Things to do in Tennessee, USA

Things to do in  Tennessee

Put your best boot forward

Outdoor adventure beckons in Tennessee, from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Both serious and casual explorers can take advantage of this landlocked state’s many outdoor activities, such as hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking, biking, river rafting, and caving. Some of the best indoor things to do in Tennessee include its whiskey trail, complete with 25 stops, and big attractions like Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Graceland.

Top 15 attractions in Tennessee

Ryman Auditorium

Known as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” Ryman Auditorium helped transform Nashville into a legendary music destination. Since 1892, the venue has hosted notable stars such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Van Morrison, and Minnie Pearl. Today, visitors can tour the 2,362-seat auditorium, visit the museum, or catch a live show.More

Downtown Nashville

Music City's lively downtown doesn't disappoint. Nashville's entertainment hub is home to a who's who of restaurants, hotels, and cultural hot spots. Things to see in downtown Nashville include the Frist Art Museum, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Ryman Auditorium, Music Row, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, and the Nashville Farmers' Market. After dark, live music takes over the bars of Honky Tonk Highway.More

Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum

From Elvis Presley to Dolly Parton, Nashville's stars have earned the place its title as “Music City,” and you can dive into that history and culture at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Learn about the best of this classic American music genre with historic video clips, recorded music, and a menu of live performances and public programs.More

Titanic Pigeon Forge

At the Titanic Museum, built to resemble the British ocean liner at half-scale, you take self-guided, interactive audio tours designed to share the history of the ship and its ill-fated maiden voyage of 1912. You’ll receive a boarding ticket with the name and traveling class of a historical passenger whose story is revealed as they explore interactive exhibits—and learn if their passenger survived.More

Tennessee State Capitol

Standing atop Nashville’s highest hill, the Tennessee State Capitol pays homage to Greek mythology—built by renowned architect William Strickland and modeled after an Ionic Greek temple, it’s one of the few state capitols without domes. You’re welcome inside to tour its opulent murals, frescoes, chandeliers, and hallways on any given weekday.More

Beale Street

From 1920 to 1940, artists descended on Beale Street to collaborate, creating a new music style that blended smooth jazz with hard-charging rock 'n' roll. This mix eventually gave birth to the blues, a new and distinctly American genre of music that gradually made its way into the United States' pop culture mainstream. A visit to today's Beale Street, now a U.S. National Historic Landmark District, allows travelers to check out the blues clubs that served as the launching sites for some of the most famous American blues musicians of all time.More

Grand Ole Opry House

From radio broadcast to world-renowned stage show, the Grand Ole Opry showcases genres from country and bluegrass to folk, comedy, and gospel both live and on the radio. Unlike a typical concert, the Grand Ole Opry presents six or more artists during each show, giving the audience a variety of great music at each event. Superstars who have performed here include Patsy Cline, Blake Shelton, Willie Nelson, and Carrie Underwood.More

Music Row

No trip to Nashville is complete without a visit to Music Row. This is the home of the country music industry, with a slew of record labels, radio stations, and recording studios working side-by-side. There are also live venues on or near Music Row, to check out established artists as well as up-and-comers looking to break through.More


The second most-visited home in the United States (behind only the White House), Graceland was home to Elvis Presley during the height of his career. Although the rock ’n’ roll singer and pop culture icon died in the white-columned mansion in 1977, touring the wacky rooms of this 17,552-square-foot (1,630-square-meter) estate offers insight into the mind of The King of Rock, who is buried in the estate's Meditation Gardens.More

Frist Art Museum

Lavish cream and green marble floors and wall paneling, high ceilings with and cast iron doors surround guests with the art deco charm of the Nashville’s original post office completed in 1934. The historically significant building kept its original charm through a public/private partnership-driven revamp into the non-profit Frist Art Museum in 2001. The space now holds art exhibitions, interactive art workshops as well as a gift shop and café.The Frist is a different kind of museum that does not have permanent collections. Instead, it sources a host of themed exhibits that roll through every six to eight weeks. Traveling national and international shows including classical pieces by Michelangelo and Monet have hung on Frist walls, as have collections of American folk art, modern photography, European classical works from the age of exploration and even an exhibit deconstructing Italian sports car design. The building’s 24,000 square feet of gallery space includes 30 interactive stations on the upper level for kids and families to get creative and make their own stop motion animation, printmaking, watercolor painting, etching, sculpture creation and more—some of these stations also rotate to match visiting exhibits. In the summer, Frist Fridays bring bands—also often tied to exhibit themes—to jam at the museum, and live music features year-round on Thursdays and Fridays in the Grand Lobby or café. Be sure to check what’s on before stopping by—it’s a new experience every time.More

Tennessee Aquarium

Taking you on a journey from a mountain stream to the sea, the Tennessee Aquarium is spread across two buildings—one focused on rivers and the other on oceans. In both, you can discover an array of exhibits highlighting habitats, native creatures, threats, and conservation strategies.More

