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15 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Tennessee

Tennessee, nicknamed The Volunteer State, sure has a lot of places to see and visit. When browsing through some of the most amazing pictures I was surely amazed with how many awesome sites I still have to visit in this state!

Lover’s Leap


Source: Kenneth Dean / shutterstock Lover’s Leap

Tennessee is home to some beautiful natural sights, but perhaps the best of the lot can be found at Lover’s Leap, which is where you can spot seven differed states – how many can you see? The rare white Fallow deer can also be seen within the Rock City attraction, but for the best views of the land surrounding Lookout Mountain visitors will have to be brave enough to cross the Swing-A-Long bridge. From Lover’s Leap you will, on a clear day, be able to see Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. If you squint, you might just make out Kentucky and Virginia too – a great test for the eyes.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Source: anthony heflin / shutterstock Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Straddling the border of Tennessee and North Carolina is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which is the most visited national park in the States. Biking, hiking, fishing and camping are among the many leisure activities available within the grounds of the park, while Cades Cove – which we will come to later in this list – is the single most frequented destination in the national park. Horseback Riding and picnicking are among the most popular activities in the park, which has two main visitors’ centers: Sugarlands Visitors’ Center and Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

Big South Fork National River

Big South Fork National River

Source: anthony heflin / shutterstock Big South Fork National River

Covering a massive 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the whole of Tennessee. There is a huge array of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs to explore in the park, which has a rich and diverse history dating back for 10,000 years. With five camping grounds, any happy camper visiting during a trip to Tennessee is well catered for, while taking a dip at Bandy Creek Swimming Pool is also a must during a visit to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

Rainbow Hall

Rock City Trail near Chattanooga

Source: Bob Pool / shutterstock Rock City Trail Near Chattanooga

No trip experiencing the nature of Tennessee would be complete without taking in the amazing sight of Rainbow Hall, which can be found at Rock City. For anyone who has ever wondered what Chattanooga would look like with purple or green air, Rainbow Hall provides the unforgettable answer to that question. Rainbow Hall has been made possible by windows covered in coloured gel, providing a completely unique way to take in the simply stunning scenery of Tennessee.

Rock Island State Park

Rock Island State Park, Tennessee

Source: Michael Shake / shutterstock Rock Island State Park

As far as beautiful places to visit in Tennessee go, Rock Island State Park is right up there at the top. The Great Falls Gorge is one of the main natural and historical features of the park, which also boasts Twin Falls, a cascade waterfall spilling down from an underground cavern into the park’s Caney Fork. The 883-acre park can be found on the headwaters of Center Hill Lake and there is no doubt that the scenery on show is among the finest on the Eastern Highland Rim.

Burgess Falls State Park

Burgess Falls State Park

Source: anthony heflin / shutterstock Burgess Falls State Park

The waterfalls at Burgess Falls State Park are some of the most beautiful sights in Tennessee. Located on the Falling Water River, fishing and picnicking are some of the most popular activities at the park. To see the most impressive of the waterfalls within the grounds of the park, the best trail to take is the 1.5-mile round-trip River Trail/Service Road Loop, which is of moderate difficulty. The half-mile Ridge Top Trail is also well worth taking on for the stunning views down the Falling Water River.


Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Source: Sean Pavone / shutterstock Gatlinburg

During winter in Tennessee, there is nowhere more beautiful to visit than the mountain resort of Gatlinburg. From November to February the town is lit up by stunning environmentally-friendly displays, with unique LED lighting displays along Gatlinburg’s famous Downtown Parkway, adjacent River Road, among the most impressive of the sights on offer. Great Smoky Mountains National Park animals such as deer, foxes, squirrels and rabbits make up a part of the lighting displays, while a shiny rocking horse and dancing fountains can also be spotted. Ober Gatlinburg is Tennessee’s only ski resort, while Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a popular attraction too.

Hurricane Mills

Old Mill At Loretta Lynn

Source: countryboy1949 / Flickr Old Mill At Loretta Lynn’s Ranch

Hurricane Mills – the home of Loretta Lynn’s ranch – is one of Tennessee’s most popular tourist attractions. Loretta Lynn’s Coal Miner’s Daughter Museum is one of the main things to do, while the area also plays hosts to several concerts and motocross races, the highlight of which is probably the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. Loretta Lynn’s ranch is arguably even more beautiful in its own way than Graceland, with Hurricane Mills also home to one of the most famous haunted houses in the region – dare you check it out?

Signal Mountain

Signal Mountain, Tennessee

Source: Melinda Fawver / shutterstock Signal Mountain

Not only is Signal Mountain one of Tennessee’s most beautiful places to visit, it is certainly one of the state’s most historic locations too. Signal Point was originally used by Native Americans to send messages and today, the views from the top, looking over the Tennessee River Valley and the City of Chattanooga, are among the most unforgettable in the States. Nearby places of interest include the Tennessee Riverfront and Aquarium, the Hunter Museum of Art and the Chattanooga Choo Choo, as well as all the many attractions of downtown Chattanooga.

Dollywood Express Steam Train


Source: Edward C. Denny / Wikimedia Dollywood Express Steam Train

To experience the breathtaking scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains, there are few better journeys than the Dollywood Express Steam Train, a 20-minute mountain excursion providing some of the most beautiful views of anywhere in the United States, let alone in the state of Tennessee. The theme park the railway is a part of was renamed Dollywood in the 1980s after singer Dolly Parton purchased a part-stake in the park. In a typical season, around three million people visit Dollywood, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Tennessee.

