April 16, 2021
Whether you are looking to bask in the summer sun or indulge in your favorite summer dishes, some of Tennessee’s major cities such as Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga can provide you with all the summertime feels.
Often known for its great barbecue, fun music scene and vibrant city life, many overlook the great outdoor wonders that the city of soul and rock-n-roll has to offer. Memphis is the perfect, family location for your long weekend escape with memories just waiting to happen.
Named the ultimate outdoor adventure destination, the Big Cypress Lodge inside Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid is the ideal place to stay with the family. From the hotel, guests can experience upscale lodge accommodations, the Sky-High Ride to the Glass Observation Deck, fishbowl bowling, shopping, dining and much more.
The newly opened Memphian is the perfect summer oasis. Located in Memphis’ Overton Square, guests can truly escape within the fine details of the hotel while just steps away from the neighborhood’s lively scene of shops, art galleries and entertainment.
Start your day with a cup of coffee and a delicious breakfast treat at Java Cabana Coffeehouse. This quirky coffee shop is a must-stop with its selection of coffee, vintage clothing and live music. Plus, there is nothing quite like taking a stroll through one of Memphis’s popular neighborhoods with freshly brewed coffee in hand.
You can’t visit Memphis and not make a stop at Central BBQ. This is the perfect place to grab lunch to go and have a picnic in a nearby park or grab a seat outside to enjoy live music on the patio. Known for their delicious barbecue nachos, ribs and pulled pork, the whole family will want to go back for seconds.
Dive into the happiness of summer at the Loflin Yard. This little retreat in the heart of downtown offers everything from spicy smoked wings to a brisket po’boy. Their walk-up patio window is a convenient way to grab dinner and bask in the sun in both of their front and backyard patios.
Whether you are looking to hike, golf or just relax in the sun, Overton Park is the place for you. With over 342 acres of public space, this outside destination is the perfect spot to spend your weekend. Arrive early in the morning and enjoy the two playgrounds on-site, have a picnic in the Greensward recreation area, and then take a hike over the 8 miles of trails or play the park’s nine-hole golf course. Of course, the day doesn’t have to end there. In the afternoon, stroll through the formal gardens, explore the Memphis Zoo or wander about the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Overton Park makes for the ultimate, action-packed day.
Shelby Farms Park is a summer must for both locals and visitors alike. This gem is a true summer escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and offers a variety of activities to keep you busy. From the 40 miles of trails, 2 bodies of water, horseback riding and treetop adventures, the fun never stops. Start the day paddling away with a canoe, paddleboard, and kayak rentals on both the Hyde and Pine Lake. Then, head over to one of the many treetop adventure courses where the whole family can swing through the park’s canopy of trees. Lastly, finish out the day hiking, biking or horseback riding through the park’s many trails or enjoy a round of disc golf, paintball or laser tags in the open greenspace.
To explore Music City is to experience the spirit of endless fun, award-winning food and remarkable attractions. From the city’s expansive parks, great outdoor patios, and a large selection of lodging accommodations, it will have everyone in your family wanting to make Nashville a summer weekend tradition.
Located off the banks of the Cumberland River, the Gaylord Opryland Resort is a classic family destination. The Resort provides state-of-the-art accommodations for the whole family from shops, restaurants, spa treatments at Relache Spa, sprawling indoor gardens and the ultimate indoor/outdoor water attraction, SoundWaves. You truly will never want to leave.
Offering a rooftop pool, a welcome goodie bag for the younger guests, spa and dining options, the Omni Nashville Hotel offers guests a sophisticated, family-friendly stay right in the heart of downtown. You can start your morning at the hotel’s coffee spot, Bongo Java, and then wander to all the nearby attractions including the Country Music Hall of Fame, Walk of Fame Park and the Hatch Show Print store to pick up a few souvenirs.
From chicken & waffles, breakfast tacos and seasonal pastries, Pinewood Social is a hot spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner. A fun, environment for everyone in your family, come early and grab a seat on their outdoor patio while you sip coffee or one of their signature, handcrafted cocktails and take in the views of Nashville’s skyline. While you are there, play a game of bocce ball outside or sign up for a lane at their indoor bowling alley. It’s a fun celebration for your whole family.
