14 BEST Day Trips from Nashville [October 2019]

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Since the 20s, Nashville has attracted musicians from far and wide. Its music scene is still going strong and one of the top reasons to visit this vibrant and city. However, it’s not all about music! Boutique hotels and gourmet restaurants are popping up all over town, making it one of Tennessee’s top destinations!

No matter how much you love country music, after a few days in Nashville, you might want to escape the sound of honky-tonk. After all, the city is within close proximity to national parks, scenes of historical battles, and loads of family-friendly attractions too.

But how do you decide where to go? Well, that’s where we come in. Our team of expert travel writers have checked out the best day trips from Nashville. We’ve taken into account different tastes, budgets, and interests, leaving no stone unturned!

So, let’s jump straight in and take a closer look at the best day trips from Nashville!

Where to stay in Nashville

One thing’s for sure, when you’re in town you’ll want to experience the south’s famous hospitality. But the best place to do that? It can certainly be hard to decide when searching for the best places to stay in Nashville! We’ve taken a look through the city’s coolest neighbourhoods and come up with a shortlist of places that should suit a number of budgets and styles. Let’s take a look at three of the best places to stay in Nashville!

#1 – Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Nashville Airport East, TN

Best Budget Hotel in Nashville

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Nashville Airport East, TN

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Nashville Airport East, TN is our pick for the best budget hotel in Nashville

  • Three star hotel with lots of facilities for a reasonable price

Travelling on a budget? This is one of your best options, and it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from the airport. It may be reasonably priced, but you still get plenty of bang for your buck. A complimentary hot breakfast, an outdoor swimming pool, and a library are just some of the things you can take advantage of here!

Excited to visit Nashville? Get excited to take an amazing day trip too!

#2 – FieldHouse Jones Hotel Nashville

Best Mid Range Hotel in Nashville

FieldHouse Jones Hotel Nashville

FieldHouse Jones Hotel Nashville is our pick for the best mid range hotel in Nashville

  • Great place to stay if you’re travelling with the family

FieldHouse Jones Hotel offers family rooms in close proximity to several of the city centre’s coolest attractions. If you want to relax in your room, there’s a seating area as well as a comfy bed, and all rooms come with aircon and a flat screen TV. You can even order room service if you’re feeling peckish!

 

Not yet booked? Take a look at our favorite hotels in Downtown Nashville!

#3 – Moxy Nashville Downtown

Best Luxury Hotel in Nashville

Moxy Nashville Downtown

Moxy Nashville Downtown is our pick for the best luxury hotel in Nashville

  • Five star hotel close to some of the top locations in town

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and the Ryman Auditorium, this five star offering is the best luxury hotel in Nashville. Set in a historical building, The Hermitage Hotel is a great option if you’re travelling for leisure or business. It boasts a gym, a bar, and meeting facilities.

 

Quick Answer

Best Day Trip from Nashville – Mammoth Cave National Park
Best Day Trip from Nashville by Bus – Graceland
Best Romantic Day Trip from Nashville for Couples – Chattanooga
Best Day Trip from Nashville with Kids – US Space and Rocket Museum

#1 – Mammoth Cave National Park

Best Day Trip from Nashville

Mammoth Cave, Tennessee

Mammoth Cave, Tennessee (Photo Credit – touretown.com)

  • Explore the largest cave system in the entire world!
  • Take a guided tour of the caves with nothing more than your lamp
  • New passages and chambers are being discovered all the time

Easily the best day trip from Nashville (especially if you’re a nature lover) is this: Mammoth Cave National Park. The cave system here is the biggest in the entire world, covering a mind-boggling distance of 405 miles. And that’s just what has been explored!

Much of the cave system is still undiscovered, although explorers are finding new passages and chambers on a regular basis.  Guided tours are available, where you’ll having nothing but the light of your lamp and sound of your guide to help you through the cave.

Inside the cave, you’ll see some pretty impressive features. Look out for Fat Man’s Misery, Frozen Niagara, and Grand Avenue! The caves are part of a national park where you can hike, bike, and horse-ride back up on land!

