discover hidden myths, taste diverse food and sleep below a sky full of shooting stars and galaxies every night
When you think of amazing places with lots of beautiful sites to see and explore, perhaps you think of Paris, Venice or Bali. These are some foreign climes which are renowned for its great allure all over the world. You probably would not think of a state like Tennessee in the US places to visit, but to overlook the Volunteer State would be to make a mistake.

It is actually an amazing place with lots of awesome and awe-inspiring places of great beauty. The truth is that not many people think of making a road trip from Atlanta to Nashville. In fact, the southeastern region of the United States, also known as the South, is often overlooked when it comes to organizing road trips in USA.

Probably, most people would skip this region altogether and go directly to the beaches of Florida or discover the charms of New Orleans. But that would be a mistake, since the Deep South offers different cultures, interesting landscapes and delicious food that will reward the curious traveler. To see all the charms of the area you will need a car.

And if you plan to get to the region by plane, you will need a rental car. The road trip we present to you begins in Atlanta with Nashville as its final destination. The driving time, depending on the route, is just over 6 hours. A round trip can be made over a long weekend, depending on the number of stops you want to make and the number of people sharing driving tasks.

And, of course, you probably want to spend at least two days at some of the places like Nashville, with its diverse music scene and delicious food. Our road trip from Atlanta to Nashville goes through Savannah in Georgia, Gulf Shores in Alabama and Tennessee.

Some parts of the route pass through mountainous areas, so an SUV may be the best option to move around the area, much better than an economic or compact model, especially if you are planning to do outdoor activities. Now all you have to do is pick up your rental car and start driving in the deep south!

Take I-85 S from the airport to Montgomery, a road trip that will take you just over 2 hours. Once you've seen all there is to see in Montgomery, drive for 1.5 hours on I-65 N to Birmingham, your next destination in Alabama. Continue your road trip driving through I-65 N for approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes until you enter Tennessee.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park

1. Jackson

Reelfoot Lake in Samburg is the only considerable natural lake in Tennessee and what a lake it is! It was formed by a number of earthquakes that took place along the Madrid fault in the early 19th century, which made the Mississippi River flow backward and fill up empty land in Tennessee. It is home to a number of beautiful bald cypress trees, bald eagles and lots of excellent fishing opportunities.

2. Franklin

There you can make a short stop in Franklin. Here take a break from the big cities to visit a small town in the south. Franklin is only about 20 miles from Nashville, but here the pace of life is definitely much slower. Before parking your rental car near the picturesque main street, where the boutiques and restaurants of the town are located, drive around and look at the beautiful Victorian houses in the area.

Franklin is perhaps most famous for being the site where in 1864 the Battle of Franklin was fought during the Civil War. The Carter House and Carnton Plantation has remains of that battle and contain original furniture of the time and a cemetery. Franklin is a place worth visiting, especially to slow down and drive with the windows open or the top down while savoring the true South.

Head north one more time on I-65, and in 30 minutes you'll reach Nashville, the music mecca.

3. Nashville

Known since the 1950s as Music City USA, Nashville is still the place where some musicians come to make their dreams come true. And while the music scene is a great attraction in this Tennessee capital, there is much more to see and do here. There is a surprising number of activities to do outdoors in the Nashville area, due to its location along the Cumberland River and its proximity to several mountains.

Visiting all the music venues and museums in Nashville can take a day or two. Park in a garage, if you plan to visit several places in the Music Row or other dense areas of the center. You should know that in the central districts of the city there is regulated parking with parking meters and it is focused on short-term stops.

You don't have to be a country-music buff to enjoy kicking up your heels in jovial Music City. It is home to several legendary recording studios and live-music venues, including the Ryman Auditorium, where the acoustics are so good, it's served as both. If you plan ahead, you can watch a show at the renowned Ryman Auditorium or the Grand Ole Opry. The places and museums of country music are probably Nashville's most popular attractions.

The Country Music Hall of Fame is definitely worth a visit, despite an $18 admission fee, if only to see Elvis Presley's solid gold Cadillac, among a million other musical artifacts. Among things to do in Nashville visit the Hall of Fame of the Musicians in the basement of the Municipal Auditorium. Here you will find instruments and exhibitions from a wide range of musicians, including Garth Brooks and Jimi Hendrix.

Learn about the Man in Black at the Johnny Cash Museum or get a broader look at the Hall of Fame and Country Music Museum. A more eclectic and affordable homage to world history awaits, however, at Centennial Park. For just $6, you can see a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon and the 41-foot-tall statue of the goddess that’s Athena inside.

Get closer to the Parthenon. That's right, Nashville has a full-scale replica of this Greek structure, as it is known as the Athens of the South. You can find it at Centennial Park, driving west from the city center.

Nashville has amazing biscuits (of course), tacos (surprisingly), hamburgers (as good as L.A.), donuts (among the world’s best), and fried pickles! But above all these dishes, there is something everyone must try in Nashville! Eat some spicy chicken. Barbecue and fried chicken top many Nashville menus, so, for less than the cost of a pair of blue-suede shoes, you can eat like a king.

This local specialty has spread throughout the country, with Kentucky Fried Chicken even entering the game, but you should try it here. The fried chicken has a lot of red pepper, so be sure to use the fluffy white bread that you get with your order to soothe the fire in your mouth.

Perfectly tender inside, unbelievably crispy outside, the Nashville Hot Chicken Wings are deep-fried in a spicy batter and then finished off on a stove top in a spicy sauce that could win competitions!