Cade’s Cove


Source: Jon Bilous / shutterstock Cade’s Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Among the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies, Cade’s Cove is arguably the most beautiful spot anywhere in the state of Tennessee. The isolated valley attracts more than two million visitors a year, with a trip around Cade’s Cove taking between two to four hours by car at a leisurely pace – it is also permitted to cycle through Cade’s Cove, with bikes available to rent too. White-tailed deer are among the wildlife that can be spotted at Cade’s Cove, as well as black bears, coyotes, skunks, groundhogs and many, many other types of animals. The Cades Cove Historic District is, quite rightly, included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cumberland Caverns

Cumberland Caverns

Source: JRippestudios / shutterstock Cumberland Caverns

One of the longest caves in the whole world, Cumberland Caverns is a must for anyone seeking a truly unique experience during their visit to Tennessee. Year-round commercial tours of the cave are available through the Cumberland Caverns company, while there is also the chance to go spelunking or even host a wedding party in the cave system. In total, there are well over 30 miles of caves and underground passageways to explore a Cumberland Caverns.

Abandoned Tennessee State Penitentiary

Abandoned Tennessee State Penitentiary

Source: Small Town Big World / shutterstock Abandoned Tennessee State Penitentiary

The old Tennessee State Prison is one of the most beautiful buildings in Tennessee, as well as one of the most physically imposing. The prison has been closed since 1992 but in the last two decades it has grown into one of the state’s most popular strange tourist attractions. The Green Mile, Attica, and The Last Castle are among the movies to have had some scenes filmed at the old Tennessee State Prison. A tour of the abandoned building even provides the chance to experience the eerie site of the prison’s old Death Row. The prison can be found just a few miles to the west of Nashville and is one of the spookiest and most memorable days out in the state.

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Source: anthony heflin / shutterstock Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Hiking fanatics will find few better places to visit in Tennessee than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With 850 miles of trails and unpaved roads to cover, there is so much to see and do for walking enthusiasts. Alum Cave Bluffs and Arch Rock are among the must-see sights within the grounds of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, while experienced hikers can even take on the third highest summit in the park, Mount Le Conte. The mountain is famous for having the highest inn that offers lodging for visitors of anywhere in the Eastern United States.

25 Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Tennessee

Are you on the hunt for the best places to visit in Tennessee for your upcoming trip?

This guide details some of the coolest destinations in Tennessee – from large cities to historical landmarks to some of the nation’s most prized natural spots!

Tennessee truly has it all. The culture is deep-rooted, the nature is pure, and the people are hospitable! We hope that you find some of these places in Tennessee worthy of being put on your itinerary!

25 Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Tennessee (+ Map!)

Let us know the top places that you think should be on a Tennessee bucket list in the comments!

Tennessee Bucket List Destinations Map

To add this map to your Google Maps account, click the ‘Star’ icon next to the map name. You can then view it on your cell phone or computer by heading to your Google Maps account, click the menu and add it to ‘Your Places’.

Best Places to Visit in Tennessee – The List


Located in the eastern part of the state of Tennessee on the Tennessee River, Knoxville has a lot to offer its visitors all year round!

Knoxville is well-known for its delicious Southern food, a lovely and historically renovated downtown, and an enthusiastic sports culture that unites sports lovers from all around the US.

Also, if you are visiting Knoxville then you have an excellent opportunity to take a road trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park since it is located only one hour away from the city.

Knoxville - best places to visit in Tennessee

When you’re in America’s most-visited national park, you can find a wide range of activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, and of course, photographing the wonderful nature.

There are many attractions in Knoxville that you can visit such as popular places like World’s Fair Park at the Sunsphere building, the Tennessee Amphitheater, pedestrian Market Square where you’ll find colorful historical buildings and many lovely cafes and shops, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and much more!


The city of Memphis is located in southwestern Tennessee and is a huge hub for rock ‘n’ roll, blues, hip-hop, and soul music.

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Famous Sun Studio legendary artists like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, BB King, and more recorded their masterpieces in the city. Memphis is also home to Graceland and it attracts heaps of visitors annually!

Beale Street in Memphis

Memphis is also a great place for food lovers because the city can offer you one of the best barbecues in the state – so be sure to try some delicious Memphis BBQ when you’re there! It is a must for any itinerary!

You can also visit the STAX Museum of American Soul and Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum to dive more deeply into the city’s musical history and learn more about it.

There are so many things to do in Memphis that everyone will fall in love with the city!


Nashville is the capital of the state of Tennessee and was founded in 1779 and is one of the most popular destinations for country music in the United States.

It is where you will find the famous Country Music Hall of Fame that is located in one of the most well-known parts of the city in Music Row. This is also where you will find the famous Grand Ole Opry House.

Nashville has many other beautiful and great attractions to visit and one of them is the Nashville Parthenon, a reproduction of the Athens Parthenon.

Bicentennial Park in Nashville Tennessee

An essential thing to do in Nashville is to indulge in some of the famous Nashville hot chicken – a very typical local treat that is fried chicken with tons of cayenne in the seasoning. It is the perfect warming dish for winter too (if you like things spicy)!

Head to Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, the place that is regarded as original hot chicken (although it is thought that Nashville’s African-American community actually has been preparing this style of chicken for generations).

Need more tips? Check out our guide for how to spend an epic weekend in Nashville!


Located on the Tennessee River close to the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga is the state’s largest city in the southeastern corner of the state close to the border of Georgia.

