Explore the Volunteer state
I've lived in TN my entire life. I've seen so many towns seemingly change overnight, and others more or less stagnate & settle into comfortable places to live. However, the sheer amount of hidden gems cannot be overstated. If you're a fan of the outdoors, we have plenty for you to explore!
- Tennessee is home to more than 9,000 cave systems! Generally, every single town I have ever been to has at least one charming cave that the locals grew up exploring. Many of these are nothing more than interesting holes in the ground, but others are home to beautiful sights like Ruby falls! It is the nations highest underground waterfall, and quite frankly, this is one place you should see for yourself - It's breathtaking!
Or maybe you'd rather a real journey? With over 30 miles of underground to explore, it's doubtful you could see it all in one go! With day and night tours, waterfalls, wonderful rock formations that you probably won't see on your average day. The Cumberland Caverns has you covered!
- For the spooky minded adventurer, the Bristol Caverns are less of an underground hike, and more of a guided path through history. The natives of the area used these caves as a means of travel for both ease of access, as well as hit and run tactics! Not quite the beauty of the previous caves, but in it's own way, quite a sight to see.
- Last but certainly not least -The caverns. Because of it's massive indoor size (One of the largest in the world), it entertains musical talents throughout the year as well as the cave diving experience. I personally have never been to the Caverns, but a few of my friends have sworn by it and it is certainly on my to do list!
Towns you should see
- The main one that comes to my mind is Gatlinburg! My family and I have made our way there every few years or so and it never disappoints. From the massive amount of hiking trails, to the incredible shops of the main locale, to the many shops and theme-park rides outside: Gatlinburg has something for everyone. Probably my favorite thing about the area is the amount of different foods you can find yourself craving! From white water rafting, to shopping and eating, all the way to just relaxing at a cabin before you go out hiking - It's my favorite place in TN by far. The locals are super friendly as well! Definitely make sure you bring your walking shoes because you will find something interesting in every direction.
- Pigeon forge is just outside of Gatlinburg and it is home to the theme parks I mentioned above. Once you've had your fill of the charming venues in Gatlinburg, perhaps you'll want more excitement? Pigeon Forge has you covered! From Jeep rentals, more hiking, zip lining, theme parks, gift shops, go-carts, comedy shows and literally so much more - They have you covered! And Dolly freaking Parton - The gem of TN! You won't leave without an urge to stay a while longer.
- Memphis! If BBQ and music is your thing, Memphis, TN has you covered time and again. From the famous home of Elvis at Graceland, to the harrowing and inspiring stories of Martin Luther King Jr at the National Civil Rights museum, this is a town where you can absorb and reflect on the many shades of life that TN has to offer - And eat the Nations best BBQ!
I could go on and on about the many fantastic qualities my home state has to offer, and I can certainly drone on for hours with it's many faults, but I hope I've enticed a few folks to give the old girl a chance. TN is home to a varied group of people, places and experiences not found anywhere else in the country. It's history is not clean, nor is it always pretty, but the state has made it's way towards the future with a slow burning grit that should be appreciated in the same fashion - Slowly, and with your eyes wide open! So come enjoy the great Smoky mountains, grab some BBQ, kick back and relax to some Blues and dive into a cave for a while - We're waiting for ya!