Ring of Fire Trail
Take in beautiful scenery and make a splash at the renowned Dale Hollow Lake. Go off the beaten path to discover some of Middle Tennessee’s most unique experiences and rich history — from settlers and Civil War soldiers to the Bell Witch and underwater ghost towns.
Downtown Nashville Visitor Center
Inside the glass tower of Bridgestone Arena, visitors can talk with Music City experts for "inside" tips; pick up brochures, maps and coupons; shop for souvenirs; and buy tickets for attractions, all while listening to live music.
Originally the Union Gospel Tabernacle, this 1892 church became an entertainment venue, presenting operas, vaudeville shows and top artists in the early 1900s. The auditorium is best known as the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, which performed here from 1943-1974 before moving to the current Grand Ole Opry House. Stop in to tour the venue, and visit the museum and gift shop.
Historic RCA Studio B
Get an intimate look at America's music, just blocks from the honky tonks that launched hundreds of country music careers. See one-of-a-kind memorabilia, rare photos and video, traveling exhibits and live performances. Don't forget the gift shop and Two Twenty-Two Grille.
The great city of Nashville traces its roots to this site on the banks of the Cumberland River. In 1780, James Robertson and a group of early pioneers established a settlement here. This reconstruction uses the same building elements as those early forts, built to house the settlers and their families and protect them from Native American attacks. Open daily, 9 a.m-5 p.m.
Tennessee State Capitol
Perched on a high hill, this massive 1859 limestone structure is one of the most magnificent public buildings of its time. William Strickland, its architect, considered this to be his master- piece and is entombed above the cornerstone of the building. The governor's office is here, along with the State House and Senate chambers. You'll find works of art, murals and frescoes, the tomb of President James K. Polk and his wife; and monuments to Presidents Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson, Sergeant Alvin C. York and Sam Davis, the "Boy Hero of the Confederacy."
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
As urban Nashville boomed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the ground here was too soft for high-rise construction due to the historic salt lick that had originally attracted the wildlife, Native Americans, trappers and settlers to the area. This park was created in the 1990s to save the one remaining view of the Capitol and to commemorate Tennessee's 200th birthday. Visit this 19-acre park, stroll the "Pathway of History" and splash in 31 fountains, all tributes to Tennessee's waterways.
Nashville Farmers Market
Since the early 1800s, the farmers market has been a vital part of Nashville life. Stop in to visit local farmers and produce resellers; grab a bite at one of the Market House restaurants; visit on the weekend and browse the Flea Market. Tourists love the "Nash Trash" comedy tours departing from this spot; hop on the pink bus here.
Fontanel Mansion & Farm
This is a true gem just outside of Nashville. Formerly the 136-acre estate of country star Barbara Mandrell, the 27,000-squarefoot log home is now used for special events. Enjoy over two miles of hiking and biking trails that are free to the public; catch a show at the Woods Amphitheater or dine at the fabulous on-site restaurant. Open Tues.-Sun.
4225 Whites Creek Pk
Port Royal State Historic Park
This historic area was once an important trading post in the early 1800s, and is an official site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. The former 1850s general store building is the only structure that remains of this once-thriving river town, which vanished as railroad and automobile travel eclipsed steamboat activity. Stop here to take in the state's quiet natural beauty as you drive up to Adams, or take a canoe trip starting at point 18;— you'll pass this spot as you paddle.
Red River Canoe
Experience Tennessee's natural beauty with a float down the Red River, starting here in Adams. The river is moderately shallow along the route, with plenty of sandbars and places to picnic. RV and primitive camping is also available, and locals love the "float ‘n' feed," a canoe trip that includes a full down-home BBQ meal. Float trips end at Port Royal State Park (point 16).
Bell Witch Cave & Canoe Rental
Take a tour of the eerie Bell Witch Cave, located on the original Bell family farm. Learn more about the legend of the Bell Witch, and see a replica of the Bell family log cabin. Tours by appointment, May-Oct. Not accessible during or after heavy rain.
Springfield Historic District
Take a picturesque trip through the past with wide, tree-lined streets featuring beautifully restored historic homes. The buildings date as far back as 1833 and feature a variety of architectural styles, many included on the National Historic Register.
J. Travis Price Park / Springfield Greenway Trailhead
Visit this well-kept city park's picnic shelters and historic log cabin, then hop on the Springfield Greenway. The 3-mile, paved path is an opportunity to slow down and take in the natural beauty of the area.
