Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Top 13 Weekend Getaways in Tennessee

Tennessee offers something for everyone, along with a hefty dose of Southern hospitality to go with it. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll probably find it here, from legendary music venues and delicious eats to amusement parks and a wealth of outdoor adventure in Tennessee’s state and national parks. When it comes to weekend getaways, there’s a long list of fabulous options, whether you’re seeking a small-town escape or big city attractions.

Nashville Nashville

Nashville

If you like music, you’ll find plenty to do in Nashville, although it offers lots beyond that too. Visit iconic spots like the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame, tour Ryman Auditorium and RCA Studio B, the former recording home of legends like Elvis Presley, Chet Adkins, Dolly Parton, and more. History enthusiasts can explore the many historical sites, from Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage to the grand Belle Meade Plantation, along with intriguing museums like the Tennessee State Museum, which highlights the state’s history. After dark, there’s a vibrant dining scene to sample and plenty of nightlife venues, too, from honky tonks to bars hosting live rock bands.

Memphis Memphis

Memphis

Memphis is renowned for its music, including the blues, soul, rock ‘n roll, and gospel, and many of the best things to do in Memphis are music-centric. Sun Studio is often considered to be the birthplace of rock, with the careers of greats like B.B. King, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash all launched here. The Memphis Rock n’ Soul Museum tells the story of the musical pioneers who overcame racial and socio-economic obstacles to create the music that changed the world, while Presley’s Graceland mansion is available for tours. Other highlights include the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the tranquil 96-acre Japanese Garden with its koi pond and Red Drum bridge.

Chattanooga Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga
Credit: Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga by © Kevin Ruck | Dreamstime.com

Chattanooga

Located along the Tennessee River and surrounded by mountains, Chattanooga is known as the “Scenic City.” One of the best places to visit in Tennessee, it offers lots when it comes to outdoor activities and cultural attractions. Take a stroll along the 16.1-mile Riverwalk that follows the banks of the river and pop into the Tennessee Aquarium, which displays the most diverse array of freshwater animals in the nation, including unique fish, river otters, turtles, and frogs. There are multiple museums in town, along with a fabulous art district and a whiskey distillery for tastings. Don’t miss Ruby Falls, an underground waterfall that sits 1,120 feet under Lookout Mountain and plunges for 145 feet. If you’re up for a short trek, you can hike the Rock City trail that winds along natural sandstone formations and passes a 90-foot-tall waterfall.

Knoxville Knoxville

Knoxville

Located in eastern Tennessee, north of the Smoky Mountains, Knoxville is one of the state’s smallest cities but Knoxville offers plenty of fun things to do over a weekend. History enthusiasts can visit James White’s Fort, a museum and the former home of the city’s founder. It portrays life on the frontier during the late 18th century and offers various demonstrations from the period, like hearth cooking and blacksmithing. You’ll find the city’s most historic buildings in Old City, which also hosts a wide range of art galleries, cafes, restaurants, and live music venues. Outdoor adventurers can cycle through the Urban Wilderness or paddle the waters at Mead’s Quarry Lake.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Credit: Great Smoky Mountains National Park by © Kottapsm | Dreamstime.com

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the country, providing an ideal weekend getaway for those who want to get active and enjoy spectacular scenery and wildlife watching. Located along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, it includes over 500,000 acres inhabited by nearly 70 different mammal species, including an estimated 1,900 bears and over 200 different bird species. Enjoy it all by hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, swimming, and camping. The trek to Clingmans Dome will bring you to the state’s highest peak, or you can enjoy stunning sunrise and sunset views from the Chimney Tops Trail.

Gatlinburg Gatlinburg
Credit: Gatlinburg by © Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg may be a gateway to Smoky Mountains National Park, but it offers plenty of its own, like the Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area, with amusement park rides and winter activities, including tubing, snowboarding, and skiing. A ride on the Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway delivers breathtaking views of the landscape below, and there are multiple distilleries for tastings, like Sugarlands Distilling Co. or Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine that makes unique spirits like Key Lime and Lemon Drop moonshine. Other highlights include Ripley’s Aquarium, the Guinness World Records Museum, and the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster.

Franklin Franklin
Credit: Franklin by © Joe Sohm | Dreamstime.com

Franklin

The charming small town of Franklin is nestled on the banks of the Harpeth River and boasts a 16-block historic downtown area with beautifully preserved Victorian buildings along with boutiques, mom-and-pop eateries, galleries, antique stores, and a great farmer’s market. On Main Street, you’ll find a number of music venues, some of which offer dinner and a show. Other highlights include several Civil War sites like the bullet-covered Carter House, the Carnton Plantation, which once served as a hospital during battles, and the well-preserved Lotz House. A wide range of outdoor activities can be enjoyed as well, including swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, paddle boarding, hiking, and biking.