Situated in the popular neighborhood of 12South, bartaco offers a fun flare on Mexican cuisines such as Baja fish tacos, spiced chicken verde rice bowls or duck quesadillas. Ask for a seat on their outdoor patio to watch the world go by and enjoy the summertime weather. Afterward, take a walk to Sevier Park or pop into one of the many shops that line 12South.
Located in East Nashville, the Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden never disappoints. With an expansive patio space and great vibes, you simply cannot go wrong. From their burgers, bratwurst, old fashion sodas and unique beer selection, it provides a unique, hip dining experience for your entire crew.
Sprawling 132 acres a few minutes from downtown Nashville, Centennial Park is famously home to the full-scale replicas of The Parthenon and Athena inside of the Athenian originals. Take a stroll through the gardens, along the walking paths and let the kids run out some energy on the playground. There are even some picture perfect Instagram-worthy spots. It is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city without the long drive.
Whether you are looking to hike, bike, picnic, golf or even go horseback riding, Percy Warner and Edwin Warner Parks are the place for you. Located right outside of downtown Nashville, you can pack your day full of family-friendly outdoor fun. The park is also home to Nashville’s largest outdoor laboratory where many schools and universities in the area come to conduct research and projects. With over 3,100 acres of trails, fields and forests, you’ll be able to soak up all the blissful nature that Tennessee has to offer.
Located in the heart of Chattanooga, the once-bustling train station is now a fully refurbished hotel that offers a unique stay guests are not able to find anywhere else. From the history, fun hotel rooms, on-site attractions, shops and restaurants, you could create a whole weekend getaway right there on property. However, while the on-site attractions are a must-see, the location of the hotel makes it ideal as it is within walking distance to many of Chattanooga’s popular destinations including the Classic Arcade Pinball Museum, Chattanooga Market and Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery.
Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or just a fun weekend in Chattanooga, The Read House provides a traditional, elegant ambiance while offering modern accommodations. Savor the dishes served in the on-site restaurant, Bridgeman’s Chophouse, and start your day with Starbucks, located in the hotel lobby. During your stay, visit nearby attractions including the Tennessee Aquarium, Rock City, Ruby Falls and Renaissance Park.
Located in the city’s art district, Rembrandt’s Coffee House’s outdoor patio is the picture-picture spot to kickstart your day. Savor their signature house-roasted coffee with a handmade pastry or select one of their frozen frappes to complement their French toast garnished in rosemary-orange honey. You simply cannot go wrong with the European style café.
Looking for a delicious lunch, spectacular view and great wine? Look no further than Lookout Mountain Winery. Only 20 miles from downtown Chattanooga, guests can enjoy wood-fired pizzas that pair perfectly with the winery’s very own hand-crafted wines, all fermented and bottled on property. Come for a late lunch and stay to watch the sunset over three different states.
For dinner, head to the Flying Squirrel for large plates to share with the whole group and a wide selection of cocktails, wine and draft beer. Come for dinner and stay late to enjoy a drink out on their expansive outdoor patio. They have you covered for the perfect, laid-back evening out.
If you are looking to get outside and enjoy nature, the Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center is the place for you. Since the 1950s, they have been providing visitors and locals an oasis to reconnect with nature. Take a stroll through the park’s arboretum and gardens, meet the Animal Ambassadors, wildlife all native to East Tennessee, rent a canoe to explore Lookout Creek or take advantage of the great hikes in the area.
Enjoy your day among the Tennessee River at the Chattanooga Riverfront. As you stroll along the riverfront, take in the natural wonders and culture of Scenic City, stop at one of the restaurants to grab a bite to eat or cool down with a drink, and then continue along the path and make a pitstop at the River Gallery Sculpture Garden in the Bluff View Art District. Afterward, visit one of the Riverwalk’s two boat ramps. Here, rent a watercraft and spend the day floating down the Tennessee River. The opportunities are endless on Chattanooga’s Riverwalk.
Browse even more places to stay, eat and explore in Tennessee's major cities. Your summer vacation will be even more fun.