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    Rock N' Roll is Here to Stay: Sun Studio

    by deecat Updated Oct 24, 2009

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    Favorite thing: 1949 was the year that Sam Phillips opened his own recording studio in Memphis. It was then and still is an undistinguished brick building east of downton Memphis. He named it Sun Studio and advertised, "We record anything---
    anywhere---anytime."

    In 1954, a young machine shop worker named Elvis Presley walked into Sun Studio and sang, "That's All Right, Mama". Philips heard him singing and thought, That's it. That's what he'd been looking for. A white boy who could sing like a black boy." Philips taped Elvis (who had paid him $3.98), and the song was an instant hit locally. The rest is history.

    In 1955, Phillips sold Sun's contract with Elvis for $35,000, but he insists that he does not regret it because it gave him money to develop other artists. And that he did!

    Jerry Lee Lewis - Whole Lotta
    Shakin' Going On (1957).

    Johnny Cash "I Walk the Line"

    Carl Perkins "Blue Suede Shoes"

    Jerry Lee Lewis "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On"

    Also, Roy Orbison and Charlie Rich began at Sun Studio.

    Although Sun Studio is a tourist attraction by day, it's an active recording studio at night.

    Fondest memory: Just walking into a studio with all that history, all those memories, all that ambience....it was memorable. I liked the idea that the unassuming young Elvis began his career in this unassuming brick building in Memphis, Tennessee!

    706 Union Avenue
    Memphis, Tennessee

    (901)-521-0664

    Sun Studio in Memphis
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    Nashville's "The District"

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: "The District" in Nashville is a five-block area of restored buildings made up of restaurants, shops, pubs, galleries, and music venues. It's really a catchy name for the downtown entertainment district found between Fifth Avenue and the river.

    This is the home of the original Grand Ole Opry in Ryman Auditorium. The famed Tootsie's Orchid Lounge also resides in this area. Here, you find the flavor of "Old Nashville" with the Wildhorse Salloon and genuine honky-tonks. The Hall of Fame and the Country Music Museum is also nearby.

    The newer portion of Nashville revolves around a mammoth suburban complex of the new Opryland that includes the gigantic Opryland Hotel, The Grand Ole Opry House, the Opry Mills Mall & the General Jackson showboat.

    There are other tourist attractions nearby that market themselves as "Music Valley."
    But, for real country music fans, Fan Fair is the big deal. For four days in June, about 25,000 fans come to see their favorite country music stars perform. In addition, they stand in long lines to talk with their chosen favorites and to obtain an autograph.

    Perhaps the most fun, however, is to see a live performance in a smaller venue such as a coffee house or intimate club--anything from bluegrass to classical and everything in between.

    Fondest memory: Below Fifth Avenue used to be "derelict", but it's been revised. The architecture on Second Avenue is certainly worth a visit. Here, you'll see fancy cornice brackets, hooded windows, and other decorative features in the country's largest collection of Victorian commercial buildings.

    Don't fret about some of the "tacky" tourist shops on lower Broad; instead, focus on the positive such as Gruhn Guitars (probably one of the finest guitar stores int he world), and the old-fashioned Ernest Tubb Record Shop or Hatch Show Prints--all are genuine "old Nashville"!

    Gruhn Guitars in Nashville
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    • Theater Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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    Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: David "Davy" Crockett: is he David or Davy? Well, his real name is "David", but his "Davy name" is used for the legendary figure portrayed in the popular 50s song and the Disney TV show called, "King of the Wild Frontier".

    David Crockett was born in a small cabin on the banks of the Noichucky River near a town in eastern Tennessee called Limestone (some call it Limestown!) Crockett also lived in middle Tennessee and finally in western Tennessee (where he was elected to Congress).

    But David Crockett died in Texas fighting at the Alamo. Before his death, he was a frontiersman, a military scout in the War of 1812, a judge, a politician, a Congressman from Tennessee, U.S. Representative, an author, and a soldier. He was NOT"born on a mountaintop", nor did he "kill a bear when he was only three"! That was the legendary Davy.

    The small cabin where he was born near Limestone has been reproduced and placed in the correct spot overlooking the river. This area is now called Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.

    It's quite typical of a pioneer house with one room and a sleeping loft. It's filled with rough-hewn, homemade furniture.

    There's also a Museum of Davy Crockett's memorabilia. And, of course, there is a large recreational park here too. It was not a particular favorite of mine.

    Crockett, in my estimation, was a great man but not the "Superman " of fiction.

