15 Best Weekend Getaways In Tennessee—From The Mississippi River To The Smoky Mountains
Enjoy a weekend getaway in the Volunteer State.
Measuring roughly 440 miles in length from west to east, Tennessee encompasses diverse geography and culture. If you’ve seen the state’s flag, you may have wondered why it has three stars. Each represents one of the state’s grand divisions: West, Middle, and East. With unique landscapes, history, and activities, the three regions each hold special opportunities for weekend getaways in Tennessee.
Beginning in the west, the state borders the Mississippi River. The land that stretches inland from Memphis is part of the Gulf Coastal Plain. It includes flat stretches of fertile soil that gradually evolve into low rolling hills and wide stream valleys. Crossing over the Tennessee River, Middle Tennessee brings the Highland Rim and Nashville Basin, with level plains, undulating hills, and fertile farmland, before shifting into the Cumberland Plateau—characterized by flat-topped tablelands, crooked stream valleys, rocky cliffs, and plentiful waterfalls. You meet the Tennessee River once again traveling into East Tennessee, where the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains are the defining feature of the state’s eastern border.
If you’re looking to get a taste of the numerous styles and scenery that Tennessee has to offer, we’ve got you covered with this list of weekend getaways. We’ll start with towns in West Tennessee—where the state’s lowest point stands in the Mississippi River at just 178 feet above sea level—travel through Middle Tennessee, and end with overnights in East Tennessee, where the highest point is Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
With its entire downtown area listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Collierville offers a charming weekend getaway just 30 minutes outside Memphis. Spend your afternoon exploring specialty boutiques around Collierville Town Square—a spot literally out of a Hallmark movie, having been the filming site for “Wedding at Graceland” in 2019. The Little Shop by the Tower is your go-to for regionally made art and souvenirs. For supper, pop into local favorite Raven & Lily Restaurant for Southern-inspired upscale dining.
While not the Paris you’ve likely heard about, this small northwest Tennessee town still boasts a 70-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower—a perfect photo op for your weekend getaway. Plan your visit in late April to partake in the city’s annual World’s Biggest Fish Fry, where more than 12,500 pounds of catfish and all the fixins are served. Opt to camp at Paris Landing State Park to enjoy water sports and outdoor recreation alongside the 160,000-acre Kentucky Lake.
Located on the shores of the Tennessee River in the southwest portion of the state, Savannah is a perfect weekend getaway for appreciating the history and beauty of the river. Start at the Tennessee River Museum for educational and interactive exhibits detailing the unique history of the Tennessee River Valley from prehistoric life through post-war reconciliation. Then head to the Walker Branch State Natural Area to enjoy 520 acres of bald cypress, mature tupelo gum, and other diverse forest types in the Tennessee River’s floodplain.
Operated by 200 volunteers and, as the town describes, “punctuated by front porches,” this little Tennessee gem offers a weekend away on the banks of the Cumberland River. A town tour ticket ($7 for adults) gives you access to a range of quirky and historic buildings and museums, such as the Antique Car Museum, Granville Whiskey Decanter Museum (hosting the world’s largest collection of whiskey decanters), and the Mayberry and I Love Lucy Museum. Book your stay at Granville Bed & Breakfast to stay in the heart of the town. Plan your visit around one of Granville’s many annual events, such as Steamboat Days, the Scarecrow Festival, or the Cornbread and Moonshine Festival.
About a 30-minute drive south from Nashville, you’ll find yourself in Franklin, a perfect blend of modern amenities, scenic countryside, and historic streetscapes. Drive a section of the Natchez Trace Parkway as it winds its way from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi. Stop in Gray’s on Main in the evening for Southern fare, craft cocktails, and live music. If you’re looking for a memorable place to rest your head, try Southall Farm & Inn, a 325-acre luxury spa resort, wellness retreat, and working farm with 62 guest rooms and 16 cottages.
Home of Jack Daniel’s Distillery, a weekend trip to Lynchburg isn’t complete without a visit to the facility. You can choose from one of three tours: the Angel’s Share, the Flight of Jack Daniel’s, or the Dry County. Each offers different tasting options paired with unique stories about the whiskey maker’s history. Grab dinner at Miss Mary Bobo’s Restaurant, which has been serving up Southern eats since 1908, just off Lynchburg’s historic town square.
Home to the University of the South and St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School, Sewanee is a perfect weekend getaway for anyone interested in arts and education. The schools host lectures, art exhibitions, and concerts that are open to the public. Outdoorsy travelers will love a stay at the Sewanee Bicycle House, lodging with three bedrooms and two full baths that caters to cyclists, hikers, and other nature lovers. For more traditional accommodations, book a night at The Sewanee Inn, where Southern hospitality and Gothic charm merge. Guests have easy access to the university and can enjoy amenities like scratch-made cocktails, golfing, and comfort food.
