Best Things To Do In Tennessee: Top Attractions and Activities to Explore

As someone who has traveled to Tennessee multiple times, I can confidently say that the state offers visitors a wide range of activities and attractions. From exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to immersing yourself in the vibrant music scene of Nashville, there is something for everyone in Tennessee.

Best Things To Do In Tennessee

While you are researching Tennessee, be sure to check out the Tennessee category page and bookmark these popular articles: The 7 Best Golf Courses Near Nashville, TN, 9 Unforgettable Christmas Activities In Gatlinburg, and The 9 Best Activities To Do In Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Tennessee has plenty to offer. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-visit destination, with over 500,000 acres of forest, mountains, and waterfalls to explore.

You can hike the many trails, go fishing in the streams, or take in the breathtaking views. Another popular outdoor activity in Tennessee is whitewater rafting, with several rivers offering thrilling rapids for all levels of experience.

For those interested in history and culture, Tennessee has a rich and diverse past to discover. Memphis is home to the iconic Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley.

At the same time, Nashville is known as the “Music City” and boasts numerous museums and venues dedicated to country music.

The state also played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement, with important sites such as the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and the Woolworth’s Building in Nashville.

Top Attractions

Tennessee is home to many exciting attractions that cater to different interests. Here are some of the top attractions you should not miss when visiting Tennessee.


Memphis, TN

Memphis is known for its rich history, music, and food. The city is home to the National Civil Rights Museum, which is located at the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

The museum has exhibits that showcase the civil rights movement and its impact on American society. Another must-see attraction is Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley.

The mansion has been turned into a museum that displays Elvis’ personal belongings, costumes, and awards. Visitors can also tour his airplanes and cars. Other points of interest in Memphis include the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, Sun Studio, and Beale Street.


Gatlinburg is a popular tourist destination located at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance. The city has many family-friendly attractions, including Dollywood, a theme park owned by country music superstar Dolly Parton.

The park has thrilling roller coasters, shows, and exhibits that showcase the history of the Smoky Mountains.

Another must-see attraction is the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor adventures such as hiking, fishing, and horseback riding in the nearby national park.


Nashville TN - Things to do in Tennessee

Nashville is known as the “Music City” and is home to many landmarks and museums dedicated to country music. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has exhibits showcasing country music’s history and its impact on American culture.

The Ryman Auditorium, also known as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” is a historic theater that has hosted many legendary musicians.

Other points of interest in Nashville include the Parthenon, a replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece, and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, where visitors can take a train ride through the scenic countryside. Visitors can also enjoy wine tasting, theaters, and water parks in downtown Nashville.

In conclusion, Tennessee has many attractions that cater to different interests. Whether you are interested in history, music, or outdoor adventures, you will surely find something you will enjoy in this beautiful state.

Outdoor Activities

As someone who loves spending time outdoors, Tennessee has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor activities. From hiking trails to fishing, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the best outdoor activities in Tennessee:

Hiking Trails

Tennessee is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the country. One of the most popular trails is the Appalachian Trail, which stretches over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine.

The trail passes through Tennessee, and the state has several access points.

Another great hiking destination is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has over 800 miles of trails. The park is home to diverse wildlife, including black bears, elk, and deer.



Tennessee is a great destination for fishing enthusiasts. The state has over 22,000 miles of streams and rivers, and more than 500,000 acres of lakes.

Some of Tennessee’s most popular fishing destinations include the Tennessee River, the Cumberland River, and the Caney Fork River. The state is also home to several species of fish, including bass, catfish, and trout.

Read More: 15 Best Tennessee Lakes for Vacation

Horseback Riding

For those who love horseback riding, Tennessee has plenty of options. The state has several riding trails, including the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, which has over 180 miles of trails.

The trails offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Horseback riding is also available at several state parks, including Montgomery Bell State Park and Natchez Trace State Park.

In conclusion, Tennessee is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re looking to hike, fish, or go horseback riding, there’s something for everyone.

With its diverse range of wildlife and stunning natural beauty, Tennessee is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves spending time outdoors.

Family-Friendly Fun

As a family-friendly destination, Tennessee offers a wide range of activities that both parents and kids can enjoy. There is no shortage of fun things to do in the state, from theme parks to water parks.

Nashville’s Water World: The 6 Best Water Parks in Nashville


One of Tennessee’s most popular family-friendly attractions is Dollywood, located in Pigeon Forge. Country music superstar Dolly Parton owns this theme park and offers a variety of rides, shows, and attractions for all ages.

