Tennessee has more than its share of natural beauty, and there’s no better way to experience it than from the seat of a Harley-Davidson. The state is home to hundreds of miles of scenic roads that wind through forested hills, deep valleys, and rolling plains. It also boasts some of the most popular destinations for bikers, from the National Corvette Museum to Graceland. For a memorable weekend getaway, Tennessee has plenty of options—the question is, which one do you want to check out first?
If you’re looking for a mix of nature and nightlife, head to Nashville. This eclectic city offers a variety of entertainment options, including music venues like the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium and bars such as Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. If you want to enjoy live music in a more relaxed setting, consider booking a room at The Hermitage Hotel. Located just outside downtown, this historic hotel features elegant accommodations and dining options and an extensive collection of art and antiques.
Here are thirteen other ways to spend your weekend in Tennessee:
1. Hike or bike the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains stretch across eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, providing the backdrop to thousands of acres of protected land and hundreds of miles of hiking trails. The most famous trail is the Appalachian Trail, stretching from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. You can hike sections of the AT throughout the park, but the most striking section is the 50-mile stretch from Fontana Dam to Newfound Gap. In addition to camping, fishing, and backpacking opportunities, the area around the gap offers several guided tours, including horseback riding, rafting, and even rock climbing.
2. Shop in Sevierville
Stores in Sevierville, TN, offer many of the same goods found in larger cities, including clothing, shoes, furniture, sporting equipment, jewelry, electronics, and more. However, they often carry a higher quality and variety, and the prices are generally lower than those in larger cities. Visitors should check out the outlet malls near Pigeon Forge, where you’ll find top brands at deep discounts.
3. Go Ziplining
The Great Smoky Mountains are zipliners ‘ paradise with more than 40 different courses spread over 130 miles of wooded ridges and valleys. The highest course reaches 1,500 feet above ground level, and it’s so high that the line extends to the ground. The longest run is nearly five miles long, offering riders spectacular views of the mountains and valley below. Most courses require guests to wear helmets, harnesses, and gloves, which are available for rent at most locations if you don’t have them on hand.
4. Attend a Festival
Music festivals, car shows, craft fairs, and more fill the calendar for a weekend in Tennessee year-round. Some of the biggest and most spectacular include the Rocky Top Rendezvous & Pioneer Days in Gatlinburg and the Music City Food + Wine Festival in Franklin. Each event brings together dozens of vendors selling handmade crafts, locally grown produce, and homemade sweets.
5. Visit the National Corvette Museum
Visitors to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green will find more than 700 fully restored Corvettes dating back to 1953. The museum also features a huge collection of memorabilia, including original artwork and documents related to the development of these iconic vehicles. There’s even a showroom floor dedicated exclusively to current models of the Corvette, which are available for purchase through the museum.
6. Enjoy the natural beauty of East Tennessee
East Tennessee is home to many scenic vistas ranging from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Cumberland Plateau creating an unforgettable weekend. Many of these areas offer ample opportunity for hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities. Among the most popular is Roan Mountain, home to the 1,300-foot summit of the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi. Visitors can hike, camp, and fish in the peak’s shadow.
7. Ride the Natchez Trace Parkway
Natchez Trace is one of the great routes of American history. As it snakes across the southeastern United States, the road traces the path of the legendary Natchez Indians, who used the route as they migrated westward from the Great Lakes region. The parkway remains a major thoroughfare, serving as a scenic connection between Nashville and Memphis. In addition to providing access to numerous small towns dotting the highway, Natchez Trace provides plenty of recreational opportunities, including hiking, cycling, and birdwatching.
8. Tour Graceland
If Elvis Presley is your thing, consider heading to Memphis instead for a tour of Graceland. The former home and estate of the late King of Rock ‘n’ Roll now serves as a tourist attraction. It is complete with exhibits detailing his life and career and an extensive collection of personal items and artifacts. Tours of the property are available daily, and there’s also an interactive theater featuring video clips, music, and interviews with celebrities who knew the singer personally.
9. Watch a College Football Game
It is famous for its “Tailgating Capital of the World” reputation; Nashville is home to several top-rated colleges and universities. Fans of SEC sports should make plans to attend a Vanderbilt football game. They play at the school’s stunning stadium, which sits on more than 600 acres of picturesque woodland. For fans of Big Ten athletics, the nearby University of Tennessee offers plenty of options, from basketball games to baseball and softball contests.
10. Visit Dollywood
Dolly Parton’s namesake amusement park is a favorite destination for visitors to the Smokies. Dollywood features dozens of thrill rides, including two roller coasters that rank among the country’s top three tallest wooden coasters. It also boasts several family attractions and live entertainment shows. Seasonal events include a Christmas festival and a springtime celebration called Heritage Harvest.
11. Visit the Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry has been entertaining audiences for more than 90 years. The weekly concert series features performances by some of the biggest names in country music, from Garth Brooks to Brad Paisley. The venue lies in downtown Nashville, within walking distance of countless restaurants and hotels. The Grand Ole Opry frequently features guest appearances by country music superstars like Shania Twain and Kenny Rogers.
12. See a Broadway Show
Nashville is the country’s music capital, but it’s also home to a thriving theater scene. The city is home to three professional theaters: the Ryman Auditorium (where the Opry started), the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. All three venues host national touring productions and a wide range of local productions.
13. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
For a unique perspective on the city, consider taking a ride in a hot air balloon. Several companies provide tours over the city, including Balloons Over Nashville, which operates seven different flights each morning during the summer months. These tours take off from Centennial Park, offering spectacular views of the downtown skyline and surrounding mountains.
There’s no shortage of things to do and see in Nashville, from the Grand Ole Opry to the Natchez Trace Parkway. The city offers a wealth of cultural attractions and its famous music scene, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in American culture. Enjoy your perfect weekend in Tennessee.
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