Road Trip in Tennessee
Tennessee is the soil from which groundbreaking musicians, natural wonders, and rich American histories have grown. Today, visitors come from all over the world to see where American pioneers, country music, and unique natural wonders spread their roots.
You can do the same, and to prepare, you should get familiar with TN driving laws, major highways, and the best road trip attractions.
Tennessee Traffic Laws
Familiarizing yourself with TN's rules of the road is one of the most important things you can do in preparation for your road trip.
Look over the Tennessee Driver's Manual for information on state-specific traffic laws. Doing so will take the stress out of your travels and could lower your chances of getting a ticket or into an accident.
As a quick and easy point of reference, check out our guide on Tennessee safety laws. These laws may seem like no-brainers, but assuming you don't need to read up on them could lead to a ticket. Safety laws tend to vary from state to state, so make sure you know the regulations specific to Tennessee.
Out-of-State Driver's Licenses
Since you're now familiar with TN's rules of the road, it's time to make sure you're carrying an acceptable driver's license.
Major TN Roads
The main roads you'll most likely encounter on your road trip are interstate highways (I) and U.S. routes (US). Both can run through multiple states and major cities, making them ideal routes for your road trip.
Below you'll find a few of the major interstate and U.S. routes in Tennessee, the cities they run through, and the states they connect to:
- I-24 (north to south).
- Runs through Nashville, La Vergne, Bell Buckle, and Chattanooga.
- Connects to Kentucky and Georgia.
- I-40 (west to east).
- Goes through Memphis, Brownsville, Jackson, Clarksburg, Nashville, Lebanon, Cookeville, Crossville, and Knoxville.
- Continues into Arkansas and North Carolina.
- I-65 (north to south).
- Passes through Springfield, Goodlettsville, Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Mount Pleasant, Lewisburg, Pulaski, and Ardmore.
- Goes into Kentucky and Alabama.
- I-75 (north to south).
- Intersects Clinton, Knoxville, Farragut, Athens, Cleveland, and Chattanooga.
- Passes through Kentucky and Georgia.
- I-81 (west to east).
- Goes through Kingsport and Bristol.
- Connects to Virginia.
- US-27 (north to south).
- Passes through Oneida, Sunbright, Rockwood, Spring City, Soddy Daisy, and Chattanooga.
- Continues through Kentucky and Georgia.
- US-64 (west to east).
- Runs through Memphis, Bolivar, Selmer, Adamsville, Pulaski, Huntland, Belvidere, and Chattanooga.
- Continues into Arkansas and North Carolina.
- US-70 (west to east).
- Intersects Brownsville, Jackson, Huntingdon, Dickson, Nashville, Lebanon, Crossville, Knoxville, and Del Rio.
- Goes into Arkansas and North Carolina.
- US-127 (north to south).
- Goes through Jamestown, Crossville, Pikeville, and Chattanooga.
- Continues through Kentucky.
No matter what your interests are or who you're road tripping with, Tennessee is sure to have something you'll enjoy. This state is filled with rich natural, cultural, and historical worlds just waiting for you to experience them.
TN's Natural World
If you consider yourself to be an outdoorsy type of person, you won't want to miss these must-see natural attractions:
- Pigeon River—Hartford, TN.
- Take a whitewater rafting trip bounded by the greenery of the Great Smoky Mountains.
- Rapids suitable for all levels of experience.
- The Lost Sea—Sweetwater, TN.
- See the country's largest underground lake, Native American ceremonial rooms, and prehistoric fossils deep inside Craighead Caverns.
- Cherokee National Forest—Johnson City, TN.
- Spend some time surrounded by the unforgettable forests, waters, and peaks of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
- Fall Creek Falls State Park—Spencer, TN.
- Experience the majestic serenity of Tennessee's largest state park, hiking by some of the tallest waterfalls in the eastern United States.
- Clingmans Dome—Sevier County, TN.
