The Volunteer State has plenty to see! Its tourist attractions draw fun-seeking families to destinations across the state. From the birthplace of Rock N’ Roll to the land of the Great Smokies, Tennessee is a travel utopia.
You could spend days, if not weeks, exploring everything Tennessee has to offer. Whether your desire is for music knowledge, a living history lesson, outdoor adventures, or nature experiences, Tennessee can deliver it all.
All of these things combined make for some of the best family vacation spots in Tennessee!
Must-See Attractions in Tennessee
Elvis Presley’s Graceland
The King made his home in Memphis and for Elvis Presley fans, Graceland is the ultimate pilgrimage. The stately white-columned mansion was home to music legend, Elvis Presley for over 20 years. It is also the second most visited house in the US. (The White House in DC is first.)
A trip to Graceland allows you allows you to tour the mansion of Elvis Presley and view his tomb, his car collection, custom jets, and a Vegas and Hawaii concert collection.
In recent years, Graceland has undergone updates including an onsite hotel and other food and shopping opportunities. Making Graceland more of an inclusive visit than just a day trip.
Families with children under 5 would probably not enjoy this attraction.
Hang out in Nashville
Walk where the most famous country stars have walked as they prepared to perform on THE country music stage. Take a daytime tour the Grand Ole Opry in “Music City,” Nashville, TN, or see a performance on Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday.
The Gaylord Opryland Hotel, in Nashville is such an amazing place to stay (or at the very least visit for a while). There are more restaurants, shops and beautiful scenery than I can even begin to describe.
Venture outside of this area, and there are so many historic sites to visit, that some of the most notable singers, country and otherwise. Make sure that your trip to Nashville includes a trip to the Gulch area. Keep your eyes peeled for the cool angel wings mural and strike an Instagram worthy pose.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The Country Music Hall of Fame is the best place to learn about over 200 years of country music history. From its early beginnings to the present day, the three-story museum commemorates famous country music stars who have contributed greatly to the development of country music in America. The museum offers two-hour tours, as well as a memorable tour to the historic RCA Studio B, one of the most important recording studios in America.
Now let’s shift gears and visit the Tennessee Great Outdoors. Tennessee’s beautiful parks and natural formations will leave an amazing impression.
Great Smoky Mountains
This national park, located in Tennessee and North Carolina, is the country’s most visited park. The park is well-known as an excellent fly fishing spot but popular activities also include sightseeing, horseback riding, and bicycling. To see nature in her full glory, plan your trip in June to witness the Synchronous fireflies. Tens of thousands of fireflies put on a magical night show blinking their lights at dusk in synchronized patterns. This mating ritual only lasts for about two weeks. Check out our blog about the Smoky Mountains.
We’ve even written about some of the things you’ve never thought of doing while visiting the Smoky Mountains
Trails and Byways of Tennessee
If driving tours are your ticket to fun don’t miss the Trails and Byways of Tennessee. Follow in the footsteps of Native Americans and pioneers, take the routes used by African Americans along the Underground Railroad or drive the roads used to deliver moonshine on one of Tennessee’s officially designated National Scenic Byways. Three statewide and 16 regional trails with names like “Cotton Junction,” “Ring of Fire” and “The Jack Trail” originate in or run through your favorite Tennessee destinations. When it’s time to hit the trail you can decide when, where and how long you want to travel.
Chattanooga has always been known as a premier outdoor destination. Access to some of the nation’s top venues for rock climbing, road and mountain biking, hiking, white-water rafting, hang gliding and more, are all within a short drive of downtown. But Chattanooga has also become known as a place for the serious foodie. The many mouth-watering options range from classic Southern BBQ to seafood to fine dining, even Mexican street food is an option. Coffee houses, breweries, and cafes will all encourage you to slow down and enjoy your vacation at a slower Southern pace. Families will find many kid-friendly restaurants.
National Civil Right Museum at the Lorraine Motel
This is the history of an uprising that pushed national and international civil rights forward. Lots of pivotal, historical moments happened at this motel and are chronicled in this amazing museum. Pay your respects to Martin Luther King Jr. and the dream that he dared to share so many years ago.
The Hermitage – the Home of the Peoples President, Andrew Jackson
The Hermitage Plantation was the home of Andrew Jackson, our 7th President, and a wealthy slave-owner. It is one of the largest and most visited presidential homes in the United States. Today, original furniture, wallpaper, and family possessions give visitors a glimpse of what life was like for the family in the years of Andrew Jackson’s retirement. The Hermitage has welcomed approximately 16 million visitors from around the world since opening as a museum in 1889.
Shiloh National Military Park
Shiloh National Military Park preserves the American Civil War battlefields of Shiloh and Corinth. Established in 1894, Shiloh National Military Park remains one the best preserved and most pristine Civil War battlefields. Nearly 110,000 American troops clashed in an epic struggle that resulted in 23,746 killed, wounded, and missing; more casualties than in all of America’s previous wars combined. Shiloh is considered one of the best-preserved battlefields in the Nation.
Three American Presidents have called Tennessee home as did the King of Rock N’ Roll. Tennessee was the site of a tragic assignation and the birthplace of the Blues. It contains amazing landscape, magical adventures, and culinary delights. See, learn, experience, and savor Tennessee. A Tennessee vacation will engage all your senses—including your sense of adventure!
Explore more of Memphis
Our family visited Memphis Tennessee in the Spring, and we found so much to fall in love with. From the amazing accommodations at the largest Bass Pro Shop in the Pyramid, that were surprisingly luxurious. To walking in the footsteps of some of the best singers and songwriters of our time and eating the best barbecue in the country. Read more here about our time in Memphis.
No matter where your travels take you in the Volunteer State, there is something for everyone and tons of fun to be had!