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Visit Tennessee on a Deep South Road Trip, USA

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The best way for me to introduce you to the state of Tennessee is to dive straight into it and say it’s a whole lot of fun. So, bring your dancing shoes and get ready for the blues.

Explore the blues bars of Memphis down Beale Street and discover the home of Elvis Presley in Graceland.

Get lost among the endless honky-tonk bars of Broadway, Nashville, as musicians chase their dream of becoming a country music star. Discover the numerous hiking trails around the Great Smoky Mountains.

And be sure to arrive in Tennessee both hungry and thirsty, as the state offers some of the best BBQ pits around and whisky distilleries that can be found in the Deep South.

So, what are you waiting for? Be sure to add the state of Tennessee to your Deep South road trip.

Here is my road trip travel guide to the state of Tennessee:

Include Tennessee as part of your road trip around the Deep South

This road trip guide around Tennessee is part of a larger road trip around the Deep South of the United States that I undertook together with Scott Tisson from Intrepid Escape.

The road trip that we did took us to the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee to cover the whole Deep South area.

I would recommend one week for the Tennessee section of the road trip, which will be the focus of this blog post.

Making the complete road trip along with the other states will take you around a month to complete.

So you could just do this one-week suggestion, combine two states and do two weeks, or visit all four states in the Deep South in a month.

If you have more time, you can extend your trip to six weeks to give yourself more space and time in each state, but a good week in each state will be enough to cover everything mentioned in this article.

I’ll also add some additional recommendations at the end if you have some more time.

You could arrive in Tennessee and use Nashville International Airport with direct flights from the UK as your starting point as well as your ending point; the choice is entirely yours.

Walking in Memphis, the home of blues music

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Memphis is a blast, especially if you’re into blues music. Your first stop should be Beale Street.

Every day of the week, Beale Street offers a wide range of bars with live blues music.

Start at the BB King Blues Club, where BB King himself used to perform and which has a fantastic house band.

Now, enjoy a selection of live blues acts that come in and out of town; you never know who you might see on Beale Street, but it attracts the best!

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Stay at Hotel Indigo Memphis Downtown, an IHG Hotel, for its stylish Memphis-themed rooms displaying an array of music memorabilia. There’s also a jukebox in the lobby to play some tunes and get the party started.

Don’t forget to check out the swimming pool shaped like a guitar; it’s a great hotel to base yourself while exploring Memphis.

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End your night at the Blues City Cafe. Not only do they have live music and a bar, but you can also dine on popular Memphis staples like a chili bowl, gumbo, or a slice of pecan pie before hitting the dance floor.

Remember to pronounce it correctly: “Pee-Con,” not “Pee-Can.” I got funny looks as if I had ordered a can of pee.

Beale Street is lined with various bars offering a host of entertainment, so rock up, explore, get lost, and let the blues music take control of your night. You never know what will happen.

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Head over to the Old Dominick Distillery for a tour and tasting session. This location is rich in distillery history and offers a good tour of the distillery along with a tasting session of all the liquors they have on offer.

Across the road, you’ll find Gus’s Fried Chicken, arguably the best in the Deep South, so be sure not to miss this stop in Memphis.

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A trip to Memphis wouldn’t be complete without stopping off at Sun Studio for a tour. The studio building itself is small, but history breathes through the walls, and you can easily spend a few hours soaking it all up.

They say this is where Rock and Roll was born, as some of the first tracks were recorded here by the likes of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

If Sun Studio has a long waiting time, check out Edge Motor Museum a few blocks up the road. It offers a selection of classic vintage and muscle cars for you to look at and enjoy while you wait.

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If BBQ is what you’re after, then head to Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous for some of the best brisket and rack of ribs in town.

I love the selection of BBQ sauce they have here, with the BBQ ginger sauce being my favorite. Even the coleslaw is worth an honorable mention.

You can smell the smoke room of Rendezvous from a few blocks away, drawing you into this special establishment in Memphis.

