The Best Day Trips from Nashville

It’s easy to spend a whole week exploring Nashville, but thanks to three interstates that cross within a mile of one another downtown, you can also get out of the city for some fun excursions. Spend the day in nature or tour a Civil War battlefield and still make it back to Music City in time for dinner.

Murfreesboro, TN 37129, USA
As the calendar flipped from 1862 to 1863, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War took place along the Stones River near Murfreesboro. From December 31 to January 2, the Union army marched south from Nashville to stop two advances by the Confederates, turning the tide after recent Union losses like the Battle of Fredericksburg. Almost 80,000 combatants met on the battlefield, resulting in more than 24,000 casualties. To commemorate this important historic event, the Stones River National Battlefield was established in 1927, with 6,850 soldiers buried at the Stones River National Cemetery within the boundaries of the park. Today, history buffs can visit important points of interest on a self-guided audio tour, stop by the visitor center to watch a movie about the battle, and walk through a museum full of artifacts and exhibits detailing the fighting. Park rangers are also available to answer questions and offer guided tours.
280 Lynchburg Hwy, Lynchburg, TN 37352, USA
The charming little town of Lynchburg is home to Jack Daniel, the most famous distillery in all of Tennessee. Take a quick stroll around the town square before crossing a short bridge, which will lead you over a creek that flows from the same spring that provides fresh water for Jack Daniel’s delicious whiskey. Upon arrival at the distillery, you’ll find a modern visitor center where you can learn about the history of Jack Daniel’s as well as the process of making Tennessee whiskey, including the extra step of charcoal mellowing that differentiates it from bourbon.

It’s remarkable to consider that every drop of Jack Daniel’s served at bars all over the world comes from this lovely hamlet down in the hollow—in fact, visitors are likely to see delivery trucks carrying pallets of bottles back up the hills to parts unknown. Should you want to dive deeper into the whiskey-making process, take a guided tour through the various stages of production, beginning at the source of the springwater and continuing through distillation and finally the rickhouses, where the whiskey ages for years in oak barrels until it’s ready for bottling.
732 Stone Fort Dr, Manchester, TN 37355, USA
Located in Coffee County, Old Stone Fort is one of Tennessee’s great archaeological mysteries. It’s not really a fort at all, but rather a series of walls that most likely had some ceremonial or religious significance to early residents of the region. Scientists have determined that the structure was built over the course of several centuries, beginning between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago, and that Native Americans occupied the surrounding area continuously for a half century. By the time Europeans arrived, however, Old Stone Fort had been abandoned, thus launching the mystery of its provenance and use.

Today, the fort is the centerpiece of a popular state archaeological park. A main hiking trail winds through the 400 acres, leading to informative panels that detail what the fort once looked like, how it was constructed, and what it might have been used for throughout the ages. Hikers can also look forward to dramatic scenery, including several cascading waterfalls.
Pikeville, TN 37367, USA
Covering thousands of acres, Fall Creek Falls State Park offers all sorts of outdoor recreation, from hiking and swimming to wilderness camping. The main attraction is without doubt the park’s namesake waterfall—the highest free-falling cataract east of the Mississippi River. Cascading 256 feet into Cane Creek, Fall Creek Falls is a dramatic natural wonder, easily accessed from a parking lot near the top of the falls. A short trail leads from the plateau to the base of the gorge, where visitors can jump into a cool plunge pool under the waterfall. Even if you don’t feel like swimming, the mist from the falls provides a natural cooling effect for those who make the journey to the bottom.
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