Chattanooga is renowned for Ruby Falls, the largest underground waterfall near Chattanooga… and in the entire United States! It is also famous for being home to one of the country’s most famous and largest military parks, Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park in the country.


Chattanooga is one of the best places to visit in Tennessee and is also famous for being close to the world’s steepest incline railway called Lookout Mountain Incline Railway.

Another popular place in the city is the small neighborhood called Bluff View Art District.

Another interesting place to stop by in Chattanooga is the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. You will have the chance to see how to explore deeper into the history of the railroad in the state, dating back to the beginning of the 20th century.

Another reason to visit the city? There are so many cool places to go hiking near Chattanooga – seriously, you will be amazed!


One of the most beloved places to visit in Tennessee is Gatlinburg, the gateway to the gorgeous Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Gatlinburg is also famous for having an observation tower called the Space Needle which is 407 feet tall, which is essential for any weekend itinerary!

You’ll also find the Sky Lift, an aerial cable car with a length of 2.1 miles that connects Gatlinburg’s downtown to the Ober Gatlinburg ski resort and amusement park.

If you’re seeking something unique and interesting to do, be sure to visit the Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum where you can see more than 20,000 different salt and pepper shakers.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Another great attraction in Gatlinburg that will keep you entertained is the Anakeesta theme park where you can hike near and on rock formations in the Smoky Mountains, walk on the tree canopies that are connected to each other and located 60 feet above the ground, and much more.

Movie buffs can visit the Hollywood Star Cars Museum where you can see more than 60 different types of famous cars from iconic movies like the Batmobile (from the 60s), and more!

One thing you’ll love about the city is that it is a great place to visit any time of the year. Gatlinburg is pretty in winter and also remarkably beautiful in every other season!

Pigeon Forge

The Tennessee mountain town of Pigeon Forge is one of the best vacation destinations in the eastern part of the state.

Pigeon Forge is the home of Dollywood, an Appalachian theme park where you can have a blast and ride roller coasters, enjoy water slides and parks, and see the Museum of Dolly Parton that showcases her costumes.

Pigeon Forge is also famous for other attractions like the Smoky Mountain Opry which is a country music venue, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede (a famous dinner theater), and more.

Pigeon Forge

Another cool thing to do in Pigeon Forge is to take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel that was built on the island there – it is a great attraction for both adults and kids!

During your visit to Dollywood, make sure you try the world-famous cinnamon bread at The Grist Mill. You can even see how it is made!

There are also plenty of cabins nearby if you’re planning on turning this into a romantic escape with your loved one.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the best places to visit in Tennessee (and North Carolina) for nature lovers is definitely the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the eastern part of the state.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States and even outranks Yellowstone National Park and Zion National Park with its 12m+ annual visitors!

The gorgeous and spacious national park is known for its diverse animals, ancient mountains, and miles upon miles of forests. It is beautiful in every season, including winter!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Tennessee National Park has many stunning natural and historical sites like Cades Cove, an isolated valley surrounded by mountains and colorful forests, camping sites, and hiking trails.

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad historical railway is a place where you can take an old train around, a perfect activity for children and families.

The Great Smoky Mountains is the perfect weekend getaway from Nashville and other places in Tennessee (and outside of the state)!


Spanning over 13.8-acres, Graceland is one of the most famous landmarks in the state of Tennessee. It used to belong to the King of the Rock ‘n Roll, Elvis Presley, and since 1977, it has been in the possession of his daughter.


Graceland opened to the public on June 7, 1982, and thousands of fans and tourists annually visit. Since 1991, Graceland has been on the list of the National Register of Historic Places. In 2006, it was declared a National Historic Landmark.

If you are visiting Memphis, you will definitely need to stop by this legendary attraction!

Cades Cove

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s isolated valley, Cades Cove is one of the most beautiful places in the park and has been well-known over the years by settlers and those who have visited.

If you are visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll definitely need to take the Cades Cove Scenic Loop drive where you will see breathtaking nature brimming with mountain peaks and green forests.

Cades Cove

There are three access points to Cades Cove Loop Road: Laurel Creek Road, Parson Branch Road, or Rich Mountain Road. They can be closed during wintertime, so research before planning your trip!

Ruby Falls

In 1928, Leo Lambert discovered one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the United States. Ruby Falls is the tallest and deepest underground waterfall in the country and one of the best places to put on your Tennessee bucket list!

Ruby Falls is open for visitors and is located near Chattanooga at Lookout Mountain.

Ruby Falls

You will take a glass elevator ride down into the mountain to see the falls. You’ll be able to admire the light show at the cave and can learn why it’s one of the best places in the state to visit.

Cherokee National Forest

Situated between the states of Tennessee and North Carolina, Cherokee National Forest is 655,598 acres of protected national forest with many beautiful places, hiking trails, and more.

Cherokee National Forest is known for its location in the Southern Appalachian mountain range and diverse animal and plant life as there are more than 20,000 species growing and living in the forest!

Bald River Falls in Cherokee National Forest

The area offers a wide selection of activities for nature enthusiasts and active travelers like Ocoee River Rafting where the Olympic games happened in 1996.

You can camp at the many campsites in the forest where you will be greeted with jaw-dropping views of the mountains.You can also hike along the Appalachian Trail here and go birdwatching (it is home to more than 260 species of birds)!


Located in the eastern part of the state of Tennessee, Sevierville is located close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and has access to many hiking trails and wonderful waterfalls.

