Nashville, Tennessee is known as the birthplace of country music but it also has ties to both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. It’s the state capital and a foodie haven.
Once you’ve had your fill of Broadway honky-tonks, head to one of these destinations that are sure to impress. It’s easy to pick up your rental car downtown or at the airport and return to your hotel in the evening.
Distance from Nashville: 30 minutes
Franklin, Tennessee is like a suburb of Nashville and is actually where many of the country music stars and celebrities live. Here you can visit one of many music venues or tour Carnton, one of the Civil War landmarks.
If that’s not enough, Franklin is a stop along the famed Natchez Trace Parkway and is where you’ll find the iconic arched bridge. Or visit a couple of nearby stops along the Tennessee Whiskey Trail.
- Hot Air Balloon Adventure from Franklin
- Downtown Franklin Segway Tour
- Arrington Vineyard Winery Round Trip Transportation
- Civil War History Tour – The Battle of Franklin, Tennessee
- Franklin 1.5-Hour Haunted City Tour
Distance from Nashville: 45 minutes
Columbia was incorporated in 1817 and is known as the “Antebellum Homes Capital of Tennessee” for having more antebellum houses than any other county in the state. It also celebrates an annual Mule Day.
The city is home to the James Polk House, the only surviving residence of the 11th president apart from the White House. It’s one of many historic homes open to the public.
It’s also on the Duck River, where visitors can take advantage of canoe rentals. Chickasaw Trace Park has a boat ramp as well as playgrounds, bike trails, and walking trails.
Distance from Nashville: 1.5 hour
Settled in 1810, Cookeville is a popular getaway for those seeking the great outdoors. It’s home to Cummins Falls and Burgess Falls state parks, which are known for their incredible waterfalls. Both have plentiful hiking trails.
There’s also the Cookeville Train Museum, which is set in the former passenger terminal and details the region’s rail history. See the quirky art at Arda E. Lee’s Hidden Hollow.
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Distance from Nashville: 1 hour
Bowling Green is a large city in western Kentucky best known as the home of the National Corvette Museum. It documents the history of one of America’s greatest classic cars.
The Kentucky Museum, the Downing Museum at Baker Arboretum, and the nearby Shaker Village at South Union also cover different elements of the history of the area.
Mammoth Cave National Park, the world’s longest cave system at over 400 miles, is 30 minutes away. It is the only national park in the state. In addition to the caves, the park contains over 50,000 acres.
Bowling Green Tours
- National Corvette Museum Admission
- Riverview at Hobson Grove Entry Ticket
- South Union Shaker Village Entry Ticket
- Flying Squirrel Zipline at Lost River Cave
- Lost River Cave 45-Minute Cave Boat Tour
- Historic RailPark & Train Museum: Entry and Guided Tour
- Unseen Bowling Green
- Mammoth Cave Adventures
- Mammoth Cave Canoe and Kayak
Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky
Distance from Nashville: 1.5 hour
Made up of the area on the Tennessee-Kentucky border between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, Land Between the Lakes was set aside as a recreation area in 1963 by President Kennedy.
In addition to the incredible waterways of this region, visitors can see the incredible creatures at the Elk and Bison Prairie in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. It is a 700-acre grassland enclosure where the animals can roam freely.
There’s also the Homeplace 1850s Working Farm and Living History Museum, a farm with costumed interpreters, Golden Pond Planetarium & Observatory, Iron Industry Ruins, and countless hiking trails.
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