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Trip List by 7_14_142014

Where in Tennessee?

Aug 21, 2009  East Tennessee life resident
3.5 of 5 stars based on 7 votes

I don't know how well you know the state or how set your itinerary is, but here are my thoughts.

  • 1. Memphis
    Memphis, Tennessee

    As a Tennessee native I have never visited Memphis and don't have much of a desire to. The Memphis Zoo looks really cool and there are a couple other sights I'd like to see, but whenever I meet someone from Memphis they never have any positive comments about the place.

  • 2. Nashville
    Nashville, Tennessee

    Now, I have been to Nashville a number of times, and my sentiments are about the same. I enjoyed visiting the Parthenon and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens; have also visited Curb Records, Studio B, the capitol, Music Row, and the Belmont Mansion; and would like to visit the Tennessee State Museum, Stones River Battlefield, and the Hermitage. On the whole, though Nashville has never struck me as a beautiful place to just hang out and walk around, nor does it have beautiful nature preserves within fifteen minutes or so to enjoy the outdoors as a sort of respite from the city.

    While I certainly wouldn't strike Nashville and Memphis off of anyone's itinerary, especially if they were into live music or music history, I wouldn't make either city a big emphasis, either. I personally would give a week out of a three week Tennessee itinerary to visit the two towns.

  • 3. Pigeon Forge
    Pigeon Forge

    I also have mixed feelings for Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Well, mixed feelings about Gatlinburg. Pigeon Forge is one place I can recommend avoiding altogether. It's a "town" that consists of what I call "tourist sprawl": urban-type sprawl polluting pasture land with motels, mini golf courses, strip malls, chain restaurants, traffic lights, and traffic. I've driven through it twice and don't feel any need to go back.

  • 4. Gatlinburg
    Gatlinburg

    Gatlinburg is a little different: while it's still in some ways touristy in the bad sense, the development is much more compact and is pedestrianized. There are also some attractions in Gatlinburg I'd actually like to visit, Ripley's Aquarium and the Arts and Crafts Loop included. (There are also some attractions that I really wish weren't there at all like the wax and Ripley's Believe It or Not museums.) I could actually stay in Gatlinburg (or day trip there), though the clear majority of my time spent in that area would be spent within the boundaries of the national park.

  • 5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

    Luckily, there are a few small towns scattered around the park that offer food and acommodations for people who want to visit the park but not deal with the traffic of Gatlinburg: Wears Valley, Townsend, and Cosby on the Tennessee side, and Maggie Valley, Bryson City, Sylva, and Fontana City on the North Carolina side. I do recommend spending time on the North Carolina side of the park (the larger of the two sides) and in other areas in the western North Carolina mountains. The national park itself is a wonderful place to spend time and has an enormous variety of natural and historical features to see. It deserves a week or more of any three week Tennessee itinerary.

  • 6. Chattanooga
    Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Two destinations probably not on your itinerary that I'm an unabashed proponent of: Chattanooga and the Cumberland Plateau. Chattanooga has an enormous amount to offer visitors: the largest national military park depicting the second largest Civil War battle after Gettysburg; nature preserves within a short driving distance of the city; a beautiful riverfront lined with city parks, pedestrian bridges, and the 13 mile Tennessee Riverwalk; historic attractions like the Walnut Street Bridge, Rock City Gardens, Ruby Falls, and the Incline Railway; and the Tennessee Aquarium, the largest freshwater aquarium in the world.

  • 7. Cumberland Plateau
    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=35.686302,-84.951782&spn=1.184548,1...

    The Cumberland Plateau is a natural feature stretching from Chattanooga at the southern border to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park on the northern border, rising well over a thousand feet above the Tennessee Valley for its whole length. Canyons riddle the plateau's sides, producing large natural areas offering astounding scenic beauty on par with the Smokies. This area is mostly for hikers, fishermen, cavers, kayakers, and other people seeking outdoor activities. Must see areas include Savage Gulf, Fiery Gizzard, Fall Creek Falls, Scott's Gulf, and Frozen Head.