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Zipping along an inland waterway on the only high-speed passenger vessel to do so. Dining on the king�s �throne.� Bouncing down a hill in a giant inflated ball. (Wow, can that be fun!) Getting carried away to the strains of classical or cabaret music in a shoebox-designed symphony hall. Add a mountain of rocks, marching ducks, lots of good music, and barbecue, and it can be only one place: Tennessee, our convivial neighbor to the south, where getaways are synonymous with good times.

Gardens and Greek structures, space walks and sculptures, music halls and chicken shacks, hotels that are the embodiment of luxury and models of sustainability�culturally diverse and family-friendly Nashville, a.k.a. Music City, hits all the high notes when it comes to things to see and do.

New reasons to visit
The shoebox-designed 1,844-seat Laura Turner Concert Hall at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center ( is one of the few halls nationwide to feature natural interior light through special soundproof windows. What�s on its concert schedule? Classical, pops, cabaret, choral, jazz, and blues performances in a hall that provides vivid acoustical clarity, finely tuned to the sound of natural instruments.

Why not sit back and enjoy full-dome digital projection at the Sudekum Planetarium and Space Chase at Adventure Science Center ( The first floor of the Space Chase wing includes the Solar System Survey where you can take a 3D walk through the universe and the Test Bed. Walk on the moon in the Space Walker exhibit and make like an astronaut in the Space Climber.

Old favorites
Revisit the history of country music through hundreds of stage costumes, musical instruments, and other objects at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (, and enjoy historic video clips, live performances, and live satellite radio broadcasts.

For art lovers, see premier collections on loan from galleries around the world�many not seen anywhere else�at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts ( Located in Nashville�s former historic main post office, the Frist showcases temporary exhibits that are always thought-provoking and exquisite.

Inside the 1932 Georgian mansion at Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art ( are the William Edmondson statues as well as American and contemporary pieces. Eleven uniquely designed gardens, created in the 1930s, and a Sculpture Trail, with 15 different pieces of artwork created by nationally and internationally recognized sculptors, surround the mansion.

Quirky can�t-miss attraction
In the midst of Centennial Park is a sight to behold: the Parthenon ( is the world�s only full-sized reproduction of the Greek Parthenon and houses a re-creation of the 42-foot statue of Athena, the tallest indoor structure in the Western world. Inside are fine art galleries, including a rotating gallery featuring the museum�s collection of American art.

Unique eats
The first and only green-certified restaurant in Nashville is Tayst (, whose menu features a mix of small, complex appetizers (First Tayst), simple salads (Second Tayst), and generous seafood and meat entrees (Main Tayst).

Only-in-Nashville sleeps
Tuck into luxury at the only five-star, five-diamond hotel in the state at The Hermitage Hotel (, and sleep where Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Al Capone, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy once lay their heads. Rates start at $279 per night.

With a revitalized riverfront boasting striking art and a likewise dramatic passageway that leads right down to Old Man River, Chattanooga has unveiled yet more come-hither charms of a city that just keeps getting better.

New reasons to visit
Mike Hosemann, captain of the Tennessee Aquarium�s sleek new 70-passenger River Gorge Explorer (, calls the eco-cruise vessel covering as much as 26 miles of the Tennessee River a �$3 million jet ski.� It does S-curves at nearly 50 miles an hour and can turn and stop on a dime�and gives adventurers a peek at bald eagles, blue herons, and other river life, plus historical landmarks during two-hour excursions into the gorge. At jaunt�s conclusion Capt. Mike treats everyone to a spin�literally turning the vessel a full revolution by remote control. Docking, you�re just down the road from the top-notch Tennessee Aquarium.

Jukebox Junction Theater ( at the Chattanooga Choo Choo has all the song, dance, and hoopla befitting an uber family-friendly variety show. Elwood Smooch�s Choo Choo Cha Boogie Show, starring a former featured clown with the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, is a knee-slapping old-school variety show. It�s paired with Rock & Roll Revue: �50s & �60s Musical Memories, a fast-paced, foot-stomping paean to poodle-skirt-and-bobby-sox tunes.

Old favorites
Rock City ( remains a marvel and enchantment with its Swing-Along Bridge, Fat Man�s Squeeze, Mother Goose Village, and iconic Lover�s Leap overlook from which seven states, including Kentucky, are said to be visible.

The three-dimensional diorama, The Battles for Chattanooga (, narrates the story of Lookout Mountain�s Battle Above the Clouds through video and battle reverberations.

Slip into a booth at Vaudeville Caf�s Murder Mystery Dinner Show ( and laugh over a hot meal with a zany cast of characters that feel like old friends, albeit murderous ones. (Beware the suit of armor.)

Quirky can�t-miss attraction
Dragon Dreams Museum & Gift Shop ( is truly a novelty among museums with its fire-breathing namesakes numbering in the thousands from all over the world, displayed in a labyrinth of a house turned museum.

Unique eats
Downtown, head to the Easy Bistro & Bar (, a swanky place for cocktails, or Sticky Fingers (, known for its barbecue. Be prepared to lick those appendages.

Only-in-Chattanooga sleeps
The legendary Delta Queen (, the last fully operational, overnight passenger steamboat in the country and a National Historic Landmark, is now a gracious boutique hotel. Rates run $79-$179.

Legendary as the birthplace of rock �n� roll and home of the blues�not to mention piquantly fragrant with Travel Channel-worthy barbecue�Memphis is also a hotbed of Hollywood filmmaking with movies including Walk the Line (Johnny Cash) and Great Balls of Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis), as well as Silence of the Lambs. The five-time winner of the nation�s cleanest city award also has one of the top urban park systems in the nation, covering 4,500 acres.

