8 Best Scenic Drives in Tennessee – Day Road Trips + Scenic Stopovers

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Read this article for Best drives in Tennessee with some fantastic day trips in Tennessee. Plan scenic drives in Tennessee with a list of these beautiful road trips in Tennessee, scenic stopovers, overnight stays, and starting and ending points of the trip.

ALSO READ: 10 Best Weekend Trips From Nashville TN (With Hotel Names)

Scenic drives in Tennessee - Road trips in Tennessee - Day trips in Tennessee

Scenic drives in Tennessee – Road trips in Tennessee 

Tennessee offers some truly picturesque drives, each with unique attractions and natural beauty. Here’s a list of scenic drives in Tennessee or best Tennessee road trips with information on things to do, total miles covered, starting and ending points, scenic stopovers, and overnight stay options:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Loop – Day trips in Tennessee – Best Drives In Tennessee

Total Miles: Approximately 45 miles

Scenic drives in Smoky mountain national park


Overnight Stay: LeConte Lodge

  • Starting Point: Gatlinburg
  • Ending Point: Clingman Dome

ALSO READ: 12 Scenic Drives In Great Smoky Mountains (With Maps + Stopovers)

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Loop is a must-visit scenic drive in Tennessee because it offers breathtaking vistas of lush forests, rolling mountains, and diverse wildlife. It also leads to captivating stopovers like Cades Cove and Clingmans Dome, providing opportunities for wildlife viewing, hiking, and taking in the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.

This drive is also one of the most romantic getaways in Tennesse with lovely nature spots.

Scenic Stopovers: Sugarlands Visitor Center (Gatlinburg), Cades Cove, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Newfound Gap, Laurel Falls Trail, Alum Cave Trail, Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Mountain Farm Museum, with a lot of hikes, trails, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.

Natchez Trace Parkway

Total Miles: 444 miles (through Tennessee)

  • Starting Point: Natchez, Mississippi
  • Ending Point: Nashville, Tennessee

Overnight Stay: Camping along the parkway or nearby lodges.

Road trips in Tennessee - Day trips in Tennessee - Best Drives In Tennessee

The Natchez Trace Parkway is often considered the best scenic drive in Tennessee due to its 444-mile journey through unspoiled natural beauty, rich history, and well-maintained roadways. This historic route showcases an array of picturesque landscapes, including rolling hills, serene forests, and beautiful waterfalls, while offering numerous opportunities to explore significant historical sites and unique stops.

Scenic Stopovers: Meriwether Lewis Park, Jackson Falls, Fall Hollow Waterfall, Loveless Cafe, Tobacco Farm, and Old Trace Drive, a section of the original Natchez Trace, Birdsong Hollow and Double Arch Bridge: Take in the remarkable views from the Double Arch Bridge, one of the highest bridges in the state, Pharr Mounds, Sunken Trace, Jeff Busby Park: Climb the observation tower for a panoramic view of the Mississippi Hills region.

Scenic drives in Tennessee - Road trips in Tennessee -

  • French Camp Historic Village: Step back in time and explore a historic village with log cabins, a chapel, and a museum.
  • Chickasaw Village Site: Learn about the Native American Chickasaw tribe that once inhabited this area.
  • Waverley Mansion: Tour the elegant antebellum mansion and its beautiful grounds, showcasing Southern history and architecture.
  • Cypress Swamp: Take a boardwalk through a unique cypress swamp with towering trees and Spanish moss.
  • Colbert Ferry and Rock Spring: Visit the site where a historic ferry operated and enjoy a scenic view of the Tennessee River.
  • Gordon House Historic Site: Explore the preserved Gordon House, a significant stop on the original Natchez Trace.
  • Witches’ Dance: Learn about the folklore surrounding this peculiar geological formation.
  • The Bynum Mounds: Discover a group of Native American ceremonial mounds and their significance.

Cherohala Skyway

Total Miles: Approximately 43 miles (from Tellico Plains, TN to Robbinsville, NC)

Overnight Stay: Tellico Lodge in Tellico Plains

Scenic drives in Tennessee - Road trips in Tennessee

  • Starting Point: Tellico Plains, TN
  • Ending Point: Robbinsville, NC

The Cherohala Skyway is celebrated as the best scenic drive in Tennessee because it combines the allure of the Appalachian Mountains with well-paved roads, revealing stunning vistas of lush forests, pristine streams, and dramatic overlooks. Its remote and tranquil setting, highlighted by captivating stopovers such as Bald River Falls and the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, makes it an unforgettable journey for nature enthusiasts and those seeking an escape into the wilderness.

Scenic Stopovers: Bald River Falls, Hooper Bald, Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, Indian Boundary Lake, Santeetlah Overlook, The Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center, Citico Creek, Cheoah Bald, Tellico River and 

  • Huckleberry Knob – A grassy bald with spectacular 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Hooper Bald: Another beautiful viewpoint with stunning vistas of the Appalachian Mountains.

