Tennessee is one of the most popular states for tourists in the south of the USA. Millions of travelers flock here every year to marvel at the breathtaking beauty of this area’s unique nature. Long rivers, huge canyons, fascinating waterfalls, these are a few examples that are offered to visitors here. Various national parks are popular destinations for people.
In addition, Tennessee is also a mecca for music fans. From rock ‘n’ roll to country, music legends like Elvis Presley or Jonny Cash find their origin here. Cities such as Memphis or Nashville are year after year the place to go for millions of music fans. The following are the 16 most beautiful places in Tennessee worth visiting. Here travelers can discover all sorts of interesting and exciting things.
Knoxville is a medium-sized city in Tennessee with a population of just under 180,000. This makes Knoxville the third largest city in the state of Tennessee. The city has several interesting tourist attractions to offer travelers. First of all, the Market Square should be mentioned. This is a historic district dating back to 1854, as well as a pedestrian zone, which is located in the center of Knoxville. At that time, the regional farmers established the Market Square to trade their goods. Today it invites to extensive shopping.
The Museum of Art is a very attractive destination mainly for cultural enthusiasts. In addition, the Knoxville Zoo offers a wide range of animals for the whole family. Especially the little guests are happy about a visit here. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a must for every tourist. The old town of Knoxville with its numerous bars and restaurants invites you to stay a while after a busy day.
The medium-sized American city of Chattanooga has about 180,000 inhabitants. It is thus the fourth largest city in Tennessee and is located in the southeast on the beautiful Tennessee River. Not far away is the neighboring state of Georgia. The southern Lookout Mountain, an impressive mountain, is particularly prominent in the landscape. This is a popular destination for many tourists. The Creative Discovery Museum is a focal point for all technology enthusiasts. How does wind energy work and what do we mean by mechanics?
What is the weather and how is it created? Such questions are explained here impressively and vividly for laymen. Visitors to the city who are inquisitive should not miss this. The freshwater aquarium is one of the best in Tennessee. Various giant aquariums with a total of more than 10,000 species of fish, reptiles and amphibians present a fantastic picture of the flora and fauna of the Tennessee River. In addition, one also gets an insight into the South American and African underwater world.
14. Pigeon Forge
The picturesque small town of Pigeon Forge is located in Sevier County in the state of Tennessee and has just over 6,000 inhabitants. Nevertheless, it has a lot to offer in terms of tourism and is definitely worth a visit if you are staying in the Tennessee region. First of all, there is the Dollywood theme park, named after the famous American country singer Dolly Parton, with its various rides and attractions. There is also an adjacent water park and a costume museum.
You should also visit the Titanic Museum, which tells about the sinking of the legendary ship in 1912, as well as the historic water mill of Pigeon Forge. Various country revue shows, such as the Smoky Mountain Opry, and an outlet mall with a wide range of clothing, which is interesting for shopping enthusiasts, are among the other tourist highlights of the city.
The city of Nashville is the capital of the state of Tennessee. It is, so to speak, the Mecca of the country music scene. The Grand Ole Opry House with the very popular “Grand Ole Opry” stage and the radio show of the same name are the flagship of Nashville. Lovers of this music genre flock to this city by the thousands every year.
Magnetic points for them are the “Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum” and the historic “Ryman Auditorium”, which can be found in the center of the city. In the district, music-loving tourists can enjoy live music and all kinds of food and drinks in various honky-tonk bars. The country legend Johnny Cash has his own museum dedicated to his life and work. Especially for fans, this is a special attraction of Nashville.
The birthplace of the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Elvis Presley, is Memphis. Every year, massive numbers of fans make the pilgrimage to the birthplace of their great idol. This city with its 650,000 inhabitants is located on the Mississippi River in southwestern Tennessee. Many musical genres such as blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll originated here. The legendary Sun Studio produced various albums by Elvis Presley and Jonny Cash. The Graceland mansion is the main attraction of Memphis.
This is where the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll lived. In addition, Memphis is home to the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Blues Hall of Fame. The National Civil Rights Museum provides information about the history of the civil rights movement. If you want to party, visit Beale Street in Memphis. This is a lively nightlife area with various pubs and restaurants.
11. Lover’s Leap
Lover’s Leap is a tourist-worthy area of Rock City, a mountainous region that belongs to Tennessee and Georgia. This is a favorite destination of many tourists. Thousands of people travel here every year to admire the fascinating nature. The view of the impressive mountain landscape from this point is unique. This is also the reason why whole crowds make pilgrimage to this place. If you visit Rock City, you should definitely not neglect Lover’s Leap.
10. Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in the so-called Appalachian Mountains and attracts 10 million visitors every year. This makes it the most popular national park in the entire United States of America. It belongs to the American states of North Carolina and Tennessee. This national park, established in 1934, is part of the World Natural Heritage, of gigantic scale and impressive beauty.
Here visitors will find the largest primeval forest area in the eastern United States. The forest is home to the oldest trees in the world. Unique specimens of gigantic scale allow the many tourists to take impressive and spectacular nature photos. The trails extend for a total length of 1,400 kilometers. The park owes its name to the Great Smoky Mountains.
