I can’t even begin to tell y’all how much I love road trips. There’s nothing like the chance to explore new places and take in new experiences everywhere I go. And with the season about to change, now’s the perfect time to hop in the car and go on an adventure. I’ve put together a little list of the best scenic drives in Tennessee—if you’re heading out that way, these routes are definitely worth checking out.
If y’all are looking for the best mountain views, I recommend taking this stretch of road. This one actually starts off in Robbinsville, North Carolina, and winds its way up through the Great Smoky Mountains before descending into Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Along the way, you can find plenty of gorgeous overlooks that provide the perfect spots for a picnic, as long as it’s not too cold out. Once you get closer to Tellico Plains, I recommend stopping to check out Bald River Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state of Tennessee.
Here’s a little pro tip: there aren’t really a lot of places to stop and recharge on this drive, so make sure that y’all have enough gas in the tank and that your tires are in their best condition. If you find you need a tune-up or even a new tire once you’ve hit the road, plenty of options in larger nearby cities such as Knoxville and Chattanooga provide brand-name tires at prices that won’t put too much of a dent in your wallet.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
If you’re looking to get lost in nature on some of the best scenic drives in Tennessee, I believe there’s no better way to do it than by taking any of the backroads in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains. Every turn in these spectacular mountains leads to something new to experience, including Jeep tours, picturesque river sites, and hiking trails. The seven-mile-long Clingman’s Dome Road will take you to the overlook at Clingmans Dome—at over 6,500 feet above sea level, it’s the highest point in Tennessee. I also highly recommend the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road, which will provide you with views of lush landscapes, meadows, wildlife, and well-preserved 19th-century homesteads. Whichever routes you choose to take through America’s oldest national park, they’ll offer amazing sights from the comfort of your car.
Great River Road
This is the big one, y’all. I haven’t covered the entire road because, frankly, it’s massive. It would take forever to actually see everything, but no matter how much of it you cover, I can guarantee you’ll find something amazing along the way. The road runs down the whole western end of the state and leads to stops full of history and excitement. You’ll find great shopping opportunities, restaurants, museums, and some live music, if you time it right. Personally, I recommend taking a riverboat cruise if you stop in Memphis—some night cruises come with a BBQ dinner and a live band!