6 Tips for Planning a Family Trip to Tennessee

Posted September 19, 2023 by in Lifestyle

The Volunteer State is a kaleidoscope of rich history, culture, music, and stunning rugged terrains. It also happens to be the place where Mountain Dew was invented. Tennessee was also once underwater. Isn’t that fascinating? Hopefully, you are just as fascinated by this astounding state as we are. And rightfully so. 

In 2019, tourist spending amounted to $23 billion. The numbers have only increased through the years. Currently, Tennessee has the fastest-growing tourism industry in the US. 

Tennessee is the perfect family retreat with vast entertainment, dining, and accommodation options. There’s something for everyone here, from the lush mountains and wildlife of the Great Smokies and Gatlinburg to the bustling nightlife and music festivals of Nashville and the rich history of Shiloh. So, buckle up as we help you plan the perfect vacation in Tennessee for the time of your life! 

Cabin in Gatlinburg Tennessee

  1. Choose Your Accommodations Wisely

No one wants to end up holed in a dingy rental with too little storage space, or worse, in a dreary little motel room that totally obscures your view from the stunning scenery you are undoubtedly surrounded by. 

Remember the first rule of family vacations: book your accommodation in advance. You can easily rent one of the many cozy family cabins in Tennessee, surrounded by majestic mountains. 

  1. Timing is Everything

If you have the liberty of choosing when to go on a vacation, think about what season would be best suited for your family to go on a holiday. Additionally, consider what time of the year works for your family’s educational and career commitments.

That being said, spring and fall are the ideal seasons to visit Tennessee with family. The weather is mild, and you will undoubtedly be awestruck by the stunning displays. And let’s not forget that you can avoid the scorching summer heat and the winter chill. 

  1. Budget, Budget, Budget!

Traveling with family is an expensive affair and, if not done carefully, can significantly strain your finances. 

Luckily, Tennessee offers a variety of budget-friendly dining, entertainment, and accommodation options. You can find a lot of deals and affordable Nashville hotel rooms, ensuring a comfortable and cost-effective experience for your family. In addition, you will also be surprised to find the number of museums and parks offering discounts and early bird packages. So carefully plan out your getaway to make the most of these discounts, ultimately helping your budget better. 

  1. List Down Must-See Locations

A thoroughly researched plan will save you money and help you avoid lots of hassle so you can enjoy your retreat without the frustration of getting your family on the same page once you get there. 

To help you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the must-visits in the area!

  1. The Great Smoky Mountains

You can’t go to Tennessee and not visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the most visited national park in the country. In 2021, the park had a ground-breaking turnout of 14.161 million visitors

The best time to visit this adventure-filled park is in the fall. With its mesmerizing fall foliage, you are bound to fall in love. 

  1. Find Everything at Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg 

The quaint surrounding cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have every form of entertainment you could ever ask for. The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg SkyPark, and Anakeesta are some of the countless entertainment options in Gatlinburg. 

Dollywood – a theme park owned by Dolly Parton – is Tennesee’s biggest ticketed tourist attraction. This adventure-filled theme park in Pigeon Forge hosts 3 million guests each season. 

  1. Up, Over, and Around in Chattanooga

A little drive to the southeast, you will find yourself in Chattanooga – home to a 145-foot-deep underground waterfall, Ruby Falls, and one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges.

The Ruby Falls was discovered in 1928 in Lookout Mountain. Start at the charming town of St. Elmo. From there, hop onto the Incline Railway and ascend to the top of Lookout Mountain, a majestic peak with stunningly beautiful views. From here, a glass-enclosed elevator will take you down 145 ft to Ruby Falls. 

  1. History Buffs Unite

Tennessee played a pivotal role in the American Civil War. You’ll stumble across multiple remnants of the war as you move to the Volunteer State’s heart. The Stones River National Battlefield and Cemetery, where 6,000 soldiers were buried after the infamous Battle of Murfreesboro in the American Civil War, is one such example. 

Nearby, Franklin houses structures from the 1864 Battle of Franklin – Carter House and Carnton Plantation. Next stop: the 1858 Lotz Houe to marvel at its 19th-century furniture collection or wander through the restored Victorian buildings along the downtown street.

  1. Get Your Groove Going

Start in Nashville – better known as Music City – and tour the legendary Grand Ole Opry or visit the Country Music Hall of Fame. Next stop: Memphis. Pay homage to Elvis Presley at Graceland and groove to the sounds of Beale Street. Keep moving and find yourself constantly surrounded by live music venues and festivals. Who knows? You might stumble across the next rising sensation. 

  1. Art and History Museums 

Tennessee has multiple arts, science, and history museums and many more galleries. Pop by the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, the Memphis Zoo, or maybe the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. Most museums and galleries in this state include interactive exhibits for kids and adults alike.  

  1. Outdoor Adventures

A good amount of Tennessee vacations is often spent outdoors. From hiking along the Natchez Trace Parkway and whitewater rafting in Pigeon River to exploring the wildlife of the Great Smokies, there will always be an outdoor adventure in Tennessee you wouldn’t have tried yet. You can also try sampling the multiple distilleries along the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, riding in the Memphis Queen Riverboats, or kayaking through the Tennessee River. 

  1. Festivals and State Fairs 

Who doesn’t love a little celebration? 

Check out the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester for a night of musical performances, workshops, and a dedicated family camping area, or the infamous CMA Music Festival in Nashville for concerts, autographs, and interactive sessions with your favorite performers. 

  1. Savor the Culinary Delights

Tennessee’s cuisine is just as diverse as its music, if not more. Treat your taste buds to the mouthwatering Memphis-style BBQ, spicy hot chicken, or classic southern comfort food. You’ll soon realize each region has distinct culinary specialties, and you must sample as many as possible. 

  1. Pack an Emergency Kit

Regardless of where you are going, always carry an emergency kit. Your kit should always include emergency medicines or prescriptions your family might need, flashlights and power banks, insect repellants, bandages, antiseptic wipes, and painkillers. If you plan to spend time outdoors, you undoubtedly should carry a map and a compass, just in case. 

Steam train at Dollywood

Exploring a delightful state such as Tennessee can never not be fun. But always remember to plan, budget smartly, and ensure you brief your kids and family about any family emergency protocols. Don’t be afraid to get your family to try new things and step out of your comfort zone; you won’t regret it.

After all, you don’t get to relive your life. So, pack your bags and hit the road for the time of your lives!

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