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Top 18 Historic Landmarks in Tennessee

Here's what you need to know...
  • There are many historical landmarks in Tennessee as well as many interesting tourist attractions
  • When planning to visit Tennessee, check out some of the main attractions and plan to stay awhile
  • Then pack for safety and double check to be sure you have sufficient insurance coverage before you hit the road

There is something about landmarks that makes you want to see them. They are a symbol of history that withstand the test of time. They stand as a peek into the long-forgotten past to ensure that we always recall parts of what once was.

In Tennessee, there are several landmarks of interest that people enjoy seeing when in the Volunteer State.

We will look at the top 18 historic landmarks in this post, and you’ll see why Tennessee is one of the most traveled states in the country. It borders the states of Arkansas and North Carolina, giving you even more, options of places to visit when on your trip.

If you are looking to visit Tennessee soon and need better auto insurance coverage before making the trip, start comparison shopping today by entering your ZIP code above!

History of Tennessee

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First, let’s look at a bit of history of Tennessee. Why do people enjoy going to Tennessee?

Tennessee became the 16th state that joined the union in 1796. It stretches across the Appalachian Mountains boundary and borders Missouri and Arkansas, with North Carolina to the east.

Tennessee is most famous for Nashville and Memphis, the centers of country music and blues music. Some famous entertainers have come through the area to entertain for years including Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, and many others.

The state of Tennessee is considered a friendly place to call home and is sandwiched between the Ozark Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains on either side.

There is also Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee which was formed entirely from a series of earthquakes called the New Madrid earthquakes. These famous earthquakes shook up the area all the way to Philadelphia in 1811 and 1812, and rumor has it, it made the Mississippi River flow backward.

Historic Landmarks in Tennessee

There are many different historic landmarks in Tennessee. We have chosen the top 18 to discuss in this section. We hope you’ll find something here that will interest you when planning your next travel trip.

#1 — Graceland

Graceland, home of the famous rock-and-roll legend, offers daily tours through the Presley mansion and estate as well as numerous other events that surround it.

Graceland celebrates Elvis’s daily life and offers special events and shows to commemorate the life of one of America’s singing legends.

You would think the hype would have died down after all of these years, but Graceland continues to celebrate the life and music of Elvis Presley through a variety of events and activities in Memphis. They are announcing an addition for a new entertainment center called “Elvis Presley’s Memphis” opening soon.

#2 — Beale Street Historic District

Beale Street Historic District is a fun time for any music lover. Filled with three blocks of exciting nightclubs, dining locations, and shops, there is something in the District for everyone who appreciates Delta blues, jazz, or rock music.

The Beale Street Historic District is considered a national landmark, and it was declared to be the “Home of the Blues” by Congress.

The area captures a lot of the spirit of Memphis, and you’ll also see some New Orleans influence here and there, as well.

#3 — Historic Jonesborough

Historic Jonesborough is located in Jonesborough, Tennessee and is considered the “storytelling capital of the world.” The area is filled with dramatic interpretations, story-telling sessions, and shows that will captivate your senses and tell you stories of the past.

You can also explore the many other adventures like the Wetlands Water Park and hiking and walk tours that are available along the way.

#4 — Country Hall of Fame and Museum

The Country Hall of Fame and Museum features some of the greatest music and performing artists of all times in the country and western genre.

You can tour the museum and learn all about how these artists got to where they did and enjoy hearing the music of the past that has become a classic over time.

#5 — Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry lets you bridge the past with the present and enjoy the country music that spans several decades. Whether it’s Loretta Lynn or Restless Heart you came to hear, you’ll find a wide variety of shows and concerts that are sure to please.

The Grand Ole Opry has been in existence since 1925 and is considered the real birthplace of country music as we know it today in America.

One piece of trivia you might find interesting is that Elvis Presley once sang “Blue Moon of Kentucky” as an audition piece for the Grand Ole Opry but was rejected and told by one of the old country pioneers that he “had no talent whatsoever and should give it up.”

Well, Elvis didn’t give it up, but the country music world lost what the rock-and-roll world gained that day.

The Grand Ole Opry is country and bluegrass, and it is considered a landmark among tourists and Tennessee locals as well.

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#6 — National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum is a museum that is dedicated to the history of the civil rights movement as well as the hopes of the future for Black American people as well as others who have fought for freedom and liberty.

The museum is considered a historical landmark because they serve as an icon for equal rights among minorities of different races today. They honor the works of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others who made it their life’s work to fight for civil rights.

#7 — The Parthenon

The Parthenon is considered a centerpiece of Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee. It is a re-creation of the 42-foot statue of the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena that could once be found in ancient Greece.

The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee represents ancient Greek culture and captures the essence of ancient Greek artistry in architecture at the same time.

#8 — The Hermitage

The Hermitage is a landmark that is dedicated to celebrating the life and history of Andrew Jackson, “the people’s President.” It is considered the third best Presidential site in the United States to visit, so it is well worth your time when in Nashville or the Tennesee area.

#9 — Belle Meade Plantation

The Belle Meade Plantation was founded in 1807 by John Harding. The title of the plantation is named for the term, “beautiful meadow.”

The estate once served as a 5400-acre thoroughbred horse farm with a deer park, Greek Rival mansion, and other assets that existed during the time of slavery.

The property still has 34 acres of land and properties, including the mansion and homestead. It is considered an educational resource and contributes to the preservation of the Tennessee Victorian architecture which is still highly valued by Tennessee residents.

Admission is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $15 for students.

#10 — Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art

Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum offers free public tours on Saturdays and Sundays. You can take a tour through the Botanical Garden and Arboretum any Saturday or Sunday from 11:30 a.m. Tours depart from the Visitor Services Center.

