What can probably be the things to do in Tennessee? This is the first thought that comes to mind when planning a trip to Tennessee.
You will not want to waste your time when you visit this small state, a picturesque landlocked city with rich culture, lush greenery, hazy mountains, and great historical importance; if you plan a trip to Tennessee, you will want to make every second of it count.
Tennessee has a lot in store for you, but deciding where to go first can be a little intimidating as there are many things to do in Tennessee. From high mountains, and underground waterfalls, to exotic gardens.
So, here are our 15 top picks of things to do in Tennessee and cool places you must visit.
Top 15 Things to Do in Tennessee
Some cities in Tennessee, like Nashville, Memphis, and Pigeon Forge, are the hub of attractions for tourists. It is filled with mesmerizing sightseeing and fun Tennessee things to do at every other step.
Following are our top 15 things to do in Tennessee that you must visit and explore.
1. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Gatlinburg
Situated on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or “Smokies”, is the topmost visited national park of the United States.
With its lush greenery, broad diversity in wildlife, and some of the highest mountains in North-Eastern America, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is indisputably one of the best things to do in Tennessee.
The best place to start your escapade is Gatlinburg. From downtown Gatlinburg, you can easily drive to the most well-liked areas of the park.
Apart from the ski resort in Ober Gatlinburg, which offers year-round amusement activities for people of all age-group, and scenic drives, this park provides an almost 900 miles long hiking trail.
All in all, it is an assortment of adventurous activities for people seeking a dose of the adrenaline rush, with the added benefit of having a blue haze of nature as eye candy.
2. Grand Ole Opry – Nashville
Grand Ole Opry House is the weekly music venue in Nashville that organizes one of the best country music stage concerts. Perfect if you are into it country music or rock city
This country music hall is widely known for creating unrivaled entertainment experiences for its audience of all age groups. It is even known as the heart of country music. Some music prodigies like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Dolly Parton have staged Grand Ole Opry.
You can check the official website of Grand Ole Opry to see their updated list of the shows going to be organized before visiting. And enjoy some of the best country music.
This hall, in Nashville, also offers interactive guided tours that allow you to explore the backstage, meet some of the famous artists performing on that day, and get a chance to stand on the stage.
So, if you are a fan of country music, then visiting Grand Ole Opry in Nashville is one of the best fun things to do in Tennessee.
3. Beale Street – Memphis
From the Mississippi River to East Street, approximately covering two miles of downtown Memphis, Beale Street is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Memphis, Tennessee.
Beale Street is three blocks of bars, nightclubs, restaurants, rock ‘n roll, street performers, and a great hypnotic environment.
Great music, great food, great drinks, and great vibes to get you rolling. Tap your feet and sway with the locals around the W.C. Handy statue in the free concerts of Memphis bands. Every night locals of Memphis gather there and have an electric groove session that can even get non-dancers on their feet.
This iconic street in Memphis has its historical heritage too. It has played a significant role in the music history of America’s blues. And it’s still visible through photo ops, museums, and clubs where you can still hear the making of music in Memphis.
With its rich culture and alluring vibes, visiting Beale Street is one of Tennessee’s best things to do.
4. Lookout Mountain – Chattanooga
Lookout Mountain is the vantage point where you can get a great view of Chattanooga and Tennessee. This mountain ridge overlaps a small part of Georgia and Chattanooga in Tennessee.
This place has its own historical significance, as it was where the last battle of the Cherokees was held. And thus, it is named after a word in the Cherokee language which means two mountains facing each other.
Visiting Lookout Mountains in Chattanooga is an adventure in itself as you have to first hop on the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, which is a mile-long journey at an incline of almost 73 percent in trolley-style cars.
This means you can get equal amounts of thrill and sightseeing in one venture to this mountain system in Chattanooga, which is a fair deal for your day or half-day outing.
Undoubtedly, this is one of the best things to do in Tennessee.
5. The Parthenon – Nashville
If you are visiting Tennessee, one must-dos on your to-do list is visiting Parthenon in Nashville. Situated in Centennial Park, a short walk from the city’s downtown core, seeing it is one of the best things to do in Tennessee.
At first sight, one can think it is the Parthenon from Greece because the Parthenon in Nashville is in Athens, Greece. It is an art museum with one of the most breathtaking art pieces, starting with its building structure. The engraved features made of cement are something that will grab your attention.