Cumberland Plateau Scenic Byway

Total Miles: Approximately 200 miles

Scenic drives in Tennessee - Road trips in Tennessee - Day trips in Tennessee - Best Drives In Tennessee

Overnight Stay: Chattanooga 

  • Starting Point: Crossville
  • Ending Point: Chattanooga

ALSO READ: Best Things To Do In Chattanooga TN This Weekend

The Cumberland Plateau Scenic Byway is one of the best scenic drives in Tennessee for its 200 miles of captivating landscapes, including waterfalls, deep gorges, and pristine plateaus that offer a diverse range of outdoor experiences. Travelers can explore the majestic Fall Creek Falls State Park, the awe-inspiring Foster Falls, and the rugged beauty of Prentice Cooper State Forest, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Scenic Stopovers: Fall Creek Falls State Park, Foster Falls, Prentice Cooper State Forest, Burgess Falls State Park, Rock Island State Park, Savage Gulf Natural Area, Fiery Gizzard Trail, Sycamore Falls, 

Tennessee Wall, Sewanee: The University of the South, Dunlap Coke Ovens Park, Collins River, Wooden’s Apple House, South Cumberland State Park, Monteagle, Cumberland Caverns, University of the South Arboretum, Grundy Forest Natural Area, Prentice Cooper State Forest, The Red Barn, Sequatchie Valley Scenic Overlook, and Shakerag Hollow Trail. 

Music Highway – Tennessee Road Trips

Total Miles: Approximately 230 miles

Overnight Stay: Memphis and Nashville have various accommodation choices

Music Highway stands out as the best scenic drive in Tennessee, as it weaves through iconic musical destinations like Memphis and Nashville, where travelers can immerse themselves in the birthplaces of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and country music. Along this route, you can explore the rich musical heritage of Tennessee, visit historic sites, and enjoy the vibrant music scene that has shaped American culture.

Scenic Stopovers: Jackson, Camden, Waverly, Dickson, Fort Pillow State Historic Park (Henning), West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center (Brownsville), Casey Jones Village (Jackson), Loretta Lynn’s Ranch (Hurricane Mills), Grinders Switch Winery (Centerville), The Renaissance Center (Dickson).

East Tennessee Crossing Byway

Total Miles: Approximately 120 miles

Overnight StayJohnson City, Chattanooga, and various towns along the route have lodging options.

  • Starting Point: Bristol
  • Ending Point: Chattanooga

Scenic drives in Tennessee - Road trips in Tennessee - Day trips in Tennessee - Best Drives In Tennessee

The East Tennessee Crossing Byway is a top scenic drive in Tennessee due to its 120 miles of picturesque landscapes that take you from the charming town of Bristol to the vibrant city of Chattanooga, passing through some of the state’s most scenic and historic areas. With stops at Bristol Motor Speedway and Red Clay State Historic Park, it offers a perfect blend of outdoor beauty and cultural significance, making it a diverse and captivating route for travelers.

Scenic Stopovers: Bristol Motor Speedway, Watauga Lake, Red Clay State Historic Park, South Holston Lake, Chickamauga Lake, Montlake Historic District (Monteagle), Hales Bar Dam (Guild), Prentice Cooper State Forest (Signal Mountain), Ooltewah, Village of Powells Crossroads, Red Bank Battlefield Park (Soddy-Daisy), Nickajack Lake, Warriors’ Path State Park (Kingsport), Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (Chickamauga), Sullivan County’s Historic District, Lookout Mountain. 

The Jack Daniel’s Distillery Tour

Total Miles: Varies based on your starting point

Overnight StayOld Mulberry Inn (Lynchburg): A charming bed and breakfast in Lynchburg offering a cozy place to stay.

Tullahoma - Tennessee road trips - Tennessee scenic drives

  • Starting Point: Lynchburg
  • Ending Point: Lynchburg (loop)

The Jack Daniel’s Distillery Tour is one of the best scenic drives in Tennessee because it not only leads you through the beautiful Tennessee countryside but also provides an opportunity to explore the world-famous Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, where you can learn about the whiskey-making process and savor the history of this iconic brand, all while surrounded by the rolling hills of Tennessee. The tour offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage, making it a memorable and quintessentially Tennessee experience.

Scenic Stopovers: Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Mulberry, Tims Ford State Park, Falls Mill (Belvidere), Short Springs State Natural Area (Tullahoma), Tim’s Ford Marina (Winchester). 

Great River Road (Part of the Mississippi River Scenic Byway)

Total Miles: Approximately 185 miles (through Tennessee)

Overnight Stay: Memphis and nearby towns

Road trips in Tennessee - Day trips in Tennessee - Tennessee Road trips

  • Starting Point: Tiptonville
  • Ending Point: Memphis

The Great River Road, part of the Mississippi River Scenic Byway, is among the best scenic drives in Tennessee because it offers a unique perspective on the state’s landscape, running alongside the mighty Mississippi River with picturesque views of serene riverbanks and historic sites. Travelers can soak in the captivating scenery, explore Reelfoot Lake State Park, and delve into the rich history of the Mississippi River region, making it a wonderful and diverse road trip experience.

Scenic Stopovers: Reelfoot Lake State Park, Memphis Riverfront

Some routes may extend beyond Tennessee into neighboring states, so you can choose the portion that best fits your interests and time frame. Always check for road conditions, accommodations, and attractions’ availability before embarking on your journey.

Scenic drives in Tennessee offer a captivating journey through diverse landscapes, from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Mississippi River. It reveals the state’s rich natural beauty and cultural heritage, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

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