Tennessee is filled with natural beauty and lots of history. There are thousands of mysterious caves and hundreds of beautiful waterfalls, as well as southern hospitality and musical talent. Below are some affordable and accessible options to visit in Tennessee…
This is the oldest unfinished highway project in Tennessee. The open parts of the highway provide a spectacular view of the Great Smoky Mountains. It consists of 33 miles connecting US 129 and US 321. Click on the link for more details: https://foothillsparkwaytn.com/
LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, CHATTANOOGA
Lookout Mountain is 2,000 feet above sea level and overlooks Chattanooga. Many battles were fought here during the civil war, great for people who are interested in history. It is where the three natural attractions of Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Incline Railway are. The time for each attraction is around 1.5 hours. https://www.visitchattanooga.com/
-Rock City: Rock City sits atop Lookout Mountain with a view of seven states.
-Ruby Falls: Home to the tallest and deepest underground waterfall in the US. There are 700 feet of ziplines and a 40 foot climbing tower.
-Incline Railway: The world’s steepest Incline Railway leading to Lookup Mountain. When coming down the mountain there is a great collection of unique shops, restaurants, and attractions. https://ridetheincline.com/
Knoxville is a great area to explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The first noticeable landmark is in the heart of the 1982 World’s Fair Park, the Sunsphere Tower. A website on traveling states that the “vibrant South Gay Street includes interactive exhibits in the Museum of East Tennessee History. This is also the place to catch headlining concerts in the elegant Tennessee Theatre—the Official State Theatre of Tennessee. One block west of Gay Street is Market Square—Knoxville's favorite gathering place since 1854. Today, it's home to a busy farmers market, events and festivals, as well as shopping and dining. Adjacent to the square is Krutch Park, a quiet green space to rest and appreciate contemporary works of public art.” https://www.planetware.com/
This resort-like village is known for its beautiful scenery, great shopping, and its colorful history. It is a great place to spend vacation outdoors and there are multiple hiking trials and ski slopes. Gatlinburg also features several parks great for picnics and evening strolls.
GATLINBURG SKYLIFT/ SKYBRIDGE PARK
Offers the best view of the Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg. It is also home to North Americas longest pedestrian suspension bridge.
CHATTANOOGA AND THE TENNESSEE VALLEY RAILROAD
The rich railway heritage of Tennessee has been preserved throughout the state. The Tennessee Valley Railroad offers a journey in the countryside near Chattanooga and along the Hiwassee River in the Smoky Mountains. “The Three Rivers Rambler in Knoxville uses a historic coal-fired steam engine locomotive to take you 11 miles along three rivers, including the Tennessee. Hop aboard one of these trains and take advantage of their ride-and-dine packages.” https://www.planetware.com/
AMERICAN MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND ENERGY, OAK RIDGE
This offers a fascinating insight into the history of nuclear energy. The museum highlights the central role of Oak Ridge in the Manhattan Project in developing the first atomic bomb. “View videos, photos, artifacts, and documents about this vast facility. Learn how it evolved over time as an important center for scientific research and innovation. Fun, hands-on displays of static electricity and robotics engage visitors of all ages.”
Address: 115 E Main Street, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
ELVIS PRESLEY’S GRACELAND
Elvis Presley’s former mansion gives tourists a glimpse into his lifestyle. It is the second most visited home in America (after the White House). Tourists can take an audio guide tour of the mansion to learn more about the singers life and see preserved rooms with original furnishing. Tourists are also able to see Elvis’ and other family members burial location. There are other features of the museum experience, including an exhibition complex, a graffiti wall, the opportunity to explore his personal jets, and more.
THE LOST SEA ADVENTURE
A journey to the longest underground lake in the U.S. starts with a steep hike up before reaching the caves. After entering the caves, there is a downward slop leading to the lake. “The tour experience includes a boat ride on the lake – the smaller lake leads into the much larger section, only accessible with cave diving. Along the tour, guides lecture about the history of the caves dating back to the mid-1800s.Visitors can also choose a Wild Cave Tour experience, which lets you sleep overnight inside the caves.” www.thelostsea.com
Snooper’s Rock provides an expansive view of the Tennessee River Gorge. It is less than a mile round-trip hike and once you make it to Snooper’s Rock, you can enjoy 180-degree views. Below is some more information on this hike to see if it is right for you according to https://www.hikethesouth.com/hikes/snoopers-rock
Length: 0.7 miles Difficulty: 0.8 Easy Duration: 30 mins Elevation Gain: 130 feet