Tennessee really is one of America’s most beautiful States, and it is definitely one that you should consider visiting if you haven’t already.
This State has it all – from natural beauty to fun activities and some of America’s top attractions. On one trip to Tennessee, you can experience it all!
If you are thinking of visiting Tennessee, then you may be searching for different things to do during your trip. If that’s the case, then we’ve got you covered!
In this guide, we’re taking a look at 20 fun things to do in Tennessee and Tennessee’s top attractions. So if you want to find out more, keep on reading!
Let’s kick this off with one of Tennessee’s most famous attractions, and that is the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Country Music Hall of Fame, and the museum attached to it, attract tourists from all over the world, so it would be rude not to visit it during your trip to Tennessee.
Located in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, the Country Music Hall of Fame is the largest museum dedicated to American music in the whole country.
If you are a lover of country music, then you will be in your element the entire time that you are inside this museum, and we’re sure you’ll love every single moment.
The building that houses the Country Music Hall of Fame is incredibly impressive, and the wide variety of memorabilia inside is even more impressive.
Inside this museum, you will find tons of information about the different country music musicians that have been popular over the years, and with every year that passes more and more country musicians are inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
There are already plenty of famous members, including Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, and more.
Sticking to the theme of country music, another great location to visit if you are somebody who is a big fan of this style of music is Ryman Auditorium.
Just like the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium is located in the heart of country music – Nashville.
Ryman Auditorium is a location that all country music buffs will want to squeeze into their Tennessee trip because it has close links to country music.
That is because it was formerly the home of the Grand Ole Opry between 1943 and 1974. Some of the biggest stars in country music have enjoyed performing on this stage, so visiting this venue will be like walking in their footsteps.
While this is a relatively historic venue, it really is tightly ingrained with modern music. Any country music fans will relish the opportunity to visit this venue and take in its beauty.
From the outside, this venue doesn’t look like much. But when you step inside, you will be able to take in the real beauty of this auditorium.
If you are already visiting Nashville for the Country Music Hall of Fame, you need to visit Ryman Auditorium too.
While you are in Nashville, you have to go to the Grand Ole Opry. Nashville may be the heart of country music, but the Grand Ole Opry is the beat of that heart, and it is the place to be for any music lover.
You don’t even need to be a massive country music fan to have heard of the Grand Ole Opry. This location is famous all over the world and it really is iconic.
You simply cannot visit Tennessee without going to the Grand Ole Opry. The Grand Ole Opry itself is a weekly concert that was formerly held in Ryman Auditorium but is now held in its own venue instead.
Every single week, some of country music’s greatest stars will take to the stage to perform for a crowd full of adoring fans.
Tickets aren’t too expensive and you could end up seeing some real stars during your trip to the Opry. It allows you to see some of the biggest stars from the past and present, and some of the rising stars of country music – all on one stage.
For those visiting Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry really is a non-negotiable place that you need to visit.
4. Sun Studio
Nashville might be the heart of country music, but there is no denying that Memphis is another great location to visit for any music lover.
If you are in Memphis then you need to pay a visit to this iconic location, and there is so much for you to enjoy there.
Sun Studio is the home of Sun Records. This is an independent record label first founded by Sam Phillips in 1952.
The label has always been based out of Memphis, and it has signed some of the musics’ biggest-ever stars – including Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash.
For a small period of time, Sun Studio did close its doors as a recording studio, and it was transformed into a museum. However, since then, the studio has re-opened its doors to recording artists, while also operating as a museum.
So, if you visit Sun Studio today, you could be in the same building where iconic music is being recorded, and also be able to look at the rich history of this building.
Memphis is another excellent location to visit in Tennessee, and if you are in town, you have to pop into Sun Studio. Otherwise, you’ll live to regret it.
Elvis Presley is one of the biggest musicians ever to walk this Earth, and his Graceland Estate in Memphis has almost become as iconic as him. Graceland is a mansion located in Memphis that was once owned, and lived in, by Elvis Presley.
After his untimely death at the age of just 42, the Estate fell into the hands of his only daughter – Lisa Marie Presley – who was just 9 years old at the time of his death.
Since her death in early 2023, Graceland has fallen into the ownership of her Estate and will be split between her surviving children. But ever since Elvis’s death visitors have been welcomed to the Estate every single year.
