Graceland named Best Tennessee Attraction!

Dollywood, Grand Ole Opry, National Civil Rights Museum and Tennessee Aquarium in top five

From the country twang of Nashville to the rock and roll beats of Memphis, Tennessee takes its music seriously. While the Volunteer State is home to some of the country's top musical attractions, it's also a state of immense natural beauty and storied – at times tumultuous – history.

  • Lookout Mountain
    Chattanooga

    Located just outside Chattanooga along the border with Georgia, Lookout Mountain's northern Tennessee side is home to some of the state's star attractions – a 145-foot underground waterfall known as Ruby Falls and an incline railway that has been in operation since 1895.
    Photo courtesy of Rock City

  • Andrew Jackson's Hermitage
    Nashville

    The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's beloved estate just outside of Nashville, started as a modest log cabin when Jackson purchased it in 1804. The man whose face graces the twenty dollar bill eventually converted The Hermitage into a 1000-acre, wildly successful cotton plantation, and his log farmhouse into a stately mansion.
    Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

  • Birthplace of Country Music Museum
    Bristol

    Beginning with the opening of a modest recording studio in 1927, the town of Bristol made music history when 76 songs by 19 different country music artists were recorded – one of the most significant collections of early music in the genre. Todya Bristol is known as the birthplace of country music, and this Smithsonian-affiliated museum explores the rich musical heritage that made it so.
    Photo courtesy of Swampyank / Wikimedia Commons

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, is one of the most biodiverse areas in North America. It's also the most visited national park in the nation for good reason; visitors can tour historic homes, see black bears in their natural habitat or spot some of the 1,500 species of flowering plants.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / WerksMedia

  • Sewanee: The University of the South
    Sewanee

    Situated in Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau, Sewanee: The University of the South sits on some 13,000 acres of land. Architectural highlights include the All Saints' Chapel, where the stained-glass rose window was modeled after one in Notre Dame in Paris. Come autumn, the foliage is stunning.
    Photo courtesy of Sewanee: The University of the South

  • Tennessee Aquarium
    Chattanooga

    Visitors to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga trace the journey of water from the mountains through the Appalachian Cove Forest, into the Ohio River where it joins with the Mississippi that flows into the Gulf of Mexico. A broad array of wildlife highlights ecosystems along the way, including alligators, otters, snapping turtles, catfish and sunfish. Featured habitats – delta swamp, tropical rain forest, spiny forest and reefs – provide homes for frogs, penguins, sharks, jellyfish, cuttlefish and lemurs, while professional keepers and divers happily share their expertise with visiting guests.
    Photo courtesy of Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • National Civil Rights Museum
    Memphis

    Part sacred ground, and part in-your-face challenge to your personal concept of equality, the museum’s focal point is the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down in April 1968. Vivid exhibits chronicle the assassination of King and the hunt for his killer, explore the faces and places that defined the American civil rights movement and examine the continuing fight around the world for universal equality. 
    Photo courtesy of Kees Wielemaker / Flickr

  • Grand Ole Opry
    Nashville

    The Grand Ole Opry is easily considered the most esteemed stage for country music on the planet. Some even call it the home for “American music,” overall. The Opry, located in Nashville, started in the ‘20s as a radio broadcast of live music. Visitors can still hear Opry broadcasts online or join the many other fans who come to the stage to see the top country musicians perform live.
    Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

  • Dollywood
    Pigeon Forge

    Tucked amid the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, country music-themed Dollywood has all the makings of a great theme park – thrill rides, coasters, kiddie rides and everything in between. It really shines in its other extras; live craft demonstrations, lavish stage shows and a full calendar of special events mean there's always something going on, and the Southern-inspired food offerings are a cut above the typical theme park fare.
    Photo courtesy of Dollywood

  • Graceland
    Memphis

    Graceland is one of the most-visited private homes in the nation. Every year, more than 600,000 people go to Elvis Presley’s former estate in Memphis. This revival-style mansion on nearly 14 acres is more than just an inside look at the famous musician’s life; it’s a symbol to fans of the American Dream. Elvis lived in Graceland for more than 20 years, and he died here, too. Today, Graceland is a National Historic Landmark and museum that is open to the public. Take a guided iPad tour, walk through the meditation garden or even rent the space here for special events, like weddings.
    Photo courtesy of Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

We asked a panel of Tennessee travel writers and photographers to nominate their favorite state attractions, and for the past four weeks our readers have been voting for their favorites.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Tennessee Attraction are as follows:

  1. Graceland - Memphis
  2. Dollywood - Pigeon Forge
  3. Grand Ole Opry - Nashville
  4. National Civil Rights Museum - Memphis
  5. Tennessee Aquarium - Chattanooga
  6. Sewanee: The University of the South - Sewanee
  7. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  8. Birthplace of Country Music Museum - Bristol
  9. Andrew Jackson's Hermitage - Nashville
  10. Lookout Mountain - Chattanooga

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Tom Adkinson (KnoxvilleDailySun.com), Jason Frye, Katy Koontz, Cory Lee (CurbFreeWithCoryLee.com), Margaret LittmanKristin Luna (Camels & Chocolate) and Jerry Park (Jerry Park Photography) were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of travel in Tennessee.

Congratulations to all these winning attractions.

License the 10Best Readers' Choice Award Logo

Alert The Experts

Tom Adkinson

Tom Adkinson

Jason Frye

Jason Frye

Katy Koontz

Katy Koontz

Cory Lee

Cory Lee

Margaret Littman

Margaret Littman

Kristin Luna

Kristin Luna

Jerry Park

Jerry Park