28 Bucket-List Places to Visit in Tennessee

28 Bucket-List Places to Visit in Tennessee

28 Bucket-List Places to Visit in Tennessee

Tennessee was the nation’s 16th state, officially joining the Union on June 1, 1796. What other trivia do you know about our great state?

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No matter where they live, Tennessee residents aren’t far from enjoying lifestyles to suit their tastes, whether they appreciate bustling cities or quiet, beautiful parks. From Knoxville and national forests in the east to Memphis and Mississippi River in the west, there are many attractions that make life interesting and enjoyable in the Volunteer State.

If you’ve got an itch to explore beyond your neighborhood or home town, here are 28 places you should visit, many of them recommended by Mortgage Investors Group employees.

West Tennessee

1. Ducks at the Peabody

Location: Memphis, TN
Website: https://www.peabodymemphis.com/ducks-en.html

In West Tennessee, lies one of the most talked-about traditions of any hotel: the march of the Peabody ducks. It began in the 1930s when the general manager returned to the hotel from a hunting trip. After drinking too much Tennessee whiskey, he and a friend tossed their duck decoys into the hotel fountain. The idea was well-received, and the Peabody Ducks were born.

The ducks live on the top floor of the Peabody and march daily with a Duckmaster to the hotel lobby at 11 a.m., where they hang out until they retire with a march back up to their home at 5 p.m. Visitors can watch the ducks march, whether or not they are guests at the hotel.

2. Beale Street

Location: Memphis, TN
Website: https://www.bealestreet.com/

Voted “The Most Iconic American Street” by USA Today, Beale Street in Memphis is alive and thriving. Walk down the street and follow the “Brass Notes Hall of Fame” which is a commemoration of influential musicians, producers, and business people who contributed to the street’s fame. Visit one of the many restaurants, or stop into a club and hear some sultry live blues music. Watch the street artists entertain the crowd with their singing and acrobatic antics. Whether you enjoy history, music, food, or simply want to people watch and soak up the atmosphere, you don’t want to miss Beale Street during your Tennessee travels.

3. Memphis Zoo

Location: Memphis, TN
Website: https://www.memphiszoo.org/

If you’re an animal lover, the zoo in Memphis is a must-see when you’re in Tennessee. In 2009, Memphis Zoo was rated “the top zoo in the country” by a national survey. Within a few minutes of entering, you’ll understand why. A variety of exhibits, like the Zambezi River Hippo Camp, African Veldt, and Cat Country, ensure everyone who visits will be entertained and delighted. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children.

4. Memphis in May

Location: Memphis, TN
Website: https://www.memphisinmay.org/

Visiting Tennessee in May is appealing for several reasons. The weather is mild, the days are starting to get longer, and the flowers and trees are in full blooming glory. Memphis in May is an event that tops the list.

At the beginning of the month, enjoy a music festival with some big-name artists. The middle of the month focuses on the city’s world famous barbecue, with a barbecue cooking contest. Toward the end of the month, participate in a River Run, or check out the Celebrate Memphis event.

5. Graceland

Location: Memphis, TN

Fans of any sort of music will enjoy touring the home of Elvis Presley, the Graceland Mansion in Memphis. Fans of “the King” will able to immerse themselves in Presley’s life, the music that influenced his career, and his lifestyle. A few of his famous jumpsuits are on display in all of their glory, and Presley is buried on the grounds. No matter where you live in Tennessee, our great state has something for you.

6. The Discovery Park of America

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Submitted By: Kurt Mullen, Production Assistant, Jackson Branch
Location: Union City, TN
Photo Credit: @kbrush87
Website: https://discoveryparkofamerica.com

If you want to have fun and learn at the same time, you can do both at the Discovery Park of America in Union City in the northwestern corner of the state. A great attraction no matter your age, it includes a 100,000-square-foot museum and a 50-acre heritage park. Learn about topics like Native American history, space technology, art, and transportation. It also offers many interactive displays and a theater simulation where guests can experience the 1811-12 earthquakes that helped shape the geography of the area. General admission is $14.95 for adults and $11.95 for children.

7. The Eiffel Tower

Submitted By: Kurt Mullen, Production Assistant, Jackson Branch
Location: Paris, TN
Photo Credit: @americanmamaaerial
Website: Wikipedia

Paris, Tenn., took a page from its European namesake and erected a replica of the Eiffel Tower in 1992. It was originally designed and donated by Christian Brothers University in Memphis. Made of 500 pieces of Douglas fir and 6000 steel rods, it stands 60 feet tall and is a wonderful photo opportunity. The charming park around the tower has a swimming pool, walking trail, and a playground. It’s lovely at night as there are different colors of lights that illuminate it.

