This site is all about sustainable tourism. That's a fancy way of saying that we're dedicated to preserving what's best about Tennessee's native beauty, history and culture so people can enjoy it forever.
Tennesseans are friendly folks—we love it when people visit our beautiful state. We want to be sure we preserve the best things about Tennessee for both residents and visitors to enjoy for many generations to come.
That means taking care of our state's unsurpassed natural beauty as well as maintaining the places and events that show off our unique heritage and culture. That's why we've created this mini-site featuring the events and attractions that do their part to preserve and protect Tennessee's beauty, history, heritage and culture.
Take advantage of travel resources to make green travel easier. Visit our green directory to find eateries and accommodations for your trip. Find out about all the great things to do in the outdoors, and learn more about Tennessee's rich heritage and arts culture. And come back soon.
Consumers are increasingly interested in vehicles with advanced technology and alternative fuels. Using alternative fuels and advanced vehicles instead of conventional fuels and vehicles helps the United States reduce petroleum use and vehicle emissions. Here’s a convenient list of where you can find alternative fuels in Tennessee.
Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles
Using renewable, homegrown fuel is a major step toward Americanizing our energy future and unleashing our country from foreign oil sources.
E-85 and B20
E85 ethanol fuel is 85% ethanol and 15% regular gasoline. E85 fuel can be used in Flexible Fuel Vehicles produced by the major automakers. You can find E85 at these locations.
Here’s a handy list of biodiesel station locations.
For updates on fuel savings and maximum mileage for all things automotive, motor here.
And, for charging stations, please look here.
Cities Going Green
Going green is contagious in Tennessee! Pervasive programs, such as Adopt-a-Highway, TVA's environmental partnerships, Tennessee's Biofuels Initiative and land acquisition for further development of Tennessee parks, are cropping up to take Tennessee into a greener future. On the local level, read about some cities that are taking green seriously.
In 2009, the City of Bristol accepted the green challenge and began efforts to reduce the City's carbon footprint and overall environmental impact in order to create a more livable and responsible community.
The City of Bristol understands that "Going Green" is a continual process. Each year, Bristol commits to being more environmentally responsible and pledges to help make the process easy for the public to embrace as well. Through education, smart decisions and a strong commitment, the City will "do what it takes to do it right."
Bristol has developed a "Going Green" website, which contains a collection of resources and information from the world's leading environmental experts to help others start their own green lifestyle to help ensure a safe and beautiful community for generations to come.
Chattanooga moves you. As one of the best cycling and walking cities in the US, eco-oriented Chattanooga rocks with its re-energized riverfront and a fleet of free, electric buses, Choo Choo city promotes local buying, woos non-polluting industries, and develops and renovates affordable housing. The Chattanooga Outdoor Center is a 6,000-square-foot, LEED-certified, green-roofed haven for bicycles in idyllic Coolidge Park.
To preserve the natural beauty of this tourist center, the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce initiated a voluntary program for businesses working to reduce their environmental impact. Businesses receive information on products and actions to help them achieve ìgreenî goals. In addition, the city uses bio-diesel for its trolleys and LED lights for its holiday display and has halted all ridgetop development pending planning review. New public containers have increased recycling.
Townsend is in Blount County, the only Tennessee county designated as a Preserve America Community, and Townsend's web site offers visitors information about low impact vacations. The program's goal is to establish a sustainable tourism program based on the county's heritage and culture, taking steps to cherish and protect its natural resources and unique sense of place.
Just a stone's throw from the Cumberland River, this beautifully restored riverboat community offers a quieter way of life. The town has successfully preserved the essence of Granville, telling a unique story through the strength of the river, the strong agricultural roots, World War II and Civil War history, small town life, a diverse musical history, and highly detailed genealogy. Granville offers two sustainable attractions, Sutton General Store, built in the 1800's, and the Granville Museum. The museum has preserved community history and the rich heritage that draws thousands to local festivals and cultural events. Granville's past comes alive in this distinctive sustainable destination.
