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Your guide to Tennessee
All About Tennessee
Tied for the state with the most borders (eight, with Missouri), Tennessee touches on a little bit of everything: history, culture, nature. One of the more northern of the southern states, it’s known for dry-rub barbecue, being the birthplace of country music, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park with its glorious 522,427 acres of old-growth forests, mountain peaks, and waterfalls. Tennessee’s two largest cities, Memphis and Nashville, draw visitors from around the globe looking to light it up at their honky tonks, restaurants, and music halls. While on the quiet banks of the Tennessee River Chattanooga is awash in greenspaces, art museums, and jaw-drop views from atop Lookout Mountain.
If you crave a dose of throwback charm to go with your national park gateway town, Gatlinburg has campy throwback attractions like pancake houses, wax museums, and moonshine distilleries all within close proximity of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Tennessee?
In spring, the irises bloom, days are warm, and the humidity is low, but you’ll encounter more rain than you might expect, so come prepared with an umbrella. During late April, you can see the pastel blooms of the dogwood trees at Knoxville’s Dogwood Arts Fair. Summer is the peak season for vacation rentals in Tennessee as days are long and hot, city patios are open, and the region's biggest music festivals take place. Summer thunderstorms are common in the evenings and bring refreshing cool breezes. The brief fall is one of the most enjoyable times in Tennessee, when the weather cools off and foliage lures visitors to the mountains. Winter is the off-season; you’ll want plenty of layers for the cold, although snow is rare in all of the major cities.
What are the top things to do in Tennessee?
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most visited national park, welcoming more than 10 million visitors each year. These mountain peaks formed hundreds of millions of years ago, and they’re now filled with more than 100 different species of trees, about two black bears per square mile, white-tailed deer, salamanders, and more than 200 varieties of birds. The park has paved roads for auto touring, hiking trails that reach popular destinations like Rainbow Falls and Andrews Bald, and 2,900 miles of streams that you can fish with a license.
Tennessee has been the epicenter of many musical genres, including blues, rock ‘n’ roll, bluegrass, and modern country. Head to Memphis for the blues of Beale Street, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the rock ‘n’ roll mecca of Sun Studios and the mother of them all, Elvis’ Graceland. In Nashville, you’ll find the Country Music Hall of Fame, the African American Music Museum, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, and an overwhelming amount of live music every night.
Tennessee’s capital has been revitalized in recent years thanks to an influx of young creatives, and while it’s known for country music landmarks like Broadway’s honky tonks and Music Row’s recording studios, Nashville also has award-winning upscale restaurants, record stores, professional hockey and football teams, community-focused festivals like August’s Tomato Art Fest, a thriving cafe culture, niche museums, and laid-back nightlife in East Nashville.