Well-known attractions are sprinkled across Tennessee. From theme parks to state parks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. But what about those who are seeking something a little more offbeat? What if you’re looking to explore those sometimes secret, sometimes haunted and sometimes completely strange spots that are just as much part of the culture of a state as anything else? For the weird and captivating, discover these 15 unusual attractions in Tennessee.
The X-10 Graphite Reactor was the world’s second artificial nuclear reactor, constructed during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project. There were many significant improvements on the first reactor, including using nuclear graphite as a neutron moderator and pure natural uranium in metal form for fuel. It produced plutonium early in 1944 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
It's one of the first sights entering Memphis from the East: Three tall crosses to resemble the crosses at Calvary, shining brightly against the night sky. They were built as part of the Bellevue Baptist Church between Appling Road and Germantown Parkway, a sprawling complex that seats a multitude of churchgoers.
It's a strange sight in the middle of the Music City: A re-creation of the Parthenon from Ancient Greece, including a 42-foot statue of Athena. They are full-scale replicas of the Athenian originals in the middle of Nashville's top urban park (Centennial). The Parthenon also serves as Nashville's art museum.
The controversial " Musica" statue in Nashville features nine nude dancers cast in bronze, with four floating above the others. The dancers at 14-15 feet tall are more than twice the size of an average human. As designer LeQuire writes, “The sculpture conveys the importance of music to Nashville, past, present, and future….”
Davy Crockett is still one of Tennessee's most known residents, as legends surrounding his life continued long after he was gone. He was a pioneer and a folk hero, also serving as a statesman. The Replica Tavern is the reconstruction of John Crockett's tavern from the 1790s, which was Davy Crockett's boyhood home. There are cultural celebrations with costumes. The tavern has been open for 58 years.
Rockabilly is a genre of music that blends bluegrass and rock and roll. It dates to the 1950s and was popularized by artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Today, the Hall of Fame is in Jackson, Tennessee. There, fans from around the world can take tours and look at memorabilia from the era, including the drums of D.J. Fontana.
Rubik's cubes have dazzled, transfixed, and frustrated people from around the world since invention. Therefore, it only seemed natural to make a Rubik's cube that is 10-feet high and weighs 1,200 pounds. From 1982 to 2007, the Cube had only temporary homes. Then it settled in Knoxville, where it had been part of the 1982 World's Fair.
Jack Daniel's whiskey is synonymous with Tennessee. Even people in different countries associate the liquor with the Volunteer State. The Old No. 7 garnered many awards in Jack's time, including three years before he would die. One day Jack arrived to work and couldn't open his safe. Frustrated, he kicked it and broke his toe. The injury would end his life.
The tradition of the Peabody Ducks started in the 1930s when the manager of the Peabody Hotel thought it would be funny to place duck decoys into the fountain of the hotel. To the present day, the twice-daily duck walk at the Peabody Hotel is both a marvel and slightly odd. It is one of those little idiosyncrasies that the state brings.
Construction started on the Crystal Shrine Grotto in 1935 by Senor Dionicio Rodriguez. Working with steel, copper, and cement, Rodriguez designed a shrine in the form of a cave in the center of Memorial Park, a cemetery in Memphis. Today, other artists have added to the project. The cave features the life of Jesus in wall murals.
Dollywood, located in the Pigeon Forge, is many things: A theme park, a water park, a resort, a venue to rent cabins, and a place with 15 shows. It has a long history of the extravagant, starting as "Rebel Railroad" where passengers of the train could experience an attack by Union soldiers. Today, it has many theme park rides and the "Chasing Rainbows" Dolly Parton museum.
This is perhaps the most unusual museum in the entire state. From beginning to end, customers (dubbed as “passengers”) experience the Titanic from beginning to end. The tour gets them a replica of a passport from an actual Titanic passenger and a walk along the famous spiral staircase. For extra points, they get to touch water at the freezing temperatures the Titanic passengers experienced.
There were politics surrounding the designation of the center of the state, so it wasn’t until 1976 that it was moved to its actual location in Murfreesboro. The exact coordinates are 35° 51.251′ N, 86° 21.98′ W and an obelisk placed there by the Rutherford County Historical Society. A brief description about jurisdiction is on the plaque as well.
“Dukes of Hazzard” is an iconic movie with a large following. It would make sense then that someone would want to immortalize the movie in real life. That led to Cooter's Place in Gatlinburg, a tribute to “Dukes of Hazzard.” There are props, costumes, and memorabilia from the show, as well as a Hazzard-themed mini golf course.
Chattanooga is where the towing industry’s first wrecker was constructed so it seems fitting that the International Towing and Recovery Museum would be built there. There is a Hall of Fame for those who have made a substantial contribution to the industry and a Wall of The Fallen, which contains the names of those who have died in the line of duty.