Centennial Park

Like New York’s Central Park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the lush green landscape of Nashville’s Centennial Park provides welcome refuge from congestion, crowds, and bustling city life. The most notable, and possibly most out-of-place, feature of Centennial Park is its impressive Parthenon replica.More

Belmont Mansion

Belmont Mansion offers Nashville visitors the chance to experience an antebellum-era home, complete with antique furnishings and period details. Uncover Belmont’s history and learn about its owner, Adelicia Acklen—one of the wealthiest and most successful women in 19th-century Tennessee.More

Peabody Hotel Ducks

Peabody Hotel has some unique permanent guests in the famous "Peabody Ducks," who live on the hotel’s rooftop and perform a march toward the Grand Lobby twice daily. The tradition dates to 1933 when the general manager returned from a hunting trip and placed several live duck decoys in the hotel’s fountain. The guests’ positive response prompted their stay.More

National Civil Rights Museum

Built around the former Lorraine Motel—where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968—the National Civil Rights Museum immediately conveys its cultural and historical significance to all who visit. Exhibits chronicle some of the most important episodes of the Civil Rights Movement, including the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Little Rock Nine, Montgomery Bus Boycotts, and the famous sit-ins of the 1960s.More

Top activities in Tennessee

Grand Ole Opry Show Admission Ticket in Nashville
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Nashville’s Biggest & Wildest Party Tractor Tour (21+ Only)
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Nashville to Jack Daniel's Distillery Bus Tour & Whiskey Tastings
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Grand Ole Opry House Guided Backstage Tour
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Titanic Museum Pigeon Forge Admission Ticket
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Nashville to Memphis Daytrip with Graceland VIP Tour and Sun Studio Admission
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Grand Ole Opry Admission with Post-Show Backstage Tour
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Nashville Public Party Bus with Bartender and DJ
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Explore the City of Nashville Sightseeing Tour by Golf Cart
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All about Tennessee

When to visit

When to visit Tennessee depends on where you’re headed. For the Great Smoky Mountains, late spring and early summer are ideal for exploring America’s most visited national park while experiencing temperate weather and smaller crowds. Memphis is most pleasant in spring, as its summers are often hot and humid. While Nashville comes alive as the days heat up—summer coincides with music festival season.

Getting around

If you’re planning on road-tripping throughout the Volunteer State, you’ll need private transportation or a rental car. But if you’re basing yourself in a metropolitan area like Memphis (home of Graceland), Knoxville (the closest major city to Dollywood), Chattanooga, or the capital Nashville, then you may be able to get by on public transit systems. You’ll find ride sharing apps in all the cities. For a different perspective, try renting a bike or joining a bike tour.

Traveler tips

Take time in Tennessee to try some of the state’s culinary delicacies. Nothing says finger-licking cooking like the grub you’ll get here. Nashville hot chicken, Memphis barbecue, Tennessee whiskey, and the sweet, chocolatey Moon Pie all originate in Tennessee. This is a great place to indulge in all types of Southern home cooking, from fried green tomatoes and sweet tea to a classic “meat and three.” Just be sure to keep those cholesterol levels in check.

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People Also Ask

What is the number 1 attraction in Tennessee?

Nashville’s music heritage is on display at Ryman Auditorium, known as the mother church of country music and Tennessee’s number one attraction. Since 1892 the legendary venue has seen performers including Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, and Elvis, and visitors come to catch a live show or tour the music-themed exhibits.

Is there anything fun to do in Tennessee?

Yes, there’s lots to do in Tennessee. Country tunes play in Nashville honky-tonks, while Graceland and Dollywood are must-sees for music buffs. Nature plays a starring role, too, from the Great Smoky Mountains to outdoorsy Chattanooga. The history-rich Natchez Trace Parkway is a top US road trip.

What is the prettiest place in Tennessee?

Beautiful places abound in Tennessee, but gentle peaks and endless views make Great Smoky Mountains National Park the state’s highlight. It’s among Tennessee’s top attractions and also the most-visited US national park. Trails, cycling, and campgrounds are abundant in a forested landscape straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.

What do people do on vacation in Tennessee?

Tennessee vacations range from Great Smoky Mountains hiking to exploring Nashville’s music scene. Other top vacation ideas in Tennessee include visits to Dollywood and Graceland or touring Civil Rights-era landmarks in Memphis. History buffs can drive the Natchez Trace Parkway past Civil War sites and ancient American Indian mounds.

What is Tennessee most famous for?

Tennessee is famous as the home of country music. In Nashville, also known as Music City, budding musicians still vie for stardom in downtown honky-tonks while top performers play historic Ryman Auditorium. Musical heritage, meanwhile, is preserved at the Country Music Hall of Fame and the memorabilia-packed Johnny Cash Museum.

Is it worth visiting Tennessee?

Yes, it’s worth visiting Tennessee. Nashville and Memphis are top US destinations for music lovers, while more outdoorsy types head for rolling peaks and trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Road-tripping the rest of the state, visitors encounter Civil Rights-era landmarks, blues bars, theme parks, and classic roadside attractions.

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