 

#2 – Graceland

Best Day Trip from Nashville by Bus

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

  • A long journey, but worth it for any music lover
  • Visit the state of the art Graceland Complex, the home of Elvis Presley
  • Admire the King’s luxury car and private jet collections

Music fans can’t miss a trip to the home of the King! We think heading to Memphis, Tennessee is the best day trip from Nashville by bus, and the city’s number one attraction, Graceland, is a Tennessee must see!

Elvis’ Presley’s former home is now dedicated to the man himself. Take an audio-guided tour to learn more about his life and see some priceless Elvis memorabilia. This includes his private jets, luxury cars, and the costumes he wore on stage.

There are a number of historic musical attractions in Memphis too including the Sun Studio. It’s a long journey (over 3 hours) from Nashville to Memphis. So, if you want to travel in comfort, check out the tour below!

 

#3 – Franklin

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

  • See the spot where one of the bloodiest Civil War battles was fought
  • Visit mansions from the Civil War Era
  • Be amazed by the bullet holes and cannonballs left behind from days gone by

One of the easiest day trips from Nashville, Franklin is less than half an hour away by car. Tennessee’s history goes way deeper than just music, and it was in Franklin where one of the most brutal battles of the American Civil War was fought.

You can see the scars this battle left on the town, there are bullet holes and cannonball remains in some parts of town! There were also some beautiful mansions built here in that period, so don’t miss paying them a visit.

The town doesn’t just rest on its history though. There are some cool restaurants, bars, and shops in the Factory at Franklin. It’s a complex of 11 restored warehouses! There’s also an art deco cinema which is well worth checking out. Especially if you’re a movie buff!

 

#4 – Jack Daniel’s Distillery

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee (Photo Credit – Viator)

  • Just a short journey from Nashville
  • See the home of arguably the most famous bourbon brand in the world
  • Pick up a souvenir from the Lynchburg Hardware General Store

Lynchburg Tennessee is an iconic name, and you’ll probably know it whatever your tipple of choice is. The oldest distillery in the US, dating back to 1866, you can learn about the bourbon making process and hopefully get to sample some of the sweet nectar.

As well as taking a tour, you can enjoy some food in Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House and restaurant or pick up some souvenirs at the iconic Lynchburg Hardware General Store. Even though there are over 1.9 million barrels of whiskey stored here and this is one of the most popular drinks in the world, the surrounding county of Moore is a dry county. So, you can’t buy alcohol in it!

Needless to say that although this is a super-fun day out, it might not be the best if you’re travelling with kids or driving!

Not yet booked? Take a look at our favorite hotels in Nashville!

#5 – Great Smoky Mountains

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee (Photo Credit – friendsofthesmokies.org)

  • Take a trip to the most-visited National Park in the United States
  • Start in the quaint and charming village of Gatlinburg
  • Enjoy scenic routes that twist and turn through the national park

If you’ve got your own transport, listen up. The Great Smoky Mountains are the most visited national park in the United States, and they’re one of the best day trips from Nashville by car. It’s a 3-hour journey, but that old cliché it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey could have been invented for this. Scenic drives pass through forests and give sublime panoramic views of the Smokys.

It’s not all about driving though. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, there’s plenty here for you. Hikers and mountain bikers can take advantage of more than 900 miles of trails. While during the winter, this is an amazing spot for skiing!

 

#6 – The Hermitage: Home of President Andrew Jackson

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee (Photo Credit – nashvillefunforfamilies.com)

  • One of the easiest day trips from Nashville
  • Just a few miles east of the city
  • Restored authentically to when President Andrew Jackson called this place home

One of the easiest day trips from Nashville, the Hermitage is less than half an hour from Downtown Nashville by car. The historic house is celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2019, although it was destroyed by fire just 15 years later and had to be rebuilt.

Andrew Jackson was the 7th president of the United States, and when the museum was opened in 1889, it was lovingly restored to reflect exactly how it would have looked when he lived here during his retirement.

You can see important artefacts from both his private and governmental life. If you want to learn more about the man himself, take a guided tour. They’re offered by excellent interpreters in period costume, and there are even ghost tours and carriage rides available too!

