There are plenty of things to do in Nashville, Tennessee, to keep you busy for your entire trip—from mural tours and honky tonks to boutique shopping and southern dining!

However, did you realize Tennessee is surrounded by eight states? That makes Nashville a great launching point to explore more of the country! In this post, we’ve rounded up some of the best weekend trips and day trips from Nashville so you add one (or more!) of these destinations to your trip.

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Top Weekend Road Trips & Day Trips from Nashville

1. Chattanooga, Tennessee

  • Distance from Nashville: 132 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Day Trip

Chattanooga is one of the best day trips from Nashville just over two hours from the city. Chattanooga is truly an outdoor-lovers paradise. With impressive nearby waterfalls, hikes, rock climbing, and caverns, you will surely want to spend more than one day, which is why it also makes a great weekend trip from Nashville!

Start your morning by exploring the magical Rock City Gardens. This 4,100 ft trail weaves in and out of natural rock and takes you past amazing waterfalls, caverns, overlooks, swinging bridges, and more. After exploring, head into Chattanooga for a picnic at Coolidge Park and a stroll across the Walnut Street Bridge. For the rest of the afternoon, you can choose between a trip to the aquarium, a hike up to Snooper’s Rock, or a tour of Racoon Mountain Caverns.  

End your night with a dinner cruise aboard the Southern Belle Riverboat. If you still have additional time, you can learn about the haunted side of Chattanooga with a walking ghost tour! It’s bound to be one of the best day trips from Nashville that you won’t soon forget. 

Recommended by Jordan from The Homebody Tourist

A waterfall falling off a cliff into a forest in Chattanooga: one of the best day trips from Nashville

2. Franklin, Tennessee

  • Distance from Nashville: 20 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Day Trip

Franklin, Tennessee, is one of the most charming day trips from Nashville, and it’s only a short half-hour drive from Downtown Nashville! There are tons of fun things to do in Franklin, Tennessee, from boutique shopping, great dining, live music, and Civil War history, making it a fascinating place to spend the day.

When you arrive in Franklin, start your morning at Biscuit Love for a southern-style breakfast, and then head to the Carter House for an informative tour. Here, you can learn all about the Battle of Franklin, one of the most important battles in the Civil War, and walk through the property and home where the battle took place. You can still see bullet holes through the walls!

After your tour, head to the Factory at Franklin. You can grab lunch at Mojo’s Tacos and do some shopping at the boutique stores in this historic establishment. Then, head to Downtown Franklin to do some more shopping or head into Leiper’s Fork for a whiskey tasting. Before heading back to Nashville, enjoy a southern-style dinner at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant!

Recommended by Brittany from Travel by Brit

The Franklin Theatre and other shops and buildings in Downtown Franklin: one of the best day trips from Nashville

3. Memphis, Tennessee

  • Distance from Nashville: 212 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Day Trip // Weekend Trip

Looking for one of the best day trips from Nashville? If so, then check out Memphis, Tennessee. After all, this vibrant city in southwest Tennessee is known for its ties to blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and soul music since Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and B.B. King recorded iconic records here at Sun Studio. It’s just over a three-hour drive from Nashville, so you can either enjoy the best things to do in Memphis during a jam-packed day trip or a leisurely weekend trip.

Many popular area attractions have close ties to the music history, including Graceland (aka Elvis’ former home), the Rock’ n’ Soul Museum, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and the Blues Hall of Fame. You can also head to Beale Street and enjoy live musical performances at local venues like Tin Roof, B.B. King’s Blues Club, and Rum Boogie Cafe. 

Additionally, you cannot leave Memphis without exploring the lobby of The Peabody Hotel. Residents shuffle their way through the hotel lobby daily between 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM. You can also stay here if you are planning to take a weekend trip from Nashville. And if you have time, be sure to pop into the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum and learn all about the incredible role that Memphis played in the Underground Railroad as enslaved people made their way to freedom.

Recommended by Victoria from Southern Road Trippers

A wall in Memphis outside of Graceland with graffiti on it.