Graceland is a big mansion and it has a lot of grounds surrounding it, so there is plenty to enjoy upon your visit.
Here you will be able to see the building in which Elvis lived, the gardens where he spent a lot of his time, and even the aircraft that he once used. For any Elvis fans, Graceland is somewhere that you must visit when you are in Tennessee.
Even if you aren’t a huge fan of Elvis, we’re sure you’ll be blown away by the sheer beauty and size of Graceland.
6. RCA Studio B
The final music location that we would recommend visiting in this historic musical State is RCA Studio B.
Just like all the other locations that we have looked at so far, RCA Studio B is a totally iconic music location and it is actually the place where some of the best country songs in history were recorded.
This former recording studio was built in 1956, and it is located in Nashville.
This single recording studio is often dubbed as the birthplace of “Nashville sound”, and it is the place where songs such as Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”, and Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” were first recorded.
The studio itself is no longer used as an active recording studio, but you can go on a tour of this historic venue.
Often the cost of visiting this museum of country music history is included in the cost of visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, so be sure to check before you book an additional ticket for this tour.
If you are a big fan of country music, then a trip to RCA Studio B really is the icing on the cake of a trip to this iconic city.
Now, let’s move away from some of the music-based tourist attractions in Tennessee, and take a look at some of the natural attractions in this State.
Tennessee is a truly stunning place with plenty of places of breathtaking beauty, and one of the places that you need to visit during your trip is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers areas of Tennessee and North Carolina. For those interested in woodland and natural wildlife, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is somewhere that you need to visit.
With streams, waterfalls, hiking trails, and plenty of different species of trees to admire, there really is something for everyone in this breathtaking place.
One of the most attractive things about a visit to Great Smoky National Park is that it is a relatively low-cost attraction for those visiting.
Entry to the National Park is usually cheap, so most of the time, you will only need to pay for parking, fuel, and any food/drinks you want to consume during your day out.
When people speak of visiting Tennessee, it is often about going to the many cities that are found in this State.
But there are plenty of stunning attractions in the countryside too, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of them.
Somewhere else that you will seriously regret not visiting if you don’t fit it into your trip to Nashville is Lookout Mountain.
Lookout Mountain is actually a very upscale town located in Tennessee and it also boasts incredible views over the countryside of this beautiful State. Until you experience this area, you will never understand just how pretty Tennessee is.
This smaller town is really easy to access as it is just a few minutes away from downtown Chattanooga.
That is one of the things that we love about this attraction because you can easily access the countryside within just a few minutes of leaving one of Tennessee’s most bustling cities.
On a visit to Lookout Mountain, you will be able to admire the natural beauty of this area, and also find out more about the history of Chattanooga.
When it comes to the history of America, the areas surrounding Lookout Mountain played a vital role in the civil war between the Northern and Southern States.
At Lookout Mountain, you will be able to find out about the history of this area, and you will also be able to expose yourself to areas of immense natural beauty.
Lookout Mountain really is a great attraction to visit while you are in Tennessee.
If you are visiting Tennessee, and eager to go on an adventure, you should check out Lost Sea Cave.
We love this attraction because it allows you and your family or friends to go on an adventure, while also experiencing some of the hidden beauty of the State of Tennessee.
Lost Sea Caves are a set of caves also known as Craighead Caverns. During a trip to Lost Sea Cave, you will be taken on a journey to explore the extensive cave system between Sweetwater and Madisonville, Tennessee.
This really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that you will only be able to get during a visit to Tennessee.
This attraction does require quite a lot of physical activity so if you are someone who struggles with this, then it might not be the best trip for you.
But if you are fit and healthy, you really should make the effort to check out Lost Sea Cave while you are in Tennessee.
Mud Island River isn’t really something to scream about. The river itself doesn’t attract that many people who live in Tennessee to visit it, let alone people outside of Tennessee.
However, while the river itself may not be much of an attraction, the park associated with it definitely is.
Mud Island River Park is a park that is super fun for the whole family. There is a long river walk for the family to enjoy, and lots of fun to be had during the trip.
One of the biggest reasons that you should visit Mud Island River Park is because it allows you to view the whole of the World’s fourth-longest river, and you can do it all in just a handful of hours – cool, right?
