Tennessee is home to a unique and diverse culture. The Volunteer State has a history steeped in the civil rights movement and rock n’ roll music. Many famous country stars have also been reared in this great state. Visitors traveling through Tennessee will learn of the deep division caused during the Civil War, the ongoing struggle for civil rights and the beginning of the country music and rock era. Tennessee also features many parks, museums and beautiful gardens for entertainment and amusement. The Appalachian culture, with its beautiful arts and crafts, music and cuisine, offers visitors a glimpse into the heart and soul of the state. Learn why it is called the “Volunteer State” and find arts and cultural venues to suit every interest and age. From colorful festivals, mouthwatering cuisine, Native American displays, museums, historic monuments and its robust music and theater scene, Tennessee has much to offer.
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Art Museum: Nashville
This venue is ideal for those wishing for an all-in-one location. Visitors can explore the beautifully decorated gardens featured in this wonderful location orwander through the elegant, yet modern art galleries open to the public. The Cheekwood Mansion is also open to visitors and is especially beautiful for the holiday seasons when it is fully decorated. It was built in 1957 by the Cheek family to be a public garden and fine arts center.
Alex Haley Museum: Henning
The Alex Haley House Museum is a facility dedicated to collecting and preserving artifacts of the renowned author, Alex Haley. He was famous for various literary works including The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Roots. Visitors can learn about both his time in the Coast Guard and his writing career. This location is one of many in Tennessee that educates visitors about the American civil rights movement.
The Cotton Museum: Memphis
It may not come as any surprise that the cotton industry was important to Tennessee. Indeed, American culture and industry was forever changed because of this crop. The museum was formerly known as the Memphis Cotton Exchange, which was where the center of the cotton industry was located in the state. Explore the history of the Mississippi Delta and see how cotton and the trade industry in the state were impacted by its development and use.
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park: Nashville
This park is dedicated to those who would like to learn about the history of Tennessee. It shows visitors the natural wonders and discoveries of the state. The outdoor park contains a granite map of the state, a WWII memorial and many exhibits featuring the natural wonders and history of the state. It also features a 2,000-seat amphitheater where visitors can enjoy various entertainment events throughout the year.
If Memphis is the birth place of rock ’n’ roll, then Elvis is its king. His talents, good looks and personality allowed him to change music forever. Even today, his name is remembered as influential, and his music is widely enjoyed. Graceland allows visitors to view the house where this influential artist lived and ultimately died.
Music and the Arts in Tennessee
Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry has been delighting country music fans for generations, and is one of the most visited musical venues in the state. For those who are more classically minded, the Nashville Opera and the Nashville Symphony perform regularly. Knoxville boasts a vibrant and robust theater scene, and the historic Bijou Theatre hosts a variety of entertainment from cabaret to country music. The Art Gallery Market on Gay Street in Knoxville showcases local artisans and craftsmen. Chattanooga’s Riverbend Festival draws a large crowd every year, with many star musicians opting to return to the stage there. Appalachian art and culture can be viewed throughout the state, but can be experienced best by a visit to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Many shops and boutiques feature the artwork of the area, local restaurants feature regional cuisine, and the town of Gatlinburg is adjacent to the Tennessee Heritage Arts and Crafts Trail.
Tennessee Fairs and Festivals
Whether it is a celebration of early spring in Knoxville with the Dogwood Art Festival, or the Coffee Fest in March, there is always a festival going on somewhere in Tennessee throughout the year. Many are music festivals, whose venues generally showcase new talent, as well as welcome back notable celebrity musicians. Many fairs, such as the BBQ and Music Festival in Nashville, combine two Tennessee favorites that visitors and residents, alike, will enjoy.