Tennessee Travel Overview
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Tennessee's greatest asset is its variety: from the Smokey Mountains to the big cities (Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville to name a few), there truly is something for everyone, whether one be a country music fanatic, nature lover, or Civil War history buff.
Nashville, also know as Nash-Vegas, is well known for its ties to country music. Housing the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry as well as countless musical celebrities (Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban to name a few), it is a great city to visit for a big concert, a trip to the hall of fame, or a stop in to a hole-in-the-wall live music venue. The downtown area along Broadway that runs perpendicular to the Cumberland River has typical honky-tonk bars, restaurants, and stores (a great opportunity to buy your first pair of cowboy boots). A few other happening areas, especially at night, are 2nd Avenue and Printer's Alley, both just minutes off Broadway. Further out from downtown is the famous Bluebird Café (in Green Hills), where music-lovers will find up and coming artists playing nightly. But be warned—reservations are a must. Those willing to dig a little deeper in Nashville will find the real gold. The area around Vanderbilt University includes Centennial Park (home to a giant replica of the Parthenon) and Hillsborough Village (frequented by Taylor Swift; must-stops include the Pancake Pantry and Fido). Additionally, all around the city are markers for Civil War historical sites, which will please history lovers. Those willing to get off the beaten trail and cross the Cumberland will find East Nashville full of hidden gems, like Pied Piper Creamery (the most incredible selection of unique ice cream flavors), Café Marché (a fantastic French restaurant), and various record stores. Signature Nashville staples include various food trucks; a few favorites of locals include the Grilled Cheeserie and Mas Tacos, both delicious. One final popular area for fantastic food and a bit of shopping is The Gulch, located just south-west of Broadway downtown.
Memphistravel.com calls Memphis the home of the blues and the birthplace of Rock and Roll, which accurately captures the city's devotion to music. Boasting a variety of museums, the subjects of which range from cotton to Asian and Judaic art to the Mississippi river, one will want to devote several days to this city. Like Nashville, Memphis offers a plethora of live-music venues; Memphis.com recommends that Blues lovers explore Beale Street to get their fix. Whether or not one was a fan of Elvis during his reign as the King, Graceland will appeal to the whole family. Its website details all the premises have to offer, from restaurants to museums to gift shops.
Knoxville is in the eastern region of Tennessee. The city's website recommends a few attractions, such as visiting one of its art galleries or museums, bringing the children to Fountain City (home to the zoo and popular burger and ice cream shops). For SEC fans, a visit to the University of Tennessee is a must. Finally, Trip Advisor suggests stopping at Market Square for great restaurants and shops, the Old City for an area rich in jazz and blues, and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, which is well known for the thirty-foot in diameter basketball that sits atop it.
A few hours outside of Knoxville are the Smokey Mountains and the tourist town of Gatlinburg. The mountains offer breathtaking views, countless hiking trails, and a variety of wildlife. But at the foot of the mountains stands a startling contrast: Gatlinburg is packed with hokey stores, restaurants, and more putt-putt than one could play in a lifetime. Despite its willingness to cater to the biggest tourist around, it is still worth a stop and offers convenient lodging while exploring the Smokeys. Aside from the Smokeys, another area that would appeal to nature lovers is the Ocoee River, where one can find ample opportunities to white water raft and enjoy all that the river has to offer.
Tennessee may not be one of the best-known states, but it does not come up short in places to visit and things to see.
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