Sevierville is famous for its architecturally-beautiful courthouse from the ten of the 19th-century as well as the city’s statue dedicated to the famous country singer Dolly Parton.

Sevierville Dolly Parton Statue

Some other popular attractions in Sevierville are the caverns inside of Hillside Winery where you can enjoy bubbly and some delicious Italian wine while taking a free tour, the Titanic Museum with a replica of the ship, and a museum built around its history, and the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show.

Also, don’t miss out on one of the most famous places in Sevierville, the WonderWorks Pigeon Forge, an upside-down amusement park located indoors. It is one of the best places to visit in Tennessee with children!

The Lost Sea Adventure

The largest underground lake in America, otherwise known by the name of The Lost Sea (or Craighead Caverns), is one of East Tennessee’s treasures.

The lake itself was discovered in modern times in 1905, however, it is understood that the Cherokees also used them in the past and identified each of them.

Moonshine Still Hidden in a Cave at The Lost Sea

In 1915, an idea was shared to develop the cave to make it accessible for visitors. After some construction, a special pathway was built, leading to the hidden lake. Apart from that, a very famous thing to do at The Lost Sea Adventure is to take a boat tour of the lake.

Nowadays, the place welcomes more than 150,000 visitors per year and is one of the coolest places to visit in Tennessee.

Cummins Falls State Park

Cummins Falls State Park is located northwest of Cookeville in Jackson County.

The nature of the area has some really unique features such as a variety of oaks, beech, buckeye, sycamore, and hemlock that are part of the forest that borders the river.

Cummins Falls At Cummins Falls State Park

There is also quite a rich history associated with the park’s location. The history of Cummins Falls includes a period when Natives used the region to track the numerous buffalo wallowing in the shallow rivers.

For avid swimmers, please note that Cummins Falls is classified as one of the ten best swimming holes in the United States. Other well-known activities available there include fishing, picnicking, and hiking.

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

With over 170,000 acres of forests and wetlands, this recreation area is located in the Barkley Lakes area between Kentucky and Tennessee. It is also home to some beautiful waterfalls in Kentucky and Tennessee hidden in the forests.

Lake access offers the perfect environment for camping, hiking, picnicking, fishing, boating, and water sports with over 300 miles of natural shoreline. Throughout the year, approved hunts occur for animals like deer, turkey, squirrels, etc.

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

Aside from more than 100 miles of horse trails, there is also a horse camp open and available for visitors during the year. Another great way to spend spare time there is to embark on one of the impressive scenic drives where you can enjoy wildlife viewing while being comfortable in your own car!

Birdwatching is a popular thing to do there – there are over 240 distinct bird species. As a result, there is a special celebration festival for the hummingbird migration every August.


As one of the fastest-growing major cities in the country, Murfreesboro is the geographic center of Tennessee. Murfreesboro is well-known for being the home of Middle Tennessee State University, the largest undergraduate university in the state.

The bunch of recreational activities and historical sites keep Murfreesboro on the list of exciting locations in Tennessee.

Sunflower field in Murfreesboro

One of the most famous attractions in Murfreesboro is the Murfreesboro Greenway System, which contains the Stone River and Lytle Creek trails.

Both trails lead to the National Battlefield of the Stones River, the Village of Cannonsburgh, and Fortress Rosecrans. All of which are great spots for walking, running, biking, and more.

When it comes to cultural places to visit in Murfreesboro, Cannonsburgh Village, Stones River National Battlefield, Black Cat Cave, and Oaklands Historic House Museum are some of the most visited places.

Johnson City

Acknowledged as one of the best places to live in Tennessee, Johnson City is famous for its vast options of outdoor adventures.

You can travel down and enjoy nearby Roan Mountain on a bike, check out the Nolichucky River over a Class IV waterfall, catch fish or float down the Watauga River, or walk the Appalachian Trail where it crosses into Tennessee.

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Other notable activities that are popular in JC include disc golf, hiking, or boating at Winged Deer Preserve.

Johnson City

In case you’re more into getting acquainted with the art and history of the East Tennessee city, then one of your best choices would be to visit Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site.

Alternatively, you can also visit Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area in nearby Elizabethton, which incorporates crucial historical moments from the first democratic government to history’s largest real estate transaction.

If you want to explore this area a bit more, head over to Bristol! The city straddles the Tennessee and Virginia state line and you’ll find all kinds of exciting things to do in Bristol VA and TN!


Jackson is a regional center of trade for West Tennessee and is Madison County’s largest city.

The city is known for being the home to the Tennessee Supreme Court’s courthouse for West Tennessee and it’s because Jackson was the major city in the west when the court was established in 1834.


One of the best perks about Jackson is that you’re a short drive away from numerous state parks, like Shiloh National Military Park, Reelfoot Lake, Chickasaw State Park, and Natchez Trace State Park. All of these are known for their incredible scenery, rustic trails, and picnic areas.

Paris Landing State Park and Pickwick State Park also deserve a place on this list as they’re located on the scenic Tennessee River and offer boating, lodging, golf courses, and other recreational activities.


This historic town that has played an essential role during the Civil War has been given a variety of names over the last 30 years.

Clarksville is home to a few dozen community parks and recreational areas that give its residents and visitors a chance to unwind themselves in nature.


The most well-known outdoor attractions there are Dunbar Cave, the Cumberland River,

and the Clarksville Greenway. The Clarksville Greenway is a 9-mile abandoned railway that is completely paved and is the perfect place to exercise, bike, skate, run, or just walk down the trail.

