There's a timeless quality to Tennessee. From the vapor-shrouded mountains to the Music City, there are certain constants visitors can always count on. Like great food, good people, soul-stirring entertainment and spectacular panoramic views.
Perhaps the Tennessee's worst-kept secret is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an International Biosphere Reserve that boasts more than 3 million visitors per year. But keep in mind that most of those visitors take in the spectacular misty mountain views from the comfort of their cars, so there's plenty of opportunity for seclusion along the more than 800 miles of winding mountain trails.
The charming town of Gatlinburg is nestled nearby. There, the Downtown Parkway stretches from one end of the town to the other, inviting everyone to stroll along at their own pace, perhaps stopping to relax on a shaded bench or to catch an intimate evening performance at a Gazebo.
Of course, for those of you looking for a little more action, you can't go wrong in Nashville, where you can always take in a show, a game, a museum or a great Southern-cooked meal.
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Jack's Bar-B-Que (Nashville). Just steps from the historic Ryman Auditorium and adorned with neon flying pigs, there's no missing this jack-of-all-trades barbeque joint among lower Broadway's many restaurants. Here you can sample Texas brisket, St. Louis ribs and (of course) Tennessee pulled pork.
Bound'ry (Nashville). Dubbed "fun yet sophisticated" by Frommers, this visually stunning Vanderbilt-area restaurant stays up late, so you can sample fine dining - and the extensive wine list - long after your show.
Gatlinburg's Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales®. Every evening from June through early August, musical acts, storytellers and artisans put on several simultaneous 10-minute performances at various locations along the Parkway. To see them all, all one has to do is stroll.
Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre. Sample vaudeville-style comedy appropriate for the entire family.
Take the plunge. Finding romance is easy in Gatlinburg, and with so many beautiful chapels and churches in and around this mountain town, so is taking the next step. There are no blood tests and no waiting. All that's needed is a license and that special someone.
Catch dinner. Several outfitters can equip you with what you need for a fly fishing adventure, whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the sport.
Mynatt Park. Play tennis, basketball, baseball or nothing at all at this serene park with a mountain river running alongside.
Take the Tram. Sit back and enjoy the view as the 120-passenger Tramway takes you to the top of Mt. Harrison.
Have a picnic. Take a picnic lunch with you as you explore the Roaring Forks Motor Nature Trail, a lovely afternoon drive dotted with historic buildings, peaceful brooks and, of course, more breathtaking mountain views.
Get a Smoky Mountain high. See the Smoky Mountains from a bird's eye view: take a helicopter tour. Scenic Helicopter Tours offers several options for exploring these magical mountains from above.
In and around Gatlinburg. This true "burg" claims to have the largest gathering of artisans anywhere, with more than 90 craft makers and artists located within an 8-mile loop.
Opry Mills (Nashville). Anchored by Bass Pro Shops, this mega-mall offers a wide variety of big-name retailers, restaurants, gaming venues, movies and more. Conveniently located next to the Grand Ole Opry.