Nashville To Knoxville Road Trip: The 10 Best Stops

road trip: 10 best stops

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Embark on an unforgettable Nashville to Knoxville road trip through the picturesque landscapes of Tennessee. This scenic journey offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and historical sites. With a distance of approximately 180 miles, the drive from Nashville to Knoxville can be completed in around 3 hours, depending on traffic conditions.

As you hit the road, make sure to take the I-40 E route for a smooth and efficient drive. Along the way, you’ll encounter charming towns, rolling hills, and stunning vistas that showcase the beauty of the Volunteer State. To break up the drive and make the most of your road trip experience, consider stopping at some top attractions.

One must-visit stop is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where you can immerse yourself in nature and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and wildlife spotting. Another highlight is the vibrant city of Gatlinburg, known for its bustling downtown area, unique shops, and delicious Southern cuisine.

For a dose of history and culture, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Museum of Appalachia in Clinton or the East Tennessee History Center in Knoxville. These attractions offer fascinating insights into the region’s rich heritage and traditions.

Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or food enthusiast, the Nashville to Knoxville road trip has something for everyone. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure through the heart of Tennessee.

Cummins Falls State Park

Essential Information

– Route options: Take I-40 E from Nashville to Cookeville, then head north on TN-135 to Cummins Falls State Park.
– Opening hours: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily.
– Fee: $6 per person.
– Visit duration: 2-4 hours.
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, hikers, and adventure seekers.

Why is it a must stop

Cummins Falls State Park is a hidden gem along the route from Nashville to Knoxville that offers a unique outdoor experience for road trippers. The main attraction here is the stunning waterfall that cascades into a refreshing swimming hole below. Visitors can hike along the scenic trails, leading to breathtaking viewpoints of the waterfall and surrounding lush greenery.

For adventure enthusiasts, Cummins Falls State Park provides opportunities for rock climbing, cliff jumping, and swimming in the crystal-clear waters. The natural beauty of the park is perfect for capturing memorable photos and enjoying a picnic amidst the tranquil setting. Wildlife spotting and birdwatching are also popular activities for nature enthusiasts.

Whether you’re looking to stretch your legs, cool off in the water, or simply immerse yourself in the beauty of Tennessee’s outdoors, Cummins Falls State Park is a must-stop destination on your road trip. Don’t miss the chance to experience the natural wonders and recreational activities that this hidden oasis has to offer.

Burgess Falls State Park

Essential Information

– Route Options: Take I-40 E from Nashville towards Knoxville.
– Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – Sunset, daily.
– Fee: $5 per vehicle.
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours.
– Ideal For: Families, nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts.

Why is it a must stop

Burgess Falls State Park is a must-stop on your road trip from Nashville to Knoxville for its stunning waterfalls and outdoor activities. The park offers a range of activities that are perfect for a road trip pit stop. Hiking is a popular choice here, with trails suitable for all levels of fitness. The main highlight is the series of waterfalls, including the 136-foot Burgess Falls, which provides a picturesque backdrop for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike. Fishing and picnicking are also popular pastimes at the park, offering a relaxing break from the road. For those seeking a bit more adventure, kayaking and canoeing are available on the river. The park’s scenic beauty and diverse recreational opportunities make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling through Tennessee.

Rock Island State Park

Essential Information

– Route options: Take I-40 E from Nashville to Cookeville, then head south on Highway 136.
– Opening hours: 7:00 am to sunset daily.
– Fee: $5 per person for adults, children under 12 are free.
– Visit duration: Half-day to full-day trip.
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, hikers, families.

Why is it a must stop

Rock Island State Park is a must-stop on your road trip from Nashville to Knoxville for its stunning waterfalls, scenic hiking trails, and opportunities for outdoor adventure. The park is home to the iconic Twin Falls, where visitors can marvel at the cascading waters and snap some Instagram-worthy photos. Hikers will enjoy exploring the rugged terrain of the Caney Fork Gorge, with trails ranging from easy strolls to more challenging treks.

For those looking to cool off on a hot day, the park offers swimming and fishing opportunities in the pristine waters of the Caney Fork River. Anglers can try their luck at catching trout or bass, while swimmers can take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters. Picnic areas are also available for those looking to relax and enjoy a meal surrounded by nature.

Rock Island State Park is a hidden gem that showcases the natural beauty of Tennessee and provides a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, or simply looking for a scenic spot to stretch your legs on your road trip, Rock Island State Park offers something for everyone. So make sure to add this picturesque destination to your itinerary and experience the beauty of Tennessee’s great outdoors.

