TURNER’s Tennessee Top 10
Here at TURNER, we couldn’t be more excited to partner with the great state of Tennessee. We’re joining forces with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to spread the story of this special part of the world far and wide. To get started, we’ve put together a TURNER Top 10 that showcases our favorite aspects of the state. Trust us, it was hard to narrow it down to just 10.
The Soundtrack Of America Is Made In Tennessee
From Nashville’s Music Row to Sun Studio in Memphis to the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, everywhere you turn in Tennessee, music flows like the mighty Mississippi. Blues, bluegrass, rock n’ roll, rockabilly, country, gospel and soul all trace their roots back to the state, making it a bucket list destination for music lovers of all stripes. Travelers can immerse themselves in this rich heritage at an array of landmarks. But music isn’t just a museum piece here. Far from it. The Tennessee sound lives and breathes, whether you’re discovering tomorrow’s superstars at the 90-seat Bluebird Café or rocking out with tens of thousands at Bonnaroo.
Arts & Culture Are Abundant
Music is just the beginning when it comes to Tennessee’s vibrant creativity, of course. Nashville’s Frist Art Museum regularly hosts some of the most prestigious masterpieces in the world while showcasing the work of the state’s best locally grown talent, while the Tennessee Performing Arts Center brings a wide range of theater, musicals and more throughout the year. At the Knoxville Museum of Art, visitors will discover East Tennessee’s rich, diverse visual culture and its connections to the wider currents of world art — and admission is completely free, too. Tennessee’s urban spaces are getting in on the act, too, with a vast selection of public art for visitors and residents to enjoy, from dazzling murals to thought-provoking sculpture.
There’s Nothing Like Tennessee Whiskey
Tennessee reigns as the whiskey king. Here, the land, water, and climate are ideal for the production of whiskey, which has resulted in a rich tradition of distilling from the east to west in the state. It’s a tradition that continues to evolve. As you explore the more than 30 distilleries here, you’ll find spots that are producing their whiskies according to age-old recipes and you’ll find younger upstarts who are innovating and thinking outside of the box — or barrel, as the case may be. The best way to experience Tennessee whiskey? Take a journey on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, of course.
The Outdoors Are Extraordinary In Tennessee
By water or on land, Tennessee is an outdoor adventure playground for all ages and abilities. From the Tennessee River to the Great Smoky Mountains (the most popular national park in the country), the state’s pristine natural landscapes (including underrated fall foliage spots) will fill your soul and get your pulse racing. Make a splash on the rapids of the Ocoee River, the site of the 1996 Summer Olympics whitewater competitions. Tennessee is a haven for mountain bikers of all experience levels, including the beginner-friendly Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and the positively intense Lock 4 Trail System in Galatin. And for a dose of unadulterated scenic splendor, the sparkling waterfalls of Cookeville won’t disappoint. Furthermore, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has installed special viewfinders outfitted with En-Chroma lenses across the state that allow people who are color blind to see all the colors of fall.
Tennessee Is A Road-Tripper’s Delight
“My husband and I have a camper. We travel around all the time. ’Cause there’s a lot to see about Tennessee.” This little bit of Tennessee love doesn’t come from just anyone – it comes from country music icon Dolly Parton. It says something that even Dolly is still discovering her home state. Beyond familiar destinations like Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee is a road-tripper’s delight, filled with rustic rural beauty, classic Americana and extraordinary southern cuisine. The backroads of the state are pathways to authentic adventure, inviting exploration around every bend. Tennessee’s roots go deep – but digging in to uncover them is half the fun. Just ask Dolly.
Tennessee Is One Of The World’s Great Culinary Destinations
Tennessee is one of the world’s great culinary destinations. Nashville is home to legendary hot chicken joints and a farm-to-table scene that rivals any other city you might care to name. BBQ aficionados make regular pilgrimages to Memphis, where slow-smoked pork is sacred. East Tennessee is where classic Appalachian cuisine – the backbone of southern cooking – still reigns. And everywhere in between, there are corners of culinary wonder that you won’t find anywhere else.
Southern Hospitality Is Real Here
It’s hard to claim which state invented southern charm — but it’s safe to say that Tennessee has raised it to an art form. In Tennessee, you’ll be treated like family wherever you go, with locals who are eager to share their beloved home with visitors. Every Tennessean has tips that will send you searching for that perfect hole-in-the-wall juke joint or that hidden gem trail or that restaurant with the absolute best BBQ you’ll ever taste. And chances are that they’ll have a great story to go along with it.
Tennessee Is Better Than A Time Machine
History comes to life in Tennessee. You can visit the homes of musical icons (Elvis’ Graceland or Loretta Lynn’s Ranch). You can explore the sites of the Civil War’s most famous battles, learning the story of this tragic chapter in the nation’s saga. Tennessee museums offer interactive exhibits that illustrate the past in powerful ways. At the ADA accessible, family friendly Tennessee State Museum, browse extensive historic collections of Tennessee art, history and culture. You can also journey through Discovery Park of America, which houses now-fossilized creatures that roamed the earth. And the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail runs east to west across the state of Tennessee, telling a heartbreaking tale of the removal of Cherokee Indians from their ancestral homelands.
African American Heritage Runs Deep In Tennessee
Throughout Tennessee, there are dozens of experiences that showcase the impact African American residents have had on music, food, art and events that helped shape the world. The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis traces the history of the Civil Rights Movement, while the Stax Museum of American Soul Music tells the story of the record label and studio that was the home of Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MG’s and countless other icons. Meanwhile, Knoxville’s multimedia Beck Cultural Center showcases of African Americans in Knoxville and East Tennessee from the late 1800s to the present. To learn more about the Tennessee Civil Rights Trail, listen to the recently launched Civil Rights Trail history podcast from the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
We can’t help it. Just like virtually everyone on the planet, we love Dolly Parton and we love Dollywood, her Appalachian-themed amusement park in Pigeon Forge. Like its namesake, Dollywood is utterly unique, offering roller coasters, traditional southern food and crafts, and endless live entertainment. You can even take a tour of Dolly’s “Home-On-Wheels,” Dolly’s tricked out tour bus. We’ll see you there …