Traveling statistics about an average American tourist are mind-boggling! In April, Money Dasher wrote that an American traveler spends nearly $2,000 during summer vacations alone. Tourists fritter their wealth mostly on cuisine, lodging, and transportation. With millions of travelers passing through it annually, Tennessee rivals many states as the ultimate American tourist destination.
Being the 16th most populous state in the USA, Tennessee was also the 16th state to be admitted into the newly-formed country. Developing as an agricultural area, it became a center of scientific research after the establishment of uranium enrichment facilities at Oak Ridge, one of many tourist attractions you can find here. Let’s discuss more attractions waiting for you in this striking region called Tennessee:
Major tourist attractions in Tennessee
Which is the most visited national park in the entire country? With over 12 million annual visitors as per 2019 statistics, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park should be your answer. This location contains some of the highest mountains in the USA. For its unique biodiversity, UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site in 1983. There’s the Laurel Falls Trail that enables you to witness the glory of an eminent American waterfall. Or you can visit the Cades Cove – an isolated valley – that has some of the most well-preserved homesteads in the country. So, grab your hiking boots and prepare yourself to explore the mysteries of this American legacy while passing through the state of Tennessee.
With a population that barely exceeds 6,000 individuals, you should visit this resort city during your travels across Tennessee. Attracting mostly country music enthusiasts, Pigeon Forge hotels offer affordable and comfortable accommodation for tourists. One of this location’s unique attractions is Dollywood – a theme park owned by Dolly Parton. This entertainment destination attracts 3 million visitors during a typical season. Then you have the well-known Hollywood Wax Museum as well! Pigeon Forge is a place riddled with museums, theaters, and outlet malls. Therefore, if you value Southern culture, you must visit Pigeon Forge immediately while passing through the great state of Tennessee.
Just like Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg also constitutes a resort city and vacation destination. Resting on the borders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this town receives over 11 million visitors annually. You can visit Ober Gatlinburg for skiing or observe the majesty of the Smoky Mounts from the Space Needle. Since obtaining a marriage license is convenient in Tennessee, Gatlinburg has also become a popular honeymoon destination. It has over 20 wedding chapels! Also, check out the well-known Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in this small town. You can find many resorts to stay in Gatlinburg, where several facilities are provided to tourists for making their journey memorable.
You don’t have to visit Athens to witness the majesty of the 2,500-years-old Parthenon temple that was dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. In Nashville (Tennessee), you can always walk around Centennial Park and observe a full-scale facsimile of the original shrine. Designed by W. C. Smith and constructed in 1897, this building pays homage to classical European architecture. You can assume why Nashville is often labeled as the Athens of the South! It’s adorned with plaster replicas that are casts of the actual figures of the Greek version. You’re fortunate enough that the plans to demolish this building were abandoned when authorities realized how popular it was among tourists.
Don’t forget to visit the two-centuries-old metropolis of Lynchburg – the home of Little Richard and the world-famous Jack Daniel‘s Distillery. Founded in 1875, this Tennessee-based distillery produces America’s famous Jack Daniel‘s whiskey. Some quarter of a million travelers come to pay homage to this legendary location. The origins of this beverage remain a mystery. At the same time, some claim that a former slave taught Jack Daniels (which wasn’t his real name) the secret of making this whiskey. The distillery also offers tours allowing visitors to taste Frank Sinatra’s favorite beverage! So, if you’re passing through, do visit one of our great country’s oldest distilleries and purchase a barrel if you wish.
This famed street marks one of the most famous tourist attractions in Downtown Memphis. Found in the 19th century and named Beale Avenue initially, this road covers a distance of 3 kilometers. It attracts tourists who gather to witness this historic landmark and its several blues clubs and festivals that narrate the stories of traveling musicians from the 1860s. Its theaters, nightclubs, pawnshops, and carnival atmosphere makes Beale Street a necessary destination for passengers passing through the Volunteer State. You can find on this famous avenue the former house of W. C. Handy, who went by The Father of the Blues and the shadiest of all clubs, i.e., The Castle of the Missing Men.
If you learned your history lessons properly, then you’d know that Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally wounded at Lorraine Motel (Memphis). This location is now the famous National Civil Rights Museum. This museum and its various exhibitions honor the Civil Rights Movement that focused on eliminating racial prejudice in American society against African-Americans. You can visit the museum to pay homage to Mr. King and witness the artifacts associated with his struggles for equality. One of the museum’s most famous exhibitions includes Room 306. This room was where King was staying before his death. The museum also has various “listening stations” to hear Malcolm X talking.
Bell Witch Cave
If you’re familiar with The Blair Witch Project, this tourist attraction will be the perfect destination for you. It’s associated with the notorious Bell Witch haunting that took place in Adams (Tennessee) during the early 19th century. The folklore states that an alleged sorceress was harassing the farmer John Bell and his family. Located on the Bells’ property, this 500-feet long karst cave has now become an enticing natural attraction. So, tours are offered in October and during the summer months since this destination’s still partially owned privately. As per legends, the witch still resides in that cave and often lectures tourists about the dangers of reckless exploring.
This historic location has been continuously inhabited since the Archaic period (8,000 BCE). It served as the center of conflicts during the Civil War and became a major tourist attraction during the 20th century. Several attractions make the River City popular among visitors, such as the well-known Tennessee Aquarium and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel. This place hosts the Riverbend Festival as well. We have the much anticipated Bessie Smith Strut, named after a famous Jazz musician. Also, for sci-fi enthusiasts, Chattacon is held every January since 1976, where nerds and geeks assemble to explore their imagination. This city is known for its rich history and colorful events.
Several tourist attractions are found appealing by an average American tourist passing through the great state of Tennessee, making it the 11th most-visited region in the USA. Statistics show that, in 2019, some 126 million travelers visited this state. So, this record-breaking number justifies over $23 billion worth of tourism-related expenditures. Merely $1 billion of these expenses come from international tourists!
Most tourists flock around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which fuels the tourism industry in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The latter also hosts Dollywood, the most visited ticketed destination in the Volunteer State. Then we have Sun Studio in Memphis ad Nashville’s illustrious Music Row. Jack Daniel‘s Distillery also marks a prominent attraction for visitors passing through Tennessee.
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