Honestly, I went on four different occasions as the brisket just kept bringing me back.

I love the old-school smokehouse feel of this establishment; it has a lot of BBQ history and has been a popular BBQ joint in Memphis.

Even the President has ordered Rendezvous to Air Force One — now that’s impressive. If only they delivered to London!

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Head out on the water and take a scenic trip along the Delta onboard Memphis River Boats.

This is a great way to experience a paddleboat for a few hours along the border of Tennessee and Arkansas, which the Delta splits equally between the two. A nice way to see the skyline of Memphis from the water as well.

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Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a hidden gem of Memphis.

Once left derelict and abandoned, this former Stax Records recording studio has been renovated and restored into a museum, sharing the history of soul music in Memphis and the journey of the record label.

Well worth a visit in my opinion as you will be tapping your feet to all the incredible soul tunes that were created and recorded among these very walls.

Discover Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley in Tennessee

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You can’t visit Memphis and skip Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley.

Join a guided house tour and explore the residence Elvis called home, from the jungle room where he entertained guests to his TV room with four different TVs, ensuring he wouldn’t have to change the channel.

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Wait till you see Elvis’s kitchen equipped with state-of-the-art appliances for making his favorite grilled sandwiches just the way he liked them.

To think, at the time, this house was groundbreaking, as he was the King and wanted his racquetball court.

Graceland also features a collection of Elvis Presley’s jet planes, cars he used to drive and collect, a selection of his performing costumes from live shows, and items from the many movies he made.

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There’s also a cafe called Glady’s Diner, serving his favorite peanut butter and banana grilled sandwich.

It’s a fantastic glimpse into the life of Elvis Presley with numerous displays, offering insight into his life at the time and how he used to live.

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If you’re an Elvis fan, a visit to Graceland is a must.

I would first explore Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis, if you plan on touring Elvis locations and want a look into his humble beginnings. Graceland is more a symbol of his great achievements and success.

Both locations are worth a visit and are within close distance.

Nashville, Tennessee: Make your way to the honky-tonk city, the home of country music

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When it comes to music in Tennessee, Memphis has the blues, while Nashville has country music.

Start your exploration of the city by heading down the honky-tonk highway of Broadway Street.

You can discover various types of bars here, all offering live performances, so put on your dancing shoes, dive into each one and see where the night takes you.

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I like to start with The Second Fiddle on Broadway and the Tin Roof and end up at Kid Rock’s very own bar, which has floors with different performers to choose from.

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A wild card visit would be the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville. Since Johnny Cash’s house, which had been planned to be turned into a museum, burned down in a fire, this museum is the next best thing to honour the country legend.

I loved walking around and taking in all the information and history from the displays. It was well worth a visit and is well put together for any Johnny Cash fan to enjoy.

Across the road, you will find a Goo Goo Cluster shop selling these local sweet treats made in Nashville that are worth trying.

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For lunch, head to the Nashville Farmers’ Market, which has great spots to grab a bite to eat, along with local farmers selling fresh produce such as peaches and corn. It’s great to visit such a local farmers’ market with a wonderful CO-OP feel.

If you’re looking for a place to park your rental car, stay at The Gallatin, a motel style hotel, which has clean and stylish rooms. Be sure to check out this location.

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Pins Mechanical Company has a whole host of yard games, pinball machines and bowling alleys for you to enjoy with your friends if you’re looking for some challenging fun in Nashville.

If you’re looking for a fun spot to eat, head to Prince’s Hot Chicken in Assembly Food Hall. Goes head to head with Hattie B’s Hot Chicken for the best hot chicken in Nashville.

For me, Prince’s Hot Chicken wins, but I’ll let you be the judge of that for yourself.

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My favourite museum in Tennessee has to be the National Museum of African American Music. Displays are well put together with many interactive booths for you to fully engage with the music and history of the museum.

The gospel booth and the rap recording studio were super fun, and I learned a lot about African American Music. I would highly recommend a visit.