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Being Tennessee’s largest and most visited state park, Fall Creek Falls State Park is a gorgeous getaway that takes you to many waterfalls, gorges, waterfalls, streams, and more. One of the highest waterfalls (256 feet tall) in the eastern United States is located right inside of the park!

The park has an abundance of activities that are suitable for all ages. Hikers may choose from long or short walks around the lake and to the base of Fall Creek Falls.

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Other than that, at Fall Creek Falls, the Nature Center provides direct environmental education through a number of naturalist-led programs. Also, there are a lot of additional programs like arts and crafts, campfires, movies, organized sports, and live musical entertainment.


This little town located to the southeast of Nashville is known as the birthplace of Jack Daniels, the world-famous Tennessee whiskey.

Visitors flock to Lynchburg from afar to enjoy the scenery and to tour the distillery. Every ounce of the historical Tennessee Whiskey is made there, fed by the nearby pure, iron-free cave water springs.

Lynchburg Jack Daniel

If you’re interested to learn more, head over to Jack Daniel’s website.

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain is home to three world-famous attractions, all of which are top-rated and beautifully highlight the natural and historic beauty of the Tennessee Valley.

At Lookout Mountain, you enjoy the magnificent views of Ruby Falls, which is the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the US. Another famous place there is the Incline Railway, which is one of the world’s steepest passenger railways.

High Falls and Lovers Leap in Rock City in Lookout Mountain

Last but certainly not least, another place you will want to visit is Rock City, located 1700 feet above sea level. The area includes a 100-foot waterfall that cascades down the mountain. Also, be sure not to miss the famous Swing-A-Long bridge that is nearly 200 feet long!

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area preserves the free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its surroundings, encompassing over 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau.

From nature’s side, there are many places worthy of visitors’ attention, and one of those is the State Natural Area of Twin Arches.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

With roughly 1,500 acres in size, it features two remarkable geological formations that form the largest complex of natural bridges known in Tennessee and constitute one of the largest complexes of this kind in the world.

Other prominent places and activities in this area include horse trails at Airpark Equestrian Stables, 5 developed campgrounds and 5 established trails, fishing, paddling, and more.


Named after Benjamin Franklin, the city is where one of the Civil War’s bloodiest battles took place. It attracts thousands of history buffs that want to visit the Battle of Franklin, Carnton, the Carter House, and many other historic sites in Franklin annually.

Another memorable way of enjoying a trip to Franklin can be witnessing the sunrise on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Double Arch Bridge at Natchez Trace Parkway

Being one of the most used forest trails and parkways in the United States, this place is also a bike path, complete with campgrounds and incredible viewpoints that photographers and nature enthusiasts will absolutely love.


Situated close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Townsend is renowned for its extra variety of wildlife and the preservation of Southern Appalachian culture.

There are many historical sights in Townsend and one can’t-miss location is Tuckaleechee Cove as it offers visitors a glimpse into Appalachian history. Near the Townsend entrance to the national park, you can do some hiking at Rich Mountain Loop, which promises spectacular views of nature (and waterfalls)!

Foothills Parkway just outside Townsend

We hope you found some of these Tennessee destinations to be of interest to you! What are the best places to visit in Tennessee, in your opinion?

Let us know which destinations we missed in the comments! Thanks!

Additional Tennessee Travel Resources

Pin this Guide to Places in Tennessee

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3 thoughts on “ 25 Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Tennessee ”

Laurel Çreek road is the only access point to Cades Cove. Rich Mountain Road and Parson Branch roads are one way leading out of the cove. They are narrow unmaintained roads. Parson Branch road is now closed to traffic.

Yes , these are all great places but one area is always overlooked on these lists . I don’t understand why Cumberland Gap is never mentioned , it sits right on the borders of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia with the Cumberland Gap National Park flowing into each state . It’s packed full of history and beautiful scenery . The Pinnacle Overlook is a must see and only a short drive from the museum . In the town of Cumberland Gap you will feel like you’ve gone back in time with streets lined with Victorian style homes and retro shops . It’s also home to the Iron Furnace , another must see treasure . I hope to see it added to a list soon .

25 Best Things To Do In Tennessee The Ultimate TN Bucket List

Looking for the best things to do in Tennessee? You will not be disappointed!

If you have not made a bucket list before this will be a great place to start since Tennessee has so much more to offer than just the music scene!

Get ready for heaps of fun as you embark on your journey to one of the best places to visit in the U.S! Whether your bucket lists include weekend getaways or Tennessee road trips, you will enjoy this list of things to do.

Just when you think Tennessee can’t get any better, you will be pleasantly surprised by the diversity of experiences to be had.

Check out our list of what to do in Tennessee!

A picture of a suspension bridge and river flowing from the Foster Falls waterfall in South Cumberland State Park in Tennessee.

25 Best Things To Do In Tennessee The Ultimate TN Bucket List

Discover the Synchronous Fireflies

A hint of magic will surround you as you gaze upon the Synchronous Fireflies!

There are about 19 types of fireflies that call the Great Smoky Mountains National Park their home. Immerse yourself in the light show just minutes outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

The Synchronous Fireflies event starts at dusk and a guide will take you to a perfect viewing spot!

The whole family can enjoy a cool night and a light show! Encounter the awe of nature in a whole new way as you sit on a blanket or lawn chair and watch the performance.

Of all the things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, this is one of the best outdoor things to do in Tennessee at night!