4. St. Louis, Missouri

  • Distance from Nashville: 308 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Weekend Trip

It’s over a four-hour drive from Nashville to St. Louis, but it’s worth the drive once you get there. St. Louis is a great city with plenty to see and do. There are museums, restaurants, and parks galore, not to mention the Gateway Arch, one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States. St. Louis is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a fun weekend getaway from Nashville!

When you arrive, see the sights in Downtown St. Louis. Visit the Gateway Arch, take a scenic Gateway Arch Riverboat ride on the Mississippi River, admire the art at the Citygarden Sculpture Park, and bring out your inner kid at the one-of-a-kind City Museum. The Gateway Arch is the top attraction in St. Louis. Make a reservation to ride to the top, learn the area’s history at the museum underneath, and enjoy the views from the surrounding greenspace.

You can also explore the Forest Park area. Forest Park is home to numerous attractions like the Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, and the Saint Louis Science Center. There’s also plenty of open space for running, biking, or just relaxing in nature. Union Station is another popular spot for visitors. It includes the St. Louis Aquarium, The Wheel, and some kid-friendly attractions. From a quick day trip from Nashville to a weekend getaway, there’s something for everyone in St. Louis!

Recommended by Caitlin from Twin Family Travels

A domed arch in a park in St. Louis with a copper roof surrounded by greenery and a lake.

5. Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Distance from Nashville: 288 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Weekend Trip

If you are looking for a fantastic, family-friendly weekend trip from Nashville, Indianapolis is just the place. This vibrant city, located in the heart of Indiana, has a ton of amazing attractions and things to do that will delight the entire family.

When traveling with kids, visiting the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a must. As one of the largest children’s museums in the US, this place is loaded with incredible exhibits and boasts an impressive outdoor sports legends experience. You could spend an entire day here! Of course, you can’t visit Indianapolis without checking out its iconic Motor Speedway. Take a guided tour of the track, kiss the bricks, and explore the museum filled with racecars and vintage vehicles. If you happen to be there during a track day, you can watch (and listen to) the cars whipping around the track.

And if you want a little relaxation, head to Indiana Dunes National Park. Here, you will find 15 miles of the best family beaches in Indiana! Explore the giant sand dunes that tower nearly 200 feet above the lake, or just soak in the summer sun while the waves crash on the shore. You can also go biking, bird watching, fishing, boating, hiking, camping, and even geocaching with the family at the park.

There are many great places to stay, both in downtown Indianapolis and some of the surrounding towns. And for a popular dish, don’t leave town without sampling their famous Hoosier Pie!

Recommended by Marianne from Pasta, Pretzels & Passports

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Racing Capital of the World

6. Arrington Vineyards, Tennessee

  • Distance from Nashville: 27 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Day Trip

For one of the best day trips from Nashville, look no further than nearby Arrington Vineyards, located 30 minutes south of town. The vineyards are open year-round from 11 AM to 8 PM most days. It is one of the best destinations for the whole family and is especially great for wine lovers. Visit during the summer for the entire experience when everything on the vast property is open, or during the winter for a charming holiday activity for date night or when the family comes to visit.

There are many great places to drink wine in Nashville, but this one’s the best! The vineyard grows its own grapes and makes a large variety of wine on the property. They will please even the pickiest wine drinkers with various red, white, and sweet wines. You’ll want to visit for at least several hours, but the whole day makes for a fun experience. It’s a great date spot, girlfriend’s meetup, or family location, as there’s tons of space for kids to run and play while you enjoy the beverages.

You have several options for trying the wine. Grab a tasting, a selection of four small pours, buy by the bottle, or enjoy their Frosés if you’re visiting during summer.

Be sure to bring a few important things with you. You’ll want a picnic blanket, water bottles, and food to enjoy. The best thing to bring is a charcuterie platter, which pairs perfectly with all the wine you’ll be trying. On select days, food trucks are on-site, and you can order lunch there instead!

Recommended by Tori from Tori Pines Travels

A flight of four wines and grapes, pretzels, cold cuts, veggies, and other snacks on a table

7. Asheville, North Carolina

  • Distance from Nashville: 297 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Weekend Trip

Asheville is a quirky mountain town that falls along the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, a famous scenic drive in autumn. It has a wonderful mix of outdoorsy and city activities, so if you’re visiting for a weekend trip from Nashville, you have a great pick of things to do.

