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It's not easy picking out a few of the top things to do in Tennessee, but we've tried. Although we likely missed a few of your own favorites (and had to cut some of our own), let this be a guide, or a jumping-off point, for even more in-depth adventures. So, here goes, the 4 best things to do in Tennessee:
Tour the King at Graceland
Did you think we'd leave the King himself off this list? Not a chance. Elvis' mansion is great for house hounds and fans of rock n' roll alike, with each room still retaining its impeccable style and Elvis memorabilia. You'll enter the house through the front entrance with the stained glass "P" marking the family's name. The front rooms are all done in exquisite tones of white, blue and bits of gold, with stained glass that still looks as cool today as it did back when the Presleys began living there in the 1950s. Don't miss the crinkled green and brown curtains and rich wood furniture of the Jungle Room, which is a favorite of many. To check out his iconic suits, head to the Racquetball Building, where you'll be surrounded by all things King.
If you're a die-hard fan, plan your visit to coincide with Elvis week, which takes place every August to commemorate the anniversary of Presley's death on August 16, 1977. During the festivities, you'll see more Elvis impersonators than even Las Vegas can own up to, a bevy of merchandise, and, of course, plenty of opportunities to pay your respects to the King's final resting place, which is located on the grounds.
To get to this piece of Americana, head south from Memphis on Interstate 40 East. The house is located about 9 miles away on - what else? - Elvis Presley Boulevard.
Find Natural Beauty at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Considered a national treasure and one of the United States' best places to tie the knot, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is as romantic as it is awe-inspiring.
Die-hard hikers need only strap on their best boots and pick a trail to get a great workout - there's plenty of peaks to summit here. Mt. Cammerer is a 12-mile trek that gains 2500 feet in elevation, and provides a chance to hike part of the legendary Appalachian Trail. At the peak, head to the stone fire tower to get the best vistas available. If you keep going, you can even hit Clingman's Dome, which, at 6,643 feet, is the highest point in the entire mountain range.
Hit Some High Notes at the Grand Ole Opry
Few places encapsulate American music as well as the Grand Ole Opry, so be sure to stop at this legendary music venue while you are in Nashville. Guests can take daytime tours to of the Opry to see just what happens backstage, and get a chance to stand in the footsteps of some of music's most famous artists, from Carrie Underwood to Darius Rucker, better known as "Hootie" from Hootie and the Blowfish. Fans of classic television will want to make sure that their tour includes a stop at Studio A, the former home of "Hee Haw," while rock-star wannabes must check out a few of the 18 on-site dressing rooms, each with its own classic theme.
Best of all, after a tour, you can hang out and get ready for a show from one of your favorite artists! Recent bands that have performed at the venue include The Whites, Dailey & Vincent and Old Crow Medicine Show. Honestly, is there a better way to end your trip to Tennessee?
Tennessee Loves Dollywood
Dollywood is the second location in Tennessee dedicated to a musician, but for good reason - who doesn't love Dolly? The parks that make up Dollywood are some of the best in the country, and encapsulate an experience that every member of the family can enjoy. Kids can cool off from the hot Tennessee heat at Splash Country Water Adventure Park, and parents can test their nerves with trips on the Wild Eagle, the U.S.'s first wing coaster, or with a death-defying drop on Daredevil Falls.
Unlike many other theme parks, Dollywood also offers plenty of opportunities to learn about Tennessee history and culture. Learn what it was like to be in a one-room schoolhouse in the 1890s with a stop at the Calico Falls Schoolhouse, or get up close and personal with our national bird at the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, home to members of the American Eagle Foundation.