Top 10 Landmarks in Tennessee

Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 08:25 am. Originally published on May 14th, 2021

What is a landmark?

What do national parks, famous buildings, and underground waterfalls all have in common? They’re all landmarks located in Tennessee! This state has a fantastic array of popular landmarks that everyone from nature lovers to music enthusiasts will enjoy. And visiting these famous places in an RV is a great way to explore the state.

What are Some Famous Landmarks in Tennessee?

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

2. Ruby Falls

3. The Appalachian Trail

4. Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

5. Fall Creek Falls State Park

6. Beale Street Historic District

7. Craighead Caverns

8. South Cumberland State Park

9. Ryman Auditorium

10. Graceland

Tennessee Landmarks

Tennessee is home to many famous U.S. landmarks, and it was difficult to narrow them down. Here are 10 landmarks you should consider exploring when you visit Tennessee.

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

The first landmark on our list is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At over 500,000 acres this national park is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States. With entrances in both Gatlinburg and Townsend (and in Cherokee, North Carolina) this national park offers plenty of activities for visitors. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, and even taking a drive through the scenic roads are all fantastic ways to spend time at the park.

Things to do near Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Because of it’s size, there’s plenty to do nearby, no matter where you are. Wherever you enter the park, Gatlinburg or Townsend, be sure to explore the towns as well. This national park is also near Knoxville, and we’ve put together a local’s guide to help you find the best places. There are some great local RVs to check out nearby as well.

2. Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Ruby Falls are a series of underground waterfalls located near Chattanooga. Hidden inside historic Lookout Mountain, it’s the tallest and deepest underground waterfall that is open to the public in America. Visitors can head underground along cave trails to view the impressive waterfalls on several tour options, and then head back outside to continue their fun on the zipline adventure.

Things to do near Ruby Falls: Ruby Falls is right outside Chattanooga, so be sure to explore the city. It’s also right by another landmark on our list, Lookout Mountain.

3. Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail Sign, Great Smokey Mountains National Park

If you’ve ever wanted to hike a bit of the Appalachian Trail, Tennessee is a great place to do so. Almost 94 miles of the trail are located here, with another 160 miles running along the North Carolina/Tennessee border. And some of it even runs through Great Smoky Mountain National Park! Even if you’re not planning to hike the entire 2,100 miles from Maine to Georgia, you can explore a bit of it in Tennesee and experience the beauty of nature that calls to so many hikers.

Things to do near the Appalachian Trail: Since a part of the trail already runs through it, be sure to explore Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Here are some nearby RV rentals if you’re looking to rent one.

4. Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway in Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is what’s called an inclined plane funicular railway that heads to the top of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga. It’s a mouthful, but basically it means the tracks are incredibly steep. Visitors can take this one mile long single track railway up to Point Park at the mountain’s summit and overlook the Tennessee River and surrounding areas. The grade on the mountain is 72.7% at its maximum, making this one of the steepest passenger railways in the world!

Things to do near Lookout Mountain Incline Railway: At the bottom of the mountain where you get on the train is St. Elmo. This town has a fun array of shops, restaurants, and attractions. You’re also near Ruby Falls if you want to take your adventures underground as well as up in the air.

5. Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls waterfall

One of Tennessee’s largest and most visited state parks, Fall Creek Falls State Park is almost 30,000 acres across the Cumberland Plateau. There are plenty of natural wonders to explore, including waterfalls, streams, gorges, and cascades. Fall Creek Falls itself is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern U.S., at 256 feet. There’s plenty to do here, especially if you like hiking. More than 56 miles of hiking trails include both day-use trails and two long distance overnight trails if you want to camp in the backcountry.

Things to do near Fall Creek Falls State Park: This state park is right in between Knoxville and Nashville. We’ve got great local guides on both cities, so be sure to check them out to find the best places to explore.

6. Beale Street Historic District

shot of Beale Street with neon lights

Beale Street Historic District is one of America’s most iconic streets. This street was created in 1841 and was a popular place for Black musicians to perform in the 1860s. Beale Street became a hub for entertainment and blues music, and continues to be a top entertainment and music landmark today. Its rich history includes not only the birth of blues music, but also an important role in the civil rights movement, rock ‘n’ roll, and delicious Tennessee BBQ cuisine. Today the music scene continues in Memphis and Beale Street, as many of the buildings are still the same, and the blues and other musical performances can be seen every night.

Things to do near Beale Street Historic District: Since you’re already there, explore the rest of Memphis with our local’s guide. And if you need a place to stay, here are some great local RV rentals to check out.

7. Craighead Caverns

Lost Sea Craighead Caverns

Craighead Caverns is home to the largest non-subglacial underground lake in the United States, and the second largest underground lake in the world. The Lost Sea, as this lake is called, is part of the Lost Sea Adventure where visitors are guided through the system of caverns and take a boat ride at the bottom of the lake. Not just home to an impressive body of water, the caverns are located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and were used by the Cherokee as a meeting place. The lake is so complex that it still hasn’t been fully mapped, but it’s a great way to spend the afternoon adventuring!

Things to do near Craighead Caverns: Loated in Sweetwater, the Lost Sea Adventure is southwest of Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s also not too far from Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

8. South Cumberland State Park

South Cumberland State Park in Tennessee

South Cumberland State Park is an outdoor lover’s paradise. This state park is spread over 30,845 acres and offers 90 miles of hiking and backcountry camping trails. You’ll hike through woodlands and rocky gorges, and view streams and waterfalls. You can also go swimming, fishing, and boating in Grundy Lakes if you’d rather stick to water activities. There’s also a visitor’s center that has exhibits illustrating local history and wildlife with audio and visual presentations.

Things to do near South Cumberland State Park: The three main cities located near the state park are Monteagle, Tracy City, and Cowan. And Chattanooga is a little further if you’d like to see the underground waterfalls and incline train landmarks.

9. Ryman Auditorium

Ryman Auditorium

Nashville itself is practically a landmark, but since we have to pick just one thing, we’re going with Ryman Auditorium. This music venue (and former Grand Ole Opry House and Union Gospel Tabernacle) played a pivotal role in the bluegrass and country music scenes and still holds live performances today. Ryman Auditorium was the home of the Grand Ole Opry until it moved to its current location in 1974, and is a popular landmark for music lovers to visit.

Things to do near Ryman Auditorium: Explore Nashville! We’ve got a local’s guide of great ideas, but you could spend days there eating, exploring, and listening to music! Need an RV? Here are some fantastic options to check out.

10. Graceland

Graceland in Memphis

Talk about famous buildings! If you’re an Elvis fan, or even a fan of rock and roll, stop by the Graceland Mansion in Memphis. Not only is it a National Historic Landmark (and the first site related to rock and roll to become one), but it’s also the second most visited home in the United States, after the White House. Visitors to Graceland can choose from various tours to experience the home of the King of Rock and Roll. They also have a hotel and offer excursions to nearby places of significance to Elvis if one famous place isn’t enough.

Things to do near Graceland: Explore Memphis and check out Beale Street. Here’s our local’s guide for some fun ideas of what to see and some nearby RV rentals to check out.

Planning an RV Trip to Tennessee

Tennessee is a destination with so many landmarks to explore and discover. We’ve got plenty of info to help you enjoy your next RV trip there.

Here are guides to some of the best state parks in Tennessee, as well as all the national parks in the country. And, of course, we always have your back when it comes to the best campgrounds and RV rentals!

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