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Memphis-Nashville-Smoky Mtns


A few friends are going to Tennessee Nov. 11-20th and we're looking to determine how long to visit each area and any ideas of 'Must Sees'.

We're flying in Sat, Nov. 11th, getting into Memphis at 4pm
Leaving Mon, Nov. 20th in the morning.
So, this leaves us with 8 full days.

I currently thought:
Sat, Nov. 11 - Mon., 13th - Memphis (2.5 days)
Mon, Nov. 13th (pm) - Fri, 17th - Nashville (3 days)
Fri, Nov. 17th (mid day) - Mon, 20th - (2.5 days)

I appreciate your ideas and suggestions!

Posted by
6879 posts

Where do you anticipate being on Nov 17-20? It's unclear from your post where the Great Smoky Mountains fit in. Also, where are you flying home from? It's 400+ miles from the Great Smoky Mountains to Memphis, and 200 miles from Nashville to the Great Smoky Mountains. Your trip has three places that are quite far apart from one another and span the entire state of TN... so even though 8 days sounds like a long time, that is still a lot of driving.

Nashville has a great website for planning purposes, I would check it out.

Personally, at that time of year, I would cut the Great Smoky Mountains altogether (partly because it's cold at that time and you may be driving in rain) and spend more time in Nashville and some side trips to the south like the small town of Franklin. Natchez Trace Parkway ( is a great substitute for the Great Smoky Mountains if you want to take a mountain drive, and it's much, much closer to Nashville.

Posted by
5 posts


Fri, 17-20th we'll be in Pigeon Forge. Flying home from Knoxville.
Each area is about 3 hours drive to the next, that's nothing, we do weekend trips that are farther than that in NY.

I didn't think about it being rainy in the Smokies at that time of year, thought perhaps colder. We'll revisit that.
Thank you for the links.

Posted by
21313 posts

Fog can also be a concern in Tennessee--the type of fog that leads to massive pile-ups on the interstate. I'm not sure what time periods are most fog-prone.

Posted by
6879 posts

For most tourists, Graceland is the "must see" in Memphis. I skipped it, but here's what else I enjoyed:
- National Civil Rights Museum/ Lorraine Hotel (where MLK was assassinated)
- Sun Studio tour
- Live music on Beale Street
- Peabody Hotel (the cheesy "duck march" lives on and was somewhat quirky/fun to see)

In Nashville, the draw is really the live music and the food. You have to at least tolerate country music or you'll be in for a tough time.
- Honky tonks/live music
- Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
- Ryman Auditorium
- Nashville Symphony @ the Schermerhorn Symphony Center
- Grand Ole Opry (really regretted going to this one)
- Johnny Cash Museum (couldn't get to it, unfortunately)
- Cheekwood Estate and Gardens (this was beautiful in early October)
- Frist Center for the Visual Arts
- Historical center of Franklin (20 miles or so to the south of Nashville)
- Historical Leiper's Fork (not too far from Franklin)
- Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg (took a tour there; it's a bit of a drive from Nashville)
- Horse country/farms outside Nashville (beautiful countryside)
- Natchez Trace Parkway

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you Agnes !

Graceland is a must & on our list.
Yes, we do enjoy Country & Jazz music.
We were thinking of seeing a concert or some live local bands also
Why did you regret the Grand Ole Opry?

Posted by
6879 posts

Why did you regret the Grand Ole Opry?

I was really surprised about the format (my ignorance - I didn't know it was a radio show) had tons of commercials (seemed like every 5-10 minutes at least). I only really enjoyed one act, which was Little Big Town (the rest were just too old school and twangy for me). The venue was huge and not at all intimate. In contrast, I really loved the Ryman Auditorium and would strongly prefer seeing a show there. Aside from the main street with all the honky tonks in one row, try to find a small venue like the Blue Bird Cafe where you can be really up close and in a very intimate setting. I enjoyed that kind of setting much more. My favorite was a divey little bluegrass place called The Station Inn.

Posted by
1955 posts

I'm a long-time Nashvillian, so I sort of held back in responding until a few others had a chance to post, as I always enjoy hearing what outsiders highlight about Nashville.

