of one of the world's most famous whiskeys. History buffs will enjoy the Moore County Courthouse, a beautiful example of 19th-century architecture that still serves as a hub for civic activities. For a taste of nature, Tims Ford State Park offers a picturesque lake, perfect for boating, fishing, and hiking. Downtown Lynchburg features unique boutique shops and local eateries where visitors can enjoy authentic Southern cuisine and handmade crafts. These attractions make Lynchburg a delightful destination with a rich mix of history, natural beauty, and local culture.

Johnson City

Johnson City, TN: An open grassy park called "King Commons." Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake /

Johnson City, located in northeastern Tennessee, combines natural beauty with historical significance. The city features Buffalo Mountain Park, a 725-acre preserve with hiking trails and views of the Appalachian Mountains, making it a favorite for nature lovers. History buffs can visit the Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site, which includes a museum and historic buildings from the 18th century. For those who enjoy a lively downtown, Founders Park is a key spot with its creek, amphitheater, and frequent community events and festivals. The Johnson City Community Theatre, one of the country's oldest amateur theaters, offers various performances and adds to the city's cultural richness. With scenic parks, historical landmarks, and community events, Johnson City offers a well-rounded experience.

Oak Ridge

Clark Park, Oak Ridge, TN.

Oak Ridge, known as the "Secret City," boasts a rich history and offers a range of attractions for all interests. The American Museum of Science and Energy features exhibits on the town's key role in the Manhattan Project, making it a must-see for history and science buffs. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy the University of Tennessee Arboretum, which offers a peaceful retreat with its extensive plant collection and walking trails. The Oak Ridge Playhouse, one of the Southeast's oldest theatres, provides a cultural touch with its year-round theatrical performances. Melton Lake Park is perfect for outdoor activities like rowing, fishing, and picnicking, with stunning lake views. These attractions make Oak Ridge a unique place where history, nature, and culture come together.

From Music To Mountains -- Tennessee Awaits You

Tennessee's diverse attractions make it a must-visit for any traveler. From the vibrant music scenes in Nashville and Memphis to the stunning natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains and Lookout Mountain, the state offers something for everyone. History buffs can explore significant sites in Franklin, Chattanooga, and Lynchburg, while outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy scenic trails and parks in Johnson City, Knoxville, and Gatlinburg. Each city provides a unique blend of cultural, historical, and commercial experiences. Whether you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or cultural enrichment, Tennessee's rich mix of landmarks and attractions ensures an unforgettable trip. 


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