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Music History on Every Corner

When it comes to music, Tennessee is legendary for the foot-tapping, soul-saving kind – blues, bluegrass, country, rock and roll, and everything in between. In Memphis, pay homage to the King at Elvis Presley’s Graceland, or duck into a blues bar on Beale Street. Catch live music at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and get a little bit country at the Grand Ole Opry. Visit Bristol, the Birthplace of Country Music, where the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers found their fame, and check out the schoolhouse-turned-museum honoring Tennessee native Tina Turner in Brownsville.

 

The Great Outdoors of Tennessee

Discover Appalachian mountain culture, witness the breathtaking beauty of autumn leaves or explore endless hiking trails and peaceful waterfalls. These are all reasons why Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the USA’s most-visited national park. Beyond this famed park, outdoor thrill-seekers can raft the Ocoee River in Cleveland, zip-line through treetops in Gatlinburg or explore one of the 57 state parks. Don’t miss a chance to take a riverboat cruise on the mighty Mississippi in Memphis.

 

Southern Cuisine and Beyond

Satisfy your appetite with the made-in-Tennessee flavors of slow-cooked Memphis barbecue and Nashville hot chicken, then wash it all down with oak barrel-aged whiskey at Jack Daniel’s in Lynchburg. Food festivals are plentiful, celebrating everything from cornbread and biscuits to the marshmallow-y goodness of the RC MoonPie Festival in Bell Buckle. Of course, there’s barbecue galore to sample, especially at Lynchburg's Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue, recognized as the largest of its kind in the world. Cold beers are on tap at dozens of craft breweries in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, or go for the hard stuff at one of 30 distilleries along the Tennessee Whiskey Trail.

 

Fun Fact

Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Gatlinburg, Tennessee
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Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the USA.

A broadcasting exhibit at Sun Studio in Memphis
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On December 4, 1956, an impromptu jam session referred to as The Million Dollar Quartet took place at Sun Studio in Memphis. In attendance were Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.

Showing off a bottle of locally made Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey
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Every bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey is made from a single spring of water in Lynchburg.

Must see places

The Grand Ole Opry at the Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee
Jeff Adkins

Grand Ole Opry

This legendary Nashville concert venue has been broadcasting live country music shows every single week since 1925, making it the longest-running radio show in U.S. history. Catch a stage show if you can, but backstage tours are always available to see what goes on behind the scenes at Nashville’s top attraction.

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Beale Street in Memphis, Tennesssee, comes alive with live music and neon displays at night
Raphael Tenschert

Beale Street

Seven days a week, 365 days a year, Memphis’ Beale Street is filled with the sounds of live music coming from every open door. You might catch an impromptu street performance, glimpse a famous musician or hear the next big thing at any moment. Stroll the Brass Notes Walk of Fame, filled with 150 notable names in Memphis music from Robert Johnson and Ma Rainey to Justin Timberlake and B.B. King.

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A statue of Jack Daniels at Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee
Journal Communications Inc.

Jack Daniel’s Distillery

Easily one of the most-recognized brands in the world, Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Whiskey was originally distilled in 1864 and became the first registered distillery in the USA two years later. A variety of tours of its Lynchburg facility are offered daily, including non-alcoholic history tours, quick tours and one combining a whiskey tasting with an excursion into Lynchburg’s town square for a meal at the 1908 Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Restaurant.

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Colorful displays at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Tennessee
Journal Communications Inc./Jeff Adkins

Birthplace of Country Music Museum

When the U.S. Congress declares you the Birthplace of Country Music, you know it’s official. Straddling the border between Tennessee and Virginia, the town of Bristol is where music producer Ralph Peer recorded the earliest sounds of what would become the country music genre back in 1927. Even non-country music fans will enjoy the exhibits at this immersive museum.

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Rollercoaster Big Bear Mountain flies high over Dollywood in Sevierville, Tennessee
Dollywood

Dollywood

Whether you’re a thrill-ride enthusiast or traveling with kids, you'll find something for everyone at Dollywood’s theme park. In addition to high-speed coasters and traditional fair-style rides, you can board a steam train, visit an aviary and catch a parade. There’s a neighboring water park for the summer months and family-friendly resort accommodations in Pigeon Forge and nearby Sevierville.

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Viewing memorabilia at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee
Donn Jones

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

This music collection, interactive exhibits, instruments, videos and country music memorabilia here are so comprehensive, this Nashville museum is called the “Smithsonian of country music.” Highlights include the hall of fame rotunda, Elvis Presley’s “Solid Gold” Cadillac, handwritten song lyrics, and clothing and costumes from mega stars such as Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and Loretta Lynn.

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Interior of Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee
Zoe Rain

Elvis Presley's Graceland

The mansion and estate where Elvis Presley lived from 1957 until his death in 1977 is the second-most visited home in the country, second only to the White House, the home of the U.S. president in Washington, D.C. In addition to the mansion, you’ll tour Elvis’ career museum and auto museum, climb aboard his opulent airplanes and pay your respects at his gravesite in the meditation garden.

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Exterior of historic Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee
Hunter Premo

Sun Studio

The Memphis studio where rock and roll was born is still in use today, nearly 70 years after its first recording. On your guided tour, you’ll see where legends old and new have recorded some of their most famous tunes – from Ike Turner, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and B.B. King, to Paul Simon, U2, Maroon 5 and Beck.

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Johnny Cash throughout the decades exhibit at the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, Tennessee
Jarrett Gaza

Johnny Cash Museum

Everything you could possibly want to know about The Man in Black is housed here at the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville. Instruments, clothing, hand-written notes and lyrics, album covers and informational exhibits cover all aspects of the country singer’s life. The museum is centrally located in downtown Nashville. 

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Viewing interactive exhibits at the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, Tennessee
Journal Communications Inc./Jeff Adkins

National Museum of African American Music

Experience the USA's musical roots at the National Museum of African American Music. Get to know musical heroes of the past and present through interactive exhibits that combine history and technology. Located in Nashville, this unique destination is the only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the legacies and accomplishments of African American musicians.

Explore Tennessee destinations

The Ace Hotel Rooftop in downtown Los Angeles, California
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Explore Tennessee destinations

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