Honor Your Hometown

Aerial photo of Chattanooga, Tennessee. There are three bridges coming from a small town over a body or water. The picture has been edited with a dark pink colored overlay.

An ode to Tennessee’s small and not-so-small towns.

Tennessee. The Volunteer State. Home to country music, the Great Smoky Mountains, whiskey, and a river that flows through it twice. Also home to some remarkable humans, tomatoes and a whole lotta places people call home with a whole lotta things that make each one special. Oh, Tennessee mountain home. 

Dollywood theme park sign with the words "Dollywood" in a fancy serif font with the letter "W" being replaced by a butterfly. Underneath the words Dolly wood there is another sign that says "Love every moment". The photo is in black and white.
Hartfield and McCoy Dinner Show outside of the building. The left side of the building has a sign that says "Hartfields" on it and the right side says "McCoys". In the middle of the building are the words "Dinner Feud". The building is all wooden and looks like it is from the old Wild West. The picture has been edited with a seafoam colored overlay.
Ripley's Believe It or Not Building. The building is white and has four columns on the outside like a Greek building. The building though is built upside down so the whole front with the columns has been flipped completely. The picture has been edited with a yellow colored overlay.

Pigeon Forge

Population // 6,400 and change

Named after the government robots shaped like birds that used to carry messages. Actually the Little Pigeon River and the 1817 Iron Forge near the Old Mill are what garnered this small town its name. Adds up. Speaking of that forge, that’s top-of-the-list for a number of visitors. Still operating, 205 years after its opening day. Although it’s small, Pigeon Forge is quite lively, with a robust amount of entertainment, especially theaters and dinner shows. Not to mention its most famous attraction: Dollywood. A great place to learn a little history, hear a couple of tappin’ tunes, and definitely dabble in some of the wine and moonshine tours they offer. 

Must See:

Dollywood. Sorta goes without being said. Best coasters to hit on page 126. 

How ‘Bout That:

Water for Elephants: The Fort Weare Game Park was home to an elephant that was a bit of a Houdini, and he would regularly escape and make his way to the nearby river. So casual. 

The Parthenon of Nashville. This building is in Greek style; it is lined with columns on all sides and at the very top is an elaborate frieze with many intricate sculptures. The picture has been edited with a seafoam colored overlay.


Population // 1,294,000

You’ve probably (and hopefully) heard of this one. Maybe you know it as Music City, which bridges us nicely into the musical beat of the southern hub, including the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the bar inspired by Ms. Parton called the White Limozeen. But don’t forget Nashville also holds the tallest indoor sculpture in the country— Athena Parthenos, located in the replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park. Where the whole “Athens of the South” thing comes from. And one last note to self: If you have an ice cream cone don’t even think about putting it in your pocket and taking a step. Transporting an ice cream cone in your pocket is illegal. We can only imagine the backstory of that one. 

Must Do:

Look up the weird laws in every state before traveling. 

How ‘Bout That:

Fairy Floss: Cotton candy used to be called fairy floss back when it was invented by a Nashville dentist and first showcased at the World Fair. Suspecting an ulterior motive to get more kids at the dentist. 

Someone You Know: 

A rather famous talk show host was raised here—Ms. Oprah Winfrey. And not only did she grow up here, but she also made history as the city’s first Black female to be a news anchor. You get a car. 

Elvis' Graceland Mansion in Memphis Tennessee. This building is made out of stone and has eight windows on the front of the house, all have dark shutters on them. There is an elaborate, columned entrance at the front and the yard has neatly trimmed grass and shrubbery.


Population // 1,163,000

The birthplace of rock and roll, home of the blues, and where to find the Memphis Pyramid. Rich with music history, to say the least. You can explore Graceland to get a look inside Elvis’ home and Tennessee life or hop on the bus, Gus, and take a Johnny Cash music tour into town. Do not miss the National Civil Rights Museum and the Burkle Estate—a home that historians say was once part of the Underground Railroad. 

Must Try: 

The barbecue. If you visit Memphis and don’t get some barbecue, you’re doing it wrong. 

Someone You Might Know:

Memphis’ most famous native is none other than Morgan Freeman. Also referred to as one of the greatest actors of all time. Something we can likely all agree on 

How ‘Bout That:

Memphis is home to one of only two historic Peabody Hotels in existence, and their most famous residents are five mallard ducks. Crowds come twice a day to watch them exit their private elevator, march along their red carpet, and hop into the lobby fountain for their daily swim. It’s the little things. 


Population // Right around 18,500

We’re still not certain how to properly pronounce this one. Just north of Pigeon Forge, Sevierville explores the Smokies underground with the expansive Forbidden Caverns. They remain a crisp 58 degrees, 365. For those who don’t like tight spaces, the town is an ideal spot for shopping with a nice array of antiques, outlets, galleries and boutiques. And of course, as this is Dolly’s hometown, you’ll find a rather lovely statue of her at the courthouse, sitting barefoot on a rock with her guitar. Sounds like Dolly. 

Must See:

Bell Witch: The Movie (2007). Filmed in Sevierville, it’s about the legend of a witch that terrorized the Bell family in the 1800s in Adams, Tennessee. Disclaimer: We’ve never seen it. 

How ‘Bout That:

Blades of Glory: Got knives? If you don’t, you should probably go to Smoky Mountain Knife Works. Also known as the largest knife store in the world. 

