Knoxville to Nashville Drive: Scenic Route Tips

knoxville to nashville drive

Embark on a picturesque road trip from Knoxville to Nashville and discover the stunning landscapes and charming towns that await you along the way. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a music lover, this drive offers something for everyone. Follow these scenic route tips to make the most of your journey through the heart of Tennessee.

Key Takeaways:

  • Enjoy a scenic drive from Knoxville to Nashville through beautiful landscapes and quaint towns.
  • Explore the vibrant city of Knoxville and visit attractions like the Museum of Appalachia and Historic Rugby.
  • Immerse yourself in Nashville’s lively music scene with a visit to iconic venues like the Grand Ole Opry.
  • Indulge in delicious Nashville Hot Chicken and explore the city’s rich musical history.
  • Make stops in Dandridge and Jefferson City for a taste of small-town charm.

Things to Do in Knoxville

Before embarking on your journey from Knoxville to Nashville, take some time to explore the vibrant city of Knoxville. With its rich history and charming attractions, Knoxville offers a range of experiences to make your visit memorable.

Museum of Appalachia

Immerse yourself in the fascinating history and culture of the Appalachian region at the Museum of Appalachia. Discover artifacts, exhibits, and demonstrations that showcase the unique heritage of this area. Gain insights into the daily lives of early settlers, explore traditional crafts, and learn about regional traditions and customs.

Green McAdoo Cultural Center

Pay a visit to the Green McAdoo Cultural Center, a significant landmark that commemorates the first public school integration in the segregated South. Learn about the courageous students known as the “Clinton 12” who played a pivotal role in desegregation. The center features exhibits, multimedia presentations, and educational programs that promote understanding and inclusion.

Historic Rugby

Step into the past by taking a leisurely stroll through the streets of Historic Rugby. This picturesque town was founded in 1880 as a utopian planned community by British author Thomas Hughes. Experience the charm of well-preserved Victorian architecture, explore quaint shops, and indulge in the town’s cozy cafes and restaurants. Enjoy the serene atmosphere and embrace the spirit of an era gone by.

Knoxville Cityscape

Explore these attractions and more in Knoxville before hitting the road toward Nashville. With its rich history, cultural landmarks, and warm hospitality, Knoxville offers a taste of Tennessee’s unique heritage.

Music and Food in Nashville

Arrive in Nashville, the capital of country music, and immerse yourself in its lively music scene. Nashville is renowned for its rich musical heritage, and there are plenty of attractions that showcase this vibrant culture.

First on your list should be a visit to the iconic Grand Ole Opry, where you can catch a live performance by country music legends and emerging artists alike. Experience the thrill of being in the audience at this historic venue, which has hosted countless legendary performances throughout its storied history.

For a more intimate setting, head to The Bluebird Cafe. This cozy venue has gained legendary status as a hub for singer-songwriters, and you can listen to live music while enjoying a delicious meal. The Bluebird Cafe is a must-visit for music enthusiasts and offers an authentic Nashville experience.

As you explore Nashville, be sure to indulge in the local specialty of Nashville Hot Chicken. This spicy and flavorful dish has become synonymous with the city and can be found at various restaurants throughout Nashville. One popular spot to try this delectable dish is Hattie B’s, where you can savor their famous hot chicken alongside delicious sides.

When it comes to immersing yourself in Nashville’s musical history, a visit to the Music City Walk of Fame is a must. Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, this sidewalk pays tribute to the city’s most significant musicians and industry professionals. Take a leisurely stroll and admire the stars dedicated to music icons who have shaped Nashville’s sound.

For a deeper dive into the life and career of one of country music’s legendary figures, don’t miss the Johnny Cash Museum. Located just steps away from the iconic honky-tonks of Broadway, this museum showcases memorabilia, artifacts, and interactive exhibits that pay homage to the Man in Black. Learn about his influential career and the impact he had on the music industry.

nashville to knoxville road trip

Immerse yourself in the music and food scene of Nashville as you continue your journey from Knoxville. This vibrant city offers a myriad of experiences for music lovers and food enthusiasts alike. From catching a show at the Grand Ole Opry to savoring Nashville Hot Chicken, there’s no shortage of things to see, eat, and enjoy in Nashville.

Dandridge and Jefferson City

During your scenic drive from Nashville to Knoxville, make sure to schedule a stop in Dandridge and Jefferson City. These charming small towns offer a taste of authentic Tennessee culture and history.

Explore the Historic District

Start your visit by exploring the historic districts of Dandridge and Jefferson City. Wander through the picturesque streets lined with well-preserved 19th-century buildings. Admire the architectural beauty and imagine what life was like during the early days of these towns.

Stroll Along Gay Street in Downtown Knoxville

As you continue your journey, take some time to stroll along Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. This vibrant street is known for its lively atmosphere, boutique shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Enjoy the local flavors and soak in the friendly Southern hospitality.

Visit the Bush’s Visitor Center

If you’re a fan of beans, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Bush’s Visitor Center. Learn about the history of the famous Bush’s Baked Beans and discover the secrets behind their delicious recipes. It’s an engaging and interactive experience that the whole family will enjoy.

Enjoy the Tranquil Scenery at Mead’s Quarry

For nature lovers, a visit to Mead’s Quarry in Knoxville is a must. This beautiful quarry-turned-park offers tranquil surroundings, scenic hiking trails, and breathtaking views. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area and take a moment to relax and recharge before continuing your road trip.

scenic drive from Nashville to Knoxville

With a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty, Dandridge, Jefferson City, and Knoxville provide a delightful addition to your journey from Nashville to Knoxville. Take your time to explore these charming towns, experience the local flavors, and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Tennessee countryside.

