As the temps cool and the leaves finally start to change, there's no better time to gas up your car and hit that wide, open Tennessee road. And while the state has a myriad of scenic routes to fill your weekends, there's nary a more diverse drive than the Promised Land, which spans 113 stops along US-70/US-70N, starts right from the capital, and hits up both big cities, small towns and rural communities alike in Wilson, Smith, Jackson, Putnam, Cumberland, White and DeKalb counties.
Here are a few can't-miss points along this iconic trail that drew the early settlers to the Volunteer State:
The Hermitage. Pay a visit to President Andrew Jackson's former home—the 1,000-acre 19th century plantation is staged very similar to how it looked back in the day with interpreters donning period garb—before you hit the road and journey onward and out of Nashville.
Lebanon. Cool off in the river of the 1,000-acre Cedars of Lebanon State Park, get an up-close look at World War II history by paying a visit to Cumberland University, once home to General Patton. Mosey through the shops lining the lovely town square, which is listed on the National Historic Register.
Carthage. This former riverboat town is not only the county seat of Smith County but the birthplace of former Vice President Al Gore. In the golden days of the steamboat, it was also dubbed "River City" due to its significance as an important stop for steamboat traffic.
(Credit: Chuck Sutherland)
Cummins Falls State Park. Tennessee's eighth largest waterfall, Cummins is a stunner at 75 feet high, situated in a 211-acre, day-use park just north of Cookeville. It became a mill site in the 19th century and has become a favorite spot for Tennessee residents to swim, picnic, hike and enjoy the great outdoors. Once you've had some quality time with Mother Nature, hit the next point on the trail, DelMonaco Winery & Vineyards for a little rehydration.
(Credit: Chuck Sutherland)
Cookeville. This small town in Putnam County was once prosperous thanks to its positioning along the railroad line and is now known for its Cookeville Depot Museum with rail memorabilia galore. It also offers easy access to nearby Cummins Falls in addition to performances by a full-blown symphony orchestra.
Crossville. Tennessee's golf capital boasts more than a few courses, as well as some of the most sprawling antique malls in the state.
Smithville. Dekalb County is not only home to Smithville—or Alan Jackson for that matter—but also Edgar Evins State Park alongside Center Hill Lake. While poking around town, be sure and pop in F.Z. Webb Pharmacy, the oldest family-run pharmacy in the state since 1881, which also sells an eclectic array of crafts and gifts.
Watertown. End your drive in bucolic Watertown, home to the biannual "Original Mile-Long Yard Sale;" Stardust, one of Tennessee's last remaining drive-in movie theaters; and a charming historic town square that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.