Music is the lifeblood of Tennessee – the blues, rock’n’roll, soul, country and gospel music from within these state lines all fuel the very spirit of the Deep South. The only way to truly experience the Tennessee sound is to feel the music played live – you must visit Beale Street, once the hub of southern black culture, to channel the soul and blues as you grab a drink. The Beale Street Music Festival, where the likes of B.B King and Aretha Franklin once played, has been held here since 1977, while the Downtown Memphis Blues Hall of Fame, Stax Music Academy and the Smithsonian-curated Rock’n’Soul Museum are key to learning musical history. Fans of Elvis Presley will love a trip to Graceland to see the former mansion of ‘the King’, along with the Elvis Presley’s Memphis exhibition over the street, which showcases his 1955 pink Cadillac and two custom aeroplanes, plus a collection of memorabilia. Nashville is the home of country music, where you can try to catch a gig at the Bluebird Café, or simply duck into one of the many honky-tonk bars, if you don’t manage to see a show at the famed Grand Ole Opry. From Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton to Tina Turner and Otis Redding, Tennessee is where musical greatness was born.
Tennessee is a state of sport lovers. Feel the excitement of the legendary NASCAR racetrack at Bristol Motor Speedway or witness the Tennessee Titans in action at a football game in Nissan Stadium at Nashville. Hockey is one of the South’s favourite sports, with the Bridgestone Arena being home to the Nashville Predators, while the Memphis Grizzlies take to the basketball courts. Learn about the athletes who compete for the honour of Tennessee at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Sports Hall of fame.
Tennessee is home to the Great Smoky Mountains, which boasts the claim of being the most visited national park in the USA! Straddling Tennessee and South Carolina, this stunning area is perfect for lovers of the great outdoors, with breathtaking forests, wildflowers and waterfalls to explore. At Cades Cove, you can see a wide variety of historic buildings and cycle the area, plus spot deer, black bears and other animals, if you are lucky! Also nestled against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains is Dollywood – Dolly Parton’s own themepark with rollercoasters, a waterpark and live shows. In addition, there are over 1,300 lakes in Tennessee for boating, fishing and swimming, along with plenty of zip-lining spots and white-water rafting in the Ocoee River. For hikers, the Appalachian Trail passes through Tennessee on its incredible mountainous trail from Georgia up to Maine – it would take up to seven months to walk it in its entirety!
Barbecued is best in Tennessee and meat lovers will rejoice at the array of simmered sauces, overloaded sandwiches and dry-rubbed ribs on offer – there are over 100 barbecue joints in Memphis alone! Crispy chicken drizzled in gravy will be served with a southern favourite – a biscuit. Whether served with bacon or jam on a breakfast plate, or soaking up meat juices, you will learn to love these flaky delights! Cat fish is usually the catch of the day, which is great when served with coleslaw and fries, but remember to leave room for banana pudding for dessert! Food events include the likes of the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis, the World’s Biggest Fish Fry in Paris and the Music City Food + Wine Festival in Nashville. Whiskey is one of Tennessee’s biggest prides, with the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, which is an essential stop for a tour, though the Tennessee Whiskey Trail features nearly 30 distilleries, so there are plenty of places to get a taste.
Tennessee was a hub of social change in the United States as one of the pivotal places for the Civil Rights movement in the Deep South. The year 2018 saw the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr in Memphis and the city continues to pay him the highest tribute. The National Civil Rights Museum is a must-do, where you can listen to and watch footage from the era, along with poetry and clothing from the Black Arts Movement, plus see boycott-era busses. The museum is set within the Lorraine Motel, where King stayed the night before he stepped out and was killed, and visitors can see the room exactly as it was left. In Downtown Memphis, murals are painted onto walls and buildings, ensuring the spirit of freedom is carried on. Tennessee is also laden in Civil War history, with trails leading you to important sites and bullet-marked plantation houses, while 20,000 Native Americans still call this land home following the bloodshed of centuries passed.
Fly direct into Atlanta with BA, Virgin Atlantic or Delta and catch a connecting flight to Memphis.
London to Atlanta: Approximately 9 hours 30 Minutes
Atlanta to Memphis: Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
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