If you have time, it's worth driving east from downtown Nashville to the Hermitage, the former home of the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson. The mansion and the plantation grounds are good for learning something of presidential history and taking a break from the city. From Nashville, head back to Atlanta on I-24 E through Tennessee for a 2-hour trip to Chattanooga.

4. Chattanooga

In addition to being a fun word to say, Chattanooga is a city located in a beautiful place at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains. Here you will find many outdoor activities, which could be welcome at the end of an intense road trip. Due to the location of the city on the Tennessee River, it is not even necessary to leave the Chattanooga boundaries to spend some quiet time outdoors.

Among things to do in Chattanooga, relax in Ross's Landing, an urban park by the river. Although it is now an open-air oasis, it is in the place where the Cherokee people lived.

5. Lookout Mountain

The Lookout Mountain itself is worth a visit, either for its trails or its history as the site of a famous battle of the American Civil War. And if you're not afraid of heights, a ride on the Lookout Mountain slanting train that climbs up the side of the mountain will take you to historic places and trails. Do you still want more outdoor activities? Drive to Rock City, which is a popular site due to its panoramic views over seven states.

Drive to Ruby Falls, just southwest of downtown Chattanooga. The underground waterfall is 145 feet high and is located inside a cave in the Lookout Mountain. Ruby Falls in Chattanooga is a stunning 145-foot waterfall. It is unique because it is situated a staggering 1,100 feet below the surface of the earth under Lookout Mountain.

That makes it the deepest waterfall that you can actually visit in the United States, making it one of those natural attractions that you will never forget.

After Chattanooga, you find yourself in the final stretch of a road trip that has taken you from Atlanta to Nashville.

6. Signal Mountain

Burgess Falls State Park is home to some of Tennessee's prettiest views and is a popular place to picnic. Of particular note are the powerful waterfalls that are dotted around the grounds of the park. This is why if you visit, you should certainly take a trip along the River Trail/Road Loop to take full advantage of them. If you are a keen fisher, you won't be disappointed by the opportunities there either!

7. Gatlinburg

Located at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains this underground lake measures a staggering (almost) five acres, making it the biggest lake of its kind in the USA. Pretty crystal anthodites and impressive stalactites and stalagmites make it a must-see location, especially from the vantage of a glass-floored boat in the Craighead Caverns.

8. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

You simply cannot travel to Tennessee without spending some time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. The most popular national park in the United States is not only the place to see prehistoric trees. There are impressive and romantic mountains and a whole host of stunning wildlife.

It is also the place to get active in the great outdoors with horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, cycling and camping activities all available within its bounds.

9. Johnson City

Winged Deer Park is located in the Johnson City area, which is also home to the luxurious Fairfield Inn & Suites Johnson City. Winged Deer Park is a pretty little spot with lots of lovely flowers, some fantastic views, and picturesque walking trails. It also has batting cages for those of you who like to combine pretty landscapes with something a little more active.

It can get quite busy at times, but if you are looking for a little tranquility within the city, it is the place to be. Sit back and enjoy the panoramic views from the comfort of your rental car as you drive south on I-75 back to Atlanta - it's about 275 miles, which will take you about 5 hours.

When you return to Atlanta, you can easily return your vehicle at the airport or give in to temptation and extend your reservation to enjoy this road trip for a little longer. Do you know which great river forms Tennessee's western border? Time to take a trip to Tennessee? If you value beauty, it sure is!
Kalyan Panja Kalyan Panja Author
Burning Moon said...

Looks like a wonderful group of places to visit. The Chattanooga sounds like it would be a blast to visit and spend time.

Stacie said...

Tennessee is a gorgeous state. We go to the mountains every November for Thanksgiving. We've been to a couple of these other spots, as well.

Chad said...

I've never been to Tennessee yet but I am hoping to go there soon. Amazing stuff to do! I need to plan a trip there for next year.

Lucie from lucielovesit.com said...

Lovely post, this is going to be really interesting for those wanting to visit Tennessee!

Becca Wilson said...

I have only been to Tennessee one time before. I would love to go back!

BentoMomma said...

I've never been to Tennessee before (I don't think) but man, it looks like a gorgeous place! So many great spots to see and things to do!

Elizabeth Keene said...

I've always heard Chattanooga is a beautiful place to visit, especially being close to the mountains.

Lisa RIos said...

I have never gone and I have always wanted to! This is an excellent list.

Kathy said...

Sounds like some wonderful places to visit. I've been to Tennessee before, but not for very long. Mainly just to pass through. I was in Nashville, but wish I could have stayed longer.

Agnes Vazhure said...

Oh such a great place to visit with love ones. I will have to put this on my bucket lists.

Shaily said...

I've never been to Tennessee yet, but after reading your post, I would really wish to visit this place some day. All these places on the list sound amazing.

Yeah Lifestyle said...

I have heard so much of Tennessee but never been there, looks like there is so much to see and do there, the deep park would be on the top of my list

Myrah Duque said...

Great places to visit! I will finally be checking off Tennessee from my bucket list!

PatiRobins @style-squeeze said...

i REALLY WANT TO VISIT nashvile muself - have never been to Tennessee but really want to go - and like i already mentioned nashvile is on top of my list

Lisa said...

What a fun post! I’ve been to many places in the US, but not yet Tennessee. I quite like country music, so Nashville would be an interesting city to visit.

Catherine said...

I've never been to Tennessee before but it sounds like a fun place to visit someday!

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