8. The International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame

Submitted By: Kurt Mullen, Production Assistant, Jackson Branch
Location: Jackson, TN
Website: http://www.rockabillyhall.org

Jackson in eastern Tennessee offers a fun time for music lovers or anyone interested in some history. Carve out a couple of hours in your sightseeing to stop by this place and hear stories about your favorite Rockabilly singers. The proprietor is extremely knowledgeable and you’re sure to walk away with a tidbit you never knew before. It offers tours five days a week from Tuesday through Saturday. If you’re there on a Friday evening, stop by and catch a local band performance.

9. The Buford Pusser Home and Museum

Submitted By: Kurt Mullen, Production Assistant, Jackson Branch
Location: Adamsville, TN
Photo Credit: @dekedickerson
Website: https://bufordpussermuseum.com

This Adamsville attraction is a ranch home that holds property of the Pusser family, from pictures to guns and photos. Learn about the late Sheriff Buford Pusser, who worked tirelessly to clean up the moonshiners, gamblers, and houses of prostitution along the Tennessee-Mississippi state line. The museum’s assortment of newspaper clippings is especially intriguing. The staff is helpful and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be there on a day when one of Pusser’s friends stops by to tell some stories. Tickets are $10 for adults and $3 for children. Law enforcement personnel receive a discount.

Middle Tennessee

10. Rock City

Location: Chattanooga, TN
Photo Credit: @kristen_fecco
Website: https://www.seerockcity.com/

Just 6 miles outside Chattanooga you will find this natural attraction that everyone in the family can enjoy. Old natural rock formations join beautiful gardens to make this a one-of-a-kind experience. Walk at your leisure and be entertained by unique sights like the fat man squeeze, Lover’s Leap, the Fairyland Caverns and the place where you can stand and see seven states on a clear day. Walk the Swing-A-Long suspension bridge and snap some fantastic pictures.

11. Opryland Hotel

Submitted By: Cindy Reese, Underwriter, Brentwood Branch
Location: Nashville, TN
Website: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bnago-gaylord-opryland-resort-and-convention-center/

Located less than 10 miles from the Nashville airport, less a hotel and more of a small city, this distinctly unique hotel is a must-see if you’re in Middle Tennessee. Nine acres of fun and excitement wait for you. Shopping? Check! Decadent indoor and outdoor pools? Check! Tasty food? Check! Full service spa? Check!

Book a luxurious room and sample all this hotel resort offers. December is extra special at the Opryland Hotel with the Country Christmas extravaganza. A stay here can begin your Tennessee travels with a bang, or be at the end for a luxurious cap on a memorable adventure.

12. Rafting/Kayaking the Ocoee River

Submitted By: Tim Ward, Mortgage Loan Processor, Chattanooga Branch
Location: Ocoee, TN
Website: tva.gov

The Ocoee River is a world-class rafting experience. If you want a big dose of excitement and adventure during your trip through Tennessee, don’t miss it. Barrel down the rapids, an Olympic course no less, in a raft with a guide, or kayak through the water by yourself or in a group. You are sure to get the adrenaline pumping and make memories that will last a lifetime.

13. Tennessee Aquarium

Location: Chattanooga, TN
Website: https://www.tnaqua.org/

Downtown Chattanooga offers a remarkable attraction no matter the age of the visitor. It’s made up of two buildings, River Journey and Ocean Journey. In the first, meet an amazing array of freshwater animals such as sunfish, baby alligators, and lake sturgeon. The Ocean Journey is set as a rainforest featuring exotic ecosystems. Check out lemurs, touch a stingray, and watch penguins diving into the water below.

Adult admission is $29.95, children are $18.95. Consider paying a bit more for the backstage pass that allows you to feed some of the animals.

14. The Ryman Auditorium

Submitted By: Cindy Reese, Underwriter, Brentwood Branch
Location: Nashville, TN
Website: https://www.ryman.com/

The walls of this famous location are so full of stories of times passed, you can almost hear them whisper. An untold number of singers and artists got their start here. Johnny Cash met June Carter while performing here one night. Today, this is a must-see when visiting Nashville. Spring for a guided backstage tour and learn all about who has played here. Stand in the wings and look out over the stage. Or, if you feel musical, record a song at the Ryman Studio. Bring your own song or choose from a variety of classics. What better souvenir can you possibly think of?