 

Staying Safe in Nashville

As with most cities of its size, there a few things to keep an eye out for. However, Nashville is very much a safe city for tourists in general. Driving here can be hectic and confusing so if you’re planning on renting a car, pick up a map! Also, when it comes to picking a place to stay, it’s probably best to avoid the areas around Dickerson Road and Trinity Lane. Just stay clear of this area at night completely! Stick to the fun and vibrant city centre neighbourhoods.

 

#7 – Chattanooga

Best Romantic Day Trip from Nashville for Couples

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee (Photo Credit – planzdiet.com)

  • Take a paddleboat tour on the Chattanooga River
  • Take a ride on the Chattanooga choo-choo, made famous by Glenn Miller
  • Get awesome views of the city from Lookout Mountain

A two hour drive from Nashville, you certainly won’t be stuck for things to do in Chattanooga. Because there are several attractions to suit all interests, we’d say this is one of the best romantic day trips from Nashville for couples!

If you’re looking for a relaxing day out in nature, head to Tennessee River Park. Here, you can view the city from a paddleboat or enjoy a walk along the hiking trails. For something a bit different, take Chattanooga’s famed steam-train trips. You can even enjoy one with dinner and lunch. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the train was immortalised by Glenn Miller’s Chattanooga choo-choo song!

If all of that isn’t enough, Lookout Mountain offers great views of the city. And for those who want to stay firmly in town, there are several galleries and restaurants worth your time!

 

#8 – Action Park

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee (Photo Credit – Pinterest > Diana Gentimir)

  • The oldest and biggest stables in Kentucky
  • Try your hand at horse-riding
  • A number of activities on offer including ziplining, go karting, and cable cars

Action Park certainly lives up to its name! Most people come here to take part in horse-riding, which is where Jesse James himself kept his horses. However, if horses aren’t for you there are a lot of other activities to get your teeth into.

First though, the horses. These are the oldest and biggest stables in Kentucky, so no matter your level of experience, you’re bound to find a horse that suits you for a short ride!

Once you’ve had your fill of horses, head right into Action Park. Here you can enjoy a number of cool activities to get your pulse racing. Ziplining? Check. Go-karting? Of course! Even something more sedate like a cable car ride up a mountain? You can bet on it. This is a great day out for the whole family!

 

#9 – The Lost Sea

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee (Photo Credit – atlasobscura.com)

  • The largest underground lake in the United States and 2nd biggest in the world
  • Take an adventure tour in a glass bottomed boat
  • One of the most mysterious day trips from Nashville

Head to Craighead Caverns in south-eastern Tennessee to see one of the state’s most beguiling natural wonders. The Lost Sea is the biggest underground lake in the world, and the biggest in the United States.

It was discovered in 1905 by a teenager who stumbled on this expansive body of water completely by accident. Although it’s been known about for more than 100 years, divers have only managed to map 13 acres of this mysterious lake.

If the Lost Sea piques your interest, you’ll be pleased to know there are guided tours. They consist of a walk through the cave system and a trip out onto the lake in a glass bottomed boat.

 

#10 – Tennessee Aquarium

Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee (Photo Credit – reddit.com)

  • One of the best family-friendly attractions in Tennessee
  • Considered to be one of the best aquariums in the world
  • See more than 12,000 species of animal!

We’ve already included Chattanooga on our list, but the city’s incredible aquarium deserves and entry all to itself. Easily recognisable from the building’s glass shaped fins, this is one of the best day trips from Nashville with kids.

Regarded as one of the best aquarium’s in the world, this place is packed with more than 12,000 species of animal. Both marine and terrestrial! There are two different buildings, ocean journey and river journey. If you’ve got time, you should absolutely check out both of them!

There are several interactive and educational displays at the aquarium daily. It’ll put a smile on the face of the entire family.

 

#11 – US Space and Rocket Museum

Best Day Trip from Nashville with Kids

Museum in Huntsville, Alabama

Museum in Huntsville, Alabama (Photo Credit – encyclopediaofalabama.org)

  • An enjoyable and educational day out for the whole family
  • Packed with cool interactive exhibits
  • Check out the inside of a space shuttle!