A photo of a field at dusk lit up by a swarm of fireflies glowing yellow at the Great Smoky Mountains.

Climb the Sunsphere

If you are looking for thrills and are not afraid of heights, Knoxville’s Sunsphere is sure to be a top-shelf experience!

Towering over the city on the observation deck is one of the most epic things to do in Knoxville. The gorgeous gold dome is made up of 24-karat gold panes of glass that glows beautifully throughout the day.

When adding surreal places to visit in Tennessee to your bucket list, the Sunsphere is a must-visit!

Inside the Sunsphere you will experience Tennessee in a whole new way. With a birds-eye view, you can marvel at the city and learn about the sphere itself.

On the observation deck, there are plaques that dive a bit deeper into the history of the Sunsphere.

A panoramic photo of Knoxville with a view of the golden dome of the Sunsphere.

Photo Credit: Paul Brady Photography /

Ride the Southern Belle Riverboat

For relaxing things to do in TN, the Southern Belle Riverboat should be your go-to!

Just sit back and relax as your sightseeing experience comes to you. The dining is delicious, the views are impeccable, and you may never want to leave!

Join the crew for a sunset cruise that will take your breath away! This is definitely one of the most picturesque things to do in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

ou may have the pleasure of having live music as you float on the Tennessee River. Set sail for a good time on the Southern Belle Riverboat!

A photo of the Southern Belle Riverboat docked at the Tennessee River on a cloudy day.

Photo Credit: Nolichuckyjake /

Eat at Big Daddy’s Pizzeria

Arguably one of the best smells in Tennessee is the pizza from Big Daddy’s Pizzeria! Bite into one of the greatest slices of pizza pie while enjoying the arcade held within its walls.

Just when you thought there couldn’t be better things to do in Tennessee than already listed, Big Daddy’s Pizzeria will prove to be an enjoyable outing!

The arcade features classics and a prize wall to trade in your winnings! Eating here is one of the best things to do in Tennessee with kids!

This pizzeria serves delectable pizza pies topped with homemade dough and sauces. That slice can be paired with any of the beers.

If you are searching for the best activities in Tennessee involving food and entertainment, then Big Daddy’s Pizzeria is your one-stop shop!

There are locations in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville.

A photo of extended arms holding full red wine glasses over several delicious pizzas.

Walk the Iconic Broadway Street in Nashville

The thoroughfare of Broadway offers things to do in Nashville that will create lifetime memories! Bars, pubs, and eateries await you no matter the time of day.

While Broadway is known for the hustle and bustle of nightlife, you can have an enjoyable stroll through the streets for some shopping!

Music enthusiasts can bask in the history of Tennesee throughout Broadway. Pick up your favorite record at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop or stop at the Johnny Cash Museum.

Live music can be heard along the streets. There is no short supply of things to do in Tennessee when you visit Broadway!

Spend a weekend in Nashville to see everything the lively city has to offer.

A picture of several shops and stores with their neon signs and lights in Lower Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee.

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone /

Hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The call of the wild is beckoning you to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Over 800 square miles hold compelling and diverse plants and animals. Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the home of many wonders held in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

As one of the best things to do in Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has marvelous sights to see. The forests hold enchantment for all who step foot on any of the hikes available.

There is elk watching, birding, and in the spring, the wildflowers provide a sweet escape. Every overlook and bluff allows you to explore a whole new world right there in Tennessee. This is also one of the best places for Fall Foliage in Tennessee!

Make sure to check out our list of the Best Resorts In Tennessee! There are also a ton of cute cabins in the Smoky Mountains perfect for a weekend getaway.

A picture of rolling mountains covered in the trees that have started turning colors in autumn in the Great Smokey Mountains National State Park.

Visit Rusty’s TV & Movie Car Museum

For a unique taste of history, Rusty’s TV & Movie Car Museum is the perfect place!

Of all the charming things to do in Jackson, Tennessee, this museum has a little something for everyone. Get up close and personal with some of the most iconic cars in film history!

Adults and children alike will find cars that inspire! Some will even have props and figures of iconic scenes.

You will be glad you stopped and experienced this one-of-a-kind museum! So if you are looking for family-friendly attractions in Tennessee you can add Rusty’s TV & Movie Car Museum to the list!

A picture of a Ghostbusters Car featured at Rusty

Photo Credit: Jon Kraft /

Explore the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Everywhere you turn at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is breathtaking! This inspiring location can be found in Oneida, Tennessee.

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It contains 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau. There are many fun things to do in Tennessee and at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area you can find more than gorgeous forests.

Along with bike riding, hiking, and horseback riding, there are events you won’t want to miss! You can be led by rangers who share knowledge of the area or join the annual “Haunting in the Hills” Storytelling Festival.

A photo of a sunset ove the rolling mountains and hills of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Drive the Natchez Trace Parkway

Walk or ride through history on the Natchez Trace Parkway!

Whether you are being led by rangers through the 10,000 years of history or going on a hike along the same path that explorers once trod, you will get to encounter the Parkway’s charm.

Travelers can drive through the 444-mile road or camp on these historic grounds. There are trails that lead to waterfalls and even fishing areas for more relaxing moments in nature.

This scenic drive is one of the best free things to do in Tennessee for budget travelers. You will also find some of the best campgrounds near Nashville along the Parkway.

A picture of a long road above a forested area at sunrise along the Natchez Trace Parkway in Tennessee.

Go On a Big City Lights Road Trip

If you are looking to check several items off your bucket list at once, you should go on the Big City Lights Road Trip!