New reasons to visit
Opening this fall at the Memphis Zoo ( is Teton Trek, a journey through the history, culture, and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, sometimes referred to as America�s Serengeti. The 4-acre exhibit will feature grizzly bears, elk, timber wolves, arctic waterfowl, sandhill cranes, and trumpeter swans�oh, and also a 25-foot geyser, among other attractions.

Old favorites
Take the trolley to one of Elvis� favorite eateries: the family-owned Arcade Diner (, the oldest caf� in Memphis. You can dine in the famous �Elvis booth,� and you already know what to order: a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Here�s a blast from the past: Beale Street�s A. Schwab Dry Goods Store ( is like a stroll through time. Established in 1876, the oldest family-owned and -operated general store in Memphis (and the mid-South) is the place to pick up anything from $.99 neckties to voodoo potions.

Quirky can�t-miss attraction
Every day at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., the famous Peabody Ducks march the red carpet in the grand lobby of the hotel ( to swim in the travertine marble fountain. When �off duty,� the ducks live in their Royal Duck Palace on The Peabody�s rooftop, digs befitting the web-footed celebs who�ve appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Unique eats
Hip, kitschy, and fun, the Beauty Shop Restaurant ( serves up globally inspired fare including the best BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado) sandwich you�ve ever munched, and it does so in an eatery tucked inside an old 1960s-style beauty shop where it�s rumored that Priscilla Presley used to get her hair done�and yes, you can dine in refurbished hair-dryer chairs.

Only-in-Memphis sleeps
The Inn at Hunt-Phelan ( on Beale Street is an 1828-32 restored Federal-style house that once served as Gen. Ulysses S. Grant�s headquarters following the battle for Memphis in 1862. Rates run $165-$295.

Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville
Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a visit to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville. The anniversary�s official ambassador is none other than Dolly Parton, whose namesake park unveiled a new production in May that tells the story of the last family to leave the area that would become a national park.

New reasons to visit
Sevierville�s Wilderness at the Smokies Resort ( is an upscale waterpark resort complex best described with one word: ginormous! There are three waterparks: two outdoor and one inside�the 60,000-square-foot Wild WaterDome with Foil Tech glass roof that lets guests tan year-round offering 700 rooms and suites in two resorts, plus restaurants, shopping, golf, arcades, and fitness center.

In Pigeon Forge, Dollywood ( rolls out Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke, the largest, most lavish musical production in its history, with a cast of 18, including singers and acrobats. The story is told through the eyes of a reluctant young boy who encounters a storyteller.
Dolly Parton wrote the show�s eight songs.

WonderWorks� Mind Ball Challenge ( is a curious attraction where you compete by staying calm�in spite of external distractions that attempt to make you anything but! Merely mind over matter? All is revealed by electrodes touching your forehead that measure certain brainwaves.

Old favorites
Located at Great Smoky Mountain National Park�s main northern entrance, Sugarlands Visitor Center ( offers a free 20-minute orientation film, natural history exhibits, including mounted specimens of park animals, and reproductions of journals kept by the first park naturalists. Ranger talks and slide shows are presented daily, spring through fall.

Browse the galleries at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts ( to see an exceptional array of works in all media: ceramics, fibers, metals/jewelry, painting, drawing, photography, warm glass, woodturning, woodworking, sculpture, and book and paper arts.

Pigeon Forge theater is always worth an encore: the Smith Family Theater has become the Smith Family Dinner Theater, emphasis on expansive Southern buffet; the Miracle Theater has added Exalt, a twice-weekly contemporary Christian music concert spectacular (in addition to their main show, The Miracle); and the Smoky Mountain Theater has gone Motown with the opening of the Temptations Revue, a tribute to the group famous for hits that include Get
Ready and Just My Imagination.

Quirky can�t-miss attraction
Yes, there really is a Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum ( and it sits in the midst of Winery Square in Gatlinburg, the only one of its kind and with a collection of 20,000 salt and pepper shakers and unusual pepper mills.

Zorb Smoky Mountains is a thrill ride imported from New Zealand: an inflated ball 11 feet in diameter that passengers, called Zorbonauts, climb into before the ball is pushed off the top of a hill. (And yes, it is a blast!) This is the only place in North America where it is available.

Your Scrapbook Superstore ( in Sevierville boasts the largest inventory of any scrapbook store in the United States. Shop the racks and stacks and take part in �make and take� demos.

Unique eats
Look for the 60-foot-tall windmill and the silo and you�ve found Mama�s Farmhouse (, a new family-style restaurant in Pigeon Forge catering to super-hungry guests: good Southern cooking, all you can eat, topped off with banana pudding.

Only-in-the Smokies sleeps
It�s Christmas every day at the Inn at Christmas Place (, a 145-room Bavarian-style hotel located across the street from the shopping destination Incredible Christmas Place. With halls decked in Christmas trimming, this Pigeon Forge hotel features included breakfast, outdoor pool with 95-foot figure-eight waterslide, indoor pool with hot tub, arcade, and Saturday evening sing-alongs with Santa. Room rates run $99-$349.


Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
2 Broad St., Chatta�nooga, TN 37402;
(800) 322-3344,

Gatlinburg Department of Tourism
303 Reagan Dr., Gatlinburg, TN 37738; (800) 343-1475,

Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau
47 Union Ave., Memphis, TN 38103;
(901) 543-5300,

Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau
One Nashville Place, 150 Fourth Ave. N, Suite G-250, Nashville, TN 37219
(800) 657-6910,

Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism
P.O. Box 1390-I, Pigeon Forge, TN 37868
(800) 251-9100, (865) 453-8574,

Sevierville Convention & Visitors Bureau
110 Gary Wade Blvd., Sevier��ville, TN 37862
(888) 738-4378, (865) 453-6411,


For even more great places to stay and eat while in Tennessee, go to Stay and Eat.

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