Tennessee Travel Guide

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The music of Memphis and Nashville, the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, and thrilling sports all lure visitors to the great state of Tennessee. During a Tennessee family vacation, you can cruise along scenic byways, explore underground caverns, and hit the aquarium. Tennessee vacations are sure to satisfy any travel craving from cuisine to music to simply kicking back.

Shake things up this year and add some life back to your vacations. This Tennessee travel guide will leave you convinced that this state is full of adventure around every corner. Once you’re hooked, let VacationRentals.com show you the property that will be the icing on the cake of your trip!

What to Do in Tennessee

Our vacation rental hot spots in Tennessee are Gatlinburg, Norris Lake, and Pigeon Forge. The state as a whole is full of fun, though, so read on for detailed info on how to make the most of it.

tennessee vacations

Move to the Music

Tennessee is a state full of entertainment: music, visual arts, literature, and festivals. Tennessee vacations will undoubtedly be filled with music, from gospel to country to jazz to rock 'n' roll to bluegrass. Pull up a seat at a live music venue in Memphis or Nashville and be prepared to be impressed by the local talent. Music is in the blood of people from Tennessee from Elvis to Martina McBride.

A strong music heritage means that live music venues are numerous in Tennessee. Catch a show at the original BB King’s in Memphis or The Stage in Nashville. If you’re looking for a more traditional concert, get tickets for Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville or the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis. No matter what type of music you love, you will be able to make it a part of your Tennessee family vacation.

No Tennessee travel guide could ignore the incredible music festivals on offer in this state. The Bluegrass Festival is held in Pikeville each May. Bonnaroo is the most famous music festival held in Tennessee each June. Other popular festivals include the Riverbend festival in Chattanooga and the Memphis in May International Festival. This annual events draw visitors from far and wide who know that Tennessee delivers on both music and atmosphere. Remember, you can easily book one of our Chattanooga cabin rentals, Nashville homes, or other accommodations, today!

Sports and Family Fun

There won’t be a dull moment during a Tennessee family vacation with all the sports action on offer. Treat your kids to tickets to a professional game. The choice is yours between baseball, basketball, hockey, or football. Besides cheering for the home team you can also attend motorsports races, play a round of golf, or go to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

Tennessee has plenty of action outside of the ballpark as well. Your kids will love the chance to go horseback riding or give fishing a try. Imagine your kids trotting along a mountain trail or getting their first catch in a crystal clear lake. During Tennessee vacations, your quality family time could be spent trying something new!

A Tennessee family vacation is the perfect time to learn about agritourism. Let your vacation be a learning experience for your kids as you pick your own produce, learn about farming, plant trees, and learn about local wildlife. This year head to the countryside and learn about the local farming culture. Plan to be a part of the harvest and head for Tennessee during the crisp days of fall.

tennessee vacations

The Great Outdoors

Often a Tennessee travel guide will focus on the music, cuisine, and shopping available in the state and not mention incredible opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Take your family on a hike to a waterfall or hit the lake for a kayaking excursion. The mountains, parks, and lakes are all ideal for a family picnic.

There are many natural wonders that will make a trip to Tennessee special. Explore the Appalachian caverns, Bell Witch Cave, or the Big Cypress Tree Natural Area. From the Smoky Mountains to the variety of state parks, nature will be on your doorstep to discover! From family hikes to bicycling adventures, the landscape of Tennessee is the perfect backdrop for some adventure.

Another pleasure of the great outdoors in Tennessee is the wildlife. Guided nature walks and scenic trails will bring you up close and personal to native animals. From the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to the Bowie Nature Park, Tennessee is full of chances to encounter bears, birds, and more. Learn from knowledgeable guides about the local flora and fauna during one of these tours.

Hit the Big City

If you’re looking to plan Tennessee vacations with some excitement, head to one of the big cities. Nashville is known for partying from its live music to its bars and restaurants. Don’t miss the Country Music Hall of Fame or the Sudekum Planetarium as well. While Nashville is known for music, you will leave with a greater understanding of the city’s history, heritage, culinary style, and southern charm!

Any good Tennessee travel guide will tell you that Memphis has a distinctly more laid-back atmosphere than Nashville. Be prepared to take things a little slower in Memphis. Many visitors spend a day canoeing on Wolf River or sampling Memphis barbecue. Don’t miss the National Civil Rights Museum or the Beale Street Historic District. The Covington Farmers Market is popular with visitors as well.

The least-known city in Tennessee is Knoxville, but this city has a great deal to offer. From riverfront dining to walking tours through the historical streets, you are sure to experience southern hospitality in Knoxville. Shopping, nightlife, boat rides, and a trip to the zoo will round out your trip to this Eastern Tennessee hot spot.

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What to See in Tennessee

tennessee vacations

Eastern Tennessee

The eastern section of Tennessee is home to a variety of urban areas worth visiting including Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Norris Lake, Knoxville, Bristol, Chattanooga, Johnson City, and Kingsport. Entertainment abounds in this area of the state with diverse attractions including the Tennessee Aquarium, Dollywood, the Knoxville Zoo, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and the American Museum of Science and Energy. All of these sites make for an exciting Tennessee family vacation!

