It’s the land of music industry glitz and glamor, world-renowned dry rub barbecue, and Smoky Mountain grandeur. It’s also the home of Dolly Parton, Emmy Lou Harris, John Prine, and many more country music superstars, both past and present. A state with more Civil War battles fought between its borders than any other, Tennessee has endured hundreds of years of social and economic upheaval to become what it is today: a cultural melting pot of music, tradition, and decadent cuisine.
From Memphis in the far western corner to Knoxville at the gateway to the Smokies in the east, this 440-mile-long state unfolds in a rich tapestry of vibrant metropolises surrounded by rolling farmland giving way to Appalachian peaks – and you’ll be front and center to the Volunteer State’s jaw-dropping geography with a comfortable stay in one of our Tennessee vacation rentals.
Pull up a chair and dig into some finger-licking-good baby-back ribs at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, a top-notch Memphis barbecue joint, followed up with live music and drinks at B.B. King’s Blues Club on vibrant Beale Street. Tour Elvis’ sprawling Graceland estate, shake to the infectious sounds of soul music at the Stax Museum, and listen to original studio recordings by Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other country music giants who recorded albums at the world-famous Sun Studio on Union Street in downtown.
Only a three-hour drive east from Memphis, Nashville’s authentic honky-tonks and legendary music venues will have you dancing the two-step until the early morning hours. Throw on your rhinestone boots and cowboy hat to blend in with the crowds on lower Broadway, making stops at Tootsies Orchid Lounge for bands playing modern country with a hard rock edge, the Wildhorse Saloon for impressive covers of country classics, and Robert’s Western World (shortlisted for best honky-tonk in Nashville – just ask a local!) for genuine rockabilly.
Once you’ve dabbled in Nashville’s homegrown music scene, sample another one of its homegrown specialties: hot chicken. Winning over the taste buds of fearless tourists and locals alike, Nashville’s fiery favorite is found throughout the city, but some notables include Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack (arguably the best in town), Bolton’s, and Pepperfire in the bohemian enclave of East Nashville, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Midtown, and Helen’s Hot Chicken in North Nashville.
Head east from the Music City to the Cumberland Plateau, a geologically diverse region of dense hardwood forests, sandstone bluffs, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. Pack some sturdy shoes for a strenuous hike alongside old growth Hemlock on the Fiery Gizzard Trail, paddle out into the rushing waters of the Big South Fork, or explore the lush pocket wilderness and 75-foot waterfall at Cummins Falls State Park.
Drive southeast to arrive in the eclectic mountain town of Chattanooga, a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, artists, and those looking to escape the big city bustle. In the state’s eastern region, you’ll find Knoxville, home of the University of Tennessee, and east of it begins a culturally unique region known as Appalachia, which is characterized by small mountain towns and families with historical ties to the land stretching back hundreds of years.
In the far-east corner lies the state’s most impressive feature: the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Named for the smoke-like cloud cover that descends on its mountainsides, this famous state park straddles both Tennessee and North Carolina, stretching over 800 square miles and encompassing 187,000 acres of old growth forest. With over nine million visitors a year, it’s also the most visited national park (word to the wise: visit in the late spring and fall to avoid the largest crowds) and has one of North America’s healthiest populations of black bear.
In this park, you’ll also find countless hiking trails, including more than 71 miles of the legendary Appalachian Trail, a 360-degree panorama from the observation deck atop 6,643-foot Clingman’s Dome (Tennessee’s highest point), and breathtaking sunset views at Newfound Gap.
Our vacation rentals in Tennessee let you discover this state's incredible beauty and diverse culture as only a local could. Reserve your dates for a thrilling trip today!
Photo Credit: Wang Jiacheng via Flickr