Price includes accommodation throughout and car hire. Flights from the UK are available from +£995pp.
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Usually, each state in the US has an official song. But people from Tennessee could not settle for one and picked ten. Each region within this state has its own distinct style of music. From Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll in the west to Honky Tonk, and Country in the East. Find out more about this incredible state here.
Day 1 Arrive in Nashville
Collect your rental car and stay 2 nights -in the 3-star B&B The Capitol Hotel Downtown, Ascend Hotel Collection (or similar).
Day 2 Nashville
Explore Nashville is full of legendary music history. The new National Museum of African American Music or the Country Music Hall of Fame are great starting points for your visit. Immerse in the incredible music of Tennessee, country music, bluegrass and blues. Next take the shuttle to RCA’s Studio B, the famed recording mecca where music created by Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers and Dolly Parton was laid down. The Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Opry and WSN radio, is music history in physical form where bluegrass was born. These days the radio station broadcasts from the Grand Ole Opry, where the ‘Behind The Curtains Tour’ is a must for ardent country music fans. For fans of the TV series Nashville take the guided tour of filming locations from downtown to Five Points in East Nashville and even the Bluebird Café. Visit the Johnny Cash Museum, dedicated to the Man in Black, his life from humble beginnings and his amazing career. Don’t forget to plan ahead and see if there are gigs in town from the incredible array of talent in Music City, and get tickets for an unforgettable memory. There are seemingly endless live music venues catering for lovers of bluegrass, country, rock n roll and rockabilly. The talented musicians homegrown and drawn to Nashville are amazing, with local honky tonks full of hopeful performers, songwriters and musicians looking for a break and to make their name. There is so much to see and do in Nashville.
Hotel: 3-star B&B The Capitol Hotel Downtown, Ascend Hotel Collection (or similar)
Day 3 Nashville to Knoxville
Next, drive over to Knoxville to continue your Tennessee adventure. If you arrive in the late morning start your stay with a Jazz brunch at FIVE or the Downtown Grill and Brewery, pick through some vinyl at Magnolia Records, Lost & Found Records or Wild Honey Records and head down to the Visitors Center for the WDVX’s Blue Plate Special and for free live music starting at noon (except Sunday). Stroll over to Market Square for some great local shopping or the shops at Turkey Creek or in the District of Bearden. If shopping is not your thing why not get into the Urban Wilderness trails at Ijams Nature Center or Bakers Creek Preserve? For heritage try the East Tennessee History Center (great for genealogy buffs) or head a few blocks down Gay Street to purchase a Historic Homes Tour Pass at the Visitors Center to visit an array of heritage lodging from log cabins to frame houses to stately stone mansions with rich Civil War history. For something different check out the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and shoot some hoops. In the evening enjoy a dinner cruise on the Tennessee River aboard the Star of Knoxville Riverboat or the Volunteer Princess. Historic and lively Knoxville has something for everyone.
Drive time from Nashville to Knoxville is approx. 2hr50m
Hotel: 3-star B&B Clarion Inn & Suites Downtown Knoxville (or similar)
Day 4 Knoxville to Bristol
Visiting Bristol means being in two places at once, with the heart of downtown’s iconic State Street straddling the state line of Tennessee and Virginia – make sure you get the iconic picture as you do the same. Discover Bristol’s many unique experiences: the great outdoors, rich history and Appalachian culture, unique southern dining and nightlife, NASCAR motorsports, the bright lights and thrill of a casino, to the very birthplace of American country music and a new museum to explain that story – The Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Visit Bristol Motor Speedway: The loudest, and most exciting track in NASCAR that draws race fans internationally for the fastest half mile in the racing world. Its tight turns and steep banks make it arguably the most challenging racetrack in all of NASCAR. Get out of town to South Holston Lake & Rivers Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, the outdoor beauty is in full effect as you take in a day on this 7,500-acre lake. Downtown is a perfect way to spend time taking in unique historical and shopping experiences. There is even a guided walking tour of downtown that takes in Burger Bar, famously known as the last place Hank Williams Sr. was last seen alive. For Bluegrass, fans take a side trip to the Carter Family Fold on the famed Crooked Road.
