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Planning a visit to Tennessee in winter? Here are some of the best places in Tennessee you should visit during your winter trip.
Tennessee may not be an ideal winter escape destination. But with snow covered surroundings and the magical holiday season, the state is just as much fun in winter as any other time of the year. You can stay outdoors to enjoy skiing, see Christmas lights, explore indoor exhibits and catch theatre shows, whatever activities suits you the best. Check out these wonderful places to visit in Tennessee in winter and know about the fun you should not be missing out on.
Best Places To Visit In Tennessee In Winter
There are so many things to do in Gatlinburg and it is the perfect winter oasis. First, you want to start by going skiing at Ober mountain. It is located on Mount Harrison and has been open since 1692. Skiing in Gatlinburg begins in mid-December and runs through the beginning of March.
If you want to warm up after skiing, head to Wild Bear Falls Water Park which is a fun indoor water park complete with slides, lazy rivers, and more. It is the perfect thing to do in Tennessee in Winter for the whole family.
What isn’t for the whole family? Going to a whisky distillery and doing a whiskey tasting! The Ole Smokey Moonshine Distillery is the perfect place for this and samples only cost $5. In the morning to help your hangover, head to Crockett’s Breakfast Camp which has been around since 1840 and is the perfect place for a home cooked breakfast. These are just a few of the many amazing reasons you should visit Gatlinburg during the winter.
By Victoria Yore of Southern Trippers
2. Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge is absolutely one of the best places to visit in Tennessee in winter. This small city is turned into a winter wonderland with lights, trolley tours, and parades. The most popular winter event in Pigeon Forge is the Winterfest. Three mountain towns get together to form a winter oasis for travellers looking for the holiday spirit.
A quick drive down Pigeon Forge Parkway will have you amazed, with the 12 Days of Christmas in lights. As you make your way through Gatlinburg and Sevierville, you will see more lights and even a few of the native animals. As if the lights weren’t enough, there are fun events throughout the festival, which include arts and crafts for kids, a chili cook-off, an honour to Christmas past, and fun parades. After spending some time at the festival, make a stop at Dollywood, where the entire park is turned into Santa’s workshop.
For nature buffs, you can take a scenic drive through the Cades Cove. It is one of the most beautiful places in the Smokies, so take your time and enjoy the views. You can’t go wrong with getting a cabin with a hot tub to relax and enjoy the brisk air while relaxing in the warm water. One of the best places to stay in Pigeon Forge is Club Wyndham Smoky Mountains. It’s centrally located and has everything you need to enjoy your holiday in Pigeon Forge.
By Corritta Lewis of Itz A Family Thing
3. Cheekwood Lights, Nashville
Every winter, the 55-acre Cheekwood Botanical Gardens is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. This is Cheekwood Lights, and it is one of the best holiday light displays in America. Throughout the year, there are a number of special events on the historic estate, but the winter light display is transformative. People come from all over the Southeast and across the United States to see the display. The paths are illuminated with dazzling light displays, starbursts, candy cane wrapped trees, light tunnels, and beautifully illuminated trees. It seems like there are millions of lights.
Beyond the lights, there’s lots of other things to see and do. The garden railroad is lit up and decorated for the Christmas holiday season and is extremely popular with kids. There are visits from Santa and his friends, and even some real live reindeer to meet.
The Cheekwood Gardens sits about 30 minutes southwest of downtown Nashville. For dinner, consider the onsite restaurant, Café 29, or one of the many restaurants in nearby Belle Meade. Throughout the gardens, there are beverage stations to load up on hot chocolates or hot toddies. Most visitors choose to stay at a downtown Nashville hotel, but the closest hotel is the Hampton Inn & Suites – Green Hills (a suburb near Cheekwood).
The Cheekwood Lights are absolutely magical!
By Lance and Laura Longwell of Travel Addicts
Chattanooga in winter is an incredible place to visit in Tennessee. The city transforms into a winter wonderland that is ideal for any kind of vacation. One of the highlights of Chattanooga is the Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights. These marvellously decorated gardens are located atop Lookout Mountains which is just 6 miles away from the downtown Chattanooga. The gardens display four fascinating “realms of wonder” – Yule Town, Magic Forest, North Pole Village and Arctic Kingdom. Plus, there are ongoing live music and entertaining activities too throughout the trails.