Sevierville: Your Basecamp

Set up your basecamp in Sevierville, the perfect starting point for your Knoxville to Nashville road trip. Located in the heart of Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, Sevierville offers a range of attractions and activities to complement your journey.

One of the highlights of Sevierville is its farm-to-table dining scene, where you can savor delicious dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. From Southern comfort food to international cuisine, there’s something to suit every palate. Be sure to try the mouthwatering barbecue and the famous Tennessee bourbon while you’re here.

If you enjoy shopping, Sevierville won’t disappoint. Explore the boutique stores and outlet malls, where you can find everything from designer brands to unique handmade crafts. Take home a piece of the Smoky Mountains with you as a memento of your trip.

While in Sevierville, don’t miss the opportunity to visit nearby attractions like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Pigeon Forge offers a plethora of family-friendly activities, including amusement parks, dinner theaters, and interactive museums. Take a scenic ride on the Ober Gatlinburg tram for breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains. Gatlinburg is also a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where you can explore hiking trails, witness stunning waterfalls, and soak in the serenity of nature.

knoxville to nashville road trip tips

At the end of each day, return to Sevierville to relax in one of the many comfortable lodging options available. Whether you prefer a cozy cabin in the woods, a luxury resort, or a charming bed and breakfast, you’ll find accommodations to suit your taste and budget.

Sevierville is not only a convenient basecamp for your Knoxville to Nashville itinerary, but it also offers its own unique experiences. From indulging in delicious food to discovering the wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains, Sevierville has something for everyone. Make the most of your road trip by immersing yourself in the beauty and charm of this vibrant Tennessee town.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

After an incredible road trip from Knoxville to Nashville, I highly recommend ending your journey with a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This stunning natural oasis is the perfect destination to immerse yourself in the beauty of Tennessee’s landscape.

drive time nashville to knoxville

Once you enter the park at the Gatlinburg entrance, prepare to be captivated by the park’s attractions. Start your exploration at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, where you can gather information about the park’s history, wildlife, and recreational activities. From there, head to Cades Cove, a picturesque valley that offers stunning views, historic buildings, and abundant wildlife.

Be sure to make a stop at Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park. Hike to the observation tower for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Don’t forget your camera – this is a sight you won’t want to miss capturing.

In addition to its breathtaking views, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. Take advantage of the park’s numerous hiking trails for an up-close and personal nature experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, there’s a trail for every skill level.

For those who prefer to enjoy the park from the comfort of their car, the park offers scenic drives that will take you through some of the most picturesque areas. The Cades Cove Loop Road and Newfound Gap Road are two popular routes that showcase the park’s natural beauty.

As you explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, take the time to appreciate the tranquility and serenity that nature provides. This is a place where you can truly disconnect from the stresses of everyday life and reconnect with the beauty of the world around you.


Embark on an unforgettable road trip from Knoxville to Nashville and indulge in a perfect blend of scenic beauty, cultural attractions, and gastronomic delights. Starting with the vibrant city of Knoxville, you can explore its rich history and immerse yourself in its lively music scene.

As you drive towards Nashville, be sure to make stops in charming towns like Dandridge and Sevierville. These hidden gems offer unique experiences, from exploring historic districts to enjoying farm-to-table dining and boutique shopping.

And of course, no Knoxville to Nashville drive is complete without a visit to the breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With its lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic views, this natural wonder is a must-see destination.

With these tips in mind, your Knoxville to Nashville road trip will be an unforgettable adventure, filled with countless things to do and explore. So hit the road and create memories that will last a lifetime!


How long does it take to drive from Knoxville to Nashville?

The drive from Knoxville to Nashville takes approximately 3 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.

What is the best route from Knoxville to Nashville?

The most common route from Knoxville to Nashville is via I-40 W, which offers a straight and direct route between the two cities.

Are there any towns or attractions worth visiting between Nashville and Knoxville?

Yes, there are several charming towns to explore along the route, including Dandridge and Jefferson City. You can also visit attractions like the Museum of Appalachia and the Green McAdoo Cultural Center.

What are some things to do in Knoxville?

In Knoxville, you can visit attractions like the Museum of Appalachia, explore the Historic Rugby town, and enjoy the natural beauty of Mead’s Quarry. You can also take a stroll along the vibrant Gay Street in downtown Knoxville.

What can I expect to find in Nashville?

Nashville offers a vibrant music scene, with attractions like the Grand Ole Opry and The Bluebird Cafe. You can also indulge in the local specialty of Nashville Hot Chicken at Hattie B’s and explore the Music City Walk of Fame.

What can I see and do in Sevierville?

In Sevierville, you can enjoy farm-to-table dining, boutique shopping, and explore attractions like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. You can also take a scenic ride on the Ober Gatlinburg tram for stunning views of the Smoky Mountains.

What attractions are there in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can visit attractions like Sugarlands Visitor Center, Cades Cove, and hike up to Clingmans Dome for panoramic views. The park also offers scenic drives and beautiful trails for nature enthusiasts.

What are some tips for a Knoxville to Nashville road trip?

Some tips for a road trip from Knoxville to Nashville include planning your route in advance, checking for traffic updates, and making stops in beautiful towns like Dandridge and Sevierville. It’s also a good idea to pack snacks and drinks for the journey.