4155 Wilks Rd
Don't miss this full-service pharmacy and soda fountain, in business since the early 1900s in downtown. The interior still features many original details and working antique fixtures, like the 1930s soda fountain. Order a burger and a hand-dipped milkshake and shop for local products and artisan goods. Take a seat at the counter or on the front porch bench to truly experience life in Cross Plains.
7802 Hwy 25E
Gammon Dairy Farm/Chase's Corner Store
Located on a family-run dairy farm, stop in for natural, farm-fresh milk, home-sewn gifts, seasonal vegetables, farm-raised beef, local honey, homemade breads, and more. Meet the Gammon family, have a cup of coffee with fresh cream, and view the working dairy farm from the observation window inside the store.
5766 Highland Rd.
Sumner Crest Winery
Stop in for daily tours and sample wines made on the premises from grapes grown in Sumner County's vineyards. Stay awhile and browse in the antique and gift shop, and admire the classic car collection on the grounds.
5 Chefs Restaurant & Occasions Gifts
Located in a restored Victorian home, this "meat and three" eatery is known for its delicious desserts. After lunch, find a special treasure in the gift shop. HOURS: Occasions Gift Shop Monday-Thursday: 10am-4pm Friday: 10am-8pm Saturday: 9am-3pm Sunday: Closed 5 Chefs Restaurant Breakfast: Tuesday-Friday: 6:30am-10am Saturday: 7:30am-10:30am Lunch: Monday-Saturday: 11am-2pm Dinner: Friday-Saturday: 4:30pm-8pm Sunday: Closed
103 W. McGlothlin St.
200/202 North Broadway
Cold Springs Schoolhouse in Richland Park
Built in 1857, this one-room schoolhouse became a hospital for soldiers and re-opened for students after the Civil War. Today, the school has been relocated in Richland Park and is restored as a museum of local history featuring war memorabilia. Open by appointment.
303 Portland Blvd
Macon County Welcome Center
This new facility is home to the Macon County Chamber of Commerce. View artwork by Macon County artists, and pick up brochures and other materials on local attractions.
685 Hwy 52 Bypass W
Union Camp Waterfall
Just behind the Union Missionary Baptist Church, these falls were the site of a Union soldiers' camp during the Civil War. The falls are on private property about an eighth of a mile behind the church, but respectful visitors are welcome.
4789 Union Camp Rd.
This massive 14-room hotel is the only surviving Red Boiling Springs resort untouched by fire or flood in its nearly 100-year history. It's also the only one in Tennessee that still offers authentic mineral baths, flowing from the nearby springs into vintage cast-iron tubs in the spring house on the side of the hotel. Stop in for a tour of this lovingly remodeled hotel, admire the extensive collection of antiques, and take in the view of Salt Lick Creek, the Donoho Hotel, and Thomas House from the front porch.
Sitting at the confluence of the Obey and Cumberland Rivers, Celina was once an important riverboat stopover for the timber industry. The town was named for the daughter of Moses Fisk, one of the founders of the county and a pioneer of education. The rivers that helped to build the town also periodically devastated it with floods; in the 1940s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Obey to create nearby Dale Hollow Lake.
Free Hill Community & School
It was here that Virginia Hill, a slave owner, acquired 2,000 acres; she moved all of her slaves here and set them free, creating a community unlike any other in the South at that time. Following the Civil War, many African-Americans relocated here as well. The school was a part of the Rosenwald School Building Program, an initiative that funded buildings constructed by and for African-Americans in the early 1900s. At the time this one was built in the late 1920s, one in every five rural schools for African-American students in the South was a Rosenwald School.
1440 Free Hill Rd
Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery
On your way to the dam, visit the aquarium and museum at this site to learn all about its history and function. Get up close and personal with the species of native warm water fish used to stock the Tennessee Valley Authority lakes in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.
50 Hatchery Rd.
Dale Hollow Dam
Constructed to control flooding, generate power, and improve water quality along the Obey's banks, Dale Hollow Dam and the 52,000-acre lake it created are one of the country's top vacation spots for fishermen and water lovers today. As you drive across the dam, look to your left for a gorgeous view of the lake and to your right for a breathtaking picture of the Obey River flowing through the valley.
Standing Stone State Park
This 10,000-acre park is one of Tennessee's gems. Even if you don't step foot out of your car, it's a gorgeous drive in any season. Activities here include camping, hiking, rental cabins, a pool and playgrounds; your roller-coaster route goes straight through the park and over the dam, catching some of the prettiest scenery in the Upper Cumberland Plateau. Don't miss the historic 1808 home of pioneer Moses Fisk, located at the park's entrance.