Some of the must-see attractions at Dollywood include:

  • Lightning Rod, the world’s first launched wooden coaster
  • Wild Eagle, the country’s first wing coaster
  • Dolly’s Chasing Rainbows Museum, which showcases Dolly Parton’s life and career

Water Parks

best indoor water parks near nashville 3

Tennessee is home to several water parks that are perfect for families looking to beat the summer heat. Some of the best water parks in the state include:

  • Splash Country, located next to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge
  • Nashville Shores, located on Percy Priest Lake in Nashville
  • Soaky Mountain Waterpark, located in Sevierville

These water parks offer a variety of water slides, lazy rivers, and wave pools that are sure to keep the whole family entertained.

Read More: Nashville’s Water World: The 6 Best Water Parks in Nashville

Tennessee Aquarium

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is a must-visit attraction for families interested in marine life. This aquarium is home to over 12,000 animals and features freshwater and saltwater exhibits. Some of the highlights of the Tennessee Aquarium include:

  • The River Journey exhibit, which showcases animals from the Tennessee River and its tributaries
  • The Ocean Journey exhibit, which features animals from the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean
  • The IMAX theater, which shows educational films about nature and wildlife

Overall, Tennessee offers a wide range of family-friendly activities that are sure to keep everyone entertained. From theme parks to water parks to aquariums, there is something for everyone in the Volunteer State.

Read More: The Three Best Aquariums In Tennessee!

History and Culture

As I explore Tennessee, I am constantly amazed by the state’s rich history and vibrant culture. Tennessee offers a unique glimpse into American history from the Civil Rights Movement to impressive architecture.

National Civil Rights Museum

One of the most significant sites in Tennessee is the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Housed in the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, the museum chronicles the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

Through powerful exhibits and interactive displays, visitors can learn about the struggle for equality and the heroes who fought for change.

The Parthenon

Another must-see attraction in Tennessee is The Parthenon in Nashville. This stunning replica of the ancient Greek temple was built for the 1897 Centennial Exposition and now serves as an art museum.

Inside, visitors can see a 42-foot-tall statue of the Greek goddess Athena and a collection of American art.

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga is a must-visit destination for train enthusiasts.

This living museum offers a glimpse into the golden age of rail travel with restored steam locomotives and vintage passenger cars. Visitors can take a ride on the historic trains and experience the thrill of riding the rails.

Tennessee’s history and culture are truly one-of-a-kind, and these three attractions offer just a glimpse into the state’s rich past. Whether you’re interested in the Civil Rights Movement, ancient architecture, or vintage trains, Tennessee has something for everyone.

Off the Beaten Path

When visiting Tennessee, there are plenty of popular tourist attractions to see, but some of the best experiences can be found off the beaten path. Here are a few unique activities to try during your trip.


If you’re looking for a taste of Tennessee’s history, consider a visit to a moonshine distillery. Moonshine has a long and colorful history in Tennessee, and many distilleries offer tours and tastings.

One such distillery is the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Gatlinburg. They offer a variety of moonshine flavors, including classics like original and apple pie, as well as more unique flavors like lemon drop and hunch punch.

Wine Tasting

Tennessee is also home to a growing wine industry, with over 70 wineries throughout the state. Many of these wineries offer tastings and tours, giving visitors a chance to sample some of the best wines Tennessee has to offer.

Arrington Vineyards, located just outside of Nashville, is a popular destination for wine lovers. They offer tastings, tours, and even host live music events.

Here are 8 Wineries in the Nashville area to explore.

wineries lake tahoe 4

Trail of Tears

The Trail of Tears is a significant part of Native American history in Tennessee. The trail marks the forced relocation of thousands of Cherokee people from their ancestral lands in Tennessee to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma.

Today, visitors can explore the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, which spans over 5,000 miles and includes several sites throughout Tennessee. One such site is the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park in Birchwood, which features a monument and interpretive signs detailing the history of the trail.

Overall, Tennessee offers a wealth of unique experiences for visitors looking to venture off the beaten path. Whether you’re interested in moonshine, wine tasting, or Native American history, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.


In conclusion, Tennessee is a state that has something to offer everyone, from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Country Music Hall of Fame. After exploring the state, I can confidently say that it is one of the most diverse and interesting travel destinations in the United States.

During my visit to Tennessee, I relied heavily on TripAdvisor to help me plan my itinerary. The website provided me with valuable information about the top attractions, restaurants, and hotels in each city I visited. I also found the TripAdvisor reviews incredibly helpful in deciding which activities to prioritize during my trip.

Overall, I highly recommend visiting Tennessee to anyone looking for a unique and exciting travel experience. Whether you’re interested in history, music, or outdoor adventure, you’re sure to find something that appeals to you in this fascinating state. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to explore all Tennessee offers!