Tennessee Road Trip Ideas

How to Plan a Tennessee Road Trip

Tennessee is compact with loads of great sightseeing opportunities. You can plan your itinerary over a long weekend or extend it into a week. Read our guide to help you decide which spots are worth your while.

How long does it take to drive through Tennessee? To cover Tennessee in one road trip, you can start down south in Memphis, head northeast to Nashville, detour to Chattanooga on your way east to Knoxville, and end in Pigeon Forge. You’ll cover around 424 miles, which should take just under seven hours. However, you’ll want to split it up and stay overnight in some of the cities.

Tennessee is centrally located and makes for a perfect starting point for interesting USA road trips. You can head south from Tennessee to enjoy all the Deep South has to offer in cities like Atlanta, New Orleans, and Charleston or venture north to Kentucky for fried chicken, bourbon, and horse racing. A road trip out west from Tennessee can take you to the Rockies while heading east will take you through North Carolina and Virginia.


Memphis to Nashville Drive

If you want to road trip in Tennessee, the journey from Memphis to Nashville is easy with great sightseeing in both cities. The distance between Memphis and Nashville is only 212 miles, so it’s the perfect road trip if you’ve got just a few days.

Start your Tennessee road trip in the exciting city of Memphis. Spend a day or two soaking up all that Memphis has to offer before heading east on I-40. Take a break in Jackson to stretch your legs with a walk through Cypress Grove Nature Park and have lunch at one of the many great eateries before heading on to Nashville.


Sights & Sounds in Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is synonymous with Elvis Presley and several other music stars. Here are a few must-see places in Memphis:

  • The home of Elvis: Graceland.
  • Take a stroll through the historically significant and vibrant Beale Street.
  • Music lovers should tour Sun Studio, the birthplace of “Rock ‘n Roll.”
  • History buffs can spend time in the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum.


Things to Do in Nashville

A stay in the capital of country music wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry®. You should also add these to your Nashville itinerary:

  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
  • Explore Centennial Park to have a look at the full-scale replica of the Parthenon.
  • Spend time along Broadway, popping into the fun country music bars.
  • Visit the Ryman Auditorium, a national historic landmark.


Tennessee Family Road Trip

Family road trips are great for building bonds and making memories. Here are some ideas for Tennessee vacations for families:

  • In Memphis, the Rock ‘n Soul Museum is a must-visit. 
  • A tour through the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel™ in Memphis is a great history lesson for the kids.
  • At the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge is a great place for a family vacation in Tennessee.
  • Just a short drive from Pigeon Forge is Gatlinburg—another ideal family vacation spot.
  • Children will enjoy a visit to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies® and the Guinness World Records Museum in Gatlinburg.
  • For those who love trains, a trip to Chattanooga is a must. Visit the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. 
  • If possible, spend a night or two at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
  • Knoxville is home to The Muse, an exciting children’s science museum.
  • For a super fun theme park experience, head to Dollywood®.
  • Spend time in Sevierville to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and horseback riding.


Nashville to Dollywood®

The distance between Nashville and Dollywood® is 185 miles—perfect for a weekend road trip. While driving west from Nashville on I-40, you can stop in Knoxville for a bit of sightseeing before heading south to Dollywood®. There’s enough to do at Dollywood® to keep you busy all day:

  • Amusement park rides
  • Country music stage shows
  • Roller coasters
  • Gift shops
  • Plenty of tasty food stores/restaurants


Road Trip to Kentucky

Head north from Tennessee and enter the Blue Grass state. Kentucky is worth a visit with plenty of things to do:

  • Visit Churchill Downs, home of the famous Kentucky Derby.
  • For car enthusiasts, the National Corvette Museum® is a must-see.
  • Newport Aquarium® is home to thousands of sea creatures. Walk through acrylic tunnels to experience the fish swimming all around you.
  • Nature lovers can choose between Cumberland Falls State Resort Park and Daniel Boone National Forest, or looking for the giants (wood sculptures) in Bernheim Arboretum and Forest.
  • Sample bourbon at distilleries such as Maker's Mark®, Jim Beam®, or Buffalo Trace.
  • Eat fried chicken!

Kentucky Road Trip: Mammoth Cave National Park

For a visit to the world’s longest known cave system, take a road trip north to the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. If you follow to the precautions set by the park rangers, you can explore the limestone cave systems yourself. If you have time for a guided tour, the History Tour and Dripstones Tour are both fascinating.


Road Trip Out East from Tennessee

If you head east and north from Tennessee, you can take a road trip through North Carolina. While heading through North Carolina, you should spend some of your trip driving along the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. More tips for your road trip from Tennessee:


North Carolina Road Trip: Asheville

  • Visit Biltmore®, Chimney Rock State Park, and Sliding Rock.
  • For nature lovers, take a day trip to Cherokee from Asheville.

Next Stop: Charlotte

  • For art enthusiasts: The Mint Museum
  • For automobile fans: visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame™.
  • Enjoy the scenic serenity of Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.
  • Discovery Place is great for the kids.

Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Downtown Raleigh is great for shopping and admiring art. 
  • On Fayetteville Street, there’s no shortage of great foodie spots to choose from. It also boasts many unique bars and clubs for a vibrant nightlife.
  • The Marbles Kids Museum is a must for families.


Book Accommodations for Your Road Trip from Tennessee 

Whether you’re spending your road trip getting to know Tennessee better or want to venture beyond state borders, it’s best to book your accommodations in advance. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has locations in cities big and small across the country. With 20+ different brands to choose from, you’re sure to find accommodations perfectly suited to your needs.

Find your stops, book your stays, hit the road. It’s the easiest way to book and go on the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts app.


Enjoy member-only perks and earn points for your stays to redeem for free and discounted nights at thousands of hotels worldwide.*


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Terms & Conditions

*Point redemption levels & cash payment amounts vary by property & in the case of points, can be as high as 30,000 points per bedroom.  Member must have enough points for all bedrooms in desired accommodation to book. Resort & other fees may apply (even for Go Free nights); points can’t be used to pay them.  Most properties: award applies to standard room rate only (go free: including taxes, go fast: excluding taxes). Awards subject to availability, blackout dates/rates & other restrictions; see www.wyndhamhotels.com/wyndham-rewards/terms for more information.