7 Exciting Stops on the Drive from Nashville to Knoxville

Josh SchukmanDecember 20, 2022

7 Exciting Stops on the Drive from Nashville to Knoxville

7 Best Stops on the Drive from Nashville to Knoxville

As any seasoned traveler knows, the journey is just as important as the destination. And when it comes to planning a road trip, there’s no shortage of options for choosing a route. But if you’re looking for a trip that has it all—scenic views, historical landmarks, and plenty of opportunities for adventure—then the 180-mile drive from Nashville to Knoxville might be the one you want to try next!

A Nashville to Knoxville road trip will satisfy your craving for an exciting getaway, whether you want to hike through one of Tennessee’s many state parks or explore the rich history of two of its most iconic cities. Here’s our guide to 7 of the best stops along the way!


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Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery in Nashville

Belle Meade not only offers tours of Tennessee’s history and architecture but also provides visitors with a taste of the state’s hospitality through wine and food pairings, chef-inspired meals, and bourbon tastings. You can discover Belle Meade’s enchanting history and picturesque grounds on a guided Segway tour through the property. When you buy one of these experiences, you can feel good about the fact that you are helping Belle Meade fulfill its educational mission.

The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville

7 Best Stops on the Drive from Nashville to Knoxville: Grand Ole Opry
Photo credit: Adam Fagen on Flickr

Before leaving Nashville, you should visit the Grand Ole Opry if you enjoy country music. For over 96 years, the Grand Ole Opry has been showcasing country music’s past, present, and future.

This performing arts venue offers live shows that are definitely worth watching. You can also take a backstage tour and learn more about how special effects are produced for the show. The tour also includes viewing archival footage of some of the most important moments in Opry history as well as 3D photographs.

Lost Sea in Sweetwater, TN

7 Best Stops on the Drive from Nashville to Knoxville: Lost Sea, Sweetwater
Photo credit: Kreg Steppe on Flickr

The Lost Sea is located in Sweetwater, approximately one hour south of Knoxville, TN. This inland sea is situated underground and boasts the title of “largest underground lake in America,” covering more than 4 acres. The U.S. Department of the Interior has recognized The Lost Sea as a Registered National Natural Landmark. You can join their daily tours to learn more about the caverns’ history, take a boat ride on the underground sea, or hike the trails.

Market Square in Knoxville

7 Best Stops on the Drive from Nashville to Knoxville: Market Square in Knoxville
Photo credit: Brian Stansberry, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Market Square is one of the most charming places to go in Knoxville, with an array of shops and restaurants lining the cobblestone sidewalks. During your visit to Market Square, you can browse for unique gifts, pick up handmade jewelry from local artisans, and enjoy the vibrant street performers. For those looking to find a bite while in the downtown district, Market Square is the perfect spot for some classic southern cooking.

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Rock Island State Park

7 Best Stops on the Drive from Nashville to Knoxville: Rock Island State Park
Photo credit: Maciej Ciupa on Flickr

Rock Island State Park, with its amazing waterways and gorges, is a can’t-miss destination on your road trip from Nashville to Knoxville. You will discover 883 acres of unblemished natural landscape that encompasses Center Hill Lake at the juncture of three powerful waterways. You can find many natural wonders, such as Great Falls and Twin Falls. These grand waterfalls that resemble stairs are easily two of the most beautiful and photogenic falls in Tennessee. This park is also home to many animals, so if you’re someone who loves wildlife and birding, keep an eye out for osprey and great blue herons!

Frozen Head State Park

7 Best Stops on the Drive from Nashville to Knoxville: Frozen Head State Park
Photo credit: Tim Mowrer on Flickr

Encompassing more than 24,000 acres of wilderness area, Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area is named for a 3,324-foot peak in the Cumberland Mountains. The peak is often shrouded in ice or snow in the winter months. This entrance leads visitors into a vestige of the Cumberland Plateau, which is unspoiled and densely forested. For fishing lovers, you wouldn’t want to miss spending a few hours at the Flat Fork Creek in this park in the spring, as it’s stocked with rainbow trout. The best time to fish for trout is between February and March.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

7 Best Stops on the Drive from Nashville to Knoxville: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, is one of America’s most beautiful and beloved parks. The area is full of natural beauty, from the towering mountains to the shimmering rivers. It’s no wonder this park receives more visitors than any other in the country. In fact, this park has more visitors than if you were to combine the total number of people who visit Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Yellowstone National Park.

If you’re looking to explore the great outdoors by foot and want to park your car or RV first, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is your place. You can hike among beautiful wildflowers and powerful waterfalls at the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, climb to the top of Chimney Tops, or pay respects to early pioneers at Cades Cove. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is renowned for its beautiful and diverse scenery. Drive along the Newfound Gap Road to see picturesque rolling mountains or hike the Grotto Trail to see stunning cascading waterfalls.

Wrapping up the drive from Nashville to Knoxville

After an exciting road trip filled with amazing destinations and unparalleled natural beauty, you’ll be happy to know that the drive from Nashville to Knoxville is short but full of adventure. From the mysterious Lost Sea Caverns to the amazing Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’re sure to have a wonderful time as you explore what these cities have to offer.

So gas up your car or RV and hit the open road. If you don’t already own an RV, check out these RV rentals in Nashville for an unforgettable adventure!


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3 Commonly asked questions about driving from Nashville to Knoxville

How far is it from Nashville to Knoxville?

The drive from Nashville to Knoxville is approximately 180 miles and takes about three hours. You can make stops in between to explore the natural wonders along the way.

What are the best stops on the drive from Nashville to Knoxville?

Some of the best stops on your drive from Nashville to Knoxville include Rock Island State Park, Frozen Head State Park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and having some food at Market Square in Knoxville.

What is the best time of year to drive from Nashville to Knoxville?

The best time of year to drive from Nashville to Knoxville is in the spring. The weather is usually mild, and there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.

Josh is half of the husband+wife duo behind OutofNorm.al - where their mantra is "life, unwasted". Josh and his wife gallivanted all over the country in an '88 Airstream for 4+ years. They now run a glamping property in Montana by Glacier National Park. They keep up their RVing love by renting out vintage Airstreams and other RVs to travelers hitting Montana.


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