One of the perks of travel nursing is getting to experience new places. With the right mindset, 13 weeks on an assignment is just like an extended vacation. It’s only natural to explore the different sights and attractions in your home away from home, and there is no better time than your day off.
If your assignment is in Tennessee, then you are in luck. Tennessee’s first-rate attractions and hidden treasures are excellent for nature lovers and thrill-seekers. The abundant natural beauty, rich history, and music culture are just a few reasons to see what the Volunteer State has to offer. Besides tasting the state-famous barbeque or Nashville’s hot chicken, here are a few things to do on your day off in Tennessee.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
With more than 522,000 acres of forest, waterfalls, and wildlife, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in the United States. It has around 900 miles of hiking trails and houses the 6,643-foot-high Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park and state. Popular day trips in the Smokies include Suglarlands, a beautiful valley for hikers, and Cades Cove, which once belonged to settlers and now features picturesque meadows, pioneer homesteads, and mountainous views. For a fully immersive experience, make a reservation to camp in the park or a cabin deep in the woods.
Named after country singer Dolly Parton, Dollywood lures more than three million visitors per year in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The 290-acre site houses multiple experiences like Splash Country water park and the Dollywood DreamMore Resort. The 150-acre theme park provides a variety of family fun with more than 50 rides and attractions, music and entertainment shows, multiple dining options, and festivals and events galore. You can even catch a ride on the Dollywood Express, an old steam railway that circles the theme park. Be sure to check the website for operation hours before planning your visit.
One of the top attractions in Memphis, Graceland is the home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock n’ Roll. The mansion and complex hold 120 acres of museums and memorabilia dedicated to the legendary performer and accommodations at the luxurious Guest House at Graceland. You will be able to view the family tomb, an impressive collection of cars, aircraft, and memorabilia, and multiple tours of his living quarters, including the music room, TV room, and Jungle Den. A variety of tour packages are recommended, but the Ultimate VIP Tour offers a well-rounded experience. It includes an intimate tour of the Graceland Mansion, a self-guided tour of Elvis’ jets, full access to Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex (where you’ll find collections of Elvis’ cars, jumpsuits, and other artifacts), a meal voucher for the on-site restaurant, and access to a VIP-only exhibit.
The Bell Witch Cave
For a more mysterious adventure, visit the Bell Witch Cave in Adams, Tennessee. Famous within southern folklore, this 500-foot long cave is allegedly the home of the witch who terrorized the Bell family on their farm. Widely considered one of the scariest places on the famous haunted farm, modern-day tours point out the cave’s spooky features, and many who have explored it have reported strange phenomena.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The “Smithsonian of country music” shelters over 2.5 million artifacts, with two floors of state-of-the-art galleries featuring both permanent and limited exhibits. Many exhibits including countless recordings and photographs, numerous stage costumes, musical instruments, and more. There are 350,000 square feet of retail stores, on-site restaurants, classrooms in the Taylor Swift Education Center, and performance space in the CMA Theater and Ford Theater, which regularly host nationally recognized live music and cultural events. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see a live performance!
Beale Street is a National Historic Landmark district and one of the most iconic streets in America. It is three blocks of nightclubs, restaurants, and shops in the heart of downtown Memphis, and a melting pot of delta blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, and gospel. Restaurants and clubs like Rum Boogie Café, B.B. King’s Blues Club, Silky O’Sullivan’s, or the Hard Rock Café showcase Beale Street’s rich history of legendary and live music. If your assignment happens to be in May, Beale Street has a music festival with top artists and launches a month of festivities throughout the city known as Memphis in May.
In Tennessee, the entertainment opportunities are endless. Make sure to take a few breaks before starting on another adventure.