Planning the Ultimate Tennessee Road Trip

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Tennessee is a great American summer road trip destination. You can easily take a week or more to explore the entire state, driving from one side to the other. With so many awesome cities to explore, you might want to make this an annual road trip. Here are a few great cities in Tennessee to add to your summer holiday plans, including cheap hotels where you should stay for a comfortable and luxurious vacation.


Image via Flickr by Jeremy Sorrells

Let’s start on the far western side of the state in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s the home of blues and rock and roll, so it’s a must for any music fan. Sun Studio in Memphis recorded iconic artists like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. A trip to Memphis wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Graceland, either.

Pay a visit to historic Beale Street for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and nightlife. While you’re there, check out the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and the Orpheum Theater. For something completely different, the Memphis Botanical Garden has over 96 acres of secluded woodlands and beautiful gardens. It’s a quiet escape from hectic city life.


Continuing east, a trip to Tennessee wouldn’t be complete without visiting Nashville. Keeping with the music theme, country music fans can check out the Country Music Hall of Fame and the historic Music Row. The music scene is alive and well, so why not check out a live concert while you’re there? After all, Nashville is known as Music City, USA!

Nashville is a vibrant city with tons of street art and murals to discover. Take a walk through eclectic neighborhoods and dine at local restaurants and cafés. Centennial Park has a lovely duck pond where you can feed the ducks, and there’s a real steam engine train from the 1800s. Hotels in Nashville are plentiful, and you’re likely to find a bargain, especially if you travel in the off-season.


Traveling to Chattanooga is a must for nature lovers. You’ll find Ruby Falls inside Lookout Mountain, which also features many interesting rock formations. The Chattanooga Nature Center is home to a 1,400-foot boardwalk through wetlands and the surrounding forest.

The Tennessee River Walk is a 10-mile path through downtown Chattanooga. It’s a great example of an urban green space and a perfect spot for a picnic lunch. If a boat cruise is more your style, take a tour on the Southern Belle Riverboat. It’s a paddle wheel boat offering charming sightseeing cruises of the city.


Primarily a mountain resort town, Gatlinburg borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s the only ski resort in Tennessee, and it features a number of manmade attractions and mountain-themed shops. You can find hotels in Gatlinburg with fantastic rates, too.

Pigeon Forge

Lastly, Pigeon Forge is a popular place, primarily due to Dollywood. There’s also the Titanic Museum, the Elvis Museum, the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride, and the thrilling Flyaway Indoor Skydiving.

Seeking nature? Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers the perfect scenic backdrop, but you can also explore nature by going for a hike. A walk through the Cades Cove Loop makes for great exercise, and it’s also free.

While Pigeon Forge is a busy spot, the end of spring and late August to early September are low season. You might find the cheapest hotels in Pigeon Forge during those times.

What are you waiting for? Use this guide to start planning your road trip through Tennessee!

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