Along the walk, you will learn a lot about the geography of Tennessee. You will find out about historic events that have occurred along the banks of the river, and the creatures that live within the river.
The walk will end at the Gulf of Mexico with a majestic view of the area.
While this may not be the attraction that draws you to Tennessee in the first place, it really is worth visiting it if you are already in Tennessee.
Any fans of the supernatural will have likely already heard of the Bell Witch Cave. The Bell Witch is a historic legend that has been famous for many years, and the cave itself is actually located in Tennessee, about 40 minutes outside of Nashville.
The Bell Witch Cave is a must-visit for anyone who has a keen interest in the supernatural. This cave alone attracts people from all over the world to visit Tennessee, and it is a much more popular tourist attraction than you might expect.
Not only will this experience allow you to visit the cave where the Bell Witch supposedly resides, but it will also allow you to experience the true beauty of the area in which the cave is located.
The cave itself is located on the property that was once owned by the Bell family, and that is why the name the “Bell Witch” was given to the entity that supposedly haunted the family.
While there is no guarantee that you will see the witch, you will be able to explore this iconic location.
12. Beale Street
Moving away from the countryside locations and attractions that you need to check out while you are in Tennessee, let’s move towards a man-made beauty that you should definitely check out.
Beale Street is a street in Memphis, and it is famous because of the rich history that is associated with it.
Beale Street is a street that is built on memories – both good and bad. It first became an attraction back in the 1920s when the Roaring 20s brought an excellent carnival atmosphere to the street.
People would flock to Beale Street to check out the nightclubs, theaters, restaurants, and more that covered the street.
Nowadays, the party atmosphere of Beale Street is still just as good, and it attracts lots of people to the town.
Beale Street has almost become Tennessee’s version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and many people actually think that this street is in Louisiana.
But it isn’t. So, if you are looking for a couple of drinks and a good time while you are in Tennessee, you should be sure to check out Beale Street while you are in town.
Now let’s move on to some of the excellent museums that you can find in Tennessee. As a State, Tennessee has an incredibly rich history and so you will find lots of different museums across the State – all dedicated to different things.
One museum that you should definitely visit during your trip to Tennessee is the National Civil Rights Museum (see also “Top 10 Things To Do In Chattanooga, Tennessee“). This museum is packed with tons of information and historic artifacts all associated with civil rights.
As we said earlier, Tennessee was closely involved with the civil war which brought real change to the way that America operated. In this museum, you will be able to find lots of stuff about this war.
While a trip to the National Civil Rights Museum can’t really be considered a super fun activity, it is a very important location to visit, and one that you should definitely check out when you are in Tennessee.
It is an important part of US history and something that everyone should have a good knowledge of.
For any lovers of trains, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum will be right up their street.
This is one of Tennessee’s largest museums and one of its most popular attractions too, as many people flock from across the country to check out this museum dedicated to trains and the railroad.
Rail travel was and still is one of the most popular forms of transportation across the country, and this museum looks at the early days of rail transportation all the way through to modern-day transportation.
From times when rail travel was the most popular form of transportation to the modern day when so much has changed and developed, this museum allows you to take a look at everything to do with trains.
Trains won’t be exciting for everyone, and there is likely to be at least one person on your trip who doesn’t find trains interesting.
However, this museum does an excellent job of making the tour enjoyable for everyone, and it really will be a fun day out.
15. Titanic Museum
This next one might seem a little strange. After all, the tragedy of the Titanic ship has absolutely zero connection to Tennessee so it is a little odd that there is a Titanic museum located in Tennessee.
However, this museum is actually one of the biggest museums dedicated to the Titanic ship.
If you love the Titanic film or feel a deep connection to the tragedy that hit the Titanic ship back in 1912, then you may be eager to visit the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
This museum is shaped like the RMS Titanic and built to half the scale of the original ship. Inside the museum, you will find lots of history about the RMS Titanic, including 400 pre-discovery artifacts from the ship itself.
The Titanic Museum will rarely be the reason why people find themselves in Tennessee, but if you are passing through, you should definitely consider checking out this museum.
It allows you to find out all sorts of new information about the RMS Titanic, despite the fact that the ship sank more than 100 years ago.
