If you have time to venture a little further afield from Middle Tennessee, here are some ideas.
Memphis: We’ve covered Nashville pretty thoroughly, and I discussed Chattanooga here. But I think Memphis is an interesting place. This is a very brief list of my Memphis tourism must-sees.
There’s lots more, of course—not least of which is the barbeque. We’re partial to the Germantown Commissary. Central’s midtown (original) location is near enough the highway to stop for lunch if you’re headed west.
Small towns: Tennessee’s full of ’em, of course. But here are four that might delight you—perhaps paired with a night in a B&B …
Mississippi Blues Trail: I have never done this, but, man, I think it would be a fun vacation. This article mentions the “list of markers and locations was developed by a panel of blues scholars and historians”—one of whom was a graduate student at MTSU that I interviewed nearly a decade ago for the alumni magazine. Fascinating stuff.
Tennessee Whiskey Trail: Another interesting drive, I think, if you’re into whiskey. 🙂
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky: Here’s the thing—it’s the longest cave system known in the world. And it’s just a two-hour drive from Murfreesboro.
Finally, A Personal Itinerary
We had some family coming in from Ireland who wanted to “sample” the South. They thought about driving to New Orleans, but that’s eight hours in a car (one way, before breaks) and I don’t find it a particularly interesting eight hours. This is the alternate itinerary I suggested for them.
- Drive from here to Chattanooga (“Bluff City”).
It’s an hour and a half. They have a beautiful arts district (galleries, arts&crafts, called Bluff View Art District) near downtown, historic buildings; and a gorgeous pedestrian bridge that takes you over the Tennessee River from the bluff, and a fabulous world-famous aquarium. There’s also Lookout Mountain, which played an important role in the Civil War, and you can take an incline railway up (rather than drive) to “see seven states” (or at least four). Seriously spectacular scenery. Spend all day, have dinner, then drive on to Atlanta, which would be another 3 hours. Arrive late.
- Atlanta, Georgia.
This is a gorgeous city with great nightlife, lots of history, shopping … There’s the whole Atlanta History Center complex, the High Museum of Art, the Margaret Mitchell House (Gone With the Wind!), Coca-Cola museum, botanical garden and park, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Stone Mountain Park, and so much more. You could spend days. But maybe spend two nights.
- Asheville, North Carolina.
Drive up through the Blue Ridge Mountains to Asheville; it’s about four hours. It is a little hippie-ish town (let’s say it has a vibe like Cork) in the mountains. It is a foodie paradise—so many wonderful places to eat! But beautiful scenery, the North Carolina Arboretum (gardens), the Biltmore Estate (go for afternoon tea), great nightlife. Spend a night or two here, then head back to Nashville (four hours) after lunch.
I know you’ll want to experience some Nashville nightlife. So check in to your hotel, have a little rest, then hit the honky-tonks on lower Broad.
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This concludes (for now, anyway) my series for Tennessee visitors.