Where to go in 5 hours or less

Spring break starts this weekend for Rutherford and Murfreesboro City school systems.

Itching to get out of town? Here are some trips Middle Tennesseans can make in five hours or less. Be sure to check for COVID-19 guidelines as well as available activities and accommodations. Many sites will require advance ticket reservations.

Tennessee state parks

You don’t have to go very far in Tennessee for access to Mother Nature, with nearly 60 state parks and countless local ones. If you plan to stay overnight at any parks, you’ll want to make advance reservations.

Warrior’s Path near Johnson City offers activities like boating, fishing, hiking trails, golf and an internationally renowned mountain bike trail. Roan Mountain has sweeping views of the Appalachian Mountains and even a leg of the Appalachian Trail. Just an hour away is Rock Island, located in Warren County. RV and tent camping are available at many parks.

Rock Island State Park is located in Warren County, about an hour away from Murfreesboro.

Other popular Middle Tennessee parks include Cedars of Lebanon — which offers trail riding — Long Hunter, Radnor Lake, Montgomery Bell and Harpeth River, as well as the Bicentennial Mall in downtown Nashville.

Explore the lives of Native Americans who lived in Tennessee at Pinson Mounds near Jackson and the mounds at Old Stone Fort in Manchester.

Although you may want to wait for warmer weather, there are eight must-see waterfalls inside state parks. Check out the waterfall tour online tnstateparks.com.

Chattanooga

Chattanooga is less than two hours away from Rutherford County. You can tour Ruby Falls, the tallest and deepest underground waterfall, and see historic Rock City. Have fun taking the Incline Railway to the top of Lookout Mountain to get a majestic view of the valley.

Enjoy a trip to the Tennessee Aquarium.

Visit the world-class Tennessee Aquarium or the Creative Discovery Museum, take a ride on the Tennessee Valley Railway and visit the Chattanooga Zoo.Downtown is also home to numerous restaurants, breweries and sweet shops.

Learn more about what to do in Chattanooga at visitchattanooga.com.

Huntsville, Alabama

Just two hours away is Huntsville, Alabama, best known as the home of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Beyond the Rocket Center, there are plenty of family-friendly attractions and museums to enjoy, as well as outdoor recreation, live music and dining.

The U.S. Space and Rocket Museum in Huntsville.

Attractions include EarlyWorks Children’s Museum, Huntsville Botanical Garden and Harmony Park Safari. Pick tulips at the Hubert Family Farms and discover outdoor activities at Monte Sano State Park.

Visit huntsville.org or get some ideas at huntsville.org/springbreak.

Knoxville

While many UT fans may know Knoxville as a sports destination, there are plenty of things to pack in a week or weekend. 

Check out the Knoxville Zoo.

Family-friendly ideas include The Muse, a STEM-focused museum, and the Knoxville Zoo. Foodies can enjoy rooftop wine and dining experiences, brewery tours and a bakery voted America’s best. If you love Mother Nature, don’t miss Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness where you can hike, bike, climb, paddle, or just wander in the woods in the heart of the city.

Free things to do include Knoxville Botanical Gardens/UT Gardens on campus; The world-class McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture; and Knoxville Museum of Art.

To learn more visit visitknoxville.com.

Memphis

Memphis is a city rich in music history. See Sun Studio where rock ‘n’ roll was born, Stax Museum of American Soul and the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. You can’t miss a trip down to the iconic Beale Street. Then there’s Graceland, home of Elvis Presley.

Jonathan Ellison tunes his guitar before performing with the P.S. Band on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, at B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street in Memphis. The band was the last to play the club before the coronavirus shutdown and is the first to retake the stage as it reopens.

Civil Rights played a huge part in shaping the city, too. The National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, tells the story of the fight Black Americans have made for equal rights. 

Family-friendly activities include the Memphis Zoo, Children’s Museum of Memphis and Museum of Science & History – Pink Palace, with an IMAX theatre and planetarium.

More:Nine entrepreneurs making a mark on the Memphis food scene

When you get hungry, sit down to a meal of award-winning barbecue at the famous Rendezvous or Central BBQ, and drink a cold one at one of the brewing companies. 

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