Cheré Dastugue Coen
Road Tripping in Tennessee
Two new guidebooks take visitors on a comprehensive visit.
My travel writing colleagues have been busy this year. I've spotlighted Karon Warren and Judy and Len Garrison, three Georgia travel enthusiasts who have penned travel guidebooks about their state, and on my recent trip to Huntsville, Ala., I had the pleasure of Connie Pearson's "100 Things to Do in Huntsville and Northern Alabama" (Reedy Press).
And now I'm exploring Tennessee through two guidebooks written by colleagues who are as great at ferreting out interesting destinations to explore — as well as the weird! — as they are wonderful writers.
100 Things to Do in Nashville
My buddy Tom Adkinson had so much to explore every year in Nashville for his “100 Things to Do in Nashville Before You Die” (Reedy Press) that it’s now in its third edition. If you haven’t been to Nashville lately, you’ll be amazed at how much it’s grown and developed. Tom’s constantly on the lookout for what’s new and hip in Music City so it’s the perfect addition to any visit. But don’t worry, those tried and true spots, such as Broadway's honky tonks and the Grand Ole Opry, are there as well. Tom’s a top-notch travel writer; he's the travel writer for The Knoxville Daily, a Marco Polo member of the Society of American Travel Writers and creator of CornersOfTheCountry.com. His past day jobs included assistant travel editor at Southern Living magazine.
What's weird in Nashville?
Nashville has a love of history. Yes, there's the Hermitage, once the home of President Andrew Jackson, and the Civil War battlefields at Franklin, but we're talking way back history. Nashville was once called the “Athens of the South,” which is why, as part of the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, a full-scale replica of the Athenian Parthenon was built in the city’s Centennial Park. (Read more in my previous blog post.) Tom also describes in his book the unique Egyptian Revival architecture of Nashville's Downtown Presbyterian Church, which also features a 2,709-pipe organ available for tours, not to mention Sunday service.
Tennessee With The Smoky Mountains
Another Tennessee writer and friend, who lives in Nashville, is Margaret Littman. A graduate of Vanderbilt, Margaret is the author of the guidebook, “Tennessee with The Smoky Mountains” (Moon). I’ve listened to Margaret describe her stand-up paddle adventures (she's amazing), so naturally the book’s full of ways to get on the water, both standing and sitting. Her tome includes places to listen to music, but famous and otherwise; revisiting Knoxville’s World Fair sites; professional sports arenas; exploring the state's multiple waterfalls; unique sites to dine; and much more.
Margaret’s work has appeared in national and regional magazines, including Wine Enthusiast, Entrepreneur and The Tennessean. She is the author of several guidebooks including the “Nashville Essential Guide,” “52 Things to Do in Nashville” and “Nashville to New Orleans Road Trip” (Moon).
What's Weird in Tennessee
I might say the hot chicken in Nashville (don't hate me), but a few places I found intriguing in Margaret's book were the archway sculpture made of bicycles at the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center, the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg and then, of course, there's Graceland.
Weird, Wacky & Wild South is written by travel writer Cheré Coen, author of the travel guidebook, "Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana" (The History Press). She loves Tennessee. That's Cheré on the Sky Bridge in Gatlinburg.