Chattanooga blends outdoor culture with vibrant city amenities, making for an eventful weekend getaway. Take a stroll across the Walnut Street Bridge, a pedestrian walkway across the Tennessee River, after grabbing a cone at The Ice Cream Show. Spend your day exploring world-class museums and attractions, such as the Hunter Museum of American Art and the Tennessee Aquarium. For a unique stay, book a night at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, a 24-acre hotel and vacation complex in the heart of the city, where you can opt to sleep in an authentic railcar room.
If you’re looking to get away from it all, head to Ducktown in the southeast corner of the state. This tiny town is surrounded by natural beauty, including the Ocoee River. Schedule a whitewater rafting trip with Wildwater Ltd. for some weekend thrills. Learn about the town’s copper mining history at the Ducktown Basin Museum. Book a stay at The Company House Bed & Breakfast Inn to unwind after your day.
The hometown of American sweetheart Dolly Parton, Sevierville offers Smoky Mountain magic with a more local vibe when compared to its neighbors, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The city recently completed a $7.5 million streetscape project as part of an effort to renovate its historic downtown. Make your way there to take your picture with the Wings of Wander mural, painted to celebrate the monarch migration through the Smokies. Enjoy duckpin bowling and retro arcade games at The Pines, the newly restored theater where Dolly played her first paid gig. Dine at The Appalachian for a delicious meal fueled by regional flavors before resting your head at the Historic Central Hotel—all within walking distance of each other.
With vibrant music, art, outdoor, and culinary scenes, Knoxville is guaranteed to offer endless opportunities for weekend fun. Head to Ijams Nature Center, a more than 315-acre urban park along the Tennessee River where you can kayak in Mead’s Quarry Lake, embark on a high ropes course, or attend a naturalist program. Stop by the Sunsphere, built for the 1982 World’s Fair, for panoramic views of the city. Get some shopping done downtown at local businesses like Union Ave Books, Rala, and Earth to Old City. Grab dinner on Market Square at Tomato Head or Café 4 before catching a show at the Tennessee Theatre or Bijou Theatre. Stay close to all the action with accommodations at The Tennessean.
Cumberland Gap, Tennessee
Surrounded by Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, the small town of Cumberland Gap offers a quiet weekend getaway in the mountains. In addition to hiking to Tri-State Peak, where you can see Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia all at once, visitors to Cumberland Gap will enjoy its quaint downtown. Stop by the Little Congress Bicycle Museum for a quirky, hole-in-the-wall homage to pedal power, as well as the Cumberland Gap Artists' Co-Op for a celebration of Appalachian crafts. Book your stay at The Olde Mill Inn Bed and Breakfast, which includes unique rooms like an authentic 1700s log cabin and a king-sized custom millwork masterpiece.
If you’re looking for a weekend full of music and fishing, then look no further than Bristol. Visit in September to attend the city’s annual Rhythm & Roots Festival or come year-round to check out the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Book your stay at the South Holston River Lodge for an all-inclusive experience with professionally guided fly fishing excursions, luxury riverside accommodations, delicious food, and more. You can also find guide services and outfitting a half-mile from the Weir Dam at South Holston River Fly Shop. At the end of the day, grab dinner at Bistro on 6th and then take a quick stroll across the state line into Virginia for dessert at Blackbird Bakery.
Johnson City, Tennessee
For a weekend of brewery hopping and outdoor adventures, set your sights on Johnson City. Spend your days hiking at Buffalo Mountain Park, cycling the Tweetsie Trail to Elizabethton, and mountain biking at Tannery Knobs. If you need an outfitter, Local Motion Cyclery is conveniently located at the Johnson City end of the Tweetsie Trail. Sample beers after an active day at Watauga Brewing Company and Yee-Haw Brewing Company downtown. Go calorie load for your next day’s adventures with dinner at Southern Craft BBQ.
Tennessee’s oldest town, Jonesborough is the perfect weekend getaway for storytellers and history buffs. The Historic Eureka Inn, Crescent Harbor Train Car, and Historic Stone Cellar Suite all offer accommodations with a side of town lore. Learn more Jonesborough tales at the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum, which offers walking tours with guides dressed in late 19th and early 20th century-style clothing. Visit in October for the town’s famous National Storytelling Festival, or attend its Storytelling Live! series, featuring afternoon storytelling from May through October. Strolling downtown presents a variety of shops for local gifts, such as Mill Spring Makers Market, Mauk’s, and Jonesborough Antiques & Artisans. Savor breakfast at The Corner Cup, grab lunch at Main Street Cafe & Catering, and end with dinner at Texas Burritos and More.
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