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Wind down summer with an epic road trip to Tennessee’s beloved towns and cities. The state has 95 counties for you to explore that are packed with scenic beauty, incredible attractions, delicious food and history. Make some memories in these towns you’ll remember for years to come.
Chattanooga, dubbed Scenic City, offers guests historic hotel stays, music and a plethora of art sprinkled throughout the city. Outdoor Chattanooga makes it easy to get out in nature with bikes, paddleboards, rock climbing gear and kayaks available for rent. Ride the Incline Railway which has been giving riders incredible views of Chattanooga for more than 100 years. Spend some time among the flowers while seeing seven states at once at Rock City and take in the tallest and deepest underground waterfall in the U.S. at Ruby Falls.
Looking for an exciting and affordable way to spend your Labor Day weekend without being stuck in traffic for hours? The stunning Ocoee River corridor is a hidden gem thrills, waterside relaxation, history, food and more. If you want an adrenaline pumping experience, the Ocoee River offers whitewater rafting that's a wild ride from start to finish. Hike the miles of picturesque trails that wind through forests and riversides or go fishing along the riverbanks. Historic sites like Old Copper Road and museums are close by as well as charming local restaurants that serve Southern cuisine.
Kingsport is a mountain city full of breathtaking views, outdoor hiking, animal habitats and a 300-foot zip line at Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium; eight miles of paved park trails at Greenbelt Linear Park; and an official Selfie Trail that includes sculptures, historic spots like Exchange Place and even a fire tower. Kingsport offers many culinary options including barbecue, Italian cuisine, seafood and more. Wash it all down with a Kingsport Original Long Island Iced Tea. Don’t leave this city without a ride on the refurbished 1956 Allen Herschell Carousel.
Spend a day, a night, or an entire weekend downtown taking in the local flavor of Johnson City. Explore the walkable historic downtown district by sampling food and drinks from various restaurants, coffee shops, craft breweries, and bakeries. The restaurants downtown offer diverse cuisine, including Asian, Mexican, German, Italian, Irish, Korean, and Mediterranean. While exploring downtown, you will find art around every corner from galleries to public art like murals, sculptures and an art walk. Easily explore the outdoors by hiking to panoramic mountain views from Buffalo Mountain Park, walking on the historic Tweetsie Trail, or renting a bike and heading to Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park. After spending time along the Tweetsie Trail, check out a new locally owned tap house, Cranky’s Pump-N-Pints at the trailhead.
Explore Rugby, an 1880 Victorian village that started as an English colony and now is a living village that preserves its history and scenic treasures. Here, you can tour historic buildings like the first free public library in the South and hike 10 trails into Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and the Rugby State Natural Area.
Clarksville, Tennessee’s fifth largest city, has become a culinary mecca, serving everything from soul food to Asian fusion to desserts that will be a permanent fixture in your dreams until you return. Stroll the downtown area to find novelty shops and cool record stores. Check the calendar at Roxy Regional Theatre to see a theatrical performance. Enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous scenery on the miles of walking trails that snake throughout the city, leading you to riverside views and even sculptures.
An hour south of Nashville, Columbia is a destination you’ll want to check out for American history, craft brews, incredible hiking and local shops. It’s the home of 11th president James K. Polk’s Ancestral Home and even celebrates mules for their contribution to Tennessee farms each year in April during Mule Day. Check out the town square for record shops, sporting goods, and boutiques along with great restaurants, coffee and Hattie Jane’s Creamery.
Make a pilgrimage to Fayetteville to try a slawburger – the town’s famous for them – and wash it down with whiskey found at Prichard’s, located on the statewide Tennessee Whiskey Trail, and Southern Pride distilleries. Spend some time in this quiet town learning about the local history and picking up unique gifts in the downtown boutiques. Cap off your day at the jailhouse-turned-restaurant for the perfect end to your visit.
Spend your weekend enjoying a Jackson Generals baseball game. Explore The Legends of Tennessee Music Museum as the exhibits trace the giant rock ‘n’ roll footprint that can be found in Jackson. Catch a show and art galleries at The Ned R. McWherter West Tennessee Cultural Arts Center. Get a taste of local life at the West Tennessee Farmers’ Market and enjoy the locally-sourced dishes at Jackson’s many restaurants.
History, shopping and some of the best donuts you’ve ever had can be found in the small town of Savannah, located along the Tennessee River. Learn more about this river town at the Tennessee River Museum; then explore it yourself with a kayak or canoe trip. Sink your teeth into hush puppies and fresh-caught catfish. Walk the trails in silent reverence at Shiloh National Military Park.
Be apart of history as the small town of Ripley celebrates the 100th Labor Day Celebration Kickoff Ceremony, the longest-standing Labor Day celebration in the Southeast. The Labor Day Parade takes place 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 4 that marches around the downtown court square and ends in Rice Park. The annual event hosts hundreds of attendees who wave and celebrate the brightly colored floats, marching bands and more. Enjoy the local businesses and community spirit that also includes amazing food from fried catfish to brisket and sandwiches.
There are a cluster of small towns in Northwest Tennessee you can easily visit on a weekend road trip. Spend a day at Discovery Park of America in Union City where you’ll find indoor and outdoor exhibits. Approximately 10,000 square feet of displays inside cover topics like natural history, science, technology and military history. Interactive elements include the earthquake simulator that tells the story of how Reelfoot Lake – one of two natural lakes in Tennessee – was formed. Reelfoot Lake State Park offers hiking trails and eagle watching. Martin, Tennessee serves up to-die-for milkshakes and burgers at The Grind Mac & Cheese Bar. Have a slow afternoon at White Squirrel Winery and get a taste of Tennessee among the vineyards.
These Tennessee attractions are perfect to visit during the fall for fun events, fall color scenes and more.