Step Up to Romance in the Volunteer State
For much of the eastern United States, Tennessee is a mere day’s road trip away. That’s good news because it means that great music, stunning mountain views and excellent lodging options are all within easy reach. Why not let the grandparents have some quality time with the kids, while you head off on a romantic Tennessee getaway? Here are five great places to find romance.
Urban sophistication and rural beauty live side by side in a musical city that’s booming as newcomers discover its charms.
- Stay someplace unique. The atrium at Gaylord Opryland Resort (2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN) makes visitors feel like they’ve stepped into a fantasy world, with 9 acres of indoor gardens, complete with waterfalls. The guest rooms are well-appointed, and the amenities are bountiful. Another interesting hotel in Nashville is Union Station (1001 Broadway, Nashville, TN), a renovated train station, where the lobby has soaring ceilings, gorgeous stained glass, striking sculptures and 10-foot chandeliers. Book the romance package, and you’ll receive chocolate-covered strawberries, breakfast for two and champagne. Don't feel like splurging on high-end lodging? Look for a bed-and-breakfast in one of the neighboring small towns, like Smyrna or Lebanon.
- Make the most of Music City. Nashville brings to mind country music, and it's certainly easy to find. But many people don’t know that the Grammy-award-winning Nashville Symphony is one of the best in the nation. Visit the website for tickets to a performance at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center (1 Symphony Place, Nashville, TN), a breathtaking venue with acoustics as beautiful as the architecture. If symphony tickets are outside of your budget, here's good news: In the summer, the symphony offers free concerts in area parks, listed on the website's concert calendar. Another great music venue is the historic Ryman Auditorium (116 Fifth Ave. N., Nashville, TN), and if you’re able to catch a favorite band there during your stay, you’ll be watching them in the building where Johnny Cash met June Carter. What’s more romantic than that?
This charming mountain town was voted one of America’s prettiest by Forbes magazine.
- Stay someplace cozy. There are many cabins in Gatlinburg, with romantic features like in-room Jacuzzis and fireplaces. If an old-fashioned inn is more your style, check out Riverhouse at the Park (904 River Road, Gatlinburg, TN), located on the river next to the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, within an easy walk to downtown. It's economical too, with some rooms coming in under $100. For more upscale lodgings, try the Lodge at Buckberry Creek (961 Campbell Lead Road, Gatlinburg, TN), a “rustically elegant lodge” that has all the amenities you’d expect from a modern resort, from fine dining to in-room massages.
- Take a walk. Gatlinburg is a walkable city, right next to a national park. There’s no shortage of places to walk, whether you’re looking for a woodland hike, a chance for sightseeing or just a relaxing stroll, hand in hand, along the Riverwalk. Visit in the spring, when the Great Smoky Mountains burst into bloom, with more wildflowers in the national park than in any other national park in the country. Fall is spectacular too, when the leaves turn and the mountains are awash with color.
- Discover the local handiwork. Leave downtown Gatlinburg on U.S. Route 321, and you’ll quickly find the 8-mile loop known as Gatlinburg’s Historic Arts and Crafts Trail. There you’ll discover North America’s largest group of independent artisans, who whittle, paint, sew and weave, among many other crafts. Each stop along the way has parking, and you’ll also find places to eat, relax and even stay.
Voted one of America’s most romantic towns by Travel and Leisure, Franklin is close to Nashville yet feels far removed from the city’s bustle and bling.
- Stay in a bed-and-breakfast. Butterfly Meadows Inn and Farm (6775 Bethesda-Arno Road, Franklin, TN) offers a lovely getaway spot, in the middle of 40 acres of woods and meadows alive with butterflies. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, and the innkeepers provide delicious home-cooked meals. Closer to downtown Franklin is Magnolia House (1317 Columbia Ave., Franklin, TN), a restored historic home with a Southern-style breakfast each morning.
- Visit downtown. There’s a 19th-century feeling to Franklin, and many of the town’s buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Walking downtown affords the opportunity to shop, dine and take in the sights. There are even wine tastings, at JJ’s Wine Bar (206 E. Main St., Franklin, TN), the Bottle Shop (1556 W. McEwen Drive, Franklin, TN) and Arrington Vineyards (6211 Patton Road, Arrington, TN_)_. Franklin is especially picturesque during the holiday season, when the Victorian buildings downtown provide the perfect backdrop for Christmas festivities.
