One of the more diverse states with regards to tourism and souvenir options, Tennessee is one of the most popular states to travel to within the United States. Tennessee isn't recognized for any big bustling cities, but The Volunteer State is full of history, music, culture, and natural beauty. From the eastern most attractions of Knoxville and the Appalachian Trail, all the way to the southwest tip in Memphis, Tennessee will provide any traveler with lasting memories.
The Great Smoky Mountains
If nature is your go-to, you'll love visiting the eastern portion of Tennessee as you take in the scenic wonder that is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This sanctuary embodies almost the entire border of Tennessee and North Carolina, encompassing a large part of the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail. This pristine mountainous region offers travelers many unique gift and souvenir options. All kinds of gem stones are available for purchase at numerous roadside stores. Many of these gems will include amethyst, emerald, and ruby. For the youngsters interested in gems, pyrite, or "fool's gold" is a fan favorite. Also available for kids is a large selection of outdoorsman items like ranger hats, jackets, badges, and compasses. There are also many kinds of souvenirs for adults that give homage to the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. Such souvenirs might include hiking medals and pins depicting a white tailed deer or the picturesque landscape. There is also glassware, ornaments, informational books, and even miniature model cabins resembling some of the homes seen on the hillsides.
If you're looking for a little bit more history or culture around the Great Smokey Mountains, take a trip over to one of the more iconic Civil War cities in Gatlinburg. Also, Pigeon Forge is home to Dollywood owned by American legend, Dolly Parton. In Dollywood, travelers can enjoy thrilling rollercoasters, country and southern gospel music, as well as have the opportunity to select some souvenirs featuring traditional crafts and music from the Great Smoky Mountains.
If you're a music fan, you can't miss out on visiting Nashville. Nashville is actually nicknamed "Music City" and is widely known as the mecca of country music and southern rock within the United States. Thousands of aspiring musicians move to Nashville each year in hopes of being seen by the right people. That said, there is always live music available and most musicians will be selling shirts and copies of their music for any locals or travelers that may have enjoyed what they heard. Most of these items are fairly cheap as these individuals are more concerned with the spreading of their music. Also, when visiting Nashville, perhaps the most important attraction that you must take time to visit is the Country Music Hall of Fame. This building has preserved the history and tradition of country music and also has a fantastic selection of souvenirs for the fans out there. Their store features autographed memorabilia and clothing from some of country music's most popular musicians like Johnny Cash, Little Big Town, and Patsy Cline. There are posters, mugs, miniature guitars key chains, thermometers, tote bags, soap, and even musical instruments like the banjo. Of course, the Country Music Hall of Fame also has a large selection of recorded music for purchase in the form of CDs and DVDs.
Finally, what would be a trip to Tennessee without visiting its largest city? The two biggest reasons that you must visit Memphis are its barbeque and its music. For anyone that has an appreciation for cooking or barbeque specifically, Memphis will knock your socks off. Hundreds of restaurants around the city serve what many believe to be the best barbeque in the nation. If at all possible, you would be remiss not to try and take a few tubs home. You can always freeze multiple tubs and break one out here and there when you have a craving for this southern delicacy.
The second big reason to visit Memphis is its music. Memphis is known as the home of some of history's biggest music pioneers like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, and B.B. King. Perhaps the most famous landmark outside of the iconic Beale Street in downtown Memphis is none other than the 13.8 acre estate that was home to Elvis Presley. This worshipped piece of property is affectionately referred to as "Graceland." With over 600,000 visitors a year, Graceland is one of the most toured homes in all of America behind The White House and the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. It is here that you can pick up some of the most one-of-a-kind Elvis Presley souvenirs. From aesthetically pleasing to downright tacky, you can find it all. There are of course your traditional hats, shirts, jackets, art, and photographs. You can also find bathroom items, magnets, martini glasses, playing cards, teddy bears, snow globes, and even Elvis Christmas-themed products. That's just the tip of the iceberg, but even with all of that out there, if you're a diehard Elvis fan, or just entirely intrigued by this pandemonium, a visit to Memphis during Elvis Week is a must! Generally centering around the date of his death, August 16, the streets of Memphis become flooded with Elvis fans from near and far. Businesses and individuals that specialize in Elvis products will travel to Memphis and set up their own souvenir shops along the side of the roads. It's during this time that a fan might find something truly one-of-a-kind.
Another small location worth a visit is the Jack Daniel distillery in Lynchburg where you can purchase some of the finest Tennessee whiskey and other products like whiskey fudge. And finally, in Chattanooga there is one of the most recognized aquariums in the United States. For children, this is a wonderful visit as there are all kinds of wild life to be seen and learning to be had. There's a lot to do in Tennessee and what I mentioned is just the main attractions, but there are still plenty of others. The state is wide, extensive, and full of history. Be sure to give yourself ample time for touring and driving across The Volunteer State.