Editors' Picks: 20 of the Best Things to Do in Tennessee!

Tennessee is best known for its great music (Nashville! Memphis!), beautiful horses and sippin' whiskey. It's home to icons like Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Justin Timberlake, director Quentin Tarantino, and actor Samuel L. Jackson.

But the Volunteer State has even more to offer, from historic sites to astounding natural attractions. Get started by visiting these 20 essential places

1. The Grand Ole Opry

Since its first radio broadcast in 1925, country stars, past and present, have taken the stage to share this unique form of American music. Pay your respects. (Nashville)

2. Grotto Falls

You'll discover this pretty 25-foot waterfall after hiking a relatively easy trail through a lush Great Smoky Mountain forest. You can also get a different view by standing behind the falls. And who doesn't want to do that?

3. Belle Meade Plantation

Spring is the perfect time to visit this classic Southern plantation, which once also bred world-class thoroughbreds. It's a beautiful example of the antebellum lifestyle. (Nashville)

4. The Lost Sea

Guinness lists it as America's largest underground lake. So if the magnificent caves around it don't impress you, the lake should pretty much do the trick. Native Americans considered it sacred, and the amount of artifacts recovered from the site are testimony to that. (Sweetwater)

5. Ruby Falls

It's a fantastic waterfall (145 feet) that resides over a thousand feet underground - but along the way, you'll be exposed to some truly wondrous rock formations. For a century or more, it's been a hugely popular natural attraction. (Chattanooga)

6. The Sun Studio

It's considered the birthplace of rock n' roll, the hallowed ground where Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins (among others) first recorded. Take a tour and relive the magic of those early days. (Memphis)

7. Tuckaleechee Caverns

Duck out of the hot Southern summer and into these cool, amazing caves. There are waterfalls, underground streams, colorful rock formations and more. (Townsend)

8. Graceland

Make a pilgrimage to the 14-acre estate of the King. It's a fascinating look into his life during his most famous years (hello, Jungle Room)- and also where he is laid to rest. (Memphis)

9. Jack Daniels Distillery Tour

Visit the place where one of the world's most famous bourbons is made. They also offer a "dry" version, where you can bypass the samples. (Lynchburg)

10. Dollywood

If you don't love Dolly Parton, you have no soul. But whatever - her popular theme park in the Smoky Mountains is worth a visit, if only for riding one of the last wooden roller coasters in America. (Pigeon Forge)

11. The Hermitage

It was the home of President Andrew Jackson, and features some pretty impressive grounds, as well as the burial site of this controversial leader who died in 1845. (Hermitage)

12. Country Music Hall Of Fame

From the Carter Family to Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams and more, the Hall honors the diverse artists who have created what we know as "country" music. (Nashville)

13. Beale Street

It's been called "America's most iconic street" for the role it played in the development of blues and roots music. Give it its due. (Memphis)

14. National Civil Rights Museum

Situated at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was assassinated, you'll get a visceral sense of the passion behind the civil rights movement. (Memphis)

15. Lookout Mountain

The trolley-style cars of the Incline Railway offer some spectacular views of cliffs and other natural attractions, including Rock City and several Civil War battlefields.

16. Stax Museum Of American Soul Music

It's the studio where artists like Otis Redding, Booker T and the MGs and Sam and Dave cut their hits. The "Stax sound" is burned into American music. See where it all happened. (Memphis)

17. The Aerial Tramway

It offers some of the most astonishing views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Depending on Mother Nature, there's also skiing and snow tubing at the same park. (Gatlinburg)

18. Tennessee Valley Railroad

They bill themself as a "moving museum." Take a ride on a vintage train through some historic routes - and before you board, you can explore some fascinating railroad artifacts. (Chattanooga)

19. American Museum Of Science And Energy

One of the most interesting aspects of the place is an intriguing look at the story of Oak Ridge and the role it played in the Manhattan Project and creating the nuclear bomb. There are many videos, artifacts and photos from those nervous days. (Oak Ridge)

20. Old Smoky Moonshine Distillery

Moonshine and the Smoky Mountains are forever entwined. Stop in to this distillery for a tasting that'll warm you up. They also offer live bluegrass music. (Gatlinburg)

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