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Essential Information

– Route options: Take I-40 E from Nashville to Knoxville
– Opening hours: 7am to 10pm daily
– Fee: $10 per vehicle
– Visit duration: Half-day to full-day
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, hikers, families

Why is it a must stop

Fall Creek Falls State Park is a must-stop on your road trip from Nashville to Knoxville for its stunning waterfalls, challenging hiking trails, and picturesque scenery. The park offers a variety of activities that cater to all types of travelers, making it an ideal destination for a day of outdoor adventure.

One of the main attractions at Fall Creek Falls State Park is the namesake waterfall, which plunges 256 feet into a cascading pool below. Visitors can marvel at the beauty of the falls from various viewpoints along well-maintained trails, providing ample photo opportunities.

For those seeking a more active experience, the park boasts over 56 miles of hiking trails that wind through lush forests, past scenic overlooks, and lead to hidden waterfalls. The challenging terrain offers hikers a chance to test their skills while immersing themselves in the natural beauty of the park.

Fishing enthusiasts will also find plenty to enjoy at Fall Creek Falls State Park, with opportunities to cast a line in the park’s lakes and streams. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just looking to try your hand at fishing, the park provides a serene setting to relax and reel in your catch of the day.

Overall, Fall Creek Falls State Park is a must-stop on your road trip for its diverse range of outdoor activities, breathtaking scenery, and opportunities to connect with nature. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, a challenging hike, or a peaceful fishing spot, this park has something for everyone to enjoy.

Lost Sea Adventure

Essential Information

– Route options: Easily accessible from Nashville to Knoxville route.
– Opening hours: Open daily from 9 am to 6 pm.
– Fee: Admission fee for adults is $22.95 and for children (ages 5-12) is $13.95.
– Visit duration: Plan for at least 2-3 hours.
– Ideal for: Families, nature enthusiasts, and adventure seekers.

Why is it a must stop

Embark on a thrilling underground adventure at Lost Sea Adventure, the largest underground lake in the United States. Explore the vast caverns and marvel at the crystal-clear waters that hold a fascinating history dating back millions of years. Take a guided boat tour on the mysterious lake, where you can witness unique geological formations and even spot rare cave wildlife.

For the more adventurous travelers, Lost Sea Adventure offers the opportunity to go on a wild cave tour, where you can crawl through narrow passages and experience the thrill of exploring untouched caverns. Learn about the rich history of the cave, including its use as a Confederate saltpeter mine during the Civil War.

Don’t miss the chance to try your hand at gem mining and discover hidden treasures to take home as souvenirs. After your underground escapades, relax at the picnic area surrounded by scenic views of the Appalachian Mountains.

Whether you’re seeking a family-friendly outing or a nature-filled adventure, Lost Sea Adventure is a must-stop destination on your road trip from Nashville to Knoxville. Experience the wonders of the underground world and create unforgettable memories in this unique geological marvel.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Essential Information

– Route options: Take I-40 E from Nashville to Knoxville
– Opening hours: Open 24 hours a day
– Fee: No entrance fee
– Visit duration: Half-day to full-day
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, hikers, photographers

Why is it a must stop

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-stop on your road trip for its stunning natural beauty and diverse outdoor activities. Hiking enthusiasts will be thrilled with over 800 miles of trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks. Don’t miss the iconic Clingmans Dome, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Wildlife lovers can spot black bears, deer, and a variety of bird species throughout the park.

For a more leisurely experience, drive along the scenic Newfound Gap Road, where you can enjoy picturesque vistas and stop at various overlooks for photo opportunities. During the fall season, the park transforms into a kaleidoscope of colors as the leaves change, making it a perfect time for a road trip stop.

If you’re a history buff, explore the preserved homesteads and historic buildings that offer a glimpse into the region’s past. Cades Cove is a popular spot for its well-preserved cabins and churches, providing a fascinating look at Appalachian pioneer life.

Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has something for everyone. So, make sure to add this natural wonder to your road trip itinerary for an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.