Roaring River Recreation Area
Drive through this outdoor spot tucked away in the rolling hills on Cordell Hull Lake. It's a great place for boating, fishing, swimming and hiking.
100-298 Charlie Hix Ln
This is one of Tennessee's oldest towns, tucked away in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains. It's easy to see that the original Avery's Trace (see box on page 23) travelers found this area one of the most difficult to travel but also one of the most beautiful, earning it the nickname "The Switzerland of the Upper Cumberland." It's home to the annual Poke Sallet Festival, celebrating the native poke weed plant.
Gainesboro Courthouse Square
As with several Tennessee counties, the original 1820s Jackson County Courthouse burned to the ground, destroying most of the town's records. The one you see today was built in 1927, and is the third to stand on this spot. Take some time to explore the shops around the town square and the historic districts that surround it.
Pappy's Picket Fence
This antique shop sits in the former Gainesboro Dry Goods Store and town post office, also formerly the law offices of both Nobel Peace Prize recipient Cordell Hull and Albert Gore, Sr. Stop in to browse treasures from over 40 dealers.
Jackson County Museum & Historical Society
Learn about the history of the area in this 1894 former church. It's a wealth of information for people from all over the U.S. tracking their family history back to those first Avery's Trace settlers. Open Thurs.-Sat.
105 Montpelier Ave.
This tiny "picture postcard" town on the Cumberland River draws visitors year-round. Once a bustling riverboat town, its pace slowed as roadways eclipsed river commerce. The creation of Cordell Hull Lake in the 1970s submerged many of the town's homes and buildings. Today, it is a quaint and historic vacation spot, loved for its restored buildings including the Granville Museum, quiet charm and access to outdoor activities.
Sutton Ole Time Music Hour
Situated just a stone's throw from the Cumberland's banks, this was Granville's general store and grocery from the 1800s until the 1970s. Today, it has been beautifully restored to respect its heritage, with a second-floor balcony and many original features and fixtures. Sutton's functions as a gift shop, family-style dining room, art gallery and bluegrass pickin' parlor; the "Sutton Ole Time Music Hour" is recorded here on Saturday nights and broadcast worldwide. Open Wed.-Sat.
Defeated Creek Marina
Pick up a boxed lunch at this friendly restaurant and make arrangements to rent a pontoon boat on Cordell Hull Lake for the day. Cabins and camping are available for extended stays, but make sure you book ahead; it's a popular spot for people looking to escape the everyday with a weekend on the lake. If you're here in June, you just might catch the Defeated Creek Bluegrass Festival.
160 Marina Lane
Cordell Hull Lake Overlook at Tater Knob
This very accessible viewing spot is perched high atop a ridge overlooking Cordell Hull Lake and Dam. Bring your camera;— a short walk up the paved ramp is rewarded with a gorgeous view of the lake's cool blue waters. Public restrooms are available. Hikers, you'll find a trailhead for the Bear Waller Gap Trail near the parking area. It's a rugged 5.6-mile (one-way) hike along the lake's shore, featuring more overlooks, rock gardens, waterfalls and even the remains of old homesites.
Cordell Hull Dam & Visitors Center
Just north of Carthage, this dam on the Cumberland River forms Cordell Hull Lake. It's one of many sites in the area providing hydroelectric power, and is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Picnic facilities and a playground are available outside the visitors center.
Serving as the seat of Smith County, this former riverboat town was founded by Colonel William Walton, surveyor of the old Walton Road that connected West and Middle Tennessee. In the heyday of the steamboat era, this was known as the "River City," an important stop for steamboat traffic with three ferries operating from the town.
Carthage Courthouse Square
Anchored by the historic 1875 Smith County Courthouse, this town square offers restaurants, shops, history and charm, with several sites on the National Historic Register. Park and walk to visit the highlights on and around the square (points 24-26).
This 1904 hotel just off the town square was named for the original Walton Hotel, built by the town's founder. Still in operation, the Walton was a popular stopover for travelers on the Cumberland River, and the establishment was known for its fine food and entertainment. Today, the hotel offers modern guest rooms.
308 N. Main St.
Smith County Heritage Museum
Immerse yourself in Smith County's history and heritage. See the photos, tools, uniforms and other items that have been preserved and passed down to us from days gone by. The museum has an extensive exhibit on the county's many Century Farms,— working farms that have remained in the same family for more than 100 years. The museum is housed in a former manufacturing building. Open Thursday Noon to 4 pm; Friday and Saturday 10 am to 2 pm.
