Got extra an extra couple days in Nashville? Carve out time to explore Tennessee and beyond on the best day trips from Nashville, TN. Within a few hours of driving from Music City, travelers will find plenty to uncover. From marveling at the state’s natural beauty to visiting historic towns, Nashville road trip ideas are endless.
Outside Nashville, you can explore the state’s largest cave, an underground lake, and even a historic battlefield. Within driving distance, you’ll also slip into popular attractions like the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and the Jack Daniel Distillery. Nature lovers will discover plenty, too. Top outdoor destinations like Mammoth Cave, Historic Diamond Caverns, and Rock Island State Park all await nearby.
Ready to escape Nashville and discover Tennessee and beyond? Plan the ultimate trip with this guide to the top-rated Nashville day trips.
Top-rated Nashville side trips
Looking to try one of the most well-known whiskeys in the world in its hometown? Carve out time in your Nashville itinerary for Lynchburg, TN. In this historic town, great vibes, rich history, and local firewater make for a unique getaway.
Lynchburg is home to plenty of great coffee shops and yummy restaurants. The true pride of Lynchburg, however, is Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Even though Lynchburg is in a dry county, the Jack Daniels Distillery has a long history. Of all the top Lynchburg attractions, the historic distillery tops the list.
Besides enjoying taste tests at the Jack Daniel Distillery, be sure to order a meal at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House on your trip to Lynchburg. This famous eatery has operated for as long as the distillery itself. Try the genuine recipes created by Mary Bobo herself.
Another one of the must-visit Lynchburg attractions is Barrel House BBQ. At the smokehouse, you can try some of the finest cheese in Tennessee. Enjoy a tasty barbecue meal, eating on an old Jack Daniel’s barrel.
Located 21 miles from Nashville, Franklin, TN, is a great spot for a day tour. The city is the perfect escape for anyone, including nature lovers, families, and people who love shopping.
History buffs will enjoy Franklin’s historic sites, such as its Civil War-era homes. Carter House and Lotz House were the most important spots of the Battle of Franklin. The Lotz House served as ground zero during the battle when the Confederates left their stronghold and attacked Franklin. One can still see stains of blood from the soldiers that spent their last moments of life here.
Built in 1826, Carnton Plantation was one of the most important farms in Middle Tennessee. It offers guided tours to fully immerse visitors into its interesting history.
If you’re traveling with kids or just love fluffy animals, visit the Mistletoe Alpaca Farm. Featuring a band of cute furry alpacas, the farm is one of the top Franklin attractions for families passing through. It sits just 20 minutes southeast of the city center.
SEE ALSO: What to Do in Nashville, Tennessee
Williamson County offers plenty of natural beauty as well. If you love epic road trips, zip over to the Natchez Trace Parkway. Famed for its stunning double-arched bridge, the parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the United States.
For the full Natchez Trace Parkway experience, drive the entire 444-mile stretch between Nashville, TN, and Natchez, MS.
Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
If you’re a nature lover visiting Nashville, don’t miss out on Mammoth Cave National Park. Located 1.5 hours away from Nashville in Kentucky, it’s a great spot for a weekend with family, friends, or loved ones. Explore a mysterious cave, enjoy the lush forest, admire one of many Kentucky waterfalls, or hike around this gorgeous area.
You’ll be amazed by the natural wonders you can discover in the area. One of the biggest attractions in Mammoth Cave National Park is the longest system of caves in the whole world. In the underground Cave City, you’ll experience spectacular views and natural wonders. Keep on the lookout for Diamond Caverns, Rainbow Dome, Snowball Room, and Crystal Lake.
Get a guide and choose from various cave tours. Just remember to take appropriate clothing: The temperature underground can be much lower than outside.
Rock Island State Park, TN
Need a break from the city? Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Rock Island State Park. This ideal Nashville day trip is a wonderful destination for an active hiking adventure. Among its 883 acres, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for exploration and seeking out stunning views.
One of the main spots you can’t miss at Rock Island State Park is Great Falls. Located near a 19th-century textile mill, the waterfalls rise 30-feet and present their raw beauty to passersbys.
After your Rock Island State Park visit, head further north in Middle Tennessee to explore Center Hill Lake. Created in 1948, this artificial lake showcases 415 miles of shoreline. It’s the perfect place for a natural active getaway. Get on the trail on your own or take a guided tour to enhance your experience.
Stones River National Battlefield, TN
If you want a unique history lesson, head to the Stones River National Battlefield. Located just outside of Murfreesboro, the site commemorates the important Battle of Stones River. Taking place in 1862, the battle was one of the toughest and bloodiest in the American Civil War.
Visitors to the Stones River National Battlefield will learn about the fateful battle, the Civil War, and its aftermath. Through its interpretive programs, you’ll immerse in history and re-live its historic events.
After your history lesson, spend some time admiring the area’s natural beauty. The landscape is not just pleasant for the eyes. It also creates a unique habitat for local Tennessee flora and fauna, including vultures, deer, and mink.
Dunbar Cave State Park, TN
Looking for an active day out of Nashville? Dunbar Cave State Park is a great spot full of blissful hiking trails and hidden gems. This place is also an important prehistoric site.