    Fondest memory: I was pleased to learn the truth about David Crockett, but I guess I'm also glad that as a young girl, I believed the story of Davy Crockett.

    Davy Crockett cabin
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    • National/State Park

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    Meeman-Shelby State Park North of Memphis

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: The park roads of Meeman-Shelby State Park is almost as much fun as the park itself.

    The bluff roads have roller-coaster dips that almost make your stomach "soar". This park has a western park boundary that follows the Mississippi River shoreline for at least 8 miles, and the Chickasaw Bluffs rise above it all.

    There's plenty of recreational opportunites with riding stables, a golf course, softball diamond, badminton, volleyball, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. There's fishing allowed year-round in the 125-acre Poplar Tree Lake.

    But, I think that the walking trails and paved bike path trails offer the most fun because wildlife is abundant, and you can see them from this system of trails.

    I suggest that you go to the rustic Meeman Interpretive Center where naturalists conduct presentations about ecology, the environment and the park's history.

    They have furnished cabins along the Poplar Tree Lake, and there is a campground with fifty sites.
    You can make all your arrangements for activities, programs, maps, and rentals through the visitor's center.

    I think that the best of the trails is The Chickasaw Trail that is about 8 miles which follow the bluffs from the Mississippi River Group Camp to Poplar Tree Lake. It's really great because of all the animals you see along the way.

    Fondest memory: We were here in the fall, and the weather was perfect as was the magnificent blaze of color.

    Route 3, Millington, TN 38053

    (901)876-5215

    Meeman-Shelby State Park
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    The Legend Lives On....

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: When I learned that Graceland, Elvis Presley's mansion in Memphis, is visited more than any other house in the United States aside from the White House, I was really surprise.

    I knew that Elvis was popular, moreso after his death. But, I had no idea about the passion people have for him, and that includes people from all over the world, not just the US.

    So, like thousands of others, I went to see what all the "fuss" is about. My conclusion: Even if you are/were not an Elvis fan, it should be visited while in Memphis. His home, huge collection of cars, and private planes are open to the public. Elvis made his first record a few blocks from Beale Street at Sun Studio in 1954.

    Although born in Mississippi, Elvis lived most of his life in Memphis. He combined bluegrass, gospel, and rock, selling more than one billion records!

    I remember one critic saying that Elvis was "a rich man with poor taste", and I have to agree. For instance, there's a room called Jungle Room which is outfitted with hideous furniture. But why should I be surprised. He was the icon who wore velvet jumpsuits!

    However, once you see the Hall of Gold, an 80-foot-long room that is lined with gold and platinum records and hundreds of awards from all over the world, then I realize that he was a man with a mission, a creative genius who created his own form of music and changed music forever.

    Until I went to Graceland, I did not know that he had 14 number-one records on the Top 100 chart, 11 on the country chart, and 7 on the R&B chart as well as 21 number-one records in England.

    I could never have imagined that he made 110 albums and singles that went gold or platinum...that just "blows my mind".

    Fondest memory: Elvis made his first records right in Memphis.

    Sadly, visitors to Graceland are no longer allowed to take photos. They say that over the years, the flashing cameras have caused fabrics in the room to fade. (What a bummer!)

    You buy your ticket for Graceland across the road from the mansion at a strip mall. We did the Platinum Tour which included the mansion and the satellite attractions such as his airplanes. If you are a fanatic, come on the anniversary of Elvis's death (August 16) and experience the Candlelight Vigil.

    I don't know if I would go as far as some who stay for a week of activities called "Death Week"

    There will never be another Elvis, ever!

    3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard
    800-238-2000 or 901-323-3322

    Graceland Mansion in Memphis
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    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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    Premier Archaeological Site: Pinson Mounds

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: One of the most fascinating places I've ever visited in Tennessee would be Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Area south of Jackson off of US-45. This protected site includes a series of mounds that date from the Middle Woodland Period (200 B.C.E. to A.D. 500).

    There's a very informative museum underground in a "faux mound" which is really like taking a walk through Tennessee's prehistoric past. Best of all, it includes the 13,000-year-old remains of a Mastodon!

    When you emerge from the underground museum's rear door, you see the second tallest mound in the US (72 feet). All I could think of as I looked at it was to think how many baskets of dirt it took to build it.

    The park has trails, one of which is a boardwalk through a cypress bottom on the Forked Deer River.

    Fondest memory: The Pinson Mounds were created by Indians (often called "Mound Builders").

    Today, we can see 30 mounds, and I thought that four of the most unusual have either cone or pyramid shapes. Some experts think that the Mound Builders built their temples on top of huge mounds of earth. We know for sure that they buried their dead in the cone-shaped mounds, along with funeral gifts of pottery, shell spoons, and copper breastplates.

