The Getaway
Your Guide for Awesome Things to Do in Tennessee

You don’t need to love country music to love Tennessee. In fact, it is home to several other genres of music. You don’t need to like those either, though. Tennessee is more than just the home of country, soul, blues, Southern gospel, bluegrass and rockabilly music. The landscape in Tennessee is absolutely incredible. The state’s history is fascinating. The different ways to find adventure and excitement are limitless. No, you don’t need to love music to love Tennessee. You just need to love having fun!


01 Great Smokey Mountains

Do in Tennessee, Smokey Mountains KenCanning / Getty Images

Some of the United States’ most incredible scenery is in Tennessee. It is home to the Great Smokey Mountains. The park there is the most visited park in the country. In it, you will find over 1,500 different plant varieties. Black bears, deer, and other wild animals are everywhere. Also, there are many historic remains that reflect life in the 18th and 19th centuries. Included in these are churches, log houses, barns, and even a working grist mill. Hike, bike, camp and explore the Great Smokey Mountains on your Tennessee trip.


02 Cherokee National Forest

Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee Joshua Moore / Getty Images

In addition to visiting the mountains, put visiting a forest on your itinerary of things to do in Tennessee. Cherokee National Forest is located in the Appalachian Mountains. It is separated into northern and southern sections by the Great Smokey Mountains. The forest is home to over 20,000 species of plants and animals. Furthermore, its rivers are home to the 1996 summer Olympic whitewater rafting competitions. Whether on land or in water, your visit to the Cherokee National Forest promises to be incredible.


03 Hit the Trails

Do in Tennessee, Trails JMichael-Photography / Getty Images

Put traveling one of Tennessee’s trails on your list of things to do. There are over 1,100 miles of them throughout the state. Laurel Falls, Screaming Eagle, Chimney Tops and Abrams Falls Trails are just a few you can find among the Great Smokey Mountains and Cherokee National Forest. They wind through mountains and around waterfalls, through amazing landscape and scenery. Additionally, there are ten stops in Tennessee on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. Take a trail to view the natural beauty all around you or learn some historic facts. Whatever the reason, the trails are beckoning you to travel them.


04 Go Chasing Waterfalls

Cummins Falls At Cummins Falls State Park In Tennessee

Visiting one or more beautiful waterfalls is among our list of awesome things to do. They are scattered throughout the mountains, so take your pick. Fall Creek Falls in Spencer is 256 feet tall, one of the highest in the country. Or, to see a 145-foot high waterfall inside a mountain, take a trip to Ruby Falls, inside Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga. Wherever they are, the waterfalls are sights to behold.


05 Historic Sites

Do in Tennessee, Beale Street benedek / Getty Images

Its geographic location put Tennessee in the middle of the Civil War, both figuratively and literally. Many battles were fought for control of the waterways there. As a result, there are locations throughout the state that have amazing artifacts from that period. The Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s historic home, is certainly one of those places. Additionally, many hard-fought battles in the civil rights movement were fought in Tennessee. Many historic places related to that period of American history are also all around. A visit to such places as Belle Meade Plantation or Beale Street Historic District are treats the history buff in you will really appreciate.


06 Museums for Everyone

Do in Tennessee, Museums DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

Tennessee’s rich history is preserved in its many museums. The National Civil Rights Museum is certainly one to see. Shiloh National Military Park and Museum is also on the must-see list. Art museums, such as Cheekwood and Frist, are also worth a visit. Quirky museums related to its musical history are also peppered throughout the volunteer state. These include the guitar, soul music, and Southern gospel museums, to name a few.


07 Graceland

Pool room in Elvis Presley's Graceland Mansion

Your visit to Tennessee would not be complete without a visit to Graceland. It is the second most-visited house in the country. Only more visitors tour the White House. Here is the home of legendary entertainer Elvis Presley. No one person had more influence on the music industry than Elvis. Because of that, he has fans all over the world. Princes, heads of state and presidents alike have come to pay homage to this amazing man and his legacy. 17,52 square feet of rooms, great halls, and a phenomenal music room are among the highlights. With so much to see here, a visit to Graceland promises to be a highlight of your trip.