Gatlinburg

Essential Information

– Route options: Easily accessible from Nashville to Knoxville via I-40 E
– Opening hours: Most attractions open from 9 am to 9 pm
– Fee: Various attractions have different admission fees
– Visit duration: Recommended to spend at least a day exploring
– Ideal for: Families, nature lovers, adventure seekers

Why is it a must stop

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is a must-stop on your road trip for its charming mountain town vibes and plethora of outdoor activities. Start your day with a scenic drive through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offering breathtaking views and photo opportunities. For nature enthusiasts, hiking trails like the Alum Cave Trail and Laurel Falls provide a chance to explore the beauty of the region.

If you’re looking for a bit of thrill, head to Ober Gatlinburg, a mountain resort offering activities like skiing, snowboarding, and an aerial tramway ride with panoramic views. Don’t miss out on experiencing the SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America, for a unique perspective of the mountains.

For a taste of local culture, stroll through the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community, the largest group of independent artisans in the country. Here, you can shop for handmade crafts, pottery, and artwork to take home as souvenirs. End your day with a visit to the Gatlinburg Space Needle for a bird’s eye view of the town and surrounding mountains during sunset.

Gatlinburg’s mix of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and local charm make it a perfect stop to break up your road trip and create lasting memories.

Pigeon Forge

Essential Information

– Route options: Easily accessible from Nashville to Knoxville via I-40 E
– Opening hours: Varies by attraction, typically 9 am to 9 pm
– Fee: Admission fees vary per attraction
– Visit duration: Half-day to full-day
– Ideal for: Families, adventure seekers, and nature lovers

Why is it a must stop

Pigeon Forge is a vibrant town in Tennessee that offers a plethora of attractions perfect for a road trip stop. One of the main draws is Dollywood, a renowned theme park founded by country music legend Dolly Parton. Visitors can enjoy thrilling rides, live entertainment, and delicious Southern cuisine. For a dose of nature, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just a short drive away, offering scenic drives, hiking trails, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

In addition to these major attractions, Pigeon Forge is home to unique museums like the Titanic Museum Attraction and the Hollywood Wax Museum. Visitors can also explore the charming Old Mill District, where they can shop for handmade crafts and enjoy a meal at a historic gristmill. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the opportunities for ziplining, horseback riding, and river tubing in the surrounding area.

Overall, Pigeon Forge is a must-stop destination on a road trip for its diverse range of activities that cater to all interests and ages. Whether you’re seeking thrills, relaxation, or cultural experiences, this lively town has something for everyone.

Dollywood

Essential Information

– Route options: Easily accessible from Nashville to Knoxville via I-40 E
– Opening hours: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM daily
– Fee: Admission prices vary, check website for current rates
– Visit duration: Recommended to spend a full day
– Ideal for: Families, thrill-seekers, music lovers

Why is it a must stop

Dollywood is a must-stop destination on your road trip for its thrilling rides, live entertainment, and Southern charm. Start your day with heart-pounding roller coasters like the Lightning Rod and Wild Eagle, perfect for adrenaline junkies seeking a rush. For a more laid-back experience, explore the charming shops and artisan crafts in Craftsman’s Valley, where you can find unique souvenirs to remember your trip.

Don’t miss the opportunity to catch a live show at one of the many theaters throughout the park, showcasing talented musicians and performers. Indulge in classic Southern cuisine at one of the many eateries, offering delicious comfort food like fried chicken and homemade desserts.

Whether you’re a fan of country music or simply looking for a fun-filled day with family and friends, Dollywood offers a diverse range of activities that cater to all ages and interests. So, make sure to add Dollywood to your road trip itinerary for an unforgettable experience filled with thrills, entertainment, and Southern hospitality.

Knoxville Zoo

Essential Information

– Route options: Take I-40 E from Nashville to Knoxville
– Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM daily
– Fee: $20 for adults, $15 for children
– Visit duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Families, animal lovers

Why is it a must stop

When embarking on a road trip from Nashville to Knoxville, a visit to the Knoxville Zoo is a must for travelers seeking a fun and educational experience. The zoo offers a variety of activities that cater to all ages, making it an ideal stop for families and animal enthusiasts alike.

One of the main attractions at the Knoxville Zoo is the Red Panda Village, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The zoo also features a Giraffe Encounter, allowing guests to get up close and personal with these majestic animals.

For those interested in marine life, the River Otter Experience provides an opportunity to learn about these playful creatures and their habitat. Additionally, the Zoo Knoxville Conservation Show highlights the importance of wildlife conservation efforts, educating visitors on how they can contribute to protecting endangered species.

Overall, the Knoxville Zoo provides a perfect blend of entertainment and education, making it a worthwhile stop on any road trip itinerary.

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