Fall Creek Falls State Park Fall Creek Falls State Park
Credit: Fall Creek Falls State Park by Will Swann via Unsplash.com

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Located just over an hour’s drive north of Chattanooga and two hours from both Nashville and Knoxville, Fall Creek Falls State Park is an easily doable weekend getaway for many Tennessee residents that’s perfect for camping if that’s your travel style. It’s one of the state’s largest and most visited, covering nearly 30,000 acres with lush forest, streams, gorges, and waterfalls. The star attraction is the 256-foot-tall Fall Creek Falls, one of the highest in the eastern U.S. Visitors can take advantage of a myriad of outdoor adventures too, including hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, ziplining, and even golfing, with an 18-hole championship course within its boundaries. There are cabins and campsites available for overnight stays, along with a wide range of vacation rentals and a handful of hotels just outside the park.

Pigeon Forge Pigeon Forge
Credit: Pigeon Forge by © Ehrlif | Dreamstime.com

Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge is just a short drive from Gatlinburg, but it offers plenty of things to do on its own, and it’s easy to take advantage of the combined offerings too. It’s best known for Dollywood, a theme park and water park owned by Dolly Parton, which includes 40 rides, over a dozen different shows and often hosts festivals, including some of the largest in the South like the Barbecue and Bluegrass Festival, and Smoky Mountain Christmas with its more than four million lights. There’s also a fabulous Titanic Museum with interactive experiences, including a real iceberg you can touch. Over 400 artifacts salvaged from the ship and its passengers can be viewed as well.

Morristown Downtown Morristown Historic District
Credit: Downtown Morristown Historic District by © Deebrowning | Dreamstime.com

Morristown

Located in the northeast corner of the state, less than an hour’s drive from Knoxville, Morristown offers the chance to enjoy the beauty of nature in multiple parks, including Panther Creek State Park, which lies along the banks of Cherokee Lake and Lewis Morris Park, popular for picnics, hiking, and mountain biking. History buffs will want to explore the Morristown National Historical Park and Washington Headquarters & Museum. The historic Main Street is filled with centuries-old buildings dating back to 1787, along with boutique shops, antique stores, and tasty eateries. Be sure to check the Bickford Theater schedule for evening entertainment as it hosts dramas, musicals, jazz concerts, and more.

Johnson City Tipton - Haynes Historical Site in Johnson City
Credit: Tipton - Haynes Historical Site in Johnson City by © Deebrowning | Dreamstime.com

Johnson City

Nestled among rolling hills and lush valleys in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains in East Tennessee, Johnson City is one of Tennessee’s most beautiful mountain towns. It offers outdoor activities, like hikes to the top of Unaka Mountain that deliver epic sunset views of the Cherokee National Forest and the Appalachians. Boating and fishing can be enjoyed on Watauga Lake, while the 10-mile Tweetsie Trail between Johnson City and Elizabethtown is ideal for a bike ride. The downtown area offers plenty, too, including 18th-century architecture, heritage sites, breweries, and outstanding eateries serving delicious Southen fare.

Jackson Jackson

Jackson

The small town of Jackson is less than a 90-minute drive northeast of Memphis, providing an ideal weekend escape from the city with lots of opportunities to delve into nature, like Cypress Grove Nature Park with a raptor center and 6,000 feet of elevated boardwalk that explores the natural hardwood bottomland. It’s also a popular spot for music lovers as the place where rock and country fused to form Rockabilly. Learn more about it at the International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame. History enthusiasts will find Civil War battlefields to explore while the thriving downtown hosts a farmer’s market, trendy local coffee shops, restaurants for alfresco dining, independent boutiques, and lots of art, including street murals and galleries.

Columbia Duck River Trails, Columbia
Credit: Duck River Trails, Columbia by © William Morgan | Dreamstime.com

Columbia

Columbia is often named among the country’s best small towns, with lots of history to explore, along with opportunities for shopping, dining, and outdoor activities. Chickasaw Trace County Park is a great place to mountain bike, kayak, canoe, or fish, as it’s home to a beautiful stretch of Duck River. The Columbia Cultural Trail offers a self-guided tour through the downtown area and Columbia Arts District to explore the city’s arts, music, history, and culture, including murals, historical markers, live music venues, and cultural places of interest.

Travel Deals

4-Nt Caribbean & Bahamas Cruise on MSC Seaside

$159+

Air & 9-Day Ireland Self-Drive Tour w/ Rental Car

$1499+

Air & 3-Nt Hyatt Vivid Grand Island All-Incl. Cancun Resort

$999+

Alaska Cruises Up to 40% Off + Up to $100 Ship Credit

$499+

8-Day Ireland Self-Drive B&B Adventure w/ Car

QUOTE

Jewel Paradise Cove All-Inclusive Resort | Jamaica

$129+ pp/pn

Create the Ultimate Trip to Anchorage this Year

PLAN

Air & 11-Day Classical Türkiye Tour | Save $300

$1999+

Air & 9-Day Magical Türkiye Tour | Save $500

$2599+

9-Day Spain & Portugal Guided Tour w/ 11 Meals

$2649+

7-Day Northern Ireland Guided Tour w/ Airfare

$1599+

Air & 8-Day Swiss Escape w/ Daily Breakfast

$2199+

Air & 15-Day Glories Of Türkiye Tour | Save $400

$2999+

7-Day Italy Guided Tour: Rome, Spoleto & Florence

$2069+

Med Cruises | Up to 40% Off, Ship Credit up to $100

$779+