- Summit the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountain range for spectacular views of Tennessee and North Carolina's natural landscapes.
Tennessee is home to a multitude of historical attractions, dating all the way back to the days of the earliest mammals. If you're a history buff, you won't want to miss:
- Gray Fossil Site—Johnson City, TN.
- See and dig for your own rare fossils of animals like saber-tooth cats, shovel-tusked elephants, and more species from the Miocene era.
- Tennessee State Museum—Nashville, TN.
- Detailed exhibits give you a complete picture of Tennessee's history, from the time dinosaurs roamed the land all the way up to the post-Civil War era.
- Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park—Limestone, TN.
- Explore the cabin and natural surroundings that America's best-known frontiersman called home.
- Andrew Jackson's Hermitage—Nashville, TN.
- Take an in-depth tour of President Jackson's mansion, plantation, and tomb site.
- National Civil Rights Museum—Memphis, TN.
- This immersive museum will give you a look into the American Civil Rights Movement like you've never seen before.
TN Arts & Culture
Experience the lively attractions that have put Tennessee on the map as one of America's top artistic and cultural hot spots. Be sure to visit:
- The Frist Center—Nashville, TN.
- You'll feel inspired after visiting this visual arts museum, with rotating exhibits from artists all around the world.
- Graceland—Memphis, TN.
- Visit the home Elvis Presley bought and lived in from his first days of stardom to his time of passing.
- Beale Street—Memphis, TN.
- Known as the “Official Home of the Blues" and called America's most iconic street, you'll never find a shortage of live entertainment, restaurants, and special events here.
- Country Music Hall of Fame—Nashville, TN.
- If you love country music, this museum is a must-see, with extensive exhibits featuring artifacts and historical accounts of all your favorite artists.
- Grand Ole Opry—Nashville, TN.
- A trip to Tennessee almost seems incomplete without attending a live performance at the historic Grand Ole Opry.
Tennessee Family Fun
If you're travelling with kids, you're probably looking for attractions that are fun and/or educational. If so, stop by a few of the following destinations that are sure to please the whole family:
- Dollywood—Pigeon Forge, TN.
- Made up of an amusement park, water park, and resort, this Great Smoky Mountain attraction is sure to keep everyone entertained for days.
- Ober Gatlinburg—Gatlinburg, TN.
- Year-round activities, including skiing and snowboarding, wildlife encounters, aerial tram tours, kids' rides, and more.
- Adventure Science Center—Nashville, TN.
- Hands-on exhibits that'll teach your kids about what it's like to be in space, the science of nanotechnology, the inner workings of the human body, and much more.
- Nashville Zoo—Nashville, TN.
- Witness and learn about all of your favorite animals at this top-of-the-line zoo devoted to teaching the public about wildlife.
- Tennessee Aquarium—Chattanooga, TN.
- You won't want to miss this immaculate aquarium, which houses mammals, fish, and reptiles of all kinds.
Unique TN Attractions
Are you looking to put a little spice into your road tripping life? Well, be sure to stop by one of these unusual and unique Tennessee attractions during your travels:
- The Parthenon—Nashville, TN.
- Be amazed as you tour this full-sized replica of the Parthenon, complete with sculptures and a small art museum.
- Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum—Gatlinburg, TN.
- Marvel at the countless sets and designs of salt and pepper shakers lining the walls of this quirky little museum.
- Jack Daniel's Distillery—Lynchburg, TN.
- Tour Jack Daniel's home distillery, with original parts and buildings still intact. Optional tastings are also offered (so make sure to designate a driver!).
- Billy Tripp's Mindfield—Brownsville, TN.
- Get a look at Tennessee's largest outdoor sculpture, built by one man using only pieces of metal that he's decorated and shaped to reflect his emotions during different parts of his life.
- Bell Witch Cave and Farm—Adams, TN.
- Explore the cave and cabin said to be haunted by an angry ghost, who's even said to have scared Andrew Jackson away when he came to visit. Not for the faint of heart!