There are many reasons to visit Tennessee, including its abundant beauty, rich history, and thriving music scene. The Volunteer state boasts scenic natural wonders, thrilling outdoor adventures, and top-notch attractions that entice both nature lovers and thrill seekers. Small towns off the main roads and byways may even have hidden treasures ready to be explored by tourists from across the globe.
When you start to believe that Tennessee can’t possibly get any better, the variety of experiences available will pleasantly surprise you. Tennessee is packed with several things to do, such as attending live performances at a magnificent theatre, touring wildlife sanctuaries, strolling through lovely gardens, going to museums of all kinds, visiting historical sites, and much more!
Read on to find the top attractions to discover and fun things to do in Tennessee to help you make memories that will last a lifetime.
Eight Things to Do on a Vacation in Tennessee
We have compiled some of the fun activities and places you can add to your to-do-list in Tennessee:
White Water Rafting at Ocoee River
On the river, any day is a good day!
Everyone enjoys spending their days cooling down in pools, on lakes, or burying their heads in freezers during the sweltering summer months in Tennessee. Not anymore!
A trip down the Ocoee River promises an exhilarating experience of white water rafting to blow the summer heat off. During this one-and-a-half-hour adventure, you will raft through more than 20 Class III and IV rapids over five miles of the middle stretch of one of Tennessee’s most famous rivers. The Ocoee River flows through a stunning gorge surrounded by beautiful wildlife in the Cherokee National Forest. The dam-controlled stream’s powerful flow guarantees an action-packed excursion, and adrenaline pumping drops to its fullest.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular among America’s national parks because of its beauty and diversity. The park features blue mountain ridges, lush hiking routes, vibrant wildlife, history related to Southern mountains, and various fun things to do.
You can stroll around and explore while you’re here, starting at the entrance to Gatlinburg’s quaint and whimsical town. There are many trails in the park itself, including the well-known Alum Cave Trail. Along with the North Carolina-Tennessee border, the renowned Appalachian Trail traverses the park’s center. The park is home to thousands of animal and plant species, including elk, black bears, deer, and more than 1,600 wildflowers. Make sure to visit Cades Cove, which has stunning, well-preserved historic buildings, for an immersive Great Smoky Mountains experience.
Dollywood Theme Park
Dollywood, which was opened in 1986 by the legendary country singer Dolly Parton, is a popular tourist attraction in Pigeon Forge. Every year, it draws more than 2 million tourists. With artists performing country, southern gospel, classic rock ‘n’ roll, Appalachian music, and master craftsmen demonstrating glass blowing and blacksmithing, Dollywood is bursting with the rich tradition and artistic talent of the Smokies.
The theme park has a wide range of activities for the whole family, including kiddie rides and rip-roaring roller coasters, seasonal festivals with live music, historic buildings, and museums.
The Iconic Broadway Street in Nashville
There is never a dull moment. On Nashville’s Broadway, famous bars and cultural institutions keep the party going all day and night. The bars and clubs on this stretch of road, which is affectionately referred to as the Honky Tonky Highway, are distinguished by the absence of cover charges, long hours, and live music.
Even though Broadway is known for its bustling nightlife, you can still enjoy a pleasant stroll through the streets to shop. The Frist Art Museum and other locations also provide respite from crowds and noise, so there’s more to it than parties. So spend a weekend in Nashville, and cross off an energetic city life experience from your bucket list.
Ziplining in Sevierville
When it comes to the thrilling sport of zip lining, the Sevierville, Tennessee, area can compete with any other location in the country due to its abundance of courses and views of the green peaks and ridges of the mighty Great Smokies.
You will be (a) having a blast and (b) enjoying some of the most unique—and thrilling—sightseeing the state has to offer while you are safe and secure in a harness as you fly via pulley and cable through the treetops and above them, taking in that magnificent Southern Appalachian backdrop.
Discover the Synchronous Fireflies
The synchronous fireflies will behold you in a magical haze as you capture the luminous rhythm of the flying creatures.
A fantastic night and a light show are fun for the whole family. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to about 19 different kinds of fireflies. You can experience the light show a short distance from Gatlinburg, Tennessee. As you watch the performance from a lawn chair or blanket, you’ll experience the awe of nature in a new way.
Tennessee Whisky Trail
With more than thirty distilleries spread out over the state, Tennessee is renowned for its whisky, so there are many opportunities to sample this local specialty. You can get a free souvenir t-shirt if you get a passport stamp from each participating distillery. The Tennessee Whiskey Trail would take nearly two weeks to complete if you visited each stop.
There are many distilleries in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, among other places. However, if you only have time for one, visit Lynchburg’s Jack Daniel Distillery. One of the top day trips from Nashville, this distillery is the oldest in the state. You can learn a lot about the history of whiskey and how it is made by taking a tour of the facility.
For adults, this is one of the best activities in Tennessee.
Natchez Trace Parkway
Driving along the Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic and enjoyable way to experience Tennessee’s natural beauty. The parkway is a 444-mile route that stretches from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, and is known for its historic sites, hiking trails, and picturesque views.
You can visit various attractions and enjoy the stunning scenery, including rolling hills, dense forests, and charming towns. Some notable stops along the parkway include the Meriwether Lewis Monument, the Jackson Falls, and the Leiper’s Fork Village. It’s a great way to relax, enjoy the scenery, and learn about the region’s history.
There are countless entertaining, therapeutic, and fascinating things to do in Tennessee. Whether it is a weekend getaway, a family reunion, or a romantic retreat, Tennessee offers everything to attract travel enthusiasts worldwide and take back moments to cherish forever.