One of the best options is visiting the Biltmore Estate, where for $89+ per adult, you get access to “America’s Largest Home” plus the extensive gardens and grounds, including the conservatory, a rose garden, and an Italian garden, all surrounded by stunning mountain views. A winery tasting is also included in your ticket (but go easy if driving back to Nashville the same day!).

Other fun things to do in Asheville include doing an art walk downtown at the many galleries, playing your heart out at the Asheville Pinball Museum, and trying some local beer because the Asheville area is home to 80+ breweries! You can also go on a guided hike in the gorgeous mountains surrounding the city.

Be sure to try White Duck Tacos, a fusion taco spot that’s very popular among locals, Baked Pie Company, where you can try a pie flight, and Biscuit Head for their iconic biscuits and jam bar!

Recommended by Alanna from Periodic Adventures

The BIltmore Estate, a large castle-like home, in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina, one of the best day weekend trips from Nashville

8. Louisville, Kentucky

  • Distance from Nashville: 175 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Day Trip // Weekend Trip

Do you love bourbon, baseball, and horses? If so, you’ll probably enjoy exploring all the cool things to do in Louisville, Kentucky—one of the best weekend trips or day trips from Nashville.

During your time in Louisville, you can’t miss the chance to explore many of the best museums in Louisville, such as the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Churchill Downs & Kentucky Derby Museum, and Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. You should also check out some of the best places to eat in Louisville, like Gralehaus and Biscuit Belly for brunch and Repeal Oak-Fired Steakhouse or Doc Crow’s Smokehouse for dinner!

If you’re staying in Louisville for the weekend, spend a day exploring all the bourbon distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. If you only have time for one tour, consider visiting Maker’s Mark Distillery. This is widely considered one of the best distillery tours in Kentucky! Consider booking a room at Hotel Distil to really get in touch with the city’s bourbon culture. They offer a free Old Fashioned for guests every night!

Recommended by Brittany from Travel by Brit

The exterior of Mitcher's Bourbon Distillery and other historic buildings in Downtown Louisville, one of the best day trips from Nashville.

9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

  • Distance from Nashville: 197 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Day Trip // Weekend Trip

If you’re looking for one of the best day trips from Nashville that will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated, a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just what you need. It’s the most visited national park in the United States, and for good reason.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park spans more than 520,000 acres and features beautiful mountain vistas, pristine forests, rushing rivers and waterfalls, and an array of plant and animal life, offering an endless list of things to do and see. 

Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the park thanks to its more than 800 miles of trails ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks. Popular trails include Cades Cove Loop, Chimney Tops, Clingmans Dome, Laurel Falls, Ramsey Cascades, Grotto Falls, and the infamous Appalachian Trail.

If you’re not up for a hike, you can still enjoy the stunning scenery in the comfort of your car. The Newfound Gap Road offers some of the best views in the Smoky Mountains. This 33-mile scenic drive traverses Newfound Gap, the highest point in the park, accessible by car. There are plenty of pull-offs where you can stop and soak in the views.

Last but not least, take some time to enjoy some wildlife watching. The park is home to over 200 kinds of birds, 65 mammal species, 67 native fish species, and over 80 types of reptiles and amphibians. You’ll get the chance to see white-tailed deer, chipmunks, groundhogs, elk, turkeys, and more. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a black bear.

Recommended by Disha from Disha Discovers

Trees and the start of the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee

10. Huntsville, Alabama

  • Distance from Nashville: 111 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Day Trip

Huntsville, Alabama, is one of the best day trips from Nashville, as there are several cool sites in this relatively unknown city in Alabama. Huntsville is home to the Redstone Arsenal and is known as Rocket City, thanks to the fact that it was central to the design and testing of America’s rocket systems for the space program in the 1960s, and it continues to be a major player in modern space exploration.

The top thing to do in Huntsville is to visit the world-class Space and Rocket Center, a museum that features a replica of the Saturn V rocket, which was used for the Apollo moon-landing missions. This replica stands proudly upright outside the museum and can be seen from many spots in Huntsville. Other space shuttles, airplanes, and rockets are on display outside, and inside, you can see many exhibits about space exploration, including an authentic Saturn V rocket, along with different space-related exhibits. 