With so many cool things to do in Tennessee, you may feel like you can’t get to it all in one day and it is true! Make it a road trip and see some of these fabulous locations.

You will start your journey at Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland, one of the most famous things to do in Memphis, Tennessee!

Head to some music museums before watching the lights turn on along Beale Street, Home of the Blues. There are plenty of TN activities to fill a weekend in Memphis.

From there you will keep heading east toward Nashville.

The Country Music Capital of Nashville holds the Grand Ole Opry where you can catch a show! Make sure to visit Centennial Park and the Country Music Hall of Fame. The music lovers in your group are sure to enjoy the music scene that runs rampant through Tennessee.

You will end your quest in Knoxville where you can head to the World’s Fair Park, Sunsphere, and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

With so much to do, this road trip is sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.

A photo of a street full of neon signs promoting restaurants, blues clubs, and more along Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.

Photograph Tellico Plains

Breathe in the autumn air brought to you by the Tellico Plains.

For fall foliage, the vintage town of Tellico Plains is a quaint place to visit. The autumn-kissed town holds the Cherokee National Forest where the picturesque scenery is almost too beautiful to be real!

It is truly one of the best places to see fall foliage in the South!

The town offers local artisan sellers, bakeries, and shops that will make the stay a real treat. Enjoy the pleasant town of Tellico Plains in the fall as one of the best activities in Tennessee!

A picture of the fall foliage along the the calm Tellico River in the Tellico Plains.

Be Awed by Cummins Falls

Listen to the music of rushing waters at Cummins Falls! Take your exploration just south of Jackson County, Tennessee.

This beauty is on the Blackburn Fork River and is the eighth-largest waterfall in Tennessee at whopping 75 feet.

The pool of water Cummins Falls pours into is a popular swimming hole for locals and visitors alike.

The Cummins Falls Trail is a 3-mile round-trip hike that is of moderate difficulty. It is well worth the rouged terrain as one of the best things to do in Tennessee!

A picture of the massive and tiered Cummins Falls waterfall cascading into a pool of water.

Visit the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center

Travel back in time when you visit the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center! Clarksville, Tennessee preserves relics that turn into moments in time.

The building itself is a relic as it dates back to 1898 and was used as a Federal Post Office prior to being a home of history.

There are exhibits for art, history, and even a children’s exhibit. The interactive displays provide you with new information about curiosities from long ago.

Enjoy one of the most immeasurable places to visit in Tennessee!

Don’t forget to check out some of the best restaurants in Clarksville!

A picture of the outside of Customs House Museum and Cultural Center that has several arched windows on the first floor and eagle statues perched at every corner.

Explore Cataloochee Valley

Decadent fall foliage awaits you at Cataloochee Valley! The valley is found in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Waynesville, Tennessee.

Among the usual hiking and camping, you are able to just drive through the remarkable autumn environment of Cataloochee Valley.

It holds several preserved buildings that date back to the 1800s and 1900s. Some you can drive right by and others you can take a trail to find.

One of the coolest things to do in Tennessee is watch wildlife! Cataloochee Valley is home to elk that can be spotted early in the morning and truly look majestic among the autumn foliage!

A photo of a winding road surrounded by trees whose leaves are turning orange and yellow in the fall.

See the Parthenon

The arts are alive at the Parthenon! This is a full-scale replica of the Parthenon found in Greece.

You won’t have to cross seas to get to this architectural wonder. It is also home to the replica Athena statue which is absolutely stunning!

These were originally made for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition. Now, this novelty building in Nashville is an art museum.

Both permanent and temporary exhibits offer many Tennessee activities! Even if you are just strolling through Centennial Park, you can gaze upon one of the iconic Parthenon.

A photo of the Parthenon replica in Nashville, Tennessee, behind trees whose white flowers are in bloom.

Leaf Peep at Fall Creek Falls State Park

The spellbinding scenery at Fall Creek Falls State Park creates the perfect place to adventure!

Roughly 11 miles east of Spencer, Tennessee, Fall Creek Falls State Park has over 29,000 acres of alluring land. You can find gorges, streams, and some of the prettiest waterfalls in Tennessee! Fall Creek Falls towers 256 feet!

There are camping areas available for spending a weekend getting closer to nature! If the ruggedness of camping isn’t your thing, you may enjoy some of the lodging offered.

If you are looking for more challenging (but fun!) places to go in Tennessee, you should certainly check out Canopy Challenge Course! Rope swings, balance beams, 75 wobbly bridges, and more will be an exhilarating experience!

A picture of a long and narrow bridge surrounded by fall foliage in Fall Creek Falls State Park.

Find Views at Clingmans Dome

Perched high above the ground is Clingmans Dome! Here you will be at the highest spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The 360 view is a just reward for hiking the steep 1.2-mile round-trip path in Sevier County, Tennessee. Depending on the day you may walk right through the low clouds.

Once you reach Clingmans Dome, you will stand before a sea of clouds laying over the valleys between mountains and hills. On a clear day, the endless forested mountains are exquisite.

This is one of the most popular things to do in Tennessee so you will want to go early if you are trying to catch a dazzling sunset!

Make sure to pack a jacket as it can be much colder due to elevation even in the summer!

A photo of mountains covered in green trees with more rolling mountain peaks separated by a sea of clouds at Clingman

Take a Haunted Tennessee Road Trip

Whether you are in it for history or spooks, the Haunted Tennessee Road Trip is sure to be a hit! You will see some of the most haunted places in the South!