    We noted that scientists are still digging here to learn more about the Mound Builders. Supposedly, these Mound Builders developed from a hunting culture to one that farmed for food and built large earthen mounds of religious or ceremonial purposes.

    There were also Mound Builders who lived along the rivers of the present states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, and, of course, Tennessee.

    Besides Pinson Mounds, other important clusters of mounds in the state are on a bluff above the Tennessee River, in Shiloh National Military Park, and at Chucalissa, in Memphis near the Mississippi River.

    By the 1500s, the Mound Builders had disappeared, and no one knows what happened to these mysterious people.

    (731)988-5614

    Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Area
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    • Museum Visits
    • Archeology

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    Becoming President Via Tennessee Politics

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: Another nickname for Tennessee is Mother of Southwestern Statesmen" because three U.S. presidents once lived in the state. (Andrew Jackson, James Polk, and Andrew Johnson)
    .
    Andrew Jackson was a lawyer in Nashville and became a hero in the War of 1812 against the Creek Indians. As a result, he earned the nickname, "Old Hickory". He was elected as the Seventh President of the US in 1828.

    James Polk (POKE) was born in North Carolina but moved to Nashville at the age of 11. He grew up in the Duck River Valley. Polk served in the State Legislature and the U.S. House of representatives before becoming governor of Tennessee.

    As president, he announced that he would only serve one term, but he promised to lower the tariff, settle a border dispute with Great Britain over Oregon, acquire California, and establish an independent treasury office.

    He accomplished all four of these promises. Remembered as one of the hardest working men ever to serve as president, he died a few months after he left office! His tomb is on the state capitol grounds.

    Fondest memory: Andrew Johnson, the third Tennessean to become President of the United States, first served as governor of Tennessee. Next, he was elected as a U.S. Senator from Tennessee. In 1865, he became Abraham Lincoln's Vice President. After Lincoln's assassination, Johnson became President.
    He faced the difficult task of rebuilding the South after the Civil War. He had disagreed with secession, so after he became president, he tried to bring the Southern States back into the Union. Some northern senators felt that Johnson was too lenient to the South and tried to have him impeached; a single vote in the Senate saved him. Thus, he served out his term.

    I think it speaks well of a state that can claim three United States Presidents!

    Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Greeneville
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    Recently Remodeled and Spectacular: Pink Palace

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: The Memphis Pink Palace Museum has become the Pink Palace Family which includes:

    Pink Palace Museum
    Pink Palace Mansion
    Union Planters IMAX Theatre
    Sharpe Planetarium
    Lichterman Nature Center
    Mallory-Neely House
    Magevney House
    Coon Creek Science Center

    It all started with a mansion built by Piggly Wiggly founder, Clarence Saunders. It was called Pink Palace because it had a pink marble exterior. In the 1920s, it was converted into a museum.

    Today, there's a modern 2-story museum in front of the mansion. It has a planetarium, an underground education wing with an auditorium and a 4-story-tall IMAX Theatre.

    Fondest memory: I love the Pink Palace Mansion with its permanent exhibit on life in early 20th century Memphis. I also loved the Mallory-Neely House which is an Italianate mansion with 25 rooms with stenciled and hand painted ceilings, parquet floors, and stained-glass windows (purchased at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair).

    Open: 10am-4pm Tue-Sat:
    1pm-4pm Sunday
    Phone +1 901 523 1484

    I thought the small, white clapboard cottage built in the 1830's called the Magevney House; it was also delightful.

    There's just so much to see and do that you really need two days.

    Mallory-Neely House
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    • Architecture

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    Grandpa's Favorite Place to Fish: Reelfoot Lake

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: Reelfoot Lake State Resort Park lies in the northwestern corner of Tennessee and is the state's only natural lake. There's a real interesting reason why the lake exists.

    During the winter of 1811-12, a series of large earthquakes struck Tennessee (New Madrid earthquakes) which caused a large area of land to drop several feet! Water from the nearby Mississippi River rushed into the lowered land, creating this Reelfoot Lake.

    It's shallow water is great for fishing, but it requires a locally-invented boat called "the stump jumper" because this boat is able to pass over submerged obstacles. Because the lake is so shallow, there are many bald Cypress tree stumps.

    The lake is a premier environment for wildlife, and it has the largest winter population of bald eagles in the eastern United States.
    This 27,000 -acre lake is the focal point to the Reelfoot Lake State Resort Park. The park is scattered in ten separate locations around the lake with its shoreline of summer cottages, fishing camps, wildlife refuges, and the town of Tiptonville.

