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Best Day Trips in Tennessee

Get out of the city and explore all Tennessee has to offer.

By Cara Sanders on September 4, 2020

Johnson City TN
Johnson City / Jeffrey S. Otto

There is plenty to see, do and eat in Tennessee’s three largest cities, but if you’re looking to hit the open road and escape the crowds with a day trip, you won’t be disappointed. The Volunteer State serves up endless opportunities for having fun and we’ve compiled some of Tennessee’s best-kept-secret (or not-so-secret!) towns and attractions that are less than two hours away from the state’s major cities.

Liepers Fork TN
Franklin / Courtesy of: The Land Trust for Tennessee

From Nashville

Leiper’s Fork, TN (27.9 miles)

Located just off the Natchez Trace Parkway and less than 30 minutes from downtown Nashville is Leiper’s Fork, a picturesque town that is the epitome of Southern charm. Start the day off with a classic Southern breakfast of the best darn biscuits and gravy you’ll ever have at Country Boy. Next, hop over to Finds in the Fork to pick up some records to add to your vinyl collection.

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Take a tour and enjoy a tasting at Leiper’s Fork Distillery, which prides itself on the time-honored Tennessee tradition of whiskey production. Enjoy the amazing arts scene in Leiper’s Fork with a stop at The Copper Fox and David Arms, two of the town’s amazing galleries. Finally, finish out the day with dinner and live music at The Original Puckett’s Grocery. Oh, and if you stay around long enough, you might catch a glimpse of the town’s most famous resident, Justin Timberlake.

Bell Buckle TN
Bell Buckle / Jeff Adkins

Bell Buckle, TN (53.8 miles)

Home to less than 600 people, Bell Buckle is a delightful escape located just under 60 miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Located in Bedford County, Bell Buckle is known for its annual RC Cola & Moon Pie Festival, which celebrates two favorite Southern staples. Grab lunch at the Bell Buckle Café and their selection of comfort foods, including chicken and dumplings, fried okra and melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuits. Antique shoppers rejoice at Livery Stable Antique Mall, where one-of-a-kind treasures can be found. Finish out the afternoon with a homemade waffle cone from Bluebird Antiques and Ice Cream Parlor.

Collierville TN
Collierville / Jeff Adkins

From Memphis

Collierville (29.8 miles)

Just 30 minutes down the road from Beale Street is the quaint town of Collierville, which is as idyllic as a story book. Case in point: Collierville Town Square. Local stores and dining venues line the streets and surround Town Square Park. Saddle up to the old-fashioned soda fountain at the Silver Caboose, which serves up Southern fare like fried squash and country fried steak. Beat the heat at the family-friendly splash pads at Ryan’s Place Playground and then grabbing a sweet treat from Dinstuhl’s. Looking for a souvenir? Round out the trip with a stop at Dixie Pickers, which offers up everything from soap to signage

Dyersburg TN
Dyersburg / Courtesy of Dyersburg Chamber

Dyersburg (79.5 miles)

Located just under 80 miles from Memphis, visitors can escape the grind of Grind City with an adventurous excursion to Dyersburg. Take your pick between camping, concerts and mud races when you get down and dirty at Bikini Bottoms Off Road and Zip Line Park.

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Looking for something a little less extreme? No trip to Dyersburg is complete without a trip to the Farmers’ Market to grab some of the best locally grown produce in the area. Grab a bite or a cup of joe from the Bus Stop Café before visiting Fall’n Calls, which specializes in handcrafted duck calls. 

From Knoxville

Pigeon Forge (27.6 miles)

Pigeon Forge is located at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and is lauded as the center of fun in the Smokies. Just a half hour outside of Knoxville, Pigeon Forge is known for its outlet shopping, family-friendly attractions and endless entertainment opportunities. Between Dollywood, Wonderworks Indoor Amusement Park and The Island, the fun doesn’t ever stop here.

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Looking for something more low-key? Catch your own meal at English Mountain Trout Farm & Grill, tour the area’s five wineries via the Rocky Top Wine Trail or pick up something special to take home from The Old Mill Pigeon River Pottery

Johnson City TN
Johnson City / Jeffrey S. Otto

Johnson City (101.1 miles)

Nestled near the Virginia border and just 90 minutes northeast of Knoxville is Johnson City, the city lovingly referenced in the song “Wagon Wheel.†The city’s hills are alive with the sound of music, and venues like the intimate listening room at Down Home are like music to our ears. Rent a bicycle and tour the scenic Tweetsie Trail, which begins in Johnson City and ends at Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethton. Take advantage of the region’s local flavor at favorites like Yee-Haw Brewery, Pal’s Sudden Service or the Firehouse Restaurant, which is housed in an old fire station.

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