When you’re wanting adventures and attractions that few people have experienced, then head to Tennessee. Whether you feel like checking out a witch’s digs, burrowing into a burial mound, or floating in a cavern, Tennessee has it all. After settling into your Tennessee vacation rental, check out one — or all — of these fantastic hidden gems.
1. The Lost Sea, Sweetwater
The Lost Sea lies off the beaten path–actually, it lies under the beaten path, as one of the largest underground lakes on the planet. Your tour of this hidden gem includes a three-quarter-mile walk through the cave to the launching site. You board a glass-bottom boat, which takes you around the smooth, quiet lake for a surreal tour. The visible part measures about 800 feet long by 220 feet wide. Divers mapped out large rooms beneath the water, indicating an expanse of more than 13 acres.
2. Twin Falls, Rock Island
Hike, explore, swim at the beach, and stand in awe of the beauty of Twin Falls at Rock Island State Park. Your opportunities to immerse yourself in the great outdoors include trails that range from easy to challenging, swimming at the beach on the lake or one of the pools. The 883-acre Rock Island State Park sprawls along the headwaters of Center Hill Lake where the Caney Fork, Collins, and Rocky Rivers meet. Boating, fishing, kayaking, and picnicking round out some of the many adventures awaiting you in this beautiful haven in the wilderness.
3. Sycamore Shoals State Park , Elizabethton
Locals enjoy the trails at Sycamore Shoals State Park, but tourists rarely give the park a second look. The two-mile Mountain River Trail begins near the main building and meanders alongside the Watauga River. Flat and smoothly gravelled, this easy trail makes an ideal path for walking and jogging. It loops through a field, leading to a replica of Fort Watauga. The life-size recreation of the fort includes a museum with interpretive displays.
4. The Bell Witch Cave, Adams
Whether you call her a good witch or a bad witch depends on which story you like about the Bell Witch. The tales say that she lived in the cave on the Bell farm, and began to terrorize and torment the family in the summer of 1817. During that time, she killed John Bell. But, during her four-year reign of terror against the family, she saved some children who wandered into her cave, and even took the time to offer a lesson on safe caving. The tour includes the log cabin.
5. Pinson Mounds State Archaelogical Park, Pinson
Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park features more than a dozen Native American earth mounds, some of which date back over 2,000 years. A replica of a platform mound houses the site’s museum, which features displays of artifacts and information about the lives of the Native Americans who lived on the site during the Middle Woodland Period, between 1 to 500 CE. Researchers say that the mounds show evidence of various uses, including habitations, ceremonial uses, and burial grounds.
In 1880, some British ex-patriots tried to establish a Utopian agricultural community, Rugby, without class distinctions and harsh inequalities. By 1890, residents enjoyed theater, croquet, and literary clubs. They erected 70 stately buildings, including the Tabard Inn. The downfall of the society occurred due to disease, fires, and lack of farming experience. Today, a few dozen families live in Rugby, working to restore and preserve the Victorian buildings. A tour of the village introduces you to storytellers, dancers, and people in Victorian costumes. Look for original structures, including Christ Church Episcopal, Rugby School, and Thomas Hughes Free Public Library, one of the oldest in the south.
7. Patrick’s Pub and Grill, Copperhill
To indulge in adult beverages at Patrick’s Pub and Grill, you must sit on the Tennessee side of the room as drinking isn’t allowed on the Georgia side. The state line runs through the center of the pub, which means walking across the room determines whether you imbibe, or not. Sitting on the left of the line puts in you in McCaysville, Georgia. Move across the line to sit in Copperhill, Tennessee. Once you choose sides, Copperhill includes some other fun stuff, including whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River and the Ocoee Ziplines.
8. Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga
Ruby Falls cascades 165 feet into the cavern, making it the tallest underground waterfall in the United States. A tour guide leads you on an interesting hike to reach the entrance, where you board an elevator to reach the cavern. Part of your underground includes passing by stunning stalagmites and stalactites, culminating in your arrival at the falls. There, you experience a dazzling and colorful light show. The fun continues above-ground at the Ruby Falls Zip Line and Aerial Adventure Park.
9. The Eiffel Tower, Paris
You don’t need passports to visit the Eiffel Tower, as long as you visit the one in Paris, Tennessee. Some engineering students designed and erected the model for the 1990s May in Memphis festival; and, later donated it to the smaller town. Showing due appreciation, the town made it the centerpiece for Eiffel Tower Playground. The park includes plenty of picnic tables, soccer fields, playground equipment, basketball goals, and a nice swimming pool. The Paris Winery, just a lovely 10-minute drive down the road, features tastings and a variety of wines.
10. Bluegrass Underground, The Caverns, Pelham
Out in the middle of nowhere, park your car and walk the half-mile gravel path to the nearly-hidden entrance to The Caverns, in the valley near Pelham. Descend beneath Monteagle Mountain to the most unusual performance hall, tucked away deep in a cavern where the acoustics produce sounds as enchanting as the setting. Ticket package options include premium seating, tee shirts, digital album downloads, hats, and meal vouchers. Your Monteagle Mountain vacation rental, just 15 minutes from the venue, gives you access to the Smoke House Lodge that serves home-style cooking. Nearby hikes include Natural Bridge and Stone Door.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Tennessee vacation rentals on Tripping.com.