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Another great spot to check out in Nashville is the Country Music Hall of Fame, well put together with a selection of displays walking you through the history of country music and its artists.

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Also connected to the museum is a tour of the Historic RCA Studio B Tour, where Dolly Parton famously recorded two hit songs in one day, and Elvis wanted to buy the piano, but the studio refused his request because of all the amazing hits it was able to create.

You can also visit the print factory where many of the popular live show posters have been created. Perfect for any country music fan.

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If you’re looking for a spot to enjoy a slice of BBQ, be sure to visit Martin’s BBQ Joint. The firepits create an amazing flavour to the brisket and ribs here.

They also have a live music stage and an amazing cocktail menu for you to enjoy if you’re looking for a place to get the party started.

Go outdoors in Tennessee and head to the Great Smoky Mountains and Pigeon Forge

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A road trip to Tennessee wouldn’t be complete without exploring some of the walking trails found around the National Park of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Put on your hiking boots as you’ll discover a wide selection of different trails based on your duration and ability.

I would recommend the hike towards Rainbow Falls, which is a nice hike to do from Pigeon Forge that can be easily completed within half a day, rewarding you with a waterfall at the end of the trail.

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Stop off at the Outdoor Gravity Park for some Zorbing fun. These large inflated balls, first created in New Zealand, can be enjoyed in Pigeon Forge.

Jump inside the ball and head down one of the many Zorbing tracks on offer – a great, fun adventure to try after you’ve finished hiking the trails.

Take the cable gondolas up to explore Anakeesta, an adventure garden in the sky.

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Explore all the different flower displays, as well as the viewing points, to get a good view of the surrounding national park.

Discover the Treetop Skywalk as you walk between the trees high up in the sky. Looking for a place to eat? Check out the Smokehouse BBQ for a great selection of choices.

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If you’re looking for a place to stay in Pigeon Forge, consider the lodge at Five Oaks, which offers comfortable lodge-style rooms.

Sevierville is the hometown of Dolly Parton and is located close to Dollywood Park. Enjoy dinner at Appalachian; if you’re lucky, you might be able to book a seat at the chef’s table.

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Let the chefs create a menu for you, crafting from locally sourced ingredients and inspired by classic Tennessee dishes. It truly is an amazing dining experience.

After dinner, be sure to pass by the town hall to see the Dolly Parton statue before ending your night at The Pines.

This newly refurbished bowling alley, The Pines, was the first venue where Dolly Parton performed live and has recently been given a new lease of life with a renovation to turn this location into the hippest place to hang out in town.

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Order yourself a cocktail with some local Tennessee whisky and enjoy a few games of bowling along one of the many lanes you can hire out for the evening. A great way to end your time in Tennessee.

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Before Leaving Pigeon Forge, head towards to Skyland Ranch, take the cable car up to the top and experience a range of fun cowboy style activities as well as a fantastic lunch spot to grab a bite to eat.

They even have the Wild Stallion Mounter Coaster for the adventure seeker looking for a thrill!

Thank you for reading my blog post about my road trip around Tennessee

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Thank you for visiting my blog and reading about my road trip around the state of Tennessee.

I hope you found all the information super useful towards your trip planning, and I wish you an amazing trip to the state of Tennessee.

This trip was part of a bigger road trip around the Deep South of the United States of America.

Be sure to visit the other blog posts covering Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Also, be sure to check out my road trip guide to Alabama to continue the adventure onwards after Tennessee.

Wishing you a wonderful trip to Tennessee and the Deep South of the United States.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me, and I will be more than happy to help.

This article was done in collaboration with TTM and the State of Tennessee to promote road trips in the Deep South.

Check out my YouTube video of my Deep South Road Trip around Tennessee

I’ve created a video playlist of all my YouTube videos taken from my recent Deep South Road Trip.

From Tennessee, you can enjoy my videos visiting Nashville, Pigeon Forge, Memphis and Graceland as well as other videos from the other states from the trip.

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