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Recommendations for Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis

My daughter(10) and I will be flying in to Knoxville. We've never been to Tenn. so I'm renting a car to tour around. I'm looking for recommendations for Must See, Must Do, Must Visit and any unique things particular to the area as well as clean and decent places/hotels to stay for the few days we're in Tenn. I'd appreciate recommendations. Thanks!! :)

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    1. Tennessee has an out of doors that the list above almost ignores.

      I'm going to give you more of a feel for the eastern side of the state.

      You'll fly into McGee Tyson. Take your rental car overland to Loudon and go to SweetWater Cheese, on the south end of Loudon County. Buy some really great local cheeses for your drive (you can pick up bread anywhere). Then go west across the ridges and through the valleys.

      If Civil War Battlefields are your thing, the two on the ridges above Chattanooga are necessary stops. Lots of restaurants in Chattanooga that are well listed here. Maybe stay on the now docked historic river boat, Delta Queen. Then get on I-26 west bound and prepare to be blown away by the interstate going through the lakes. Have a picknik at the welcome area, where the interstate comes back into Tennessee.

      Slow and easy drive to the state park at Fall Creek Falls. Walking trails, a water fall, a timeless state park.

      Stay off the interstates whenever you can. They are heavily truck traffic and you can see that elsewhere.

      I'm prejudiced by the natural beauty of Tennessee. I'd then drive north to Frozen Head state park and wander over to the Alvin York Homestead, where you can teach your daughter about Medal of Honor winners and what they mean to the country.

      Eat at a Cracker Barrell. Greatly loved by locals. Ask them about their town. We are friendly, especially out of the cities. Taste Tennessee style green beans and biscuits and gravy. White beans and corn bread are also comfort food.

      Then on to Nashville- which is a city and has music and good people and traffic.

      5 Replies
      1. re: shallots

        Nashville has a heck of a lot more than "music and traffic." It includes some great outdoor spaces, world-class restaurants, energetic watering holes, as well as terrific mom-and-pop joints (most of which already discussed on this forum many times over), art, fun quirky neighborhoods, sports, and lots more. Please don't disdain it because it's not small town and your neck of the woods.

        I don't have time to write more right now ... and to be honest I find these types of broad, "We're coming to your town tell us what to do!" questions off-putting. You give us no information -- what do you mean by "must"? What are your tastes, interests, budget? Have you cracked a guide book, looked at hotel listings AT ALL, have any idea of the type of area you'd like to stay in, visited more general travel websites like Trip Advisor? You're asking us to basically write a multi-city guide book for you, with absolutely no indication of what you want/need.

        1. re: TLF

          Hadn't really thought about guidebooks but you're right. Before we moved here we picked up a guidebook for Nashville visits. It was extremely useful. That said, 10 year old daughter tells us a lot about your needs. It's safe to say this is a kid-centric visit? I think the Country Music Hall of Fame would be a fun and valuable experience for her. There is a sciencey thing for kids that I know nothing about.There's a church downtown that has a world class collection of marionettes and has marionette shows from time to time. There's a paddle wheeler that goes from Opry Land to Nashville that has a stage show and meal or just the ride and a very good band. Then of course there's the Grand Ole Opry. If she's open to music other than pop it should be a lot of fun. The Nashville visitors center has lots of information and offers discount ticket packages. To be honest, I think you could come to town, hit the visitors center and put together a very good itinerary. If you want to bring your daughter to an entertainment venue BB Kings and the Wild Horse Saloon are family friendly and the Hard Rock may be too, Have a great visit and let us know how it goes.

        2. re: shallots

          I'm sorry Shallots, did you just tell someone to "Eat at a Cracker Barrel??" Dear god!!

          I'll lob up a few ideas for you. Just outside Chattanooga is S. Pittsburg. Home of Lodge cookware (cast iron) and a factory store where some good deals can be found. In town there is a terrific Triple D type place named Dixie Freeze. Fantastic food and desserts.
          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dixie-...

          A trip outside Nashville to Jack Daniels (http://www.jackdaniels.com/TheDistill...) is nice and a stop for some outstanding southern food at Bell Buckle Cafe is well worth it. About 20 mins away.
          http://www.bellbucklecafe.com/cafe.html
          Or
          Martin's BBQ in Nolensville (featured on Triple D
          )http://martinsbbqjoint.com/

          A trip out to Franklin to see some Civil War history and a gorgeous little southern town will offer up. Puckett's Grocery
          http://www.puckettsgrocery.com/frankl...
          or a drive a little further afield will get you to Puckett's Grocery (no longer affiliated) in Leiper's Fork.
          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pucket...

          Both have great country music if you like that kinda thing. Thursday night open mic night in LF is supposedly fantastic. Mrs. Sippi watches on line sometimes.

          DT

          1. re: Davwud

            Davwud,

            Yes, I did. (!)

            At every Cracker Barrell I've been to, I've found that they are good places to see the locals and the dynamics of local families. Really good for people watching.

