Drive time from Nashville: 3 hours / 175 miles (281 kilometers)
Just north of Atlanta—one of the south’s largest cities—you’ll find some breathtaking vistas in Georgia’s mountainous northern region. Whether it’s the Lula Lake Trust just outside of Chattanooga, or trekking up the hills of the southern Appalachian trails, you’ll be sure to find an outdoor activity to match your skill level. Cool off with a wine-tasting expedition in northern Georgia’s slept-on vineyards. And finish off your trip with a stroll through alluring botanical gardens filled with flower sculptures. Do it for the ‘Gram.
Drive time from Nashville: 3 hours / 212 miles (341 kilometers)
In the other corner of Tennessee you’ll find Memphis, another getaway for music lovers. Many will recognize the name for the genesis of Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, and B.B. King. This rich history can be found throughout the city, with tours of Beale Street, where legends like Louis Armstrong started out, and even the house where Elvis Presley was born. Musical landmarks like Sun Studios, where Johnny Cash cut his most famous records, are available for touring to complete the music nerd’s dreams. Grab a bite of some of Memphis’ takes on famous southern food like mac ‘n cheese and the ever-present barbecue.
Drive time from Nashville: 3 hours / 214 miles (344 kilometers)
Let’s take a trip to Bourbon country, shall we? Well, almost. Lexington sits just on the edge of the world-renowned Bourbon distillery region of Kentucky, and serves as a great home base for all of your whisky-tasting needs. Whether it’s James E. Pepper, or Bluegrass Distillers, there are plenty of distillery tours to give you a sense of the popular spirit’s nuances. For the non-drinkers, consider that Lexington is the horse capital of the US, as many of the horses that compete in the triple crown races are bred in the area. Tour the farms where they graze and see these amazingly fast animals up close.
Drive time from Nashville: 4 hours / 221 miles (355 kilometers)
Just northwest of Nashville, you’ll be in the Great Smoky Mountains, just near the Blue Ridge. Gatlinburg is neatly situated in these sprawling mountains, and outdoor lovers will feel right at home discovering the hikes and trails leading to streams and waterfalls. And it ain’t Tennessee without a proper distillery tour—and Gatlinburg is no exception. See how the traditional moonshine spirit is made and taste the varieties that led to some of your favorite tunes being written. We’ll leave it up to you which order to do those things in.
Drive time from Nashville: 7 hours / 475 miles (765 kilometers)
Head up to the Windy City to get some big-city culture and gorgeous lakeside views. This iconic city is known for its architecture and the massive Chicago River that runs through its downtown. The best two-birds-with-one-stone option is to see some of Chicago’s most iconic buildings and landmarks from a boat cruise on the river—including views of the famous Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). After the river tour, a must-see is the mind-bending Bean sculpture by the Art Institute for a obligatory psychedelic selfie. We’d be remiss not to suggest giving the city’s world-famous (and divisive to New Yorkers) deep-dish pizza a try.