9. Big South Fork National River
The Big South Fork National River is a popular tourist area in Kentucky, Tennessee. This river is of impressive beauty and therefore attracts large crowds of people every year to hike through the nature there or to stay at the numerous campsites. Here tourists can also find an enormous number of natural stones in the form of bridges, which are unique.
These works of art of nature can be found only here. Standing in front of them, a kind of Wild West feeling arises in the viewer. One knows these works of art also many westerns, if one can regard them however in real, this produces a feeling of humility.
8. Rainbow Hall
Rainbow Hall is a popular focal point of Rock City Gardens at Lookout Mountain. Lookout Mountain is an impressive mountain located in the border area of the states of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. The nearest major city in the area is Chattanooga. Together with Sand Mountain, it is part of the Cumberland Plateau.
From this area, one can look out over a total of seven states in the United States. The passage, which is called Rainbow Hall, is a carry-through, with colored windows made of mosaic stones. The impressive spectacle of the outside light hitting these windows makes it shine in rainbow colors. Since 1932, the “Rock City Gardens” has been operated as an amusement park.
7. Rock Island State Park
Rock Island State Park is found in the Warren County and White County area of Tennessee. It is located in the southeastern part of the USA. The park owes its name to the Rock Island community of the same name. Particularly worth seeing is the Great Falls Dam, which dates back to 1915. The park has a total area of 3.57 square kilometers.
A special destination are the so-called Twin Falls, a group of several waterfalls that spring from a cave. A side trip should be made to the Great Falls Cotton Mill, which was built in 1892 and was in operation until 1902. In 1982, this mill would be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as would the dam.
6. Burgess Falls State Park
Burgess Falls State Park is a state park and state natural area in Putnam County and White County, Tennessee, in the southeastern United States. It is located along a massive gorge. Here the Falling Water River flows through a breathtaking waterfall 76 meters down. The park has a total area of 1.4 square kilometers. It is named after a veteran of the American Civil War from 1860 to 1865, Tom Burgess. It is open to tourists all year round.
The picturesque mountain village of Gatlinburg can be found in eastern Tennessee. From here you can reach the huge Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From Gatlinburg, you have an impressive view of this 20,000-acre park. A particularly beautiful view is offered by the Space Needle observation tower, which has a height of 124 meters. In addition, tourists have the option of taking the Sky Lift, a cable car that runs for a total length of 3.4 kilometers, to overlook the landscape.
Of course, this should only be used by people who are free from giddiness and have no fear of heights. The aerial tramway goes from the center of the village to the very popular amusement park. In the winter months, Gatlinburg is also a very desirable ski resort for all winter sports enthusiasts.
4. Hurricane Mills
Hurricane Mills is a small community in Humphreys County, Tennessee. The main attraction for tourists is Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. It houses an interesting museum about the legendary American country singer Loretta Lynn. Many interesting items related to the musician’s work can be admired by fans here. In addition, the Gutter Bound Distillery is worth a visit for all friends of good whiskey. One can get an impression of the production of the favorite drink of the Southerners.
3. Signal Mountain
Signal Mountain is a peaceful suburb of Chattanooga in Tennessee with a population of about 8,000. Many hikers are attracted to this place every year. Those who want to enjoy the tranquility of nature will get their money’s worth here. The numerous hiking trails of Signal Mountain are very popular. They lead to beautiful lakes and breathtaking waterfalls. From the viewing platform “Signal Point” you have the best view of the Tennessee River. During the summer months, tourists are entertained by various outdoor theaters and musicals at the “Signal Mountain Playhouse”.
2. Cumberland Caverns
The Cumberland Caverns are located in McMinnville, Tennessee. They are a national natural landmark of outstanding beauty. Cumberland Caverns is the second longest cave system in all of Tennessee. Aaron Higgenbotham discovered the entrance to these caverns in 1810. Since then, this cave system has become a popular destination for many adventurers.
Today, tourists are offered various tours of different interest through the caves. So there are interesting hiking tours, tours with overnight stay in the caves up to extravagant events of birthday parties and weddings in the caves. Fascinating are the many stalagmites and stalactites. Various commercial events are held in the so-called “Volcano Room”. Also of breathtaking beauty is the huge “Hall of the Mountain King”.
1. Abandoned Tennessee State Penitentiary
The Abandoned Tennessee State Penitentiary is a former correctional facility located just west of downtown Nashville. This prison was opened in the year 1831. It was built at that time by Enoch Guy Elliott. He was also the main guard of the prison at that time. During the American Civil War, it served as a military prison from 1863. In 1992, the facility closed due to overcrowding.
It was severely damaged in the great tornado of 2020. Various movies, such as “The Green Mile” or “Walk the Line” were filmed in this building. Today, tourists can visit these facilities. Among other things, the remains of the electric chair chamber and the abandoned cell blocks provide goose bumps for the numerous visitors. Those who are interested in getting an impression of life in a prison can experience it firsthand at the Abandoned Tennessee State Penitentiary.