You likely know Nashville has been declared an IT City and is incredibly popular with visitors from around the world.

Many really good suggestions for Nashville have already been made. Definitely don't miss charming downtown Franklin (cute, adorable shops, historic architecture and some fun lunch spots). If you can get tickets to the Blue Bird Cafe, you will want to do that...we locals don't even try for the most part...but I see the lines regularly as I am out and about shopping in Green's extremely popular!!

Don't know if you were a fan of the TV Show, Nashville, but you could drive by the house where the main star lived on the TV show (on Page Road in the Belle Meade area), if that is something of which you are a big fan.

The 12South area is EXTREMELY popular during the day and into the evenings. Lots of good, casual restaurants and some cute shops, including a new one owned by Reese Witherspoon (who also recently purchased a house on Glen Levin that will be redone). Gosh, there are so many homes by so many stars that many of us "just sort of know about" and many that are not on "homes of the stars tours." Ditto for top songwriters. And, it is not unusual to run into the mega stars while you are out and about or at the grocery.....they blend in, and we Nashvillians treat them as regular humans allowing them to live normal lives among us. I remember hearing from someone when they were in a car accident with Dolly Parton (who was so very nice and kind about it).

The Germantown area of Nashville (a historic area north of downtown) is also very popular with some old favorite restaurants and some new ones.

Google: which is a free newsletter that give top things to do in the city each month, new restaurants, reviews of some restaurants, highlights of chic hotels, along with fashion and home decorating tips. I "think" (not sure) there may also be a Memphis version, too.

I'm not personally a fan of Memphis, but there are those who love it. Ducks at The Peabody are among my fond memories of spending several years working in Memphis.

The Wall Street Journal did a weekend feature on 3 days in Nashville a few years ago. Google to find it.

Please feel free to share any of your group's special interests, or questions, and I will do my best to answer or provide advice. We are honored to have you select our city for a visit, and we hope you leave feeling the love we all have for Nashville. It is growing fast, and traffic can be challenging.

Where are you coming from?

Posted by
1955 posts

Here is the write-up for 48 hours in Memphis.

Here is Styleblueprint's guide to Lower Broad (the Honkey Tonk area of Nashville).

One of MANY articles they have on local restaurants in Nashville:

Here is their Nashville guide, and there is a similar one for Memphis (just check their site):

And, of course, StyleBlueprint is just one of many resources available re: Nashville. But, I enjoy receiving their daily on-line newsletters, because otherwise I might not know about new restaurants that open or shops, etc.

Oh, and The Gulch area of Nashville is also extremely popular with visitors (restaurants/shops, etc.) And, if you are a fan of
"American Pickers" on the history channel, Mike Wolfe has a shop near downtown in Marathon Village.

So, just let me know if you and your group have special interests, and no telling what might emerge from my brain. Nature, history, historic neighborhoods, gardens, historic hotels, shopping, meat and three restaurants, etc.

The Convention and Visitor's Bureau website, which a previous poster referenced, is wonderful, too.

Posted by
914 posts

The weather in the Smokies could go either way, but, yes, fog is a real possibility. There's a nice state park called Fall Creek Falls near where you're traveling. If you'd like a bit of nature and walking without commiting to the Great Smoky Mtns NP, that might be an option:

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you everyone for your insights and great suggestions.

Maggie, we are coming from NY, my husband is driving and my friend & I are flying down to meet him, so we'll have a car.
We're working our way from Memphis - Nashville- Smoky Mtns to head back to NY.

We were thinking Graceland (luv Elvis, so we have to be tourists and see his home).
My friend and I love hiking, so we're thinking of a few short hikes to really embrace TN. We are travelling with our Black Lab and my husband (he's not a hiker, so a short hike is ideal).

We're interested in seeing a Jazz band, getting emersed in the local life moreso than the 'touristy' attractions; good food, music, shooting range, hikes, car shows, etc.