Stop by the Huntsville Botanical Gardens next door when you’re done at the Space and Rocket Center. There are peaceful flower gardens and trails to walk and explore, and a fun children’s garden and butterfly house to play in. Downtown Huntsville is a charming little area to explore, get food, or discover murals. If you fancy a hike, visit Monte Sano State Park for many great trails or bike down the several greenways throughout the city.

Recommended by Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast

The Davidson Center for Space Exploration and a model rocket in Huntsville.

11. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

  • Distance from Nashville: 216 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Weekend Trip

Where can you find local moonshine, stunning mountain views, a life-size replica of Titanic, and endless odes to songbird Dolly Parton? The answer? The-one-and-only Pigeon Forge, Tennessee! A short drive from Nashville, this cozy mountain town is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and proximity to Smoky Mountain National Park. 

For an authentic mountain cabin experience, the hospitality company Yourcation Awaits is superior. Their spacious two-story cabin sleeps up to 13 and boasts a private deck with a hot tub and a fully equipped kitchen. Multiple game rooms and streaming services make for a fun family getaway or group trip. It’s also a five-minute drive from Dollywood and 15 minutes from the Smokies.

Spending a day at Dollywood is a must, but there’s much to do beyond that. Enjoy a feast at Dolly’s Stampede. This four-course Southern meal and show features music, comedy, and pyrotechnics. Then, burn off the calories and hike a trail in the Smokies. The most popular hikes include the Porters Creek Trail, Laurel Falls, and the Alum Cave Trail. Finish the morning with breakfast at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp. You can also sample the local spirits on a moonshine and wine tour or sip at your leisure. The can’t-miss stops include Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine and Mountain Valley Winery. 

If you have more time, check out the Titanic Museum, Paula Deen’s Country Kitchen, a Jeep sightseeing tour, and shopping at The Island!

Recommended by Alexandra from East Coast Contessa

A woman with long brown hair and a floral dress overlooking a small town and mountains in Pigeon Forge, one of the best day trips from Nashville.

12. Atlanta, Georgia

  • Distance from Nashville: 249 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Weekend Trip

Just under a four-hour drive from Nashville, Atlanta, Georgia, may be one of the longer day trips from Nashville, but it certainly makes a perfect weekend trip!

There are tons of fun things to do in Atlanta during your weekend trip from Nashville. First, head downtown and visit the Georgia Aquarium—one of the largest aquariums in the world! You can easily spend half the day exploring this world-class aquarium’s top-notch exhibits. Get skip-the-line tickets to make the most of your trip. If you have time, check out some of the other cool museums at attractions downtown, like the World of Coca-Cola, College Football Hall of Fame, and Centennial Olympic Park.

You also can’t miss the chance to explore the attractions in midtown Atlanta. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens are one of the can’t-miss attractions in the city. Don’t miss the 25-foot Earth Goddess Sculpture while you’re there! You can also explore the Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail with tons of restaurants, shopping, and attractions along the way. There are tons of things to do in Atlanta, so you may want to consider an Atlanta CityPass to get the most bang for your buck!

If you’re looking for something to eat, head over to Ponce City Market or Krog Street Market for a wide selection of local vendors and restaurants. Atlanta is also filled with tons of craft breweries, so head to Monday Night Brewing for a beer before calling it a night!

Recommend by Brittany from Travel by Brit

The historic Ponce City Market red brick building exterior in Atlanta Georgia

13. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

  • Distance from Nashville: 94 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Day Trip

As the longest-known cave system in the world, Mammoth Cave National Park does live up to its name! Established in 1941, the park consists of 52,830 acres, including the cave and an extensive trail system.

The caves have regular tours that visitors can embark on. The tours explore various parts of the cave system, including the history of the cave. Cave tours are held year-round, although winter sees fewer tourists and fewer tours. The cave is generally 54ºF year-round. However, surface temperatures can vary wildly depending on the season.