Your haunting begins in Adams, Tennessee at the Bell Witch Cave. Take a tour through the 490-foot-long cavern. The stories of the maleficent Bell Witch date back to 1817!

You will have a new campfire story before you make it out of the cave!

The next stop is the Battle of Stones River in Rutherford County, Tennessee. Paranormal investigators and history buffs will find the battlefield interesting and eerie!

Do soldiers still roam the 570-acre park? There’s only one way to find out!

If you haven’t been spooked enough to crawl under the covers, you may now head to the last location on your ghostly road trip!

Of all the supernatural things to do in Tennessee, Ruby Falls will send a chill up your spine while also keeping your jaw on the floor at its fascinating structure!

This beautifully ominous waterfall is located in Chatanooga, Tennessee. Paranormal investigators stayed the night in the cave holding Ruby Falls and confirmed there was paranormal activity of various kinds captured.

Bring a camera and perhaps you too will catch an apparition!

A picture of Ruby Falls waterfall cascading inside a cave that is lit up with blue and red lights.

Visit South Cumberland State Park

At over 30,000 acres in nine separate regions, South Cumberland State Park brags to be the best hiking and campsite in the area!

Having only been founded in 1978, this glorious park sprawls over 4 Tennessee counties, including Grundy, Marion, Sequatchie, and Franklin.

Aside from hiking and camping, visitors can also enjoy a variety of fun activities such as caving, rock climbing, swimming, picnicking, and fishing.

The cliff lines are impressive, the wildflowers are mystical, and the ambiance of South Cumberland State Park is irresistible!

A photo of Greeter Falls flowing over the walls of rocks into a calm pool of water located in South Cumberland State Park.

Discover Prentice Cooper State Forest

Just 10 miles west of Chattanooga, Prentice Cooper State Forest is one for the scrapbook! Prentice Cooper State Forest is planted by the grand Tennessee River Gorge and the views are astonishing.

Additionally, the Cumberland Trail State Park is included in the 35 miles of hiking trails and 2 designated camping areas.

Hunting is also a tradition amongst seasonal guests. The Prentice Cooper State Forest has options for everyone, whether it be rock climbing, biking, horseback riding, and bird watching!

A picture of a river flowing through the green valleys of Prentice Cooper State Forest on a sunny day in Tennessee.

Have Fun at Dollywood

Dollywood is one of the best amusement parks in the South! Whether you are a super fan of country singer Dolly Parton or just love rides and shows, you will not want to miss out on this attraction.

This family-friendly theme park is one of the best things to do in Pigeon Forge.

You will find many fun rides, including the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster. There are award-winning shows, live music performances, and shopping.

In the warmer months, you can visit Dollywood’s Splash Country, one of the best water parks in Tennessee.

Front of a theater with a Dollywood sign in front.

Photo Credit: Michael Gordon /

Learn History at the National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum is one of the most important Black history sites in the South.

This moving museum is located in Memphis at the site of the former Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.

The informative and thought-provoking exhibits will lead you through Black history beginning with the first enslaved people brought to America.

Learn about the Civil Rights movement and see recreated scenes of famous moments in the fight for equality.

While this museum is sobering, it is important to learn about this history and how it has shaped our nation.

Exhibit in the muse with an old bus and statue of Rosa Parks.

Photo Credit: Gino Santa Maria /

Step Back in Time to the Hermitage

Found just outside of Nashville in the small town of Hermitage is the former home of Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the U.S.

Named the Hermitage, this Federal-style mansion is a great place to visit in TN for history buffs. Originally built between 1819 and 1821, it was remodeled in 1831 and again in 1837 after a fire.

The interior has since been restored with original furniture, wallpaper, and personal belongings.

After touring the inside, walk the gardens and visit the graves of Jackson and his wife, Rachel.

You can also see the living area of the enslaved people who worked here, a church, outbuildings, and more.

Front facade of the Hermitage with pillars and brick walls.

Photo Credit: Michael Gordon /

Travel the Tennessee Whiskey Trail

Tennessee is known for its whiskey and with over thirty distilleries found throughout the state, you have plenty of chances to try this signature drink.

The Tennessee Whiskey Trail would take nearly two weeks to complete if you hit every stop. If you get a passport stamp from each participating distillery, you’ll receive a free souvenir t-shirt!

Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis, and Chattanooga are some of the areas with the most distilleries to try.

If you only have time for one distillery, though, head to the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg. This is the oldest distillery in the state and one of the best day trips from Nashville.

You can take a tour of the facility to learn all about the whiskey’s history and how it is made.

This is one of the best things to do in Tennessee for adults!

Hand holding a glass while pouring in Tennessee whiskey.

Attend the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

If you want to attend one of the best music festivals in the U.S., head to Manchester, TN, during the June. The annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is a fun weekend event you will not want to miss!

This festival began in 2002 and previous acts have included Metallica, Radiohead, Elton John, U2, Billy Joel, Eminem, and so many more.

If you want to chance to see many great musicians all in one place, make sure to buy tickets in advance. There are usually over 150 singers and bands from all genres.

Along with concerts, the event involves art, food, and other activities such as yoga and a 5k run.

Photo from the stage at Bonnaroo looking out at a partying crowd.

Photo Credit: micksphotos /

Tennessee is chock-full of entertaining, relaxing, and intriguing things to do!

If you have added it to your bucket list then the next step is planning the trip there! Checking off your list is just as satisfying as visiting any of these Tennessee gems!




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