            I agree with your Dixie Freeze recommendation which has lead us there four times. I thik we can work in Puckett's on a trip to the boat later this spring.

            Now if you could just restore I-75 north of Knoxville from one lane (north bound only) to four lanes.

            1. re: shallots

              Okay, how's this.

              Get off I - 65 at Exit 46 and visit the CB. Do all the people watching you desire. Then hop across the street and visit Stan's for the same food done way, way, way better.

              Rumour has it that Stan's is the model for CB.

              DT

        3. The mountains in TN are soo beautiful! I would take a moment to just admire that natural beauty! The Great Smokey Mountain national park is not too far out from Knoxville, so if you are into that, I would take a drive up there. However, I would avoid Gatlinburg, it's very touristy and dirty. Also, if your daughter likes theme parks, Dollywood may be a nice touch to add to your trip? It's very kid friendly! Traffic does get really bad in that area though, just a warning. Even though it is a chain, Cracker Barrel makes a great pit stop. I also agree with what Shallots said about the interstates, I'm in northeast TN alot and the interstates around here can get very dangerous. Only been to Nashville once, wish I could help more. Have fun!

          1. Memphis has some of the best BQ in the country. Go to Cozy Corner BBQ due to it's location close to I 40. Right after you cross the Mississippi River get off I 40 at Exit 1B and go N on N Danny Thomas Blvd. Go about 2 blocks and you will pass St. Jude Children's Hospital then take a right on N. Parkway. Go 2 blocks to Cozy Corner for outstanding BBQ.

            Cozy Corner @ 745 N. Parkway, Memphis, TN. 901 - 527 - 9158.

            http://www.cozycornerbbq.com/

            The best BBQ in Memphis, TN can be found at A & R. BBQ Shop, Central, Rendezvous, Cozy Corner, Interstate, Neely's, One and Only and Payne's.

            A & R Bar B Que @ 1802 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN. 901 - 774 - 7444.

            http://www.aandrbbq.com/

            BBQ Shop @ 1782 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN. 901 - 272 - 1277.

            http://www.dancingpigs.com/

            Central BBQ @ 2249 Central Ave., Memphis, TN. 901 - 272 - 9377.

            Charlie Vergo's Rendezvous @ 52 S. Second St., Memphis, TN. 901 - 523 - 2746.

            http://www.hogsfly.com/

            Cozy Corner @ 745 N. Parkway, Memphis, TN. 901 - 527 - 9158.

            http://www.cozycornerbbq.com/

            Interstate BBQ @ 2265 S. Third St., Memphis, TN. 901 - 775 - 2304.

            http://www.interstatebarbecue.com/

            Neely's BBQ @ 670 Jefferson St., Memphis, TN. 901 - 521 - 9798.

            http://www.neelysbbq.com/

            One and Only BBQ @ 1779 Kirby Pkwy., Memphis, TN 901 - 751 - 3615.

            http://www.oneandonlybbq.com/

            Paynes BBQ @ 1762 Lamar Ave., Memphis, TN. 901 - 272 - 1523.

            The BBQ Shop and One and Only are my favorites but Payne's is famous for their pulled pork sandwich.

            Incidentally Interstate BBQ in Southaven, MS just reopened after a huge renovation.

            Interstate BBQ @ 150 Stateline Road W, Southaven, MS. 662 - 393 - 5699.

            Germantown Commissary is outstanding if you get out E.

            Germantown Commissary @ 2290 S. Germantown Rd., Germantown, TN. 901 - 754 - 5549.

            http://www.commissarybbq.com/

            1. My husband visited Nashville when he was twelve. He was really impressed with the Parthenon, downtown, with the huge statue of Athena.

              Re watering holes of the alcolhol-persuasion: no one under 21 allowed if no food is served.

              There is something on the west side of Tennessee, due north of Memphis that is totally unique, Reelfoot Lake. Formed by an earthquake in historic times. Boat rentals and history lessons combined, and a good visitors center. We had lunch at the cafe there just across the road from the visitor center and were pleased with the food and service even though we got there in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.

              1. If you arrive in Knoxville early enough, you should drive straight to Cades Cove. No food service but many good picnic spots. Your little one might get to see a bear. Townsend, the small town outside the park has a number of dining options. Stay away from Gatlinburg. Only in TN a few days? I would seriously reconsider the scope of your trip. It is 800 miles roundtrip from Knoxville's airport to Memphis and back. A lot of driving for a few days. East TN has a lot to offer.

                  1. The Tennessee Department of Tourism has now got their tourist trails on line. You'll find some real treasures here as well as some that are expected.

                    Foodwise: Some vineyards are listed as well although the food places (like Ritter Farms in north east Grainger County, to name just one) and the Amish Farms that sell from their farms (north of Lawrenceburg on the western side of the state (in Lawrence County and close to the Natchez Trace Parkway) .

                    http://www.tntrailsandbyways.com/