Mammoth Cave National Park is about an hour and 45 minutes from Nashville. Hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores are located in nearby Cave City, KY. There’s a hotel within the park, the Lodge at Mammoth Cave, which offers hotel rooms adjacent to the visitor center. It’s the perfect place to stay if you want to extend your trip to Mammoth Cave National Park for more than just one day!

Recommended by Anwar from Beyond My Door

The caverns in Mammoth Cave National Park

14. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

  • Distance from Nashville: 223 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Weekend Trip

One of the longer day trips from Nashville is the four-hour one-way car ride east to Gatlinburg. While it can be a stretch if you strictly have one day to spare, this day trip can be done if you leave early in the morning and drive back later that night or if you plan a weekend trip from Nashville to Gatlinburg!

Because a majority of things to do are within walking distance from one another it is possible to see the city and do many of the best attractions in the area in just a day. However, if you can stretch your stay further, spending at least one night in Gatlinburg is recommended so that you can take your time and not miss any of the fun, especially if you want to hike in the Smoky Mountains. While downtown Gatlinburg is frequently labeled as one of the largest tourist traps in America for families you may be surprised to learn that there are also a decent amount of free and cheap things to do in Gatlinburg for adults

Begin your morning or early afternoon in Gatlinburg with a local cup of coffee or sit down for brunch at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp. After fueling up for the day you can enjoy walking the strip and shopping or go moonshine tasting!

Then, spend the second half of your afternoon by purchasing a SkyLift ticket and riding up to the SkyBridge where you’ll get the chance to walk across the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America. For dinner, you’ll have no shortage of options to pick from right downtown!

Recommended by Rachel from Rachel’s Findings

The longest suspension bridge in the United States crossing over the greenery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

15. Knoxville, Tennessee

  • Distance from Nashville: 180 miles
  • Recommended Trip: Day Trip // Weekend Trip

Knoxville is one of the best day trips from Nashville, and it makes for a great weekend trip too!

Start your day with breakfast at Olibea. Named after the owner’s two children, Oliver and Beatrice, this popular breakfast spot serves up breakfast favorites with a southern twist. Then, explore the Old City. The history of this neighborhood dates to the 1850s when a new rail system was built, and old JFG Coffee signs still line the railroad and speak to this earlier time. Pick up a hand-blown glass from Pretentious Glass Co. or local souvenirs from Rala.

Next, head to the World’s Fair Park. Wondering what that tall, shiny sphere is dotting the Knoxville skyline? The Sunsphere was built when the City of Knoxville hosted the 1982 World’s Fair, and today it is an event venue with a free observation deck that offers an aerial view of the city. The World’s Fair Site is now a public park used for festivals and events and connects downtown to the Tennessee River via the city’s lengthy greenway system.

After, shop at Market Square, Knoxville’s downtown hub for restaurants, concerts, and festivals. If you are here on Saturday, you can shop at the Farmer’s Market or ice skate during the holiday season. Grab lunch at The Tomato Head, peruse Union Ave. Books, and don’t miss the Dolly Parton mural in the northeast corner. Then, you can grab an ice cream from Cruze Farm Dairy or coffee from Frothy Monkey while strolling the main drag of historic downtown. 

Finally, enjoy dinner at A Dopo Sourdough Pizza and drinks at the Peter Kern Library. If you decide Knoxville merits more than a day trip, the Oliver Hotel is one of the city’s best and longest-standing local boutique hotels. It’s the perfect place to stay during your weekend trip to Knoxville from Nashville!

Recommended by Emma from Travel Filled

A boutique store filled with artwork, hats, cards, and other handmade items

Enjoy these Fun Weekend Road Trips & Day Trips from Nashville

With so many fun weekend trips and day trips to choose from, it will be difficult to choose just one or two during your trip to Nashville! Which of these weekend trips and day trips from Nashville would be at the top of your list? Let me know in the comments below!

Save These Weekend Road Trips & Day Trips from Nashville for Later

Did you love this post about weekend trips and day trips from Nashville? Check out these other things to do while you’re in Nashville:

About the Author

Hi, I'm Brit! I'm a writer from Phoenix, AZ who loves coffee, golden retriever puppies, and obviously, travel! I help ordinary women (like me!) dream, plan, and do extraordinary travel experiences.