The best road trips from Nashville, TN

  • Post last modified:March 15, 2023
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The best road trips from Nashville include both shorter and longer journeys. Shorter road trips from Nashville include awe-inspiring waterfalls and famous national parks. But if you want to go on a longer trip, the more extensive road trip ideas from Nashville take you far away from the streets of Tennessee.

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Burgess Falls and Cummins Falls, TN – A waterfalls road trip from Nashville

  • Driving distance: 80 mi / 129 km
  • Driving time: 1.5 h

Tennessee is celebrated for its varied and plentiful waterfalls. The state’s topography and system of rivers create numerous waterfalls to explore when you road trip from Nashville.

Two appreciated and gorgeous waterfalls in Tennessee are Burgess Falls and Cummins Falls. Both are part of idyllic Tennessee state parks.

As a bonus Burgess Falls and Cummins Falls are also located near each other. Between the two Tennessee waterfalls it’s less than 20 miles (32 km). That makes it easy to combine the pair on a waterfalls road trip from Nashville.

Burgess Falls as seen from above
Burgess Falls, TN.

Mammoth Cave National Park, KY – Drive from Nashville to a World Heritage Site

  • Driving distance: 95 mi / 153 km
  • Driving time: 1.5 h

Road trip ideas from Nashville include journeys to some of the most unique American natural attractions. Mammoth Cave is one such that is both a national park and a World Heritage Site.

Above all Mammoth Cave is known as the cave that never ends. It’s the longest cave system in the world. With over 400 miles (644 km) of explored passageways it’s fair to call it the endless cave.

That the cave temperature is constant at 54°F (12°C) also makes it a great year round destination. Road trips from Nashville to Mammoth Cave are appreciated in every season of the year.

Where to stay

In the neighboring towns Horse Cave, Cave City and Park City you find places to stay near Mammoth Cave. The three gateway towns are located just 10 to 15 minutes by car from the cave.

Lighted path in Mammoth Cave
Exploring the huge Mammoth Cave.

Huntsville, AL – The sky is the limit when you plan the best road trips from Nashville

  • Driving distance: 110 mi / 177 km
  • Driving time: 2 h

In roughly two hours you get from the streets of Music City to Huntsville in Alabama. For its rich space history the city in northern Alabama is nicknamed Rocket City.

Most importantly the first US satellite was sent into orbit from Huntsville in 1958. That and much more you can learn about when you visit its U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

The impressive complex offers a huge collection of rockets and space artifacts. If you’re interested in the space and space travel, the center in Huntsville is mandatory on the best road trips from Nashville.

Rockets in Huntsville, AL
Rockets in Huntsville, AL.

Chattanooga, TN – Road tripping from Nashville to Scenic City

  • Driving distance: 134 mi / 216 km
  • Driving time: 2.5 h

When you plan road trips from Nashville, you certainly don’t need to go out of state to find lovely city destinations. Chattanooga with its striking greenery is known as Tennessee’s Scenic City.

Lookout Mountain is a highlight on every Chattanooga itinerary. From the Lookout Mountain ridge you have a magnificent view of Chattanooga and the surrounding area.

Another big Chattanooga draw and pride for the whole family to enjoy is Tennessee Aquarium. The aquarium on the Tennessee River banks is often mentioned as one of the best aquariums in the United States.

Bridges crossing Tennessee River in Chattanooga
Tennessee River in Chattanooga, TN.

Great Smoky Mountains, TN – Wildlife viewing in the dense Tennessee forests

  • Driving distance: 202 mi / 325 km
  • Driving time: 3.5 h

The best road trips from Nashville for nature-lovers just must include at least one national park. A contrast to Mammoth Cave is the majestic and hugely popular Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

With its thick forests, lively rivers and exciting wildlife the top things to do in Great Smoky Mountains showcase a nature’s playground.

For wildlife viewing Cades Cove is a prime spot in the Smokies. In the timeless valley iconic black bears but also other animals including deer and foxes are highlights on a Nashville to Smoky Mountains road trip.

Where to stay

In Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge you find superb places to stay near Great Smoky Mountains NP. But if you want more serenity as you road trip from Nashville, you should aim at the more peaceful side of the Smokies.