    Interestingly, my husband Allan's aunt and uncle once owned and ran a fishing resort there. My grandfather Zeitler used to go fishing there at least once a year.

    Fondest memory: I became interested in Reelfoot Lake because of the stories Grandpa Zeitler used to tell about this large lake in Tennessee where he and his buddies went to fish each year. He said that it was mysterious, swamp-like, and dangerous...because the boats would often run into stumps in the shallow water.

    Above all, he thought it was one of the prettiest places on Earth. He might be right!

    Sunset on Reelfoot Lake
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    • Camping

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    Tennessee's Secret Role in World War II

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: Oak Ridge, Tennessee, looks like an ordinary town today, but if you known the history of WWII, then you know that it's far from ordinary.

    The story goes that Albert Einstein wrote a letter to the President saying that the Germans were working on a powerful bomb and that we needed to counteract with a bomb of our own. President Roosevelt, along with his military and scientific advisors, felt it critical to beat the Germans to their own goal. Their plan was to produce an atom bomb within a very short amount of time. They called this secret plan the Manhattan Project.

    They also chose a secret site on a hillside known as Black Oak Ridge on the Clinch River near Knoxville, Tennessee
    .
    Within a period of five months, 56,000 acres of land was purchased (people were forced to sell their land, and three whole towns were eliminated). By the spring of 1945, a town with a population of 75,000 had been built, including homes and shops. The project was a success: They built the bomb and dropped it on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945.

    It was not until after the bomb was dropped that the Oak Ridge workers learned that they had been working on the Atomic Bomb!

    I have a friend named Kate whose father worked on that Manhatten Project.

    Fondest memory: The U.S. government chose Tennessee as the site for the Atomic Energy Commission, which was created in 1947 and lasted until 1975. It was the predecessor of the U.S. Department of Energy.

    Today, east Tennessee's Knoxville/Oak Ridge Technology Corridor, including the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is a world renowned center for the research and development of new technologies. This area contains over five hundred high-tech companies.

    The Oak Ridge National Laboratory, established in 1943 to develop an atomic bomb, was the site of the first continuously operating nuclear reactor in the world!

    The photo is from the Almanac and shows a sign at Oakridge during the Manhattan Project

    Signs at Oakridge during Manhattan Project
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    Tennessee River

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: The state of Tennessee is also called the Big Bend State because the Native Americans called the Tennessee River "The River of the Big Bend".

    The river flows south through Tennessee into Alabama; then, it turns north and flows back into Tennessee! Also, the river divides Tennessee into 3 divisions.

    In the city of Savannah, you are able to visit the Tennessee River Museum with its exhibits on paleontology, archaeology, steamboats, and the Civil War.
    [(731-925-2364)]

    Many people find it interesting that many dams have been built on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers which have created beautiful lakes. The largest of those lakes in Tennessee is Kentucky Lake at the western Kentucky-Tennessee border.

    Tennessee River is the longest, but it's smallest in volume of the three large rivers in the state (The other two are the Mississippi and the Cumberland).

    Since the 1980s, Tennessee has become more prosperous because The Tombigbee Waterway opened in 1985 to connect the Tennessee and Tombigbee Rivers. Ships that use the waterway can travel quickly from the southern United States to ports along the Gulf of Mexico. Thus, Tennessee businesses are able to trade goods with other countries.

    Fondest memory: The Tennessee River Gorge in the Chattanooga area was formed aeons ago when it cut deeply into Walden Ridge. As the river leaves Walden Ridge, it becomes Nickajack Lake, impounded by Nickajack Dam south of Jasper.

    Thank goodness, this area has avoided development. Now, it is being preserved as a biosphere environment. You can see ospreys, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles here.

    Tennessee River
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    Home of the Blues

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: Memphis is "home of the blues" mainly because of W.C. Handy, whose likeness stands in the W.C. Handy Park on famous Beale Street . (See photo)

    Early in the 1900s, Handy, a black composer and bandleader by trade, made Memphis his home because of the vibrant black music scene focused on Beale Street. At the time, a candidate for mayor of Memphis asked Handy to compose a campaign song for him. Handy wrote a song and named it "Memphis Blues". It became the first published blues composition.

    Another of his tunes was "St. Louis Blues"; both songs remain classics today.
    He also wrote "Beale Street Blues"".
    As a result of these popular compositions, Handy was dubbed, "Father of the Blues".

