Tennessee, the Volunteer State, draws countless visitors all year as a crossroads of culture and one-of-a-kind experiences that delight and inspire.
From exceptional live music and captivating history to diverse culinary delights and outdoor beauty, if you’re looking for variety in your travels, then Tennessee is the place to see.
Having lived here for over 8 years, I personally know the rewards Tennessee can bring to any traveler. Check out our list of 11 interesting and beautiful places to visit in Tennessee, and then start making plans to experience this incredible state!
Looking for more US travel inspiration?
Check out these guides on the best places to visit in…
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Straddling the border of Tennessee and North Carolina along the Appalachian Mountains, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the United States’ most-visited national park year after year. When you make a visit to this iconic park, it’s easy to see why.
With no entrance fee and spectacular nature easily accessible, the Smokies have something for everyone.
Hikers will love some of the park’s most famous trails, including Mt. LeConte (stay overnight at one of the rustic mountain top cabins if you can!), Charlie’s Bunion, and Chimney Tops.
Casual nature fans will also appreciate the park’s scenic drives. An early morning jaunt to spot a black bear at Cades Cove, as well as braving the altitude to reach the viewing tower at Clingman’s Dome, Tennessee’s highest peak, are both must-sees!
2. National Civil Rights Museum – Memphis, TN
Located at the historic Lorraine Motel, where civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum is both sobering and inspiring.
The museum provides a thoughtful and immersive journey exploring America’s civil rights movement from slavery to the present. Visitors also get to see the Lorraine Motel still frozen in time, looking like it did when Dr. King spent his last moments there.
Full of valuable education and perspective, a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum should be at the top of any Tennessee traveler’s list.
3. Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN
A visit to Tennessee wouldn’t be complete without seeing one of country music’s most iconic venues in Music City.
The Ryman Auditorium is often called the Mother Church of Country Music and sits in the heart of downtown Nashville, next to Broadway and all of Nashville’s famous honky-tonks.
The original home of the Grand Ole Opry for many years, the Ryman was initially built as a tabernacle for church revivals and current-day concert goers still sit in pews surrounded by stained glass windows.
4. Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge – Chattanooga, TN
Stretching out over the Tennessee River, Chattanooga’s Walnut Street Bridge is one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world at 2,370 ft.
Providing beautiful views of the area, this marvelous bridge is a wonderful way to explore the dynamic, growing city of Chattanooga.
The Walnut Street Bridge connects travelers to the North Shore district and the Bluff View Arts District, two bustling neighborhoods worth seeing!
5. The Natchez Trace Parkway
Starting in Nashville, TN and meandering down to Natchez, MS, the Natchez Trace Parkway is the ultimate scenic backroads drive.
Part of the National Park system, the Natchez Trace Parkway follows a historic transportation route filled with viewpoints, picnic areas, historical monuments, and hiking and horseback riding trails.
Grab your convertible or motorcycle and cruise along the beautiful Tennessee countryside! I recommend stops at the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge, Leiper’s Fork, Jackson Falls, and the Meriwether Lewis Monument.
6. Historic Downtown Franklin – Franklin, TN
Founded in 1799, the city of Franklin’s historic downtown provides a plethora of quaint shops, restaurants, dessert options, and Civil War history worthy of exploration.
Downtown Franklin’s Main Street will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Hallmark movie with it’s classic small-town, postcard-worthy vibe. Throughout the year, the street provides the backdrop for some excellent community festivals that draw thousands of visitors annually.
For a nice date night or family outing, you’ll want to enjoy dinner at the Red Pony Restaurant or McCreary’s Irish Pub before catching a show at the revitalized historic Franklin Theatre across the street.
7. Hi-Way 50 Drive In – Lewisburg, TN
There are several drive-in movie theaters sprinkled throughout small towns in Tennessee, but the Hi-Way 50 Drive In outside Lewisburg is Tennessee’s oldest. In business since 1950, the Hi-Way 50 Drive In gives visitors the quintessential drive-in movie experience.
With the drive-in showing both current and classic films, you’ll love watching a double feature under the stars with a backdrop of rolling Tennessee hills in the distance.
Be sure to visit the concession stand for some freshly made local treats you can’t find in movie theaters. A warm summer night of movie magic and nostalgia can’t be beat!
8. The Hermitage – Nashville, TN
Nashville was the home of former president Andrew Jackson, and today you can still visit his sprawling estate, The Hermitage, firsthand and experience the life of one of the USA’s most well-known presidents.
Visitors can tour The Hermitage mansion and see the home still furnished with Andrew Jackson’s personal belongings, as if he never left. The outdoor grounds provide an opportunity to visit the former president’s final resting place, as well as explore his family’s beloved garden.
In addition, The Hermitage includes an adjacent museum full of immersive exhibits and artifacts, so you can gain a fascinating understanding of the popularity, influence, and controversy of Andrew Jackson’s legacy.
9. Shiloh National Military Park
Tennessee is famous for its Civil War history, including one of the Civil War’s most important battles, the Battle of Shiloh. Today, history buffs and curious travelers can visit Shiloh National Military Park and relive this historic battle at one of the best preserved battlefields in the nation.
Visitors can walk through these rural, quiet fields and reflect firsthand on this momentous battle that involved over 100,000 soldiers and produced 23,000 casualties, forever altering the course of the Civil War and the nation.
Full of fascinating exhibits, historical markers, cannons, and monuments, a trip to relive the Battle of Shiloh is an experience you won’t soon forget.
10. The Stone Door – Savage Gulf State Natural Area
Stretching along the Cumberland Plateau, Savage Gulf State Natural Area draws adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts for its expansive wilderness and scenic canyons.
One of the most impressive and popular features of the park is the Stone Door, a deep crack at the top of a rugged canyon into the gorge below. Looking like a door for giants, the Stone Door was once used by Native Americans for passage centuries ago.
With its expansive views and awesome hiking and camping, you’ll want to make time to enjoy Tennessee’s nature at its finest and visit the Stone Door.
11. The Parthenon – Nashville, TN
Located in Nashville’s Centennial Park, a life-size reproduction of Greece’s famous Parthenon draws countless travelers to this historical oddity in the heart of Music City.
Originally constructed in 1897 for Tennessee’s Centennial Exhibition, the replica Parthenon is a popular gathering place and photo-op for both tourists and locals. Get your selfie stick ready!
Inside, visitors can see an impressive 42-foot statue of Athena and seasonal art exhibits. Outside, the Parthenon provides a lively atmosphere of recreation, picnics, festivals, and free concerts in the summer.
Did we miss any of your favorite places in Tennessee?
Let us know in the comments if there are any more places in Tennessee that you would add to our list!