You can explore Cheekwood’s Botanical Gardens and historic plant and tree collections and many other highlights on your tour.

Admission is free for individuals.

Group rates start at $16 for self-guided tours and go up to $22 for guided tours.

#11 — Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo is a great experience for any animal lover and features numerous species of wildlife, fish, and birds of all kinds. You can take pictures of the various species of animals and walk across the grounds to discover various exhibits while enjoying refreshments from the concession stand.

The Memphis Zoo is considered one of the best landmarks of Memphis and they are currently observing winter hours (9 a.m.-4 p.m.) through February 28. They will go back to summer hours on March 1 (9 a.m.-5 p.m.).

Admission is $15 for adults and children (ages two to 11) get in for $10.

#12 — Hunter Museum of American Art

The Hunter Museum of American Art celebrates American art throughout history, with the museum’s collections representing eight different art periods.

Some of the media they showcase include:

  • Paintings
  • Sculpture
  • Photography
  • Video
  • Decorative art

They feature both permanent and temporary collections.

The museum itself is a work of art, with architectural details paying homage to three distinct historical styles. Its views as well are spectacular considering that the building is perched on an 80-foot bluff overlooking the Tennessee River and downtown Chattanooga.

Hunter Museum opens at 10 a.m. except on Wednesdays when they open at 12 noon and they close at 5 p.m. except on Thursdays when they have extended hours til 8 p.m. Admission is $15 per person.

#13 — Cumberland Caverns

Cumberland Caverns is an adventure for those who love to explore underground. It’s the adventure of a lifetime.

There are more than 32 miles of caves and underground tunnels to explore as well as many underground rock formations and waterfalls.

Cumberland Caverns offers a unique tour experience for the Tennessee traveler, and there are daily walking tours and adventure trips as well as overnight adventures as well. They are also home to the Bluegrass Underground, a world-famous music in the cave experience!

#14 — Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is home to America’s largest and deepest waterfall and is open for public viewing. People come from miles around to enjoy the hundreds of gallons of water that rush over the Falls every minute at this historic landmark and tourist attraction.

Many people enjoy visiting the Falls, followed by a trip atop the Lookout Mountain Tower where you can see over the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee like you’ve never seen it before. You can visit the shops in the area while you are there and eat in the famous Cavern Cafe nearby too.

If you like real thrills and adventure, try the ZIPstream Aerial Adventure Course by zip-lining through obstacle courses above the trees!

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#15 — Cades Cove

Cades Cove is a landmark that features a valley that is enhanced and surrounded by mountains from the Great Smoky Mountain region. Wildlife viewing can be done easily from this area, and this is one of the things that draws people there.

There are many different types of wildlife that you will see so bring your cameras.

#16 — Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is a moving museum on wheels (train ride) in Chattanooga. It is the only full-sized train ride in Tennessee and includes lots of great old-fashioned entertainment, dining, and much more.

Trains are an icon of the past, and you can enjoy historical adventure while taking a trip back in time on a railroad car. It is like a “rolling time machine” that can transport you back to a slower time when life was simple.

The trains run different routes depending on the calendar. Check the train schedule for details.

#17 — Carter House

Carter House and Carnton Plantation have guided tours daily.

They are dedicated to the preservation and study of the Civil War, and they are backed by the Battle of Franklin Trust that celebrates one of the most famous battles of the Civil War in the town of Franklin, Tennessee.

#18 — National Ornamental Metal Museum

The National Ornamental Metal Museum features 3.2 acres of land, along with plenty to do and see. The rotating exhibits, sculpture gardens, and Metal Museum are among the main attractions to see.

The Metal Museum is considered a historic landmark because it is the only U.S. institution devoted to the art and craft of fine metalwork.

It is located on the bluffs of the mighty Mississippi River. Admission is very inexpensive ($6 for adults and $5 for seniors) and features a full lineup of special events that you can take part in at different times in the year.

Traveling Safely in Tennessee

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We hope you enjoy traveling through the state of Tennessee and that you will get a chance to take in as many landmarks as you can while you are there.

It’s important also to be safe while traveling so take a little extra time to get ready and prepare before you go.

Some of the best things you can do before your trip are:

  • Know the landmarks you want to see
  • Map your trip ahead of time
  • Tune-up your car ahead of time
  • Travel with an emergency kit

If you plan to travel solo, you should also take some extra precautions to stay safe during your trip. Since you will not have anyone else to help you if you experienced a problem, you may want to consider taking out roadside assistance insurance as well.

Roadside assistance is an inexpensive coverage that you can take out of your car insurance. It guarantees that someone will come to your aid, no matter what time of day or night, if you have a breakdown on the road.

Ask an insurance agent how you can add this coverage or shop around for other companies and policies if yours does not offer this coverage.

Make Sure You Have the Right Car Insurance

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In addition to the above tips that you should follow, it’s important to check your car insurance to make sure you have adequate coverage.

Sure, you probably have the required mandatory coverage limits. But what about comprehensive insurance for vandalism or theft?

Comprehensive also covers acts of nature or damage to falling objects. These are things that you might encounter while on a trip that you might not have to worry about otherwise. So take some extra time to plan and check your coverage.

It’s always best to shop and compare for the best rates and to remember that cost is not everything.

The most important thing is that you can enjoy your trip without the added worry of having an accident without proper coverage or breaking down by the side of a desolate road.

Take some extra assurance with you by shopping around for any coverage that you may not have so that you won’t have to worry. Then you can enjoy your trip knowing that, whatever happens, you’re taken care of.

Start shopping around today and compare auto insurance rates by entering your ZIP code below!

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