Around the 14th century, Mississippian Native Americans created unique cave art at the site. For natives, the historic Dunbar Cave was not only a spot of natural beauty. It was also a sacred place, believed to be a portal to the Underworld. Be sure to take time to admire the artwork on one of the guided tours leading through the caves.
Even if you don’t want to go underground, you will have plenty more to do around Dunbar Cave State Park. Check out the nearby Swan Lake, home to many species of birds and other animals. Follow its meandering trails and enjoy lush woods accompanied by the sounds of songbirds and rushing water.
Ever dreamed of becoming an astronaut? Embark on a two-hour drive south to Huntsville, Alabama. One of the fastest-growing cities in the Southeast, Huntsville will give you a unique chance to explore the universe. Whether you or your kids are interested in the cosmos or you dream about working with NASA, Huntsville makes for the perfect urban escape.
Need ideas for what to do in Huntsville, AL? Start with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. This popular interactive museum is one of the world’s largest space museums. It offers so much to visitors that spending just one day in Huntsville might not be enough.
At the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, you’ll find the largest collection of space artifacts in the world. You can also enjoy a documentary in the National Geographic Theater, immerse yourself in the universe at the Planetarium, or even drink cosmos in the Cocktails & Cosmos bar.
Less than 10 minutes away by car from the space museum, you can also visit Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment. At this repurposed textile mill, you can enjoy the artwork from more than 200 artists, watch performances, and grab some delicious food.
Bowling Green, KY
Miss your university years? Bowling Green, Kentucky, is a college town with plenty to offer day-trippers. Whether you’re searching for a party place, want a historic tour, or need to immerse yourself in nature, Bowling Green’s got it all.
Bowling Green is well-known for its National Corvette Museum. Here, you can see 70 different car models, countless photos, and historic ads. The museum also offers more interactive experiences, such as driving classes and go-kart rides.
You’ll find plenty of caves scattered within a short drive of Nashville. One of the most unique, however, is the Lost River Cave near Bowling Green. Instead of wandering the tunnels on foot, admire the natural beauty of the limestone from a boat pulled by the underground water current. It’s one of the most interesting things to see & do in Bowling Green, KY.
Cumberland Caverns, TN
Want to enjoy mystical nature and discover secret underground passages? Jump in a car and head to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. The history of the park is deeply intertwined with Buffalo and Cherokee Warriors. Here, you can explore more than 85 miles of trails.
If you’re only planning a day trip from Nashville, head straight to Cumberland Caverns. It is an incredible underground complex, with more than 30 miles of walks through caves and passageways. You’ll be amazed by gleaming pools reflecting light and even an underground waterfall that’s the perfect spot for an epic photo op.
Whether you travel to Cumberland Caverns with kids or friends, you can adjust the tour to your needs. Choose from walking experiences, daytime adventures, or nighttime tours. Just keep in mind that the caverns might not be ideal for smaller children or people with limited mobility; trolleys cannot access the caves.
Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly town or romantic getaway, Chattanooga is one of the top urban day trips from Nashville. The city sits on the Tennessee and Georgia border, just over two hours from Nashville. For nature lovers and history buffs alike, it’s one of the best places to visit in Tennessee.
Travelers seeking out family fun can head across the border to Lookout Mountain. Spend time exploring the Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village, where reality turns into a magical fairytale world. Or venture into the heart of Chattanooga to check out exotic animals at the Chattanooga Zoo.
If you’re a nature lover, Chattanooga’s surroundings might slot it in among your favorite cities in Tennessee. One of the top Chattanooga attractions, Lookout Mountain looks wonderful in any season. Enjoy summer days at Rock City Gardens or feel the magic of the Enchanted Trail, decorated with colorful foliage in autumn.
Looking for something more thrilling than an easy walk in nature? Jump into Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, the world’s steepest passenger railway. Admire the stunning landscape during your 15-minute ride.
If you love railways, extend your day trip with a night at Chattanooga Choo-Choo. Occupying the former terminal station, this historic inn is one of the most unique places to stay in Chattanooga. Nearby, you’ll be able to spend time digging into the city’s nightlife, cafes, restaurants, upscale shops, and entertainment venues.
A bit over a 3-hour drive from Nashville, Memphis stretches the limits of a Nashville day trip. But if you can tough out the long day of driving, Memphis might well become one of your favorite day trips from Music City!
Memphis is a wonderful option for travelers, from BBQ lovers to music fans wanting to soak up the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Among the top Memphis attractions are plenty of historical sites, but, let’s be honest, visiting Memphis is (mostly) about the music.
If you’re a music fan, don’t skip visiting Sun Studio. At this legendary recording studio, stars like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash recorded some of their famous tunes. Stop in for a guided tour of Sun Studio to hear their music through its original equipment.
For fans of the King, no visit to Memphis in a day is complete without a visit to Graceland. The former home of Elvis Presley is a mecca for music lovers, frozen in time. Embark Nashville in the wee hours of the morning to secure a spot.
Extending your stay overnight at one of the best hotels in Memphis? Be sure to spend the evening plying the blues clubs along Beale Street. One of America’s most famous entertainment districts, Beale Street is a must-visit for fans of blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll.