Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year in Tennessee. As you weave through the Tennessee hills you will see the foliage change to shades of yellow, orange and red. The temperatures have begun to drop and it’s officially sweater weather. Not only is this our favorite time of the year, but our favorite times for road trips! Here in Tennessee there is no shortage of activity no matter the direction you may go on a map. We are bringing you our road trip guide with everything you need to know for your next road trip, including some of our Tennessee favorites.
Road Trip Destinations
Memphis lies on the Mississippi River and is located just three hours from Nashville. Blues and BBQ are a staple here. While in Memphis you can visit Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley, and dine at Tops Bar-B-Que. Other popular attractions include Beale Street which is Memphis’s version of Broadway, and the Memphis Zoo which features tons of animals from exotic fish to polar bears. You can soak up Memphis history on your trip by participating in various walking tours around the city including Memphis City Tour with access to Sun Studio and the Memphis Discovery Tour with access to the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.
Located just three and a half hours from downtown Nashville is the beautiful mountain town of Gatlinburg. In the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you will find breathtaking views. Most Gatlinburg visitors stay in cozy cabins they find on Airbnb or Vrbo to fully immerse themselves in the mountainous culture. There is something for everyone here. Whether you’re looking for outdoor activities such as hiking and 4WD rentals or moonshine tastings and ghost tours, Gatlinburg has it all. If hiking is your goal, you can check out a full list of trails here that will lead your through the Smokies. For cocktail hour you can check out Little Bear Winery, Tennessee Cider Company or Doc Collier Distillery for all of your tasting needs.
Chattanooga has it all just two hours from Nashville. Views, attractions and dining – you don’t have to look far to find great options to fill your time while visiting. Downtown Chattanooga is perfect for a day of boutique and souvenir shopping or dining at popular restaurants such as Public House, The FEED Co Table & Tavern and the Flying Squirrel. There’s plenty for the outdoor enthusiast as well. Famous for its 13-mile riverwalk that runs along the Tennessee River, visitors can bike or stroll along. Other outdoor options include guided hiking tours, High Point ZIP Adventure at Ruby Falls and Chattanooga Riverboat Co. Southern Belle. Chattanooga has even been named a must-see destination by the New York Times, Outside magazine, Travel+Leisure, Today Show, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, U.S. News & World Report and many others.
Knoxville is home to the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Volunteers. Whether you are wanting to catch a game at Neyland Stadium or explore Knoxville’s mountains, music, water or attractions you are just under three hours away from a memorable experience. Market Square is popular among locals and tourists. Home to Knoxville’s downtown area since the 1860s, you will find shops, dining options, outdoor concerts and movies, farmer’s markets and festivals year round. If you are looking for a happy hour destination after a long day of hiking or biking, Old City offers lots of dive bars and has an up and coming craft beer scene.
Road Trip Essentials
No matter the length of the trip, packing is key for an enjoyable car experience. One of the most important things to remember is your playlist. You want to make sure you include music that will appeal to everyone on the trip. Consider reaching out ahead of time for a list of favorite artists then compile a song list that will meet everyone’s needs. Podcasts are another great option. Choosing podcasts over music will limit the amount of content you need to search for. A reliable phone charger is essential for any road trip. Especially when traveling to new destinations, you want to make sure you have full battery to navigate for long distances. Passengers may spend most of the drive on their phones scrolling through various social platforms, so having a reliable charger will be key. Snacks just may be the most important part of your road trip. Especially traveling through the mountains where options may be limited to fast food at minimum, you want to make sure you have snacks on hand. Our favorite places to pick up snacks for road trips include Thrive Market and Trader Joe’s. No matter where your next road trip leads you, we hope you use this guide as inspiration when planning your next adventure.