107 Third Ave. W.
Smith County Chamber of Commerce
Stop in for maps and area info, including a brochure for the 11-point, self-guided walking trail of Carthage, which features several historic homes and sites near downtown. Directly across the street, you'll find the gravesite of Colonel William Walton, founder of the town of Carthage.
939 Upper Ferry Rd.
Pleasant Shade Grocery
It's worth a trip off trail for the food and hospitality at this local favorite, known for catfish and ribs. Stop in on a Saturday night for live bluegrass music, or any time for that matter; this establishment has an "Open Forum Music Policy," which means anyone is welcome to get up and play, any time. They even provide a piano, guitars and a banjo.
This little rural town holds historic treasures:— the renovated former Dixon Springs Bank, now the public library, and the 1878 Union Church Building, remembered fondly by the locals for its "4-county singin's."
This small railroad city was once two towns: Damascus and Hartsville, separated by Little Goose Creek, settled by the Donoho and Hart families. The arrival of the railroad in 1892 replaced the river as the major cargoway, and built Hartsville's reputation as a major tobacco trade center.
Trousdale County Courthouse
Spend time exploring the shops and Victorian storefronts around the historic Trousdale County Courthouse. Inside, you'll find the Avery's Trace Visitor Center, a great place to learn more about the pioneers' early journey into Middle Tennessee. Pick up a brochure here for a 17-stop Civil War Tour of Hartsville, or just relax and watch the world go by from the gazebo.
200 E Main St Ste 5
Hartsville Train Depot
Stop into this historic railroad depot for an introduction to Hartsville and Trousdale County. The Chamber of Commerce office is just the beginning here; the county museum runs the length of the depot and is packed with Civil War artifacts, agricultural implements, pieces of the town's history and much more. The staff here can also take you on a tour of the Living History Museum just down the street,— a detailed look at farm life in this part of the country in the early 20th century.
100-104 Depot St
This area offers tons of Middle Tennessee history. It's home to one of the area's first settlements, "discovered" by longhunters like Isaac Bledsoe, who found abundant game and water here in the late 1700s.
Wynnewood State Historic Site
This National Historic Landmark, now a state-owned historic site, is believed to be the largest log structure ever built in Tennessee. Constructed in 1828, it was a stagecoach inn that served as a stop between Nashville and Knoxville on Avery's Trace. For a short time, it functioned as a springwater resort.
Bledsoe’s Fort Historical Park
Take the self-guided walking trail around this 80-acre park and experience the history of one of Middle Tennessee's first white settlements. You'll see the restored 1790 cabin of Nathaniel Parker; a 1790s Irish-style stone cottage; Bledsoe's Lick, a prehistoric natural spring; the archaeological outline of Bledsoe's Fort, ca. 1780; the Isaac Bledsoe family cemetery and more. It's a great place to get a firsthand understanding of the area's longhunter heritage.
Referred to as the "Mount Vernon of Tennessee," this mansion was built in 1802 by General James Winchester, who founded Memphis alongside Judge John Overton and General Andrew Jackson. Winchester brought masons and carpenters 600 miles through the wilderness from his native Maryland to construct the mansion, using limestone quarried from the property. The first home in the state to have a ballroom, it was the center of political and business affairs in the early 1800s. Now a state-owned historic site, the home and property have been used in films and music videos, including "The Highwayman" with Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. Open for tours, April-Oct.
Bledsoe Creek State Park
Enjoy the great outdoors at this state park, featuring walking trails, boat ramps, picnic facilities, and 60 RV and tent sites on 164 acres along beautiful Old Hickory Lake.
This unique plantation house was built in the 1830s by Josephus Conn Guild, a local politician and statesman who was held prisoner by the Union during the Civil War. The home was built using materials found on the 500-acre property, and features a successful blending of Greek Revival and Palladian design. Open for tours, April-Oct.
Gallatin Courthouse Square
Five presidents have visited or conducted business on this court square, including Andrew Jackson, who practiced law here. As part of Tennessee's Main Street Program, the square has been newly renovated to preserve its history and architecture. Take some time to admire the Sumner County Courthouse, the 1913 Palace Theatre, grab a bite to eat at local favorite The Whippoorwill, or do some shopping while you're here.
This 1813 home served as a Civil War hospital, and in 1899, was deeded to the Daughters of the Confederacy to honor Confederate veterans. Directly behind it, the museum features a large collection of Native American displays, antique cars, toys, period clothing, quilts, military artifacts, guns, music and entertainment memorabilia that help tell the stories of the county. Open April-Oct.