Yes, Tennessee Aquarium is good, but we think this just edges it in the best day trips from Nashville with kids! The US Space and Rocket Museum is a 2 hour drive south into Alabama, but you won’t regret the journey.

One of the largest space museums in the world, this is a cool day out for all the family. Kids and adults alike will have fun and learn something new, as the museum offers a range of interactive exhibits. You can see over 1,500 real artefacts too, which have been collected since the museum opened in 1970.

The highlight though, is the space shuttle. Yes, you can actually go inside and pretend you’re the pilot!

 

#12 – Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

National recreation area in Golden Pond, Kentucky, United States

National recreation area in Golden Pond, Kentucky, United States (Photo Credit – lbl.org/)

  • One of the largest undeveloped forests on the East Coast
  • Definitely one of the best day trips from Tennessee for outdoor enthusiasts!
  • Birdwatchers will love this – there are over 240 species!

If you’re looking for a day trip from Tennessee for nature lovers, look no further than Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. As the name suggests, it’s set between two lakes with more than 300 miles of shoreline to explore. The shores are a great place for picnics, walks, fishing, and boating.

If you’re into birdwatching, there’s no better spot than this in Tennessee. As well as over 240 species of birds, you can see magical hummingbirds which migrate in August.

For those looking for something more active, take a bike, horse, off-road vehicle, or even just your own two feet onto the hiking trails. They cover more than 500 miles of ground across the park!

 

#13 – Loretta Lynn’s Ranch

Hurricane Mills, Tennessee

Hurricane Mills, Tennessee (Photo Credit – wideopencountry.com)

  • Visit the house of a country music icon
  • Take a self-guided tour to learn more about Lynn’s life and work
  • One of the best day trips from Nashville by car

One of the more off the beaten track day trips from Nashville, it’s unlikely you’ll have planned to visit Loretta Lynn’s Ranch unless you’re big into country music. That shouldn’t put you off visiting though. And to be honest, it feels great discovering a place like this by chance!

Hidden away in Hurricane Mills, the iconic singer’s ranch is now a museum with her personal items, memorabilia, and gifts from her friends in the music business. To find out more, take a self-guided tour of the museum.

If you can stretch to staying here overnight rather than just taking a day trip, you’ll be rewarded. There’s an RV park where you can park up your vehicle and take advantage of swimming, fishing, and canoeing!

 

#14 – Unclaimed Baggage Center

Home goods store in Scottsboro, Alabama

Home goods store in Scottsboro, Alabama (Photo Credit – latimes.com)

  • One of the more unusual day trips from Nashville
  • A great place to check out if you love shopping
  • Sells heavily discounted goods from airports all over the world

Some day trips take in historical attractions. Some show you beautiful natural wonders that you’ll remember forever. However, some leave an imprint on your because they’re so damn bizarre. That’s certainly the case with the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama.

This warehouse buys up left luggage from airports all over the United States and sells it on at massively reduced prices. It covers an entire block in the city and is a treasure trove of electronics, designer clothes, and of course, backpacks and suitcases.

If you want to try one of the more unusual day trips from Nashville, this is definitely the spot for you. Also, if you’ve lost some luggage you really love, maybe you’ll be reunited with it… Although we’d say that’s pretty unlikely!

 

Final Thoughts on the best day trips from Nashville

So, that’s all from our list of the best day trips from Nashville. We think that you’ll agree our list packs a lot in, and whichever direction you head from Nashville, you’ll find something suited to your travel tastes and interests!

Whether you want to learn more about American history, get another dose of country music, or see some outstanding outdoor attractions, Nashville is a great base for all of these things.

The city is well-connected by road. So, whether you’re taking the bus or have your own transport, you won’t find it hard to indulge in the best day trips from Nashville.

There are so many great places near Nashville that we couldn’t include all of them on our list. If there’s anything you think we’ve missed out, let us know in the comments below!

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About the Author Nicola Smart

Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!