Central Tennessee

Nashville and Central Tennessee are also home to interesting attractions for visitors. During your trip, don’t miss the Country Music Hall of Fame, the historic Ryman Auditorium, and the Jack Daniels Distillery. Kids will love taking a ride down the Cumberland River on the General Jackson Showboat. For some thrills, visit the Nashville Superspeedway Races or get tickets for a Tennessee Titans football game.

Western Tennessee

Any thorough Tennessee travel guide will reveal that the western section of the state is full of attractions, both in Memphis and beyond. Elvis fans flock to Graceland while the National Civil Rights Museum draws history buffs. Other musical attractions include Sun Studio and the Stax Museum of American Soul. From nightlife to the winding Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers, a trip to western Tennessee will be full of excitement and beauty.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Tennessee

tennessee vacations

Shop Until You Drop

It would take an extensive Tennessee travel guide to cover all of the shopping opportunities in this state. From outlet centers to antique shops and art galleries to shopping malls, Tennessee will be full of shopping temptations. Whether you want to go window-shopping in the historic district of a city or bring home something special from a farmers market or winery, Tennessee will have what you’re looking for and more.

For antiques, go to one of the largest antique malls in the country, Market Street Antique Mall, in Paris, Tennessee. Bringing together 150 dealers, this antique mail lures shoppers from miles around. If you’d rather hit the outlets, try Opry Mills in Nashville or Prime Outlets in Lebanon.

Barbecue Heaven

Your taste buds will thank you for planning Tennessee vacations. Classic Tennessee dishes include juicy barbecue, slow-roasted country hams, and flaky biscuits. Beyond this traditional southern cooking, Tennessee is also full of upscale eateries, fusion restaurants, and plenty of options for comfort food. For once you won't be wondering what your kids are going to eat when you sit down in a restaurant!

tennesee vacations

The delicious ribs, chicken wings, and five sauces of Sticky Fingers Restaurant in Chattanooga have earned a serious reputation across Tennessee. If you want to try a local brewery that also specializes in flame-grilled steaks, head to Knoxville and try Downtown Grill & Brewery. For something upscale, try Chez Philippe in Memphis. Whatever you're craving during Tennessee vacations, you will find a restaurant to satisfy you!

Local produce is featured heavily on menus in Tennessee. If you go to farmers' markets, you are likely to see what is in season and will be on your plate that evening. Take the opportunity to prepare locally-influenced meals in the kitchen of your private rental as well. Tennessee has its own wineries, so stop in for a taste. Two of the most popular choices are Holly Ridge Winery and Smoky Mountain Winery.

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When to Visit Tennessee

A Tennessee family vacation can be planned any time of year. Southern hospitality can be found throughout the seasons. The most popular time for Tennessee vacations is the summer, when music festivals are numerous and spirits are high. Summer is also the perfect time to enjoy all of the adventurous activities that the Tennessee mountains, rivers, and forests provide.

A good Tennessee travel guide will also suggest that travelers visit in the autumn, when colors of the fall foliage take over the landscape. Harvest festivals and hiking opportunities make this a special season to visit Tennessee. If you’re looking for somewhere festive to celebrate the holidays, Tennessee delivers in the winter as well. Arguably, spring is the best time to visit Tennessee. The summer crowds haven’t yet arrived, the first music festivals of the season get under way, and you can enjoy all the offerings of the great outdoors after being cooped up for the winter.

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What to Bring to Tennessee

Let loose during Tennessee vacations! Bring clothes to enjoy all that this state offers from concerts to festivals to outdoor activities. If you plan on hiking or horseback riding, remember long pants and good footwear. For music festivals, a pair of rain boots might be an essential item. Nothing about Tennessee is too fancy so leave your high heels and suits at home and unwind in one of America’s most lively destinations.

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Local Services in Tennessee

Throughout Tennessee local services will vary. In the urban areas (especially Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville), you will find local services widely available. Banks, ATMs, post offices, and pharmacies will all open for regular hours. Keep your eye out for tourism offices that may have discounts available to the top attractions. In the more rugged areas of the state, you will want to plan ahead. Always have plenty of water at hand and keep snacks in the car in case of long distances between towns, markets, and restaurants.

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What to Know About Tennessee

Tennessee travel should be full of new experiences. Take the opportunity to see a jazz concert, sign up for your first horseback riding lesson, or sample local cuisine. The freedom of a car will allow you to experience this distinct culture at your leisure. Even if you think you don’t like bluegrass or country music, adapt the "when in Rome" philosophy and give new things a try!

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Getting to Tennessee

The best way to get around Tennessee is with your own car. Whether you take to the highway and head for Tennessee or arrive in one of the airports and rent a car from there, you will be glad to explore the state independently. Major airports in Tennessee include Memphis International and Nashville International with small airports in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Bristol.

The central location of Tennessee makes it easy to reach from different areas of the country. Tennessee is bordered by eight states including Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. Efficient highway systems mean you can easily reach Tennessee!

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Why Tennessee Vacation Rentals?

Tennessee cabin rentals, homes, and villas help you seek out local culture. The cherry on top of this experience will be a vacation rental that puts you right in the middle of a local neighborhood near the action. Get to know Tennessee even better during your trip by skipping sterile hotels in favor of rentals with real character. Whether you choose a condo in Memphis or a cottage on a lake, get to know Tennessee on your next family vacation!

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