Home to Rock City and the famous Choo-Choo, Chattanooga is a charming town nestled in a bend of the Tennessee River.
- Stay somewhere romantic. The Chattanooga Choo-Choo (1400 Market St., Chattanooga, TN) is now a hotel, where guests can stay in renovated Pullman cars. Order the romance package, and you’ll receive handmade chocolates and champagne or sparkling juice. Prefer a more traditional room? Check out the Bluff View Inn (411 E. Second St., Chattanooga, TN), situated in three renovated mansions, just a walk away from the Bluff View Arts District and the beautiful 12-mile Riverwalk.
- See Rock City (1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, TN). It’s romantic to explore the gardens together, check out the ancient rock formations and marvel at the seven-state view. Also on Lookout Mountain is the Incline Railway (top, 827 E. Brow Road; bottom, 3917 St. Elmo Ave., Chattanooga, TN), the steepest passenger railway in the world. Rock City, like much of Tennessee, is at its best in spring and fall, when bold colors light up the landscape and temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold.
You can see Rock City for cheaper if you purchase a package ticket for all three Lookout Mountain attractions: Rock City, Incline Railway and Ruby Falls.
The birthplace of the blues and rock-and-roll, Memphis is a sultry getaway on the Mississippi River.
- Stay somewhere decadent. Talbot Heirs (99 S. Second St., Memphis, TN) is a small, privately owned inn so indulgent, the kitchen can be stocked with your preferences. If a boutique hotel is more your speed, try River Inn of Harbor Town (50 Harbor Town Square, Memphis, TN), where there's an elegant ambiance, perks like complimentary champagne and truffles, and a terrace perfect for watching the sunset. These hotels are not budget-friendly, but a romantic getaway is the perfect time to splurge.
- Explore some music. They say music is the language of love, which may make Memphis the most romantic place around. Visit Graceland (3717 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN) and Sun Studio (706 Union Ave., Memphis, TN), to immerse yourself in rock-and-roll history. If your preference runs toward soul music, check out Stax Museum of American Soul (926 E. McLemore Ave., Memphis, TN), located in the studio where Otis Redding got his start. If you’d rather have a guided tour, Memphis is such a cool town that your tour guide from American Dream Safari (343 Madison, Memphis, TN) will show you around in a 1955 Cadillac. After dark, you'll be happy you don't have kids to put to bed, as you head over to Beale Street and listen to live music until it's almost morning and you’re ready to call it a night.
- Marriott: Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
- Union Station Hotel Nashville
- Nashville Symphony Classical Tickets
- Forbes: Gatlinburg, One of America's Prettiest Cities
- Oyster: Most Romantic Hotels in Gatlinburg
- NPS: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Gatlinburg: Romance
- Travel and Leisure: America's Most Romantic Towns: No. 14, Franklin TN
- Gatlinburg Tennessee's Artists and Craftsmen
- Gatlinburg: Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community
- The Lodge at Buckberry Creek
- Chattanooga Choo-Choo
- Chattanooga: Romantic Getaway Packages
- TN Vacation: Rock City and Rock City Gardens
- Frommer's: Chattanooga Attractions
- Visit Franklin: Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast
- JJs Wine Bar
- Franklin Fun Times Guide: Arrington Vineyards: The Best Wine Tasting in Franklin, TN
- Memphis Travel: Plan a Romantic Getaway in Memphis
- Talbot Heirs
- River Inn of Harbor Town
- Stax Museum of American Soul Music
- Sun Record Company
- Memphis Travel: American Dream Safari
Amy Curtis has been writing her entire life and professionally for the past decade. Her work has been featured on sites like Wayvs.com, 10Best.com and WorkingMother.com. A vagabond at heart, Curtis has lived all over the U.S. and Europe. She loves a good road trip, and has traveled extensively for business, pleasure, mission trips and as a military wife. She's currently busy working on a novel and planning her next big trip to Lake Powell, Utah.