Marvel at the tallest and deepest underground waterfall of the United States, the Ruby Falls for a memorable time with your loved ones. This place hosts a lovely holiday event during Christmas and is beautifully decorated with snow and lights. You can also explore several caves at the Ruby Falls which is also a fantastic experience.
If you did like to go for winter hikes, the Bluff Trails offers scenic trails on the Lookout trail that showcases breath-taking view of the city’s skyline. You can also go mountain biking or hiking at the Raccoon Mountains to the Laurel Point and take in the views of rugged nature and valleys.
Being home to plenty of historic sights, Knoxville is an ideal place for history and architecture enthusiasts. Catch a classic performance at the historic Tennessee Theatre and you will find yourself admiring it for its well preserved architectural beauty and elegance. James White Fort, Blount Mansion and Mabry-Hazen House Museum are another attraction that draw attention of many visitors for having intriguing ancient collections.
While you are in Downtown Knoxville, you should not miss out seeing the colourful murals that are totally Instagram worthy. Stop at the Double S Wine Bar to taste the best wines, desserts and gourmet cheese. Just 5 miles away from the Downtown is the Knoxville’s Ice Chalet, where you can have an enjoyable ice skating session. It does not matter if you are beginner or are at an expert level in the sport.
For adventure seekers who enjoy snowy outdoors, winters is a perfect time to chase the frozen waterfalls in Knoxville. If you are up for some winter hiking, you will also find many nature trails to explore at the Ijams Nature Center.
6. Jack Daniels Distillery Tour
One of the best winter attractions in Tennessee could be a visit to Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg. Warming up with the world’s most iconic and well-known whiskey brand can be an excellent idea for a winter getaway. Lynchburg is only 75 miles from Nashville, so you might want to head there on a frosty day. You can go there by shuttle or guided tour.
It’s possible to book a trip with alcohol tasting or just a dry tour. Of course, it is also possible to go to the distillery on your own and buy a tour directly at the visitor centre. The distillery is a great place to visit. In addition to the production complex, huge barrel house, there is also the home of Jack Daniels and his family. The guide will tell you fascinating facts about his life and explain in an understandable way how whiskey is made. You will learn how Jack created this world-class distillery business.
What’s more, you will hear how determined and passionate Jack Daniels was. There is also a visitor centre, an alcohol and souvenirs store, and a restaurant on site. You will find the best rates and choices of accommodation in Nashville. However, if you decide to stay overnight in Lynchburg, you should know it is a dry county. It means that you will not find Jack Daniels products in any restaurant or store (except distillery).
By Agnieszka of The Van Escape
7. Bristol Speedway Christmas Lights
One spectacle not to be missed in eastern Tennessee is in the Tri-Cities area, right on the Virginia border. It’s one of the largest holiday light shows in the Southern United States. Each winter, the Bristol Motor Speedway decorates its 4.5-mile track in over two million Christmas lights. There are over 250 unique Christmas light displays to enjoy.
In addition, the race track outfits the oval inside the track with a full Christmas village. Visitors can enjoy driving what is known by NASCAR fans as the “world’s fastest half-mile” as well as walk around the village. The Christmas village offers a variety of activities from roasting marshmallows and shopping for artisan crafts to carnival rides and seeing Santa.
One of the best parts about this Christmas display is that it’s a charity event! All proceeds benefit the Speedway Children’s Charities. The event, which runs from mid-November through the end of December, is one of the largest fundraisers of the year for the organization.
The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights costs $20 for cars from Sunday through Thursday, and $25 per vehicle on Friday and Saturday nights. Group vehicles cost more: vans are $50 and buses are $125. Visitors can also take advantage of the Jingle Bell Lane fast pass, an additional cost option that allows visitors to skip the wait on select nights when traffic lines get long.
By Brodi Cole of Our Offbeat Life
What’s your favourite winter activity in Tennessee? Share with us in the comments section below.