Drive time from Knoxville to Bristol is approx. 1hr50m
Hotel: 3* B&B Days Inn By Wyndham Bristol Parkway (or similar) for 2 nights
Day 6 Bristol to Gatlinburg
Head into the Smokies today, and take a scenic drive through one of the most popular places in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove for a leisurely drive along the Cove’s 11-mile loop, but remember to keep your eyes open for black bears and other wildlife! There are several places to park so that you can explore the trails and get some great pictures of the incredible scenery. Head over to the Chimneys Picnic Area in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a picnic lunch next to the Little Pigeon River. Journey into Gatlinburg because there is so much to do, this is an entertainment hub in the middle of the mountains. Great restaurants, with over one hundred dining options around town. Hop on the trolley for a tour of the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Loop. The 8-mile route is the USA’s largest organisation of artisans, authentic Tennessee artists and craftspeople. Downtown Gatlinburg is a lively home to museums, miniature golf, candy shops and so much more. In the evening, before dinner, head up to the observation deck of the Gatlinburg Space Needle a 360-degree view of the Parkway and the surrounding area.
Drive time from Bristol to Gatlinburg is approx. 2hr30m
Hotel: 3* B&B Country Inn & Suites By Radisson (or similar)
Day 7 Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge was named after an iron forge built around 1820 which was located along the Little Pigeon River on an ancient Cherokee trail. This trail brought the first Europeans to the Pigeon Forge area in the early 18th century and eventually to the most known resident, who was born in nearby Sevierville, legendary country singer Dolly Parton and Dollywood. No visit is complete without a visit to the 40 attractions of Dollywood for some pure escapism and fun, with a unique southern charm. If you have more budget you can even stay on-property at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa. If the fun and games in Pigeon Forge are not your thing you can continue to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its 800 miles of trails through the incredible vista or take leisurely strolls through the parks of the area. Visit Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Mountains, towering at 6,643 feet tall. Located along the state-line ridge the Dome and observation deck offers stunning 360-degree views as far as the eye can see. Back in Town mini-golf, go-kart tracks, whitewater rafting or even zorbing are available for fun. In the evenings there are theatre shows, music performances and an incredible choice of nightlife and dining. There is even a Titanic Museum and exhibit – why? Because!
Drive time from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge is approx. 30min
Hotel: 3-star B&B Tru By Hilton Pigeon Forge (or similar) for 2 nights
Day 9 Pigeon Forge to Chattanooga
Arrive and start your visit to the home of the ‘Choo Choo’ with an overview of Chattanooga’s fascinating history. A riverboat cruise highlights the rich resources of the Tennessee River Gorge in which Chattanooga lies. Expect lots of wildlife sightings and the history of Chattanooga’s first inhabitants – the Native Americans. Make time to walk around Ross’ Landing; the Riverwalk which includes several significant Civil War sites; The Passage, which is an artistic tribute to the tribes of Chattanooga; and the Walnut Street Walking Bridge, built in 1890. Once you’ve soaked up the history of downtown, head to Chattanooga’s Southside. Once the financial hub of the city, the abandoned warehouses and old buildings are now occupied by restaurants, shops and art galleries. The Tail Gate Brewery is located in the revitalised Stong Building, a hotel built in 1909 for weary train travellers. Make sure you visit Bessie Smith Cultural Center on M.L. King Blvd, formerly known as “the Big 9” it is the only remaining cohesive area historically associated with Chattanooga African Americans. The Chattanooga African American Museum pays homage to Chattanooga’s historic names. The Civil War is a big part of history here. The ‘Battle Above the Clouds’ took place on nearby Lookout Mountain. Whilst there visit Ruby Falls, a 145-foot underground waterfall discovered in 1928 by a local cave explorer. There is simply too much Civil War, Civil Rights and first nation history to share here. Seemingly no stop in Chattanooga is complete without a ride on a Chattanooga Choo Choo yourself. Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum offers a quick 65-minute trip on the Missionary Ridge Local that begins and ends at Grand Junction Station. Longer journeys are also available. As for lunch or dinner visit Bluff View Art District or grab a chopped wiener plate at Memo’s, barbeque from Chatt Smokehouse, or the famous fried catfish at Uncle Larry’s.
