We’re all about discussing pipe dreams and worldly travel aspirations over here, but something people often overlook when plotting out that epic to-do list is their own metaphorical backyard. Well, not this girl. There are so many bucket list adventures in Tennessee that I thought it was time to highlight a few of the top ones that should be on your radar.
1. Sing along at a show at the Grand Ole Opry
If you haven’t ever been to the Opry before, you can’t even imagine the magic. You never know who might show up—Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Dustin Lynch, Little Big Town, basically every big player in country takes the stage on the regular (OK, aside from my girl Taylor Swift)—and it’s just a really amazing time. (Be sure and pony up for the VIP tour so you can see backstage and the behind-the-scenes.) You can then spend the night at the behemoth Opryland Resort next door.
2. Cheer on the Vols at a game at Neyland Stadium
OK, so we haven’t had the best few years (understatement of the year), but that doesn’t make Knoxville on Game Day any less fun. Join the sea of orange, chant “V-O-L-S, go Vols, go!” and sing the classic “Rocky Top” at the top of your lungs as you see firsthand just why the SEC is the toughest conference in the NCAA (and don’t even try to argue with me on that point, as you know good and well you will lose!).
3. Day trip out to Dollywood
This is something I didn’t actually do until I was 26, and let me tell you, Dollywood as a twenty-something is every bit as fun as Dollywood as a kid. I thought this Dolly Parton-branded theme park was going to be classic tourist kitsch, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The grounds are well-manicured, the park is kept spotless and the roller coasters are great. (I’m sure the shows are entertaining, too, but we didn’t sit through any of them so I can’t say for sure.)
4. Tour the Jack Daniel’s Distillery
Other than Elvis, Jack might just be our biggest claim to fame. The hour-long tour at Jack Daniel’s in Lynchburg is both informative and hilarious. The upside: It’s free. The downside: Since it’s a dry county, you can’t taste, you can only sniff. Poke around the gift shop and museum and, once you’re done, pig out next door at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House. Calories well spent.
5. Explore Chattanooga’s Riverfront
Five years ago, I wouldn’t have given Chattanooga a second thought. But dang, it got cool in my absence. Some must-dos: the Tennessee Aquarium, shopping the North Shore, picking through the treasures at the Knitting Mill Factory, a refreshment at Pure Sodaworks, ice cream at Clumpies.
Of course, that’s only scratching the surface and not even taking into account BBQ, blues and Beale Street in Memphis; antiques shopping in Bell Buckle; honky tonkin’ in Music City; chillin’ on the mountain in Sewanee; and a number of other “must” activities for Tennessee visitors.