From the Great Smoky Mountains to the Mississippi River, Tennessee brings the best that the South has to offer. Whether you’re headed to Nashville to check out the music scene, hitting the Whiskey Trail, or making a pilgrimage to Graceland (no judgment here), we’ve investigated a few places that are well worth a visit along the way.
The Dive Motel, Nashville
In the mood for a lot of kitsch? Ever wonder what it would feel like to be an extra in Boogie Nights? It takes a lot to stand out in today’s hospitality landscape, especially in a town with as much personality as Nashville, but The Dive Motel proves an unforgettable addition to the Music City lineup. It’s a living, breathing tribute to everything so-bad-it-was-good about the golden era of sex, drugs, and rock & roll; shag rugs, soaking tubs, disco balls & power-clashing patterns give each unique room a vibe of its own. The Dive Bar has vinyl seats and velvet paintings of bald eagles, among other things. Pool passes are available daily, open to the paying public from 12PM to sundown, and free for hotel guests. What’s old is new again, and what’s over the top to some is delightfully tacky to the rest of us.
The Oliver, Knoxville
Located in the historic Kern building in the heart of Market Square in Knoxville, the team behind The Oliver has curated a layered and thoughtful experience for discerning guests. A vintage marquee sign beckons from an imposing facade of wrought iron porticoes, limewashed brick, and sturdy millwork painted a stately black. Inside, the mood is lifted with vibrant upholstery, graphic rugs and wallpaper, and modern light fixtures that harmonize with the building’s original details. Behind the lobby, you’ll find the real reason to stay here: the entrance to the Peter Kern Library, Knoxville’s only speakeasy. The whiskey, rye & bourbon lists are as stacked as you’d expect, but you can’t go wrong with any of the cocktail offerings—in this setting, a PKL Old Fashioned feels right. On your way out of town, be sure to check out Brushy Mountain Distillery and their iconic End of The Line Moonshine, housed in the historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary which was a maximum-security prison until 2009.
Under Canvas, Great Smoky Mountains
Continuing east into the mountains, you’ll find a camping experience like no other. Under Canvas is known for its exclusive safari tent accommodations adjacent to many US National Parks, and this location lets you ease into the southern wilderness in style. On offer are on-site dining as well as picnic areas & grills, and camp activities coordinated by a cheerful and outdoorsy staff. Your private tent comes furnished in West Elm comfort, and many have private bathrooms. Rise early to catch the mist rising over the mountains, or stay up late for the spectacular star gazing around the fire pit. Great for solo travelers, couples, or families, you’ll have all the comforts of a hotel while immersing yourself in the quietude of Tennessee’s ancient wilderness, known as “The Land of Blue Smoke.”
Book any of these stays and you’re sure to experience a hell of a trip in TN. When checking in, tell them CYTIES sent you—safe travels folks.