It stocks sculptures, paintings, and art pieces on display from the 19th and 20th centuries.
This museum was supposed to be demolished, but the plans were ruled out due to its popularity and wide protests. And now, Parthenon serves as the art museum of Nashville.
6. Country Music Hall Of Fame And Museum – Nashville
Located in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, this country music hall of fame and museum was first established on April 1, 1967.
This museum occupies a strategic position in terms of accommodating country music artifacts. It is a heaven for people and kids who want to learn about country music and the legends who contributed heavily to them.
You can visit the Country Music Hall in Nashville, see the different outfits of all the legends, and learn a lot more about country music art than you can do in any other way.
So if you want to quench your thirst for knowing more about country music, visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville is one of the best things to do in Tennessee.
7. Graceland – Memphis
Former home of the “King of Rock ‘N Roll” musician Elvis Presley, Graceland is a strikingly exotic mansion in Memphis. And one of the best things to do in Tennessee.
After the White House, Graceland is one of the most visited homes in the United States. It has a visitor record of more than 500,000 visitors annually.
Visitors can get an interactive guided tour of the whole mansion using iPads and visit every room. The rooms are untouched, as they were when Elvis left them. Also, you can get a complete view of Elvis’s room, his father’s room, his music room, the dining room, and the fun-offering room called the jungle room. Take an insight into the life of the legendary singer Elvis Presley.
Not many people know that Elvis bought the mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, when he was 22 and named it after the previous owner’s daughter.
8. Sun Studio – Memphis
Widely known as “The Birthplace of Rock ‘N Roll” with its share of rich historical value, visiting Sun Studio is one of the coolest things to do in Tennessee.
It is probably one of the most famous recording studios, opened by the rock ‘n roll creator Sam Philips on January 3, 1950, at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis. Earlier, this place was known as Memphis Recording Service, which shared a great deal with sun records now and again.
The first rock and roll single, “Rocket 88,” was recorded in 1951 with the composer as Turner and the singers Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. After that, many singers recorded their songs in this studio: Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash.
Now, this studio is open for tours and tourists to visit. It provides guided tours for tourists, which will help you know the value of the music recorded there. And look at the mic legend Elvis Presley used to record his music.
All in all, take a close and clear look at the history of rock and roll music.
9. The Titanic Museum – Pigeon Forge
Built in a pool of water, this museum replicates the original Titanic in Pigeon Forge. Although the museum is half the size of the original RMS Titanic, once you enter through its door, you experience how it would have felt to be a part of Titanic’s first and only voyage.
This museum has, on average, 400 artefacts stored in twenty separate galleries and is crowned as the world’s largest Titanic Museum, even though the connection of Tennessee with the RMS Titanic is quite vague.
Titanic Museum gives you tickets with the name of the original passengers of the Titanic and then lets you have an exclusive tour about the journey of that passenger and if they survived or not.
You can even have your self-guided tour of the Titanic Museum. Which will take, on average, close to two hours, but it is worth the while.
At the end of the tour, they take you to the Titanic Memorial Room, where they tell you about all the real passengers of the Titanic. So, it is quite possibly one of the most worthwhile and fun things to do in Tennessee.
10. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies – Gatlinburg
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is counted as one of the top-rated aquariums in the United States. With an estimated capacity to hold 1.4 gallons of water, this aquarium is a habitat for over 100 thousand marine animals.
In downtown Gatlinburg, visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is one of the best things to do in Tennessee. This Tennessee aquarium has one of the longest underwater tunnels in the world. This 340 feet long aquarium allows its visitors to take a closer look at the wide diversity of amazing sea creatures in this Tennessee aquarium.
To entertain all the age groups of its visitors, this Tennessee aquarium holds special events, such as Painting with Penguins, now and again, making it one of the most renowned attractions in Tennessee.
And quite possibly one of the most fun places to visit in Tennessee.
11. The Lost Sea Adventure – Sweetwater
It is one of the most exotic attractions and best things to do in Tennessee; it has a rich historical tale of its own.
During the American Civil War, Confederate soldiers mined the caverns of Lost Sea in search of saltpeter, an ingredient of gunpowder, and formed this beautiful, trapped under the cave, lake. After the war ended, the locals converted it into a party room called Cavern Tavern.
