Tennessee Has You Covered For Spring Break
Spring break is just around the corner. Some schools are already out and celebrating a week from studies. When I was in college, I would take that week to explore Franklin and the surrounding area with my roommate. Sometimes we would browse downtown Franklin with its cute boutiques and history; and other times we would take a drive through Tennessee’s countryside on photo shoots for her classes. Even though I’m a college graduate, the week-long break from school is still fresh in my mind. Thankfully, I can take the weekends to explore some of these awesome Tennessee events happening throughout the spring. You should, too.
Instead of paying exorbitant amounts of money on plane tickets to fly to an exotic destination for spring break, attend Dollywood’s Festival of Nations in Pigeon Forge March 23 through April 22 where cultures, food and performances from around the world congregate in one place. Learn about France, Mexico, Poland, Ecuador, Scotland and more than 25 other nations. Each day, the One World Celebration unites all Festival of Nations’ participants in a musical and colorful display along Showstreet. See fantastic and spell-binding performances like the acrobatic Cirque Shanghai, the 15-foot Swoon Sway Pole Act and the stilt dancers of Zebra Stelzentheater of Germany. It’s an annual event not to be missed.
Combine Blackberry Farm in Walland (named the No. 1 resort for service by Travel and Leisure) with Luke Bryan, one of country music’s biggest stars, and what do you get? A spring break that’s anything but ordinary. Bryan will do a tailgate performance on the lawn in front of The Barn April 18. Blankets will be rolled out, grills will be fired up and plenty of Blackberry Farm Brewery’s finest will be on tap. Sing along to your favorite Luke Bryan songs under the stars. Accommodations may fill up quickly so call 1-800-557-8864 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to snag your spot for an unforgettable spring break.
Enjoy the breathtaking bloom of spring at the Smoky Mountain Springfest March 13 through June 7 in Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Spring decorations, wildflowers and great events are scheduled. The three-month long event is filled with activities to get everyone outdoors and enjoying the fresh breath of the new season in Tennessee’s great outdoors. Car shows, hikes and music from Appalachia will be ready for spring break exploration. The highly-anticipated Dolly Parade occurs May 10, featuring Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton as Grand Marshal, as festive floats, marching bands and more follow her lead.
If touring downtown Nashville is your ideal way to spend spring break, be sure to check out the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for a tour of great exhibits now on display like “Patsy Cline: Crazy for Loving You”. The exhibit features some of Patsy’s iconic ensembles, vintage photographs and audio and video spanning through her career. Hall of Fame members like Willie Nelson, Brenda Lee and Harold Bradley lend their perspectives from working with Patsy. You can also hear Patsy Cline’s beautiful vocals without musical accompaniment. Another great exhibit is the “Dottie West: Country Sunshine” display which takes you through her life from her humble beginnings in McMinnville as the oldest of 10 children to her amazing music career as an award-winning member of the Grand Ole Opry and her untimely death from injuries she sustained in a horrible car crash in 1991.
April 1-7, mules, mules and more mules along with mule owners, mule spectators and mule novices will gather in Columbia for Mule Day. Spend your spring break seeing mules in action during the log pulling competition, mule races and the Mini Mania Show, a spectacle of miniature mules pulling wagons, jumping over poles and more. How cute is that?! They even crown a King Mule. The week dedicated to these creatures isn’t as random as you may think. Mule Day has been a Columbia tradition for over 170 years. It started as “Breeder’s Day”, a livestock show and mule market event held the first Monday in April but now it has turned into a multi-day festival which attracts over 200,000 people annually. Tradition is celebrated through music, dancing, crafts and traditional Appalachian food. College students: If you attend, I bet you’ll have the best spring break story in all your classes.
Take in a theatrical performance at the Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville. “Steel Magnolias”, the funny and poignant drama about six women that also inspired two film adaptions will play through March 29. Tickets are $24 for adults, $23 for seniors and $12 for children and students. “Les Misérables,” which tells the story of revolution, love and passion will make its premiere at the Cumberland County Playhouse March 8 and will run until May 3. “Les Misérables”, based on the French historical novel by Victor Hugo, has become one of the longest-running Broadway shows and now a contemporary, Academy Award-nominated movie. You can catch this critically-acclaimed musical, starring the national tour’s Nathaniel Hackmann, for $29, $14 if you’re a student or child.
Spring break is the perfect time to explore one of music’s iconic sites, Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis. While you tour the home and see the great Elvis artifacts, be sure to check out the newest exhibit that opened March 5, “Elvis: Live from Vegas”. Part of the 30-foot marquee Col. Parker had made to stand outside the New Frontier Hotel in 1956 and the jumpsuit worn by Elvis on stage in 1970 are featured. Other suits include Elvis’ three-piece Spanish Flower suit worn in 1972, his leather and chains suit, the I Got Lucky jumpsuit worn in Las Vegas, Oakland, Tampa and Los Angeles as well as many others. Rare artifacts include hotel receipts, show memorabilia and more.
Spend your break among animals at the Memphis Zoo. The Memphis Zoo is home to more than 3,500 animals, representing more than 500 species. It was also ranked “America’s No. 1 Zoo” by TripAdvisor.com in 2008. Get a close look and hands-on experience with sting rays and sharks. Camel rides are back this spring where you can ride one of four camels for $5. Besides the two new exhibits, you can still check out all the cool creatures the Memphis Zoo offers like komodo dragons and the new baby giraffe, Maliki, who was born January 25. Each day at the Memphis Zoo is filled with events like the sea lion show, polar bear, elephant and penguin feedings and discussions about different animals.
Celebrate the 150th birthday of Casey Jones, America’s railroad legend March 14 in Jackson. Free admission, refreshments, music, door prizes and more will be included in the festivities. Casey Jones gave his life to save all his passengers in a train accident on April 30, 1900 when a railcar was stalled on the track. Jones’ story became famous through “The Ballad of Casey Jones.” While at the Casey Jones Museum, be sure to visit his family home as well as browse the collection of three authentic railcars, history and short film on his story. You’ll want to check out the world-famous Old Country Store restaurant where you can always indulge in great Southern cooking. Get a free sample of over 20 homemade fudge flavors. Mini-golf, shopping for antiques and live bluegrass music every Thursday night are also highly-encouraged to check out.
How would you spend spring break in Tennessee? Let me know in the comments below!