Tennessee is full of raw natural beauty, rock n roll and American History. Many BIG names in show business called this place home and even BIGGER names fought here in turning points of American history. Tennessee is the perfect place for the history lovers who want to explore the land so many fallen soldiers gave their life on, the culture of music and the natural discoveries from the 1800’s that people still love today.
1. Ruby Falls
Imagine the two of you, 1,120 feet underground in a cave, with just a lantern to guide the way. No, this isn’t a scary dream or thriller movie, this is your future expedition to see Ruby Falls! Ruby Falls is the nation’s largest and deepest waterfall open the public below the surface of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN.
Fun Fact: Leo Lambert (one of the men who discovered this magnificent cave) named this waterfall after his beloved wife Ruby. Pretty sweet.
This cave is not only beautiful but also rich with history. How amazing would it be to be standing in the exact place that Native Americans, cave explorers, notorious outlaws and civil war soldiers stood over 100 years ago! Make your mark and memories at Ruby Falls!
2. Visit Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
This is the perfect home to explore for the history buff lovers. Is taking a tour around Andrew Jackson’s vintage Tennessee home as amazing as it sounds? The answer to that question is YES! The Hermitage was rated the third best Presidential Site in the nation by USA TODAY. We’re talking about a home that was owned by Andrew Jackson himself, the 7th president of the United States, the beginning of our amazing country!!! Andrew Jackson owned the home from 1804 to his death in 1845. Jackson passed away at the Hermitage, so you might even possibly see the ghost of Andrew Jackson for yourself (dun dun dun)!! We are actually kind of kidding, though no one has physically seen the ghost of Andrew Jackson, that doesn’t mean you can’t be the first right? This is a must see for any visitor to Music City!
3. Visit the Home of Elvis Presley
That’s right, Elvis Presley. Some say it’s tacky, others love the style of the Presley home, but at the end of the day its the place the rock and roll superstar laid his head every night. Graceland is 17,552 square feet and has a total of 23 rooms, including eight bedrooms and bathrooms all waiting to be explored by you. See the painting that was Elvis’ last Christmas present from his father, Vernon, and all over the house are displayed photographs of Elvis’ parents Vernon and Gladys, Lisa Marie, and Elvis himself. One of Elvis’s better known modifications was the addition of the Meditation Garden. This garden was regularly used by Elvis to reflect problems or situations that arose during his life. Tragically, Elvis Presley died at the estate on August 16, 1977. The Presley parents Gladys and Vernon Presley, and his grandmother, are all buried at the estate in the beloved Meditation Garden. Amazing experience and one to add to the bucket list for sure.
4. Take a Walk Down Beale Street
Beale street is the heart of music and entertainment, which pretty much translates into party town!! Beale street is part of a storied city where the rock-n-roll and blues music genre all began. In the heart of downtown Memphis with three blocks of nightclubs, restaurants and retail shops, the Beale Street entertainment district is a melting pot of delta blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B and gospel. Seriously, there is something here for everyone!!! It is a ton of fun drinking in this musically inspired setting and Beale Street is so serious about its music, jam sessions at many of these clubs tend to go deep into the night. For a good time, grab a drink, soak up the sounds and throw a few bucks in the tip jar for the Beale Street Flippers, those guys are everywhere and its all very entertaining. Of course we can’t forget to mention the major music festival that occurs here every year deemed the “Beale Street Music Festival.” This music festival attracts music enthusiasts from all 50 states and from a dozen foreign countries! The festival is held in a beautiful 25 acre riverfront park at the foot of historic Beale Street overlooking the mighty Mississippi River. This all spells out FUN no matter which day of the week it is.
5. Visit the Battle of Fort Donelson
“Fort Donelson will hereafter be marked in Capitals on the maps of our United Country…”
These were the famous words of Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant following the surrender of the Confederate Fort Donelson on February 16, 1862. A true landmark of American History! It would be an amazing experience to travel through time and pay your respects to the many fallen soldiers that once saw this place as an intense battlefield and a cause they were prepared to die for! Grant and his troops had created a pathway to victory for the Union and it all happened here at Fort Donelson. This beautiful and scenic park features an eleven stop driving tour (over 5 miles) where you can see the game changing battle that was fought on land and water. Start your journey at the visitor center, where it contains an Eastern National bookstore, a museum with Civil War artifacts and an exhibit on the Underground Railroad! This park is very unique in how it engages visitors with a storyline that draws on the lifelong friendship between Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Simon B. Buckner. End the tour at the Fort Donelson National Cemetery where you can pay your respects to the many soldiers from the Civil War Union and the wars since. There is much to see and relive here at Fort Donelson.
6. Visit Shiloh National Military Park
Here is another amazing war site for the history lovers! The Battle of Shiloh is one of the most epic struggles in the Western Theater of the Civil War. The battle of Shiloh is considered one of the best preserved battlefields in the country, and commemorates one of the Civil War’s bloodiest battles. The park has over 4,200 acres to be explored and you can expect to see a variety of wildlife as well as war memorabilia. Nearly 110,000 American troops clashed in a bloody contest that resulted in 23,746 casualties; more casualties than in all of America’s previous wars combined. Here at Shiloh National park you can explore both the Shiloh and Corinth battlefields and see for yourselves the impact this battle had on the soldiers and on the nation. Many men gave their lives here and if you stand quietly you can almost here the battle cannons for yourself.
7. Walk the Avery Trace Trail
A fantastic piece of history and what an opportunity!! Avery Trace Trail was the principal road used by settlers traveling from the Knoxville area into Eastern Tennessee and Nashville from 1788 to the mid-1830s. Pioneers camped along the way, cooking over campfires and sleeping under the stars. Because a portion of the Trace passed through Cherokee land, tribe members demanded a toll for settlers’ for access of the road. Disputes resulted and despite the colonists and Cherokees’ agreeing on a treaty designed to settle, war was declared. As a result, Cherokees killed 102 travelers along the road. Walk the trail yourself and relive the experience so many were faced with hundreds of years ago, just be careful of the Cherokee Tribe that still lurks there today looking for colonists to avenge themselves upon – kidding. The Avery Trace Trail now stands as a testament to the travelers and families who had the courage to undertake such an arduous and difficult journey, in search of a new life for themselves and future generations.