Knoxville grows green at the grass roots as industry and community participate side by side in such programs as River Rescue, sponsored by Ijams Nature Center. Reinvigorated downtown Knoxville switches on the Green Power in its 400 city blocks, the energy created by renewable resources such as wind, solar power and methane gas. Knoxville Convention Center has gone green, and Knoxville will become the second US "model city" to boost residential recycling, the first in the Southeast.
Nashville pins on the Green Ribbon Committee, with its goal to become the greenest city in the Southeast. Award-winning Metro Parks Nature Centers work to increase environmental education and outdoor recreation areas; Shelby Bottoms Greenway, Beaman and Bells Bend parks' features include a green roof, electricity generation utilizing photovoltaic cells, geothermal heat pumps and pervious concrete sidewalks.
The Sustainable Shelby program, launched in July 2008, addresses issues of improving transportation and traffic, public buildings and public purchasing, neighborhood rebirth, public incentives, building codes, and land use and development. Safer, more walkable streets and neighborhoods, and reductions in traffic flow are all part of the long-term picture.
Historic Jonesborough is a little town with the big story, working hard to preserve buildings, character, and culture. Tennessee's oldest town has entertained guests for almost 225 years, and is a Preserve America community, recognized as one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's "Dozen Distinctive Destinations." The city has used sustainable planning, laws, zoning, continual reevaluation, vigilant care, and cooperation to restore its historic downtown. The storytelling capital of the world, Jonesborough draws visitors from all over the world during the famous National Storytelling Festival, the first celebration dedicated solely to the art of the storytelling. Jonesborough is a beautiful place to live and visit. Add the natural splendor to the architectural and cultural heritage and it becomes a premier sustainable destination.
A Preserve America community, Blount County and the Maryville are committed to sustainability, taking steps to cherish, preserve, and protect its unique heritage, natural resources and special sense of place. Sustainable tourism here began in the 1850s with Montvale resort on Chilhowee Mountain, allowing visitors to experience the Smoky Mountains. The creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in June 1934 gave visitors a unique destination and a look at centuries of Appalachian culture. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) added to the experience with an infrastructure of trails, campgrounds, bridges, buildings, and scenic landscapes. It's a destination surrounded by nature, and deeply rooted in arts, crafts and musical heritage.
Oak Ridge aims high as part of the National Ecological Observatory Network to provide valuable information related to climate change, biodiversity and invasive species and infectious diseases. The Secret City Festival is taking steps to become a green event. Both a scientific heavyweight and a national rowing center, Oak Ridge puts its oar in the water with expertise on global environmental issues; Oak Ridge National Laboratory laid the groundwork for systems ecology, global change analysis, ecological risk, landscape ecology, and, most recently, environmental genomics.
Historic Franklin, named for Benjamin Franklin, has a 360° vision for preservation and sustainability. The 15-block downtown is a jewel on the National Register of Historic Places, showcasing sites such as St. Paul's Episcopal Church, with its Tiffany windows, and winning a Great American Main Street Award. Franklin pairs an eclectic mix of trendy boutiques, antique shops and restaurants with more than 200 years of Victorian architecture, brick sidewalks, tradition and southern culture. The area brims with back stories, including Carnton Plantation, the Carter House, the Lotz House and the historic village of Leiper's Fork.
The Great Depression has profited Bell Buckle; economic decline meant no money to replace Victorian and Arts and Crafts homes with modern structures. Today, downtown Bell Buckle, with its preserved and restored historic homes, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1852 as a railroad village, it is known for antiques, quilts, crafts, home cooking and southern hospitality. Bell Buckle, nestled in the walking horse country of Bedford County, is home to the prestigious Webb School, and is a Governor's Three-Star Community and a member of Tennessee Backroads.