Drive time from Pigeon Forge to Chattanooga is approx. 3hrs
Hotel: 3-Star B&B Hilton Garden Inn Chattanooga Downtown (or similar) for 2 nights
Day 11 Chattanooga to Memphis
Where to start in this incredible city of music heritage and more. By day follow in the footsteps of Elvis Presley around his beloved home, Graceland – nearby to where you’re staying. For any fan, and even those who knew a little, Graceland is an incredible experience, the house and the exhibits really bring his life and humanity alive – you can wander through the Jungle Room, watch wartime footage of this humble man, learn of his understated philanthropy, see his many cars, his private plane and the eternal flame at his memorial. If you want to cross the State line into Mississippi take in Tupelo and visit the simple childhood home of Elvis. Visit Sun Studios which is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine as your guide recalls tales of Elvis, Johnny, Carl and Jerry Lee and how they laid down historic tracks in this very studio. The Rock n Soul Museum and Stax Museum of American Soul Music are must-sees too. If you’re a petrolhead, just a short stroll from Sun Studios you’ll encounter The Edge Motor Museum, home to ‘American Speed’ – an exhibit featuring the evolution of the American Sports car. If Civil Rights history is of interest, the powerful National Civil Rights Museum located at the Lorraine Motel is an absolute must-do, as is Slave Haven, part of the secret Underground Railroad. In the evening, Beale Street is a melting pot of music – delta blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B and gospel fill the air. This historic district was declared the ‘Home of the Blues’ by an act of Congress. With such a rich history of legendary performers – Albert King, Louis Armstrong, Memphis Minnie, Muddy Waters and B.B. King…this is a music lover must visit. Memphis is home to fascinating museums, music venues, great southern and international dining and great hospitality.
Drive time from Chattanooga to Memphis is approx 5hrs30mins
Hotel: 4-Star room only The Guest House At Graceland for 2 nights
Day 13 Memphis to Franklin
Sitting astride the Harpeth River, a tributary of the Cumberland River, Franklin is a delightful final stop before heading back to Nashville and your onward travel. The old town area, neighbourhoods and well-known villages retain a small town feel with the heritage protected by city ordinances. One example is the uniquely quaint Leiper’s Fork, where you can draw on the same inspirations that have influenced some of the songs you’ve been singing along to for years. Do a little guitar pickin’ on the front porch, or warm up with a song around the firepit in the backyard. Maybe grab a plate of BBQ at Puckett’s Restaurant and Grocery. A day in Franklin for a music fan isn’t complete until you’ve made a stop at The Factory at Franklin. Peruse the vinyl at Luna Record Shop, drool over the masterpieces at Artisan Guitars, and stick around for one of the many shows. Depending on the night you can see the taping of CMT’s Crossroads, Music City Pickers Live, Soul at the Factory, and more. For the history buff visit Carnton Plantation and the numerous Civil War sites preserved from 1864’s Battle of Franklin. Tours of Carnton, Carter House, and Lotz House will tell the story. Take a stroll down Main Street and marvel at the buildings that have been preserved and are standing the test of time, and absorb the sobering history of The Fuller Story Project that details the experiences of black residents in the downtown square.
Drive time from Memphis to Franklin is approx. 3hrs30mins.
Hotel: 3* B&B The Harpeth Franklin Downtown, Curio Collection By Hilton (or similar)
Day 14 Franklin to Nashville
Travel back now to Nashville, drop your rental car, and journey home with your memories and pictures of Tennessee to treasure.
Drive time from Franklin to Nashville is approx. 30mins.
Price correct as of 29th December 2022
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