Snuggled between eight other states, much of Tennessee’s popularity is due to its accessibility, its astonishing natural beauty, its rich history, and its numerous family-friendly attractions, and country music. Travel time can range anywhere between 9 to 15 hours from Houston making it a great spring break road trip choice to take with the kids.
Mountains in the Sky
The most scenic place in Tennessee is Great Smoky Mountain National Park just outside of Gatlinburg. The “Smokies” is also the most visited US national park in the U.S. Start from the small town of Gatlinburg, you can easily drive to the park’s most popular areas, or simply jump on the chairlift and head for Ober Gatlinburg, a ski resort that offers year-round activities. Head to the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle or walk across Gatlinburg SkyLift Park’s suspension bridge.
Park highlights include more than 900 miles of hiking trails suitable for both the adventurous family and for beginner hikers. The 6,643-foot-high Clingmans Dome, with its Observation Tower offers heart stopping 360-degree views. Luckily you can book overnight camping trips or rustic cabins deep in the woods.
There is so much natural beauty in Tennessee, from quiet parks and streams nestled in pockets throughout the state, those interested in fly fishing have 22,000-plus miles of streams and reservoirs to choose from.
In contrast to the pristine nature, Tennessee has some thriving cities worth exploring. From the neon lights of Nashville, the lively streets of Chattanooga, the urban wilderness of Knoxville, to the legend of Memphis. Tennessee was the starting place for many of the country’s greatest artists and musical genres making it fun to explore through its musical accolades.
Knoxville’s urban wilderness includes 50-plus miles of trails and pristine lakes. The Tennessee River runs alongside downtown, so many locals and visitors get out on the water by kayak, canoe or river boat cruise. Historic attractions include Civil War sites, battlegrounds and homes.
For history buffs the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park is the oldest and largest Civil War park in the country. For nature-lovers marvel at Ruby Falls which is home to America’s tallest underground waterfall and Rock City Gardens where you can soak up views of seven states from a platform located 1,700 feet above the ground.
Memphis – Rock n’ Roll, Blues and Soul
Undoubtedly the most famous rock ‘n’ roll residence in the world, Graceland Mansion remains a place of pilgrimage as tours of this stately home provide a unique glimpse into the King’s life. Visits of numerous fun interactive exhibits and online tours can be experienced from the website too.
When in Memphis, make the time for a stroll down Beale Street. Not only is it the main music and entertainment section of downtown Memphis, but it’s also possibly one of the liveliest spots in the city on a weekend. Memphis is also known for its ties to the civil rights movement. Visit the National Civil Rights Museum, which occupies the former Lorraine Motel (where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated)
Nashville and Country
Nashville is still the center of the nation’s country music scene and home to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Discover a piece of Greece at the Parthenon, the centerpiece of Centennial Park. The re-creation of the 42-foot statue Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece.
Music for the Road
All road trips need good music. You can download interactive guides and music playlists from www.visitmusiccity.com. There’s a guide for every interstate, so pack your bags and head towards any of Tennessee’s top attractions for your spring break.