Vacations in the Tennessee Valley combine city delights with rural charm. While the cities feature major attractions, the rural areas boast some of the loveliest scenery in the nation. It's a place that attracts history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts and families in search of fun.
The Tennessee Valley is a land of rolling hills, picturesque farms, and meandering rivers. The Tennessee River, with its many lakes and tributaries, dominates the landscape and offers abundant recreational opportunities. Boating, fishing, kayaking, swimming and hiking are available here, along with some outstanding attractions.
There are three metropolitan areas in the region: The Tri-Cities area, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.
The Tri-Cities area in the northeast corner of the state includes the cities of Bristol, Kingsport, and Johnson City. The main attractions here are the beauty of the surrounding countryside and historical sites such as Rocky Mount and Sycamore Shoals State Historic Site. Of course, NASCAR fans will be interested in the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Knoxville is the largest city in east Tennessee, and while it lacks any large dramatic attractions, it sports an abundance of things to do and a quiet charm. There are several historic sites in the area, including James White Fort, Blount Mansion, and the Marble Springs Historic Site. Knoxville's Old City offers shops, restaurants and a colorful night life.
Knoxville has several outstanding museums, including the Knoxville Museum of Art, Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, and Frank H. McClung Museum. Family attractions include the Knoxville Zoo, Ijams Nature Center, and the Three Rivers Rambler Railroad.
Chattanooga, the southernmost city, is the star tourist attraction in the Tennessee Valley. TheTennessee Aquarium is the region's must-see, but if you have time, head up to Lookout Mountain to see Rock City, Incline Railway, and Ruby Falls. You'll get great views of the city from Point Park, where you'll also find the visitor center for the civil war site at Lookout Mountain Battlefield.
Even more attractions in Chattanooga include the Hunter Museum of American Art, Coolidge Park, the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, and the Tennessee Valley Railroad.
Some of the Tennessee Valley's most appealing attractions are in small towns and rural areas. Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennessee, offers 19th century charm, arts and crafts galleries, cafes and restaurants, and the National Storytelling Festival in October.
Greeneville, though not quite as old as Jonesborough, also has much to offer the history buff. Some of the buildings date from the 1790s, and the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site is here. Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park lies between these two historic towns.
Norris Dam was built by the TVA in 1936, and the reservoir it created provides plenty of opportunity for fun. At Norris Dam State Park, you can enjoy hiking, camping, boating, water skiing, swimming, and excellent fishing. Pontoon boats are available for rent, and there's a recreation center where you can play tennis, badminton, basketball, horseshoes, and volleyball.
Close to the park, the Museum of Appalachia offers an amazing display of cultural artifacts and local history in a lovely rural setting. Well worth a visit.
South of Knoxville, near Vonore, you'll find a reconstruction of the British fort built in 1756 at Fort Loudoun State Historic area. While you're in the area, stop in at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum for a taste of Cherokee culture and history.