Where can you find white squirrels, eagles, sunken cypress trees and a Smithsonian-affiliated museum that rises out of a cornfield? The answer is Northwest Tennessee. This rural area, about 2 hours and 10 minutes north of Memphis and 2 hours and 45 minutes from Nashville, features delicious Southern cuisine, eagle watching tours, wineries and more. Read along to see all that you can discover in this region of the state.
Reelfoot Lake State Park
Northwest Tennessee is home to one of the most serene state parks in Tennessee, Reelfoot Lake State Park. The lake was brought about more than 200 years ago when a series of earthquakes caused the ground to sink and the Mississippi River to flow backward, spilling over into the forest.
As you gaze out at the 13,000-acre lake, you can't help but imagine the world below it that once existed. The hidden beauty shows in the sunken cypress trees that were there when the earthquakes came through. Just below the surface, there are said to be thousands of trees which are home to more than 56 species of fish making the area a fisher's ideal haven.
Pontoon boat cruises take you on a historical tour of the area to imagine the area before water changed its landscape. Over 240 species of birds can be heard and seen canvasing the lake as you glide across the water. Eagle watching is an activity worth your while as the eagles fly from isolated tree to the next in the middle of the water. It is a beautiful, natural ecosystem and cool to see how something so violent as an earthquake could manifest something as magnificent as Reelfoot Lake.
Blue Bank Resort
Close to Reelfoot Lake State Park lies Blue Bank Resort in Hornbeak that offers the perfect views of sunrise and sunset on the lake. A 20-person hot tub and pool are located lakeside. The Fishhouse restaurant, located inside the resort boasts a traditional menu that includes burgers, sandwiches, salads and more for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dining room can host large groups or corporate needs. Moreover, the property has various decks to relax on and enjoy the scenery. Fishing and waterfowl hunting tours are featured services at the resort.
Boyette's Dining Room
In case you're in the mood for a warm, Southern cooked meal, Boyette's Dining Room in Tiptonville has you covered with an array of foods from catfish, country ham, fried chicken, hush puppies, sweet tea and more. The Chocolate Pie is one of the many signature desserts to top off your meal. The family-owned business offers quick service and hospitality to every customer that sits at their tables. You’ll feel right at home.
White Squirrel Winery
This country oasis is just south of Reelfoot Lake. The beautiful vineyards at White Squirrel Winery in Kenton are full of grapes that supply most of Tennessee’s wines. The solar-powered winery consistently produces the highest quality Vitis vinifera and hybrid grapes grown in the Southeast. The owner, State Representative Bill Sanderson, makes sure to offer an experience to every patron that comes to see the 18-acre vineyard. As soon as you walk into the Grand Lobby, he greets you with his charisma and enthusiasm for the family business. As you begin your wine tasting, Sanderson will tell you all about how Kenton, Tennessee is one of four areas in the United States that has a large population of white squirrels. Hence, the name of the winery.
The most beautiful part of White Squirrel Winery is the South Porch. As the wind blows, you can't help but get lost in the scenery among the grape vines. The Fireplace Pavilion, Grand Lobby, and South Porch are the perfect locations for large events and can accommodate up to 250 guests. Just upstairs from the lobby is a quaint cottage with breathtaking views. It's perfect for a stargazing getaway with a significant other.
The Grind Mac and Cheese Burger Bar
Located a few blocks from the University of Tennessee at Martin is a family night dream. The Grind Mac and Cheese Burger Bar in Martin even offers burgers, wings, salads and even rib-eye and chicken parmesan. Best of all, you can order an Instagram-worthy milkshake to top off your meal. You can tell that there is a special touch on every dish prepared in this bar. Fan favorites include the mac and cheese, GrindHouse Nachos and the S’more the Merrier milkshake.
Discovery Park of America
Make sure you put Discovery Park of America in Union City on your list as a "must experience." The park covers a variety of topics from agriculture to media to prehistoric to the locomotive to automotive to space history and more. It takes longer than two days to fully experience every exhibit of the museum, a 100,000-square-foot building that houses most of its artifacts. There are even more exhibitions outside including Japanese, European and American gardens that allow visitors to connect with nature and learn about plants and flowers from around the world.
Special exhibits include Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO® Bricks and the Earth Quake simulator which gives you an interactive experience at how Reelfoot Lake was created. Daily reenactments allow visitors to be a part of history. Many exhibits have an interactive experience. The 50-acre site has multiple educational opportunities for all ages.
It’s easy to see why Northwest Tennessee is a traveler’s oasis. With a plethora of activities for a variety of interests, the region will fill your vacation with lifelong memories.