Ecofriendly Travel Tips
Most of us practice cutbacks like reusing our hotel towels, but what else can we do to be more eco-friendly travelers? Sustainable traveling also means conserving natural resources, supporting local cultures and making a positive impact on our destinations. Here are a few sustainable travel tips for more eco-thoughtful Tennessee trips.
What did I forget?
Have you ever had that feeling when you leave... what did I forget? Sustainable travel starts before you leave. Unplug appliances that won't be used, such as computers, chargers, televisions, video game players, and microwaves. This small, eco-conscious step can have a big impact on your home energy bill.
Think green before you drive.
Even if you travel in a hybrid car, the energy saving happens before you leave town. Take your vehicle for a maintenance check to increase gas mileage. Replace air filters, make sure tires are properly inflated, and recycle used motor oil and filter. Take the smallest car you can comfortably use.
Use online travel tools to plan and book your trip; when necessary, print out travel materials at home on recycled paper. Visit www.tnvacation.com to find complete travel tools for your next Tennessee vacation.
Aim low. Pack light.
Lightening your load is good for you and the environment. Traveling with less stuff and less waste pays off in less energy needed to transport you. Trim back on extra shoes and clothes. Make a one-page, basic checklist and tailor it for specific trips.
Be road ready.
Don't idle for more than a minute--turn the car off instead. Don't charge peripherals (cell phone, iPod, etc.) from the car battery unless absolutely necessary. It greatly reduces fuel efficiency.
Slow down, calm down, save gas. Slower speeds (55-70 mph) and less aggressive driving really boost gas mileage (between 12 and 31 percent!). Leave high speeds, hard braking and aggressive acceleration to stunt drivers. Set your cruise control (except in mountains) at the speed limit, and take it easy on those foot pedals.
Use alternative transportation.
Be creative! Research local energy-efficient transportation opportunities such as trains, buses, trolleys, boats, shuttles, biking and walking paths, and other means of public transportation. Having a car on the trip should not rule out other fun and interesting ways to take home a Tennessee memory.
Mingle with the locals.
Coordinate your trip to coincide with one of Tennessee's numerous festivals or celebrations. Not only are they fun, festivals provide a window into the culture and help to support traditional crafts and customs. Take home a memento of Tennessee crafts.
Experience Tennessee's rich culinary history at regional restaurants. Try slow-cooked barbecue and sweet tea, country ham and red-eye gravy, or a fine restaurant with locally grown meats, fruits and vegetables. Your time will be well spent with great food, tasty conversation, and you may make a friend along the way.
By definition, local produce is seasonal. Tennessee's three regions provide natural diversity for locally grown and farm fresh. This is a boon for biodiversity and your palate, since local crops are harvested at their peak of freshness and flavor. Small local farms are a valuable component of a community's character and agricultural heritage.
Reuse and recycle.
Take a reusable water bottle. Pack a reusable shopping bag to carry those wonderful Tennessee crafts and other purchases. Don't throw away disposables such as plastic cups, utensils and storage bags! Wash and save, as most will last many uses. After all, you wouldn't throw away your bicycle after one use.
Whenever possible, participate in the hotel or destination's recycling programs. Become acquainted with the local recycling program and sort your refuse accordingly.
Hit the switch.
One of the easiest ways to save energy at a hotel is to set the thermostat at a comfortable level when you are in the room and adjust accordingly when leaving for sightseeing. Turn off the lights and electronics when you leave. With one flip of a switch, you can be more energy efficient. Close the blinds or curtains in the summer; in the winter, open them to allow the room to be warmed by the sun.
Protect recreation sites, and take the initiative toward essential outdoor ethics. For instance, when camping, try using a camp stove instead of a campfire; use pre-existing campsites whenever possible; and avoid sensitive areas, such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands, and streams, unless on designated routes. This protects wildlife habitats and sensitive soils from damage.
Take a brief bow.
Give yourself a pat on the back for helping to preserve and protect the serenity, excitement, color, and quality of "greenness" in the Volunteer State vacationland.