08 Get Your Drink On

Pool room in Elvis Presley's Graceland Mansion

Of things to do in Tennessee, visiting one of its distilleries is both a historical and tasty experience. There are dozens of distilleries throughout the state. Most make moonshine and whiskey. Jack Daniel and George Dickel Distilleries are among the most famous whiskey brands represented. Doc Collier and Bootleggers are among those who make moonshine. While currently legal, what fun you’ll have drinking these delicious spirits with such a colorful history. Even if you don’t partake, a visit to one of Tennessee’s distilleries will satisfy the hidden outlaw in you.


09 Hit the Adventure and Theme Parks

Dollywood wooden roller coaster ride

Tennessee is home to some of the most fun theme and adventure parks in the country. Take Dollywood, for instance. This park combines wild rides with musical attractions and concerts. It also features exhibits of crafts and wares that represent the Smoky Mountain area. In addition to Dollywood, other parks are scattered throughout the state. These include Ober Gatlinburg, Mud Island, Sky Lift Park and Sound Waves, the country’s first indoor and outdoor water park.


10 Enjoy the Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry is one of the most famous music venues since being created in 1925

Your agenda of things to do in Tennessee must include a trip to the Grand Ole Opry. Performing at the Grand Ole Opry has been the gold standard of country music since 1925. The world’s most famous performers have graced its stage. These include Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, and Charlie Daniels Band, to name just a few. In addition to live concerts, you can also see the Country Music Hall of Fame there. Stepping through the doors of this venue will give you an historical and entertaining look at one of Tennessee’s main industries.


11 Catch a show at the Ryman Auditorium

NASHVILLE, TN, USA - MARCH 24, 2019: Interior of legendary Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman once hosted Grand Ole Opry and is regarded as mother church of country music. Rolf_52 /

Nashville's Ryman Auditorium isn't just any concert venue; it's a piece of musical history. Known as the "Mother Church of Country Music," this iconic venue has hosted legends from Johnny Cash to Dolly Parton. Take a tour to soak in its rich history, or better yet, catch a live show and experience the unparalleled acoustics that have made the Ryman a beloved institution in the heart of Music City.


12 Watch the penguins at the Tennessee Aquarium

Dive into an aquatic adventure at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. This world-class facility, home to over 12,000 animals, offers an enchanting look at life under the sea. Don't miss the Penguins' Rock exhibit, where playful penguins will surely capture your heart. It's an immersive experience that's perfect for families or anyone looking to explore the wonders of our oceans.


13 Hike the Fiery Gizzard Trail

Hiking up wooden steps along the Fiery Gizzard Trail near Foster Falls, South Cumberland State Park on the Cumberland Plateau.

For the outdoor enthusiasts, the Fiery Gizzard Trail in South Cumberland State Park presents a thrilling challenge. Rated as one of the top hiking trails in the country, it offers a rugged landscape with stunning vistas, waterfalls, and diverse terrain. Whether you're an experienced hiker or just looking for an adventurous day out, this trail promises an unforgettable experience amidst Tennessee's natural beauty.


14 Explore the charming town of Gatlinburg

Nestled at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is a charming blend of natural beauty and fun attractions. Stroll through its bustling downtown, ride the aerial tramway for breathtaking views, or explore the local artisan shops. Gatlinburg is the perfect mountain getaway, offering something special for every visitor, from outdoor adventurers to those seeking cozy mountain vibes.


15 Stay at the Lodge at Paris Landing

Escape to the serenity of Paris Landing, where the newly rebuilt Lodge at Paris Landing offers a luxurious stay amidst the beauty of Tennessee's outdoors. Overlooking the vast Kentucky Lake, the lodge provides stunning views, comfortable accommodations, and a full-service restaurant. It's an ideal retreat for those seeking a blend of relaxation and outdoor activities like boating, fishing, or hiking in the nearby state park.


Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.