Wondering what to do and see in Tennessee along the Natchez Trace? Take a look at these sites and attractions:
- The new Wayne County Welcome Center – In Collinwood, the center welcomes guests to Tennessee as friendly volunteers tour attractions like Collinwood’s Old Depot Library, the only surviving building associated with the Tennessee Western Railroad. Tour the small museum at the Welcome Center, learn about local festivals and enjoy rural attractions like canoeing, fishing and hunting.
- Sweetwater Branch – Continue with a walk among the wildflowers along the banks of the free flowing stream at Sweetwater Branch, a popular destination for locals and visitors.
- Meriwether Lewis – From SweetwaterBranch, it’s a short drive to the grave of early American explorer Meriwether Lewis, who met his mysterious death, possibly by suicide, on this spot in 1809. It was Lewis, along with his partner William Clark, who first documented vast areas of the Louisiana Purchase. At the gravesite you’ll also find a campsite, picnic area, with self-guided walking trails and restrooms.
- Leiper’s Fork – On from the Lewis site, the road crosses over the Tennessee Valley Divide, which served as the boundary between the United States and the Chickasaw Nation when Tennessee joined the Union in 1796. From there it’s on to Leiper’s Fork, a delightful village that is a Registered National Historic District and a great place to kick back and relax.
- Lawn Chair Theatre – Today, in Leiper’s Fork, you’ll see historic homes that have been converted into antiques stores, cafes and artists’ shops. Break out your blankets and watch outdoor movies with the whole family at the Lawn Chair Theatre.
- Civil War site – In nearby Franklin, the road leads to the site of a dramatic Civil War battle that has been called the “bloodiest hours” of the entire war. The Carter House, which served as Union headquarters, is a Registered Historic Landmark, with over 100 bullet holes in its sides, is open as a museum and interpretive center with a video presentation.
- The Carnton Plantation – Only a few miles away, the scene was equally brutal, as wounded Confederates filled every inch of the house and lawn. After the war, when a neighbor’s field containing the remains of some 1500 soldiers was going to be plowed under, Carnton owners John and Carrie McGavock offered the services of their beloved Carnton, making Carnton the largest privately held Confederate cemetery in the nation.
- The Factory at Franklin – History has always run deep in Franklin, TN. The Factory retains many of the architectural features and feel of the old premises while providing a picturesque venue for dining, shopping, galleries and even theatre.
- Double Arch Bridge – You’ll soon cross over an actual bridge linking the small town charm behind you to the bright lights of Nashville ahead. This remarkably innovative double arch bridge, an architectural and engineering landmark is the only one of its kind in the world.
- The Parthenon – In Centennial Park, you can stand in awe before a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon; inside, you can look up for what seems like miles at the Athena Parthenos, the tallest indoor structure in the entire world.
- Country music – Nashville is the heart of country music, where stars come to make their mark and fans come to see their idols. From venues like the Blue Bird Café, the Ryman Auditorium, and the Grand Ole Opry, which is continuing its more than 80-year tradition, Nashville hums and strums with excitement. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the many unbeatable attractions on Music Row.
- Art – The Frist Center for the Visual Arts has world-class rotating collections of fine art. At Cheekwood Botanical Garden, 55 acres of botanical gardens, a sculpture trail and museum of art make for a captivating excursion.
- The Hermitage – But no trip up (or down) the Natchez Trace would be complete without a visit to the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s Nashville home. Perhaps no other single individual has been as closely associated with the history of the Trace as the man who was U.S. President as well as the namesake for Mississippi’s capital. Costumed interpreters are stationed throughout the house to guide visitors and to provide context—though some of the best context a visitor might find would be on that road, the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, where Andrew Jackson, along with so many other Americans, found his way.
For visitor information: 866—TRACE 56 (866-872-2356) www.scenictrace.com