Tennessee lives up to its reputation. It’s known as the Volunteer State, and the people are generally cordial and hard-working; the Great Smoky Mountains are indeed great; and Nashville is a musical city. Memphis has a lot of music legends and sights, too. Famous places include Elvis’s Graceland and the headquarters of early rock’n’roll label Sun Records. There’s also the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Civil rights sights include the motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. Today, it’s the National Civil Rights Museum. There are other collections of items significant to local social history, such as a replica of the first Piggly Wiggly store. Just east of Nashville is the 1,000 acre plantation and former home of Andrew Jackson known as the Hermitage. There’s a reproduction of the Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park, and it has an art museum inside. Get into music at the Grand Ole Opry House, or make your own recording at one of the studios on the industry’s Music Row! Cataract Falls and Cades Cove are considered some of the most scenic, interesting spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Ribs, tamales, and Lowcountry cuisine are popular here. You can eat renditions of hearty Southern classics. Poultry dishes include a BBQ Cornish game hen, infamously spicy chicken, and local chicken livers served with red onion jam. Get a red meat fix with locally raised braised lamb or an oyster-stuffed steak. Beverages include microbrews, or ghetto juice to go with your catfish in Memphis. You can eat seasonal, local vegetables and homemade gnocchi in Nashville. Greens are a great local staple, but realize they’re often prepared with meat.
Chattanooga has vegan baked goods, beer and vegan wings, salad bars with fresh ingredients, organic sweet tea and juices, and classic Southern salads like a peanut and corn combo. Gatlinburg has vegan pizza and organic coffee, and Sevierville (home of Dollywood) has Thai and Mexican restaurants, as well as a market with GMO-free products. You can order spinach nachos at Knoxville’s Chez Guevara. There are other places in town with organic food, plus a Middle Eastern grocery and deli with really varied options. In Memphis, you can get dairy-free smoothies, acai bowls, or raw nut truffles; raw pizza; and organic, locally-sourced French and American food. Nashville has gluten-free pizza, raw vegan food, a vegetarian Kosher deli, healthy sandwiches like a quinoa-meatball sub, organic baked goods, and organic wines and spirits. You can eat hot dogs (with or without actual meat) in a Memphis bar while watching a movie on a 30-foot screen!