15. Burgess Falls State Park


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Submitted By: Lora Lamb, Branch Manager, Cookville Branch
Location: Sparta, TN
Photo Credit: @shedaiandiaz
Website: https://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/burgess-falls

Populated by Native Americans until the 19th century, this park is your ideal place if you find the hypnotic beauty of waterfalls appealing. Four waterfalls cascade 250 feet into the gorge, making for an incredible visual. Enjoy hiking, fishing, birding, and the butterfly garden in this lovely Tennessee State Natural Area.

16. Dale Hollow Lake


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Submitted By: Pam Cummins, Loan Processor, Cookville Branch
Location: Monroe, TN
Photo Credit: @masterteaolive
Website: https://www.dalehollow.com/

This popular vacation spot is located on the Tennessee/Kentucky border and will charm you with its beauty and activities. Rent a boat for the day, or a houseboat for longer, and get out on the water. Don’t be afraid to jump in, because this lake is considered one of the cleanest in the United States.

There’s more to do in this area than just boat. You can horseback ride, and there are biking and hiking trails that offer up gorgeous Tennessee vistas. If you want to play golf, take advantage of the world-class golf course at Stonehenge Golf Club.

17. Jack Daniels Distillery

Location: Lynchburg, TN
Website: https://www.jackdaniels.com/en-us/visit-us

In Lynchburg, ironically a dry county, resides the place that makes the most well-known Tennessee whiskey. Your trip to Tennessee isn’t complete until you’ve checked this out. A beautiful setting to take in for sure, but it’s a fun time to embark on one of the distillery’s tours. As the oldest registered distillery in the United States, there are plenty of anecdotes for visitors to enjoy. Learn about the history of the brand and whiskey-making in general when the helpful guides walk you through the complete process. You’ll be rewarded at the end with a tasting to experience the results for yourself. Who can argue with that?

18. The Hermitage

Submitted By: Cindy Reese, Underwriter, Brentwood Branch
Location: Nashville, TN
Website: https://thehermitage.com/

This attraction is a perfect addition to a visit to Nashville. Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president, lived here with his wife, Rachel. The Hermitage was a 1,000-acre self-sustaining plantation bought by Jackson in 1804. The tour includes a trip through the mansion and a walk in the gardens. Visitors can also enjoy viewing what is left of farm buildings that were on Jackson’s plantation, and the Hermitage Church, built-in 1824. There are still three slave cabins standing that guests can visit as well. The Hermitage displays a variety of exhibits, including the First Hermitage, which tells the story of the intriguing, compelling, complicated person that was Andrew Jackson, and his family.

Choose from three different tours starting at $20 for adults and $10 for children. The Hermitage is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, although the hours vary depending on the season.

19. Country Music Hall of Fame

Location: Nashville, TN

This wonderful museum in downtown Nashville takes visitors on a tour through the history of American country music from its earliest versions to its influence on modern music. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of country music, you’ll be inspired by the stories behind many of the artists, told through sound, photos and video.

East Tennessee

20. Fall Creek Falls State Park


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Submitted By: Amy Craig,  Loan Processor, Cookville Branch
Location: Spencer, TN
Photo Credit: @trailingnashville
Website: https://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/fall-creek-falls

For a dose of natural beauty, you can’t beat this 26,000-acre retreat. With its many offerings and its convenient location on top of the Cumberland Plateau, it’s no wonder this is the most-visited state park in Tennessee. Hike on the park’s 56 miles of trails, bike on the three mountain bike trails, fish for largemouth bass in Fall Creek Lake, or watch the wide array of birds the area attracts. There’s also an 18-hole golf course if that’s more your idea of being outside.

If you want to spend the night in the park, there are 222 campsites that vary from $8 to $35 a night. For stays of two nights or longer, the park offers cabins in a variety of sizes.

21. Neyland Stadium

Location: Knoxville, TN
Website: https://utsports.com/facilities/?id=8

College football fans need to put a visit to Neyland at the top of their list. Home to the University of Tennessee Volunteers, this stadium is the sixth-largest in the world, and one of only a handful of college stadiums located on a river. Hourly walking tours are available Monday through Thursday, although they must be booked in advance. If you are in Knoxville on a game day, try scoring some tickets and join the throngs of people cheering for the Vols.

