July 19, 2018
There's something special about the fall in Tennessee. The balmy afternoons giving way to the breezy evenings. The roar of crowds filling the SEC stadiums on Saturday afternoons, then spilling out onto the streets (and into the bars) once the game-goers team won (or lost). The pumpkin patches creating swaths of orange across the countryside. The apple-picking season meaning apple pie is on every restaurant menu. What's not to love?
If you're looking to get out and about to soak up Middle Tennessee in all its fall glory, here are a few ideas for you.
Take a foliage-filled drive
Cruise down the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile recreational scenic drive through Tennessee that snakes its way through Alabama and Mississippi. Stops along the way include hiking, biking, horseback riding, For optimal fall foliage viewing, make your way to Old Trace Drive (milepost 375.8), Swan View Overlook (milepost 392.5) and a leisurely walk at Fall Hollow (391.9) will showcase the colors.
Another great way to see the foliage is to explore Tennessee's backroads with the help of Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways, a collection of 16 scenic drives that connect Tennessee's cities to its rural communities. Hop on The Jack Trail to cruise through beautiful landscapes that will bring you to the Jack Daniel Distillery, the small town of Bell Buckle, Arrington Vineyards, Cannonsburgh Village and more. The Promised Land Trail takes you to Granville, the Sparta Drive-In, Foglight Foodhouse, and Edgar Evins State Park. Learn the legend behind the Bell Witch Cave, visit the Port Royal State Historic Park, Wynnewood State Historic Site and more on the Ring of Fire Trail. The Screaming Eagle Trail takes you to Clarksville, music at the Fillin' Station, zip lining at Adventureworks, and Loretta Lynn's Ranch. Small towns like Lobelville, Linden, Green River Stables and Cajun dishes at Pirate's Lair can be found on the Tennessee River Trail. The Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways also has trails in East Tennessee and West Tennessee.
Pick a pumpkin (or two)
For a lazy Saturday spent outdoors, there's nowhere better to be than a pumpkin patch, filling your wagon with Jack-o-lantern fodder aplenty. The sprawling Walden Farm in Smyrna doesn't just offer pumpkins, though; it also has gourds, Indian corn and other seasonal harvest items for picking, as well as plenty of kid-friendly activities like a hay ride and a 40-foot slide.
If you want a variety of activities for the kids, plan a day trip to Autumn Acres in Crossville. This 50-acre farm is the site of a pick-your-own pumpkin patch accessed by wagon, petting zoo, tunnel slides, a "Mega Pillow," and always has a new corn maze design in the 12 acres of stalks. You can even explore the corn maze after dark (haunting doesn't take place); just bring a flashlight or purchase one from the General Store.
Wander through the rows of scarecrows at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. Nashville's own botanical garden is worth a visit no matter the season, but come Sept. 23-Oct. 29, 2018, it morphs into a fall fantasyland with its annual Scarecrows exhibit, each one sponsored by a different organization from the community. In addition to the unique straw creations, there's also 5,000 mums on display, pumpkin decorating, model trains and more, all of which make up Cheekwood Harvest.
Attend a fall festival
Thousands of artists, music fans and industry professionals from around the world will come to Nashville for the Americana Music Festival & Conference Sept. 11-16, 2018 for 500 live performances at approximately 60 venues around the city. Panels, seminars and exclusive daytime performances take place for the conference portion of the event. Performers this year include John Prine, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Rosanne Cash, The Milk Carton Kids, Asleep at the Wheel, Joe Purdy, The Lone Bellow, Brandy Clark, The Black Lillies and more.
Liberty Square Celebration & Lester Flatt Memorial Bluegrass Day takes place Oct. 13, 2018 in downtown Sparta. The event includes bluegrass from artists like Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Becky Buller Band, Blake Williams & Friends, and David Parmley & Cardinal Tradition, food, fireworks and a classic car show. The festival honors Lester Flatt, who's known for his bluegrass guitar style as part of Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.
Competing anglers will flock to Dale Hollow Lake in Byrdstown for the Dale Hollow Bass Classic Oct. 13-14, 2018. Smallmouth and largemouth bass will be fished to win cash prizes and the $500 Big Fish Winner each day. Anglers interested can still apply.
For more Tennessee festivals happening across the state this fall, check out these autumnal events you should attend.