People walking along the streets of Gatlinburg next to small buildings and shops. The picture has been edited with a yellow colored overlay.


Population // 3,503

Small, yes. Insignificant, no. This charming little town is home to Tennessee’s only ski resort and North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. The SkyLift will take you up to the SkyBridge for the best views of the Smokies. Maybe not the best destination for those with acrophobia. Otherwise known as the Gateway to the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg neighbors the northern border of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Make sure you mark this one in the pullout map from The National Park Issue if you go. 

Must Try:

An Ogle Dog at Fannie Farkle’s. A foot-long Gatlinburg staple. 

How ‘Bout That:

Antisocial Club: Maybe you like fish more than people. Understandable. If this is the case, you should make your way to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. There are more fish there than people living in town. 

Goin’ to the Chapel: Most weddings in the US happen in Vegas, but the Association for Wedding Professionals International says the second most popular place for weddings in the country is good ole Gatlinburg, which clocked 42,000 weddings in 2012. Not sure whether what happens in Gatlinburg stays in Gatlinburg, so plan accordingly. 

The Arthur J. Dyer Observatory tower in Brentwood, Tennessee. The observatory is nestled between a grove of trees and there is an edited overlay of a star chart at the top of the image. The picture has been edited with a seafoam colored overlay.


Population // 47,000 and a few

The place Dolly calls home. A great place for outdoor lovers. Explore Brentwood’s lakes, rivers, mountains and forests in any of the seven nature parks here. Percy Priest Lake and Radnor Lake State Park are top of the list. And for those who prefer the great indoors, the Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery is likely more your speed. Got its claim to fame in the 1800s from raising thoroughbreds for racing. Take a tour, take a sip 

Must See:

The rings of Saturn through the telescope at Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory. 

How ‘Bout That:

The Crown Jewel: Aka the John P. Holt Brentwood Library. One of the town’s most prized possessions, this is more like an experience than a mere book collection. A library dog attends storytime once a month. You can check out a telescope or a piece of art, attend a buttercream frosting class or a wildlife talk complete with a live raccoon. This reminds us to see what our local library is up to. 


Population // 771,000

Hold onto your britches. Or don’t, considering this is the streaking capital of the world. Viewer discretion is advised. Sort of goes hand-in-hand with the city’s 1930s claim of being the underwear capital of the world. Viewer discretion is again advised. On a more family-friendly theme, Knoxville is also the red panda capital of the world, thanks to more than 110 cubs being born at the zoo. If you’re more into sightseeing than streaking, the Three Rivers Rambler Railroad, Star of Knoxville riverboat and Sunsphere offer scenic tours and panoramic views of the Marble City. Viewer discretion not nearly as necessary; it’s all worth seeing. 

Must Do:

Central Filling Station. A ton of food trucks and a Dolly Parton mural made entirely out of recycled beer cans. 

How ‘Bout That:

Someone you might know: Ironically enough, Jackass creator Johnny Knoxville was born in Knoxville. And it’s actually not that ironic because that’s not even his real name. He’s actually a Philip. Last name Clapp. True story. 

The Dew: Home to that one soda that’s a little too green. Mountain Dew was first made here circa 1946. Not sure where the tagline “It’ll tickle your innards” came from, but we’re glad it’s gone.

Blueridge Parkway winding through the mountains in Tennessee. The road is propped up on the mountain and on the right side it hugs the side of the mountain and on the left side is an overlook to the Smokey Mountains. The picture has been edited with a yellow colored overlay.


Population // 27,235

Just below the southern border of Virginia lies the birthplace of country music, as recognized by Congress. Fancy schmancy. As you probably could’ve guessed, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum is a must-see. And since Tennessee has more caves than any other state, the underground systems of the Bristol and Appalachian caverns are some to check off the list. Just five minutes off the Blue Ridge Parkway , aka America’s Favorite Drive. Not too shabby. 

Must See: 

The Bristol Motor Speedway. Otherwise known as Thunder Valley and the Last Great Colosseum. Prepare to get all jacked up on Mountain Dew. 

How ‘Bout That:

The Twin City: Keep driving north and you’ll still find yourself in Bristol, but you won’t still find yourself in Tennessee. Bristol’s borders engulf the state line between Virginia and Tennessee. If you stand in the right spot, you can be in two states at once. 

Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This waterfall is very tall and skinny. It is pouring into the inside of a circular cavern to a small pool of water. The picture has been edited with a dark pink colored overlay.


Population // 1,294,000

First things first: If you’ve never heard “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” stop what you’re doing and give a good listen. You’ll be hearing it all around the home of the Moon Pie. That damn good chocolate and marshmallow sandwich originated here at the Chattanooga Bakery in 1917 as a snack for coal miners, and needless to say, they were quite the hit. Take a bite and then pull into the Coker Museum, one of the better collections of vintage vehicles in the southern US. When you’re done there take a hike in the Smokies, the Appalachians and through the famous caves underneath. 

Must See:

Ruby Falls Cave. Not just a cave, but also a 145-foot underground waterfall in said cave. 

How ‘Bout That:

Home of the Tow: Though it’s never thrilling to come into contact with a tow truck, we have Chattanooga to thank for that infinitely useful invention. Big problem solvers over there. 

Cola Convenience: Chattanooga is home to the original Coca-Cola Bottling Company, established just a few years before they stopped adding cocaine to the mixture.