10 best road trips from Nashville, TN

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  • Post last modified:February 20, 2024
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Embark on a road trip from Nashville for an exciting change of scenery. Within only a few hours’ drive, you find several bucket list-worthy destinations, ranging from natural oases to cool cities. However, for those who crave for a more extensive journey, some of these road trip ideas take you way past the streets of Tennessee.

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1. Burgess Falls and Cummins Falls, TN

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

Thanks to its topography and system of rivers, Tennessee offers varied and plentiful waterfalls, setting a romantic vibe perfect for hiking and picnicking. Two shining examples, Burgess Falls and Cummins Falls are both part of idyllic Tennessee state parks.

As a bonus, Burgess Falls and Cummins Falls splash near each other. Between the two Tennessee waterfalls, it’s less than 20 miles (32 km), making it easy to combine them on a gorgeous waterfalls road trip from Nashville.

Cascading Burgess Falls as seen from above
Marvel at Burgess Falls, TN.

2. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY

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

You can road trip from Nashville to some of the most unique American natural attractions. Mammoth Cave is one such that is both a national park and even 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 — so far.

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

Where to stay

The neighboring towns of Horse Cave, Cave City and Park City offer places to stay near Mammoth Cave. These gateway towns are located just 15 to 25 minutes by car from the cave.

Lighted path in the enormous Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.
Enter the huge Mammoth Cave.

3. Huntsville, AL

  • 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 northern Alabama city is nicknamed Rocket City.

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.

Showcasing a huge collection of rockets and space artifacts, this impressive complex makes a great road trip target for all interested in the space and space travel.

Rockets in Huntsville, AL
The sky is not the limit in Huntsville, AL.

4. Chattanooga, TN

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

When you plan a road trip 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 constantly ranked as one of the best aquariums in the United States.

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

5. Great Smoky Mountains, TN/NC

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

Mammoth Cave is not the only awe-inspiring national park within easy reach of Nashville; the majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park has an overground appeal making it the most visited national park in the USA.

Boasting thick forests, lively rivers and exciting wildlife, Great Smoky Mountains is the definition of a nature’s playground.

For wildlife viewing, make your way over to Cades Cove. 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 crave for serenity, aim at the more peaceful western side of the Smokies.

Fox gazing across a field in Cades Cove, TN.
Watch wildlife in Cades Cove, TN.

6. Memphis, TN

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

While Nashville is the undisputed capital of country music, the entire state of Tennessee is bursting with music history. Memphis, in West Tennessee, stands out as the birthplace of blues and rock ‘n’ roll.

In particular, if you’re an Elvis Presley fan, Memphis needs to be on your bucket list. Elvis’ former home, Graceland, is Memphis’ most famous attraction. Tour the extravagant mansion containing all there is to know about Elvis and many fascinating objects, including original decor and jumpsuits.

Golden sunset over Memphis and the Mississippi River
Sunset over Mississippi, TN.

7. Atlanta, GA

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

Wherever you go in Atlanta, you see signs reminding 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.

But don’t let all those peachy street signs confuse you. Instead, head over to the World of Coca-Cola, a thirst-quenching institution in the city where Coke once was invented.

First, learn about the history of Coca-Cola. Then, sample the brand’s products from all over the world.

In Atlanta, also consider visiting the appreciated Georgia Aquarium, harboring hundreds of fascinating marine creatures.

World of Coca-Cola
Sample beverages at the World of Coca-Cola.

8. Asheville, NC

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

The Blue Ridge Parkway, stretching for 469 miles (750 km) from Afton in Virginia to Cherokee in North Carolina, is called America’s favorite drive. With a speed limit of typically 45 miles (72 km) per hour, it sets the perfect scene for a slow-paced road trip from Nashville.

Asheville, one of many gems along the drive, is a peaceful mountain town offering surprisingly much to do. Especially don’t miss the one-of-a-kind Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned house in the United States. At 178,926 square feet (16 623 m2 ), you can only agree that it’s enormous.

Rolling Blue Ridge Mountains covered with green trees
Gawk at the Blue Ridge Mountains.

9. Florida Panhandle, FL

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

Want to hit the beach? A 7-hour drive from Nashville takes you to the Gulf coast and some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world; Florida’s Panhandle is renowned for its gorgeous, huge beaches.

There’s no shortage of dreamy beach destinations to choose from: Pensacola Beach, Panama City Beach, Destin and St. George Island are just a few of the many jewels lining up along the coast, so get ready to spread out a towel and soak up some sun.

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

10. Orlando, FL

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

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

If you’re a theme park enthusiast, there is no question about it: Orlando is your ultimate road trip target.

To make the most of the drive, tick off other rewarding destinations, such as Chattanooga and Atlanta, along the way. If you’re willing to take a detour, let the Northwest Florida beaches cast a spell on you.

Feeling inspired? Continue past Orlando on an Orlando to Key West road trip, taking you to South Florida beach towns (where it’s always balmy), the Everglades and all the way down to the quirky Key West.

Smiling Disney character in Orlando
Disney World in Orlando.

Road trips from Nashville FAQ

What are fun vacation places 4 hours or less from Nashville, TN?

There’s an array of fun vacation places within 4 hours of Nashville. Consider Burgess and Cummins Falls, Mammoth Cave, Huntsville, Chattanooga, Great Smoky Mountains, Memphis and Atlanta.

What are fun vacation places 8 hours or less from Nashville, TN?

On top of all the closer options, Asheville, along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Florida Panhandle, boasting world-class beaches, are memorable road trip destinations within 8 hours of Nashville.

Which are the best day trips from Nashville for families?

While the best day trip from Nashville for families depends on your personal preferences, Mammoth Cave stands out as a both convenient and exciting alternative. Only a 1.5-hour drive from Nashville, it’s the world’s deepest cave.

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