Big Trip - Chicago to Knoxville to Nashville to Lansing
I know this is a huge swatch of the midwest, but the future wife and I are taking a trip that will start in Chicago, make a stop over in Louisville, KY continue on to Pigeon Forge, TN, double back to Nashville, then take a turn north to home in Lansing, MI.
The purpose of the trip is good BBQ and country music as well as a few days relaxing in the mountains.
We've got a couple touristy type places we want to stop at just to say we've eaten there, but we're really going to be looking for some of the region's best.
Is there anywhere that we shouldn't miss on this trip? The route we'll be taking is I-65 to I-64 to I-75 to I-40 to get to Knoxville. Back to Nashville on I-40 then home I-65 to I-69.
I know it's a very large area and not really focused, but if there's something along the way I don't want to miss that either. Suggestions in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Nashville are also appreciated because we'll be spending most of our time in those towns....
Not a BBQ recommendation, but since you're going to be in Nashville anyway, I can give my absolute *highest* recommendation to Pancake Pantry for breakfast. Not cheap, but so very, very worth it. I honestly dislike pancakes, and never before in my entire LIFE had I enjoyed pancakes until I came here. And they blew me a-stinking-way. Fantastic food all around and well worth the wait.
If someone had told me before I went that I'd be paying $22 out the door for breakfast and I'd be happy for the privilege, I'd have flat out called them a liar...and then I'd have been proven *completely* wrong. I can't say enough about it.
Well - if you take a little hop off of 1-65 onto 465-E in Indianapolis, go to the next exit (Emerson), my favorite BBQ place in Indy is GT South's.
Great pulled pork, and I like their baby back ribs but the sides are so-so...
edit: I know you didn't ask about Indy... but we are on your way! :-)