The Must-Sees of Tennessee


Are you taking a trip to Tennessee? This state is home to some real cultural gems. From the stunning scenery of the wilderness to the relics of the unforgettable musicians discovered here, there’s something to entertain everyone. Here’s our rundown of a handful of the must-see attractions.

The view from Cade's Cove [ photo: by Matthew Macpherson / CC BY 2.0 ]


Visit Cades Cove

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is well and truly awe-inspiring, and it’s no surprise that it’s the most visited national park in the U.S. Here, the Appalachian Trail is a beautiful way to walk in the footsteps of the original settlers, but the most breathtaking walks are in Cades Cove.  

This part of the park is quite popular, so if you’re planning on visiting, it’s worth it to arrive early. That way, you’ll not have to share the space, and you’re much more likely to see some of the wildlife. The park is home to around 1,600 black bears, which are a real treat to spot. As well as black bears, there are turkeys and deer in abandon and a few coyotes and even wild boar. Besides walking and nature watching, you can hire camping and fishing gear and embrace all that the Smoky Mountains have to offer.

Graceland

Visit Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley [ photo: by Corey Robertson / CC BY 2.0 ]

Everybody knows that about Graceland, home of the late great Elvis Presley. His daughter Lisa Marie Presley now owns the Memphis mansion, which has been open to the public since 1982. For Elvis fans, this is akin to Mecca, but even those who aren’t devotees are likely to enjoy a visit here. It’s the second most visited home in America, and it’s not hard to see why! A tour takes you through the living room, the kitchen, the office, the TV room and the “Jungle Room.” You’ll be able to climb aboard his airplanes and pay your respects in the Meditation Garden where he lay alongside the rest of his family.

Eat at Stock & Barrel

Having visited Graceland, it would be rude not to pay a little homage to “The King.” This Knoxville burger joint specializes in two things only: burgers and bourbon. The Elvis burger is an out-of-this-world eating experience, a juicy beef patty topped with organic peanut butter, fried bananas and crispy bacon. The owners of the restaurant are firm believers in farm-to-table dining and work with local farms to ensure all their produce is of top quality. All their beef comes from pasture-fed Holstein cattle raised by the Mitchell Family, a sixth-generation Grainger County farmer. The buns are from the Flour Head Bakery in Knoxville, and all the toppings are as local as possible, so it’s as close to a guilt-free burger as you’re likely to find!

Watch Sports at the FedExForum

Don’t leave Tennessee without watching some live sports, especially since the Memphis Grizzlies have done well in the NBA, so their tickets are super affordable. Their home is the enormous FedExForum, capable of holding more than 18,000 fans, with 1,000 premier courtside seats if you feel like splashing out! 

If you do choose to watch a game, then treat yourself to a cheat day! Some of the food stands here are quite something. On the south side, you’ll find the UpTempo Grill where the Memphis fries are out of this world — crisp, sweet potato fries topped with smoky pulled pork, melted pimento cheese and sour cream. Delicious. Of course, if you’re not a huge sports fan, this stadium is also home to plenty of other spectacles, from famous musicians to stage shows and more. Just pick a day, and there’s bound to be something to entertain you!

Visit Ruby Falls

Another attraction for outdoorsy types is Ruby Falls, the country’s largest and deepest waterfall. Here, we recommend heading to the limestone caves in Chattanooga and exploring a vast underground cave network. The caves formed by subterranean streams slowly eroding the limestone walls, and this waterfall was only discovered in 1928. 

The discoverer Leo Lambert was so inspired by the huge waterfall that he named it after his wife Ruby and opened it to the public so that everyone could marvel at its beauty. The waterfall itself lies 341 meters underground, and the hundreds of gallons that rush through each minute continue their journey into the Tennessee River. 

If you happen to be traveling with a thrill-seeker, then treat yourself to a trip on the High Point ZIP Adventure that’s right outside the caves. The adventure features numerous different climbing and swinging routes for beginners up to experienced climbers, all with staggering views of the Tennessee Valley.

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