Before becoming a popular Nashville suburb, Hendersonville was a quiet farm community. It was so small that for many years, a woman named Lily Hudgens operated the entire telephone switchboard for the town from her home. The formation of Old Hickory Lake on the Cumberland River in the 1950s brought new home construction and more residents. Today, it is Nashville's biggest suburb by population.
Trinity Music City, USA
Visit the former estate of country music legend Conway Twitty, affectionately known as "Twitty City." The property is now owned by the faith-based Trinity Broadcasting Network. Take a tour of the Twitty mansion and TBN studios. Closed Mon.
Hendersonville Memory Gardens
Visit the final resting place of Johnny and June Carter Cash, Mother Maybelle Carter and other Carter family members, as well as other performers. Johnny and June can be found side by side in the Garden of Matthew, near the middle of the cemetery.
Historic Rock Castle
Built by General Daniel Smith in 1794, this is the first stone masonry house built west of the Appalachian Mountains. Its 22-inch thick limestone walls have shielded it for over 200 years, and windows all around helped protect its first residents from Native American attack. Today, this state-owned historic site stands as a monument to survival on the Tennessee frontier; tour the home to experience life from its early residents' point of view. Closed Mon.
This grand 1860 two-story wood frame home was used as a hospital during the Civil War. Today, it's a business center and meeting space, and home of the Hendersonville Arts Council. Stop in to view the work of local artists.
Center Point BBQ Pit
This local landmark often welcomed Johnny Cash for a plate of BBQ — and over the years numerous country artists and musicians have feasted at this unassuming spot. Taste for yourself, and spot your favorite star in the autographed pictures that decorate the walls.
Mansker's Station/Moss-Wright Park
Named for longhunter and settler Kasper Mansker, the area's earliest white resident, this fort is an authentic reconstruction of a frontier station typical of the early Cumberland settlements. Within the park you'll also find the 1787 Bowen Plantation House, restored in the 1980s to preserve and showcase elements of frontier life. Tour the fort and home starting at the visitors center in beautiful Moss-Wright Park; if you're lucky, you may find yourself here during one of the many living history weekends. Open March-Dec.
745 Caldwell Dr.
Tucked into the Music City Shopping Center, this eatery features artfully prepared food and fabulous desserts.
900 Conference Dr.
Goodlettsville Chamber of Commerce
Stop in for info about local events and attractions. The Main Street area is home to several antique shops and businesses.
117 N. Main St.
Spring Hill Funeral Home and Cemetary
This massive landmark dates back to 1785. It's a beautiful spot, full of shade trees and historic headstones. Among the people buried here are country music icons with ties to some of the other Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways: Roy Acuff (White Lightning Trail), songwriter Beth Slater Whitson (Nashville's Trace), and Jimmy Martin (Sunny Side Trail). Acuff's and Martin's graves are located just inside the front gates.
Nashville National Cemetery
This 65-acre cemetery contains over 33,000 graves, and at least 17,000 are Civil War soldiers; 4,000 unknown. Many of the bodies here were moved and re-interred from over 250 sites around Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. Most had been temporarily buried around hospitals and battlefields in Nashville, Franklin and Gallatin, as well as Bowling Green, Kentucky; many were likely prisoners of war.
Holly Street Fire Hall
This 1914 fire house was the first in the city built to house motorized fire vehicles, and it's been continuously used as a fire hall since its construction. It's a beloved part of the neighborhood and a favorite spot for kids and families to tour.
1600 Holly Street
Pedestrian Bridge /LP Field
Once a main connector of downtown and East Nashville, this bridge has been restored and continues to function,— but for pedestrians and tourists. Park at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans and host to spectacular concerts including the CMA Music Festival; stroll across the Cumberland River for beautiful views of downtown. You may recognize the bridge from Big & Rich's 2004 hit video, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy."
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
From the pedestrian bridge, cross through the courtyard of this state-of-the-art concert hall, occupying a full city block. It's home to the Grammy Award-winning Nashville Symphony as well as the tasty Arpeggio Café.
Music City Walk of Fame and Nashville Music Garden
As the base of the "Music Mile," this park features permanent star markers dedicated to influential musicians of all genres. It's a great place to end the Ring of Fire Trail; wrapping up a journey through the ghosts of Tennessee's past at a spot dedicated to our music legends.
400 Demonbreun St.