The Capitol Building in every single State across the USA is one of the most impressive buildings in that State, and that is no different for Tennessee.
The Tennessee State Capitol Building is incredibly impressive. Simply looking at this building is breathtaking, and that is without taking into account the rich history of this location.
Tennessee State Capitol Building is the home of politics for the State of Tennessee. Located in the heart of Nashville, the cornerstone of this historic building was laid for the first time in July 1845.
By 1859, the building was completely built and since then it has been used as the Capitol Building for this State.
There are lots of statues located within the building in memorial of some of the politicians that have done a lot for the State of Tennessee.
If you pay a visit to the inside of this building, you will be able to see these statues in all their glory. Likewise, if you just want to view this building from the outside – that’s cool too.
If you’re in Nashville, it would be a shame not to visit the Capitol Building.
If fun is something that you are searching for, then you really cannot go wrong with a trip to Tennessee Aquarium. Tennessee Aquarium is located in Chattanooga, and it attracts people from all over.
It is a large aquarium, dedicated to a wide variety of different sea life, but what makes it really special is the fact that it is a non-profit organization.
There are more than 10,000 animals residing in the Tennessee aquarium, and plenty for you to see throughout the tour. The museum first opened in 1992 but underwent a large expansion in 2005.
The location of this aquarium on the banks of the Tennessee River makes it a very attractive location, and one that many people will end up visiting without even planning to.
Tennessee Aquarium won’t only be a hit among lovers of animals, but lovers of architecture too.
The aquarium’s building is a unique shape and one that is a real marvel for anybody who likes looking at strange-shaped buildings. So, a trip to Tennessee Aquarium will be a fun day out for everyone.
18. Memphis Zoo
On the subject of animals, another fun activity that you should definitely consider while you are in Tennessee is Memphis Zoo.
If you have children, you will struggle to find an activity for them that is quite as fun as a trip to the zoo. But it really is fun for the whole family.
Memphis Zoo is home to more than 4,500 animals including lions, sea lions, polar bears, penguins, and lots more.
The range of animals that you will be able to see at this zoo really is out of this world, and the cost of entry is pretty affordable too.
One of the best things about the location of Memphis Zoo is its location. There are tons of things to do in Memphis, and the zoo is just another thing to add to the list.
So, even if you don’t visit anywhere other than Memphis in Tennessee, you will have a busy and enjoyable trip.
For any science fanatics who find themselves visiting Tennessee, a trip to Adventure Science Center is an absolute must. This science museum in Nashville is incredibly interactive and guaranteed to keep the whole family entertained for the day.
Adventure Science Center is a non-profit museum with more than 175 hands-on exhibits. Here you will be able to expose yourself to all sorts of different science experiments, and you will be able to learn a lot along the way.
While you may have hated science class in school, and found it to be a bit of a bore, science can be really fun when it is taught in the right way. You will understand that after a visit to Adventure Science Crater.
While entry to Adventure Science Center may seem a little pricey, it really is worth it if you can afford it. We’re sure everyone will have a ball at Adventure Science Center.
Finally, there is no way that we could have made this list without giving a special mention to Dollywood. Dollywood is undoubtedly one of the best attractions in Tennessee, and easily one of the most fun.
Located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Dollywood is a theme park that offers something for the entire family.
With large roller coasters for the older family members and smaller rides for the kids, everybody will be able to have a ball during a trip to Dollywood.
It is a costly experience, but it is totally worth it because it’ll be one of the best days of your entire trip!
As you may have guessed, the name of this theme park is dedicated to the one and only Dolly Parton. So it is a great location for any country music fans too.
With water parks, a large theme park, and plenty of food and drink stalls dotted around, you will easily be able to spend the whole day at Dollywood.
In short, there are lots of fun things to do in Tennessee, and that is why so many people choose to include this State in their US road trip.
Check out the guide above for all the inspiration you could possibly need!
Thanks for reading.
- The 10 Most Dog-Friendly Hotels in Yorkshire For Your Next Trip - September 7, 2023
- The Top 8 Most Dog-Friendly Hotels In Bath For Your Next Visit - September 4, 2023
- The 9 Best Dog Friendly Hotels In Scarborough For Your Next Trip - August 28, 2023