The last few days we're in Pigeon Forge hotel, so we thought to see the Smoky Mountains, even if it's a drive through, as long as we can see the beautiful mountains. We will definitly be making another trip back to focus on hiking.

Posted by
1955 posts

Radnor Lake in the Oak Hill area of Nashville is a jewel of a small state park with a various trail choices that surround a lovely protected lake. But, your lab would only be allowed on the road portion of the trail (which to walk from one end to the other and back would be maybe 45 minutes).

Be warned, though, Radnor Lake is extremely popular, so if it is a sunny warm day, lots of people may be there. But, it is fun to see all the people and dogs on the road portion.
It used to be one of Nashville's best kept secrets, by oh my how the word has gotten out........just as the word is out on our city in general.
Another local hiking option (dogs welcome) is Warner Park, which is right at the end of Belle Meade Blvd. (a lovely area), and there are various options for short and long hikes. Popular with people with dogs, too. Centennial Park (in the West End area of town) is an in-city park, with a small lake.....more open whereas Radnor and Warner are wooded....but also a good place for a quick walk of the dog.
The downtown area of Franklin, TN (maybe 30 miles south of Nashville) that several posters mentioned as being lovely is also very dog friendly. The downtown merchants there even put dog water bowls outside the shops, so your dog would be welcome walking the streets there (and in some shops).

Posted by
1955 posts

You mentioned car shows. You and your husband might enjoy the Lane Auto Museum

It's collection of automobiles.....well, actually I should say motorized transportation devices, as it includes some other than just cars is really rather incredible and worth an hour or two or three, depending on your interest level. I'm not a huge car nut, but we absolutely enjoyed our time there several years ago.....lots of truly novel and special cars.

For a casual, yet very good meal, you might enjoy Butchertown Hall, which is in the Germantown area just north of downtown.
Their brisket sandwich platter (which comes with shaved street corn) is my favorite there. Order some guacamole and chips for a starter....the BEST guac we have ever had!! You can check it out on line or TripAdvisor.....high ceilings, subway tile, open cooking area.....we enjoy the environment a lot. Lots of good restaurants on 12South visited by both locals and tourists. Burger Up is a local popular place on 12South. You could actually take your dog to sit with you on the outside dining area of Edley's BBQ or BarTaco, both on 12South....but you might want to get there early to snag an outside seat if its a lovely warm evening (and it could be very chilly with closed patios in is fickle then). But, it is always fun to see folks walking their dogs along 12South. Lots of young people...both there and in the Germantown area........heck, ditto for all over Nashville.

Posted by
1955 posts

Apologize for so many posts, but I am really trying to help (and not overwhelm you), but something just popped into my head that your group might REALLY enjoy. I was not sure if "Music in the Vines" ran into November, but based on the schedule it does.
Some background: Kix Brooks (of the Brooks & Dunn fame) opened a beautiful vineyard at this large farm in Arrington, TN several years ago, and it is very popular, especially during the Music in the Vines evenings. We've been and it is great fun. Take a picnic and purchase a bottle of wine on site. See schedule could schedule around the jazz night:

One time we were there with friends, and Kix Brooks walked around to greet people on the patio/balcony of the wine-tasting room. He has bees, and we are also hobby beekeepers. Needless to say, it was a long conversation, as tourists took our photos (likely wondering who we were to be so engaged in a long conversation with Kix (we are just no-bodies....LOL).

Arrington is about a 30 minute (give/take) drive from Nashville....the venue is free....they sell wine. Easy to pick up food from local BBQ places or other to-go places to take with you. You will need to inquire if your dog would be welcome...I just can't remember if I saw pets there, but maybe. (EDIT: Just found in the Qs&As, just service animals allowed.) If you visit downtown Franklin (where the historic architecture is with cute shops), it is a easy quick drive east toward Arrington.

I would also suggest packing layers (and maybe some light gloves), since weather can be in the low 70s in November or in the mid 40s, and lows could drop to the is yo-yo weather then. Some Thanksgivings it is frosty and we have the fireplace going; other times, guests have spilled out to dine on our large patio. Just check the long-range forecast before you pack.