    For many blues music lovers, Beale Street in Memphis is a favorite street. Blues music developed from African spirituals, often consisting of guitar and piano music. During the 1920s, many blues performers came to Beale Street clubs to entertain all kinds of audiences.

    Today, Beale Street is a popular tourist attraction. Many blues musical events take place at W.C. Handy Park. And, The Blues Foundation is located in Handy's former house on Beale Street.

    I think that theW.C. Handy Park, Beale Street, as well as the Blues Clubs, are all worth seeing and hearing.

    Fondest memory: I had such a fun time when we visited Beale Street and the W.C. Handy Park...even though they are tourist attractions, they make you feel like you are back in the era when the "Memphis Blues" ruled!

    W.C. Handy Statue in Handy Park on Beale Street
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    Cumberland Mountain State Park

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: (Please click photo to see my handsome husband Allan and his lovely sister Jayne in the Cumberland Mountain State Park.)

    3 times, we have visited the Crossville area, and while there, we usually go to the Cumberland Mountain State Park just south of the town.

    Beautiful sandstone (called Crab Orchard stone) seems to be all over. There's a large dam and bridge constructed of this sandstone. The dam impounds the water of Byrd Creek, and it is the largest masonry structure built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

    In this state park, you'll find fifteen miles of hiking & nature trails, fifty-acre fishing lake called Byrd Lake, a mature hardwood forest, and lots of wildlife. It's basically day-use trails; there is one trail where camping is permitted called the Cumberland Overnight Trail.

    A big restaurant overlooks Byrd Lake, and it serves two meals a day year-round (except Christmas holidays).

    This is a pretty inclusive park with picnic tables, pavilions, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, canoe, paddleboat, and rowboat rentals, a Fitness walking course.

    It's open year round 8:00A.M. to 10:00 P.M.
    (closes at sundown in the winter)

    Fondest memory: I have fond memories of one aftenoon when Allan, his sister Jayne and her husband Ron, and I spent leisurely hours exploring this beautiful park.

    It's off US 127 about four miles south of Crossville

    Jayne & Allan in Cumberland Mountain State Park
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    Memphis Zoo and Aquarium

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    Favorite thing: The number one attraction in Memphis is the Memphis Zoo and Aquarium! Over 90 years old, it's located on 70 wooded acres in the heart of the city with almost 3,000 animals.

    Recognized internationally for its breeding programs that have helped save the lowland gorillas and the snow leopards, it's a great place to spend time. They have a four-acre Cat Country where the animals roam natural habitats (restrained by high tension wire and moats).

    The habitats are really so cool with caves, rock outcroppings, grassy savannahs, pools, waterfalls, and subtropical plants. Oh, yes, there's also a pagoda bridge, ruins of an ancient city, and an Egyptian temple.

    Primate Canyon with trilevel viewing of apes and monkeys is quite new and quite fun, too!.
    The entrance (as shown in the photo) is decorated with Hieroglyphics, another Egypt connection found in Memphis.

    It's a wonderful zoo/aquarium, and if you have children with you, it's a must.

    Fondest memory: I'm very fond of cats so I was pleased with the relatively new Cat Country, and I applaud the zoo society for making such a state-of-the-art environment for these magnificent animals.

    Memphis Zoo and Aquarium
    Overton Park
    2000 Galloway
    Memphis, TN 38112-9951

    800-288-8763 0r 901-276-WILD

    Entrance to the Memphis Zoo &Aquarium
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    • Aquarium

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    Nashville

    by traveldave Updated Dec 1, 2010

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    Favorite thing: Nashville was established in 1799 where Fort Nashborough was built on the banks of the Cumberland River to protect settlers from American Indian attacks. Once the natives were pacified, the settlement, then called Nashborough, became a center for the commerce and trade which flourished up and down the river. Later, steamboats and railroads brought more business and prosperity. The city also became a center for the printing industry, due to its location between the North and the South.

    In 1784, the area that is now Tennessee was part of North Carolina. The settlement was renamed Nashville by the North Carolina legislature because Nashborough sounded too British, and they wanted no reminder of the "colonial oppressors."

    Nashville is known worldwide as the country music capital of the world. Radio came to Nashville in 1922, and WSM radio station featured live country music on its show called Barn Dance. In 1925, the show was renamed the Grand Ole Opry. Country music artists flocked to the city every week to perform, practice, and sign record deals. Song writers and publishers became established in Nashville, and the country music industry has grown ever since.

    Nowadays, Nashville is Tennessee's capital and largest city, with about 1,640,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area.

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