Although Tennessee is decidedly in the South, it's far from the first destination you imagine when you think of late winter travel. Still, Tennessee is an incredible state to visit during January, February, and March—and not just because of lower rates on hotels. Whether you belt out "Jolene" as you fly along the tracks of a Dollywood rollercoaster, warm up with BBQ in Memphis, or look out onto the Appalachians from charming Chattanooga, Tennessee is calling your name this winter.

Dollywood Theme Park

Perhaps you'll fly along the tracks of a rollercoaster, perhaps you won't: In winter, many of Dollywood's rides are open only when the weather cooperates. With this being said, Dollywood is absolutely delightful in the winter, if only due to lighter crowds. Alternatively, relax at your hotel or resort in Pigeon Force, and enjoy spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains, which surround you.

Gatlingburg and the Smoky Mountains

Speaking of the Smoky Mountains, the city of Gatlinburg might be even more well-positioned to enjoy them than Pigeon Forge. When you stay in Gatlinburg, you not only lack the distraction of Dollywood (however delightful it may be), but you're also closer to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which occupies more than half a million of unadulterated mountain scenery, which looks particularly beautiful covered in snow.

Chattanooga and the Appalachian Foothills

With attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium, Creative Discovery Museum, a world-class zoo, the city of Chattanooga would be exciting, even if it didn't sit amid the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. It does, of course, which simply adds nature to the mix of amazing things to do in Chattanooga, in winter and summer alike. Enjoy the view from Lookout Mountain, walk the trail at Rock City, or cozy up to the waterfall inside a cave at Ruby Falls.


That Knoxville is quirky and even kitschy won't come as a surprise to you if you know anything about the city's history, namely that it hosted the World's Fair in 1982. Knoxville, however, is much more than the Sun Sphere, the ubiquitous symbol of this less-than-classic event—and even than its winter highs, which average in the upper 40s and low 50s Fahrenheit. Explore the Knoxville Museum of Art, walk along Gay Street, or get creeped out in the Old Gray Cemetery.


Memphis is much more than blues and BBQ, but both of these happen to be at their best during the winter: Blues clubs like B.B. King's Blues Club insulate you from the wind; and barbecue joints such as Central BBQ add a little padding to your body for when you're out in the elements. Plus, rates on even the finest Memphis hotels are much lower than normal, which thereby saves more money for music and meat.

Then again, if there's one big truth about Tennessee, it's that it's much more diverse a destination than it gets credit for, no matter the time of year—these give destinations merely scratch the surface! Can you think of any other Tennessee destinations worth visiting in winter?

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  This article was posted on Leave Your Daily Hell by Robert Schrader.

Published in United States

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