22. The Dragon


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Submitted By: Susan Brown, Operations Specialist, Knoxville (Home Office) Branch
Location: US-129, TN
Photo Credit: @svenmead
Website: https://tailofthedragon.com/

Few roads in the United States are more well-known than this curvy beast. With 318 curves in 11 miles, it’s a motorcycle enthusiast’s dream ride. If you don’t own one, driving your vehicle up is fun, too. Stop at the multiple viewing points for some pictures to commemorate your journey. October is an especially perfect time to ride the Dragon, because the turning leaves will leave you breathless. Keep in mind, though, you will be sharing the road with many other travelers during that time.

23. Dollywood


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Location: Pigeon Forge, TN
Photo Credit: @dirkdiggler1992
Website: https://www.dollywood.com/

This fun theme park, named for none other than Sevierville, Tenn., native Dolly Parton, is a must-do for anyone traveling to Tennessee. Old, young, or somewhere in between, there’s something for everyone. Thrill seeker? Ride the Tennessee Tornado, which was the world’s first spiral-loop roller coaster. The Tennessee Tornado features back-to-back 360-degree loops and is the fastest coaster in the park. Speed fans might also enjoy the adrenaline-rush Blazing Fury, the Dizzy Disk, the Barnstormer, or Daredevil Falls. Prefer calmer rides? The Lucky Ducky, the Lemon Twist, or the Dollywood Express fit the bill. There are also entertaining shows throughout the day. During the summer, cool off at Splash Country, a water park adjacent to the main theme park. Rides at Splash Country include the fast-moving Raging River Rapids, a wave pool and, of course, a lazy river. For history buffs and Dolly fans, walk through a replica of her childhood home and visit the on-site interactive museum, Chasing Rainbows. With multiple shops and a delicious variety of food, your visit is sure to delight every family member.

24. Bristol Motor Speedway

Location: Bristol, TN

NASCAR fans will recognize this attraction right away. Nestled in the northeastern-most section of Tennessee sits the third largest sports venue in the United States, and its fame is worth a visit. Check out a daily tour of the facility, attend a NASCAR race if you happen to be in the area on Sunday and can get tickets, or choose from some of their other events.

25. Knoxville Zoo

Location: Knoxville, TN
Website: https://www.zooknoxville.org/

If you get the chance to step inside this animal extravaganza, prepare to be enchanted by the animals and the intricately created habitats. Malayan tigers, Komodo dragons, and African elephants will be there to greet you. As you meander through the paths, you’ll see different, real-life habitats that were designed for the animals’ comfort. Check out the gorilla babies in Gorilla Valley, watch the endangered Red Pandas play in The Boyd Family’s Red Panda Village, and stop by the Valley of the Kings and say hi to the African lions and the Hamadryas baboons.

Part of your entrance fee of $19.95 for adults and $16.95 for children is donated to a great cause. This Zoo set up “Quarters for Conservation,” and 25 cents from each fee is donated to ongoing conservation programs around the world.

26. Smoky Mountains

Submitted By: Misty Edwards, Receptionist, Knoxville (Downtown) Branch
Location: Gatlinburg, TN
Website: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.htm

Open yourself to the charms of these beautiful mountains on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Stay for a while in Gatlinburg, where there’s plenty of activities to keep you busy. Visit the Titanic Museum, the Ripley Aquarium, or the countless other activities on the town’s Main Street.

Or, hike one of the numerous trails into the mountains. See stunning vistas, fields of wildflowers, and even encounter a bear or two on your journey. If you visit in June, get tickets for the Synchronous Fireflies, a sight that will inspire everyone in the family.

27. Ice Cream at Cruze Farms

Location: Knoxville, TN
Website: https://www.cruzefarm.com/

After all your activities, you might just want to sit on the porch and eat ice cream. Head over to Cruze Farms in Knoxville. This is an especially good stop during the sweltering Tennessee summer. Choose from delicious flavors such as coffee mocha, fresh strawberry, and a favorite, sweet cream. Enjoy the lively social atmosphere and southern hospitality.

28. Frozen Head State Park

Submitted By: Greg Haun, Manager of Production Solutions, Knoxville (Home Office) Branch
Location: Wartburg, TN
Website: https://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/frozen-head

Another beautiful stop to enjoy nature is this park, located in the rural town of Wartburg. If you like hiking, choose over a dozen trails of varying lengths and difficulties. Or you can ride the 9-mile bike trail for some fabulous views. Rent a campsite if you want to soak up nature for more than a few hours.


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