Lost Sea is located within Craighead Caverns. One of the largest underwater lakes in the United States, beneath a huge cave system. Evidence has that the Cherokees first discovered the Lost Sea of Tennessee, but the white settlers made the first documented discovery.
America’s biggest non-subglacial lake is under the extensive cave system between Sweetwater and Madisonville, Tennessee.
You can take a boat trip under the cave, get lost in the striking sight of waterfalls, and explore crystal clusters. A company that will make you forget that you are even in Tennessee anymore.
12. Ruby Falls – Chattanooga
Situated deep inside the historic Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Ruby falls is one of the deepest and tallest underground waterfalls in Tennessee, US.
It has a 260 feet long, glass-front elevator that takes you down to explore the thundering and mesmerizing waterfalls. After descending, you will get a guided tour on foot along the cavern trails to see the scenic views and the breathtaking waterfall.
On the trip down, you can learn about the cave’s history, get an exclusive look at the waterfall light show, and learn about the various rocks.
Visiting Ruby Falls in Chattanooga is one of the most fun things to do in Tennessee. You can visit Lookout Mountain, enjoy the landscape, and descend to get lost in the mesmerizing waterfalls.
13. Ryman Auditorium – Nashville
Situated in Nashville, Ryman Auditorium is one of Tennessee’s most visited tourist attractions.
This auditorium was known as the Carnegie of South when it was opened in 1885. Ryman Auditorium is a live music venue with more than two thousand people and is considered a National Historic Landmark.
This place is the mother church of country music in the United States and has evolved substantially over the years.
From being the house of the Grand Ole Opry, it is now one of the most celebrated music venues for modern live music and a premiere hall for music and concerts.
A visit to this auditorium in Nashville is undoubtedly one of the most worthwhile things to do in Tennessee.
14. Parrot Mountain and Gardens – Pigeon Forge
Parrot Mountain and Gardens, a bird park spanned in approximately four acres of landscaped gardens, is situated above the Pigeon Forge nearby Dollywood and Splash Country.
It is a bird sanctuary home to thousands of exotic birds, flowers, and plants worldwide. And the visitors are prohibited from touching them. But at the parrot mountains in Pigeon Forge, you can hold these birds in your hands and play with them.
You can spend your whole day playing with these birds, observing all the exotic flowers and plants, taking a trip down to the gardens and nurseries, and getting allured by the charm of nature. What adds even more appeal to it is that you can enjoy all of this against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Although most birds fly freely or hop across the lawns, you will be surprised to see that some of the birds on this mountain live in unique cages that look like little cottages.
With all of its beauty and refreshment sources, visiting Parrot Mountain and Gardens in Pigeon Forge is one of the fun things to do in Tennessee.
15. Civil War Heritage
Tennessee was perhaps the most altered state by the Civil War than any other state.
This state provided most soldiers for the Southern cause and more troops for the Northern reason than any other Confederate state. Tennessee has witnessed innumerable battles, and its remnants are still there for visitors to see and commemorate.
This Civil War Heritage Area represents the state’s and people’s endeavors to preserve, interpret, enhance, and promote the legacy of the Civil War and its repercussions in Tennessee. One of the best things to do in Tennessee for people who love learning about cultures and heritage.
They have preserved all the artefacts used during the war for people to explore and remember them.
You can visit all of the Civil War sites, learn all about the battlefields, and the historical importance of that Civil War site, and get a closer look at the place that has seen the consequence of a deadly conflict.
A tour of the nearby places will help you learn about the conflict’s generals, soldiers, and leaders. This area has hand-drawn maps of all the battlefields and towns.
These are the top 15 things to do in Tennessee and places you should take a trip to when you visit Tennessee and explore what Nashville, Pigeon Forge, Memphis, Chattanooga, and Gatlinburg have in store.
Other places you can visit on your trip are;
- National civil rights museum perfect if you are interested in martin Luther king jr or civil right history in genral
- Tennessee valley railroad museum
- Theme park or world’s fair park
- hiking trails like tennessee whiskey trail, blue ridge mountains trail and
- Visiting the Tennessee river
With great historical importance and being the birth place for people like andrew jackson and jerry lee lewis, tennessee is incredible place. Here you can find many fun activities and things to do in Tennessee, Like Lost Sea, Lookout Mountain, Country Music Hall of Fame, and Sun Studio, are the perfect place for refreshment and tour. So pack your bags and visit Tennessee for your break.