A fox in Cades Cove, TN.
Wildlife viewing in Cades Cove, TN.

Memphis, TN – The birthplace of blues and rock ‘n’ roll

  • Driving distance: 212 mi / 341 km
  • Driving time: 3.5 h

Tennessee is a state that is full of music history. Not only is Nashville the country music capital. Memphis in West Tennessee is also the birthplace of blues and rock ‘n’ roll.

With Memphis rich past the best road trips from Nashville for music lovers must include the Mississippi River city. In particular if you’re an Elvis Presley fan, Memphis needs to be on the bucket list.

Elvis former home, Graceland, is the most famous attraction in Memphis. The extravagant mansion contains all there is to know about Elvis and many fun touches, including original decor.

Memphis sunset, TN
Sunset over Mississippi, TN.

Atlanta, GA – Visit the home of Coke in the Peach State

  • Driving distance: 250 mi / 402 km
  • Driving time: 4 h

Wherever you go in Atlanta, you see signs that remind you about that you’re in the Peach State. It’s a local saying that if you make a right and two left, you always find a street with “Peachtree” in its name.

Atlanta is known as the city where Coca-Cola was invented, and a fun attraction to visit is the World of Coca-Cola. There you can not only explore the history of Coca-Cola, but also sample the brand’s products from around the world. To visit the home of coke is certainly an enjoyable road trip from Nashville.

You also find the appreciated Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. It’s located less than two hours from Chattanooga’s Tennessee Aquarium, and it’s tough to pick a winner between the two. But thanks to how close to each other they are, you can easily include both when you plan the ultimate road trip from Nashville.

World of Coca-Cola
World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.

Asheville, NC – A beautiful town along America’s favorite drive

  • Driving distance: 257 mi / 413 km
  • Driving time: 4.5 h

The Blue Ridge Parkway is known as America’s favorite drive. It’s 469 miles (750 km) long and runs from Virginia in the north to Cherokee in North Carolina in the south.

As the speed limit on the parkway typically is 45 miles (72 km) per hour, it’s one of the best road trips from Nashville if you want to enjoy a drive at slow pace.

One of the gems along the beautiful drive is Asheville. It’s a peaceful mountain town that offers surprisingly much to do. The mix of an unwinding mountain environment and eclectic things to do makes it a great road trip destination from Nashville.

Most of all Asheville is famous for its Biltmore Estate. It’s known to be the largest privately owned house in the United States. At 178,926 square feet (16 623 m2 ) you can only agree with that it’s enormous.

Road trip from Nashville to the Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Mountains overlook.

The Florida Panhandle, FL – The best beach road trips from Nashville

  • Driving distance: 451 mi / 726 km
  • Driving time: 7 h

The best road trips from Nashville to hit the beach are the ones down to the pristine Gulf Coast. A 7 hour drive from Nashville takes you to some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world. The Florida Panhandle is renowned for its gorgeous huge beaches.

In the northwestern part of Florida there are more pretty beach destinations than you can count. Pensacola Beach, Panama City Beach, Destin and St. George Island are just a few of the jewels if you look for beachy road trip ideas from Nashville.

Wide beach in the Florida Panhandle
Destin in the Florida Panhandle.

Orlando – The ultimate road trips from Nashville for theme park enthusiasts

  • Driving distance: 687 mi / 1106 km
  • Driving time: 11 h

In roughly 11 hours you get from Tennessee’s Music City to Florida’s city of amusement. Above all Orlando is home to world-famous theme parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort.

The Central Florida city is a paradise for anyone who likes theme parks. If you’re a theme park enthusiast there is no question about it. The best road trips from Nashville must go to the theme park capital.

On the way to Orlando you also find other rewarding destinations, such as Chattanooga and Atlanta. If you’re willing to make a detour, you could even explore the beaches in Northwest Florida on your way to the capital of theme parks.

If you feel inspired you can in addition continue past Orlando. The Orlando to Key West road trip itinerary takes you to South Florida beach towns, the Everglades and all the way down to the quirky Key West.

Disney character in Orlando
Disney World in Orlando.

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