We are over a year into the pandemic, a year when most of us have avoided gatherings, getting out and about, and enjoying the world around us, except in small solitary doses. And we aren’t out of the woods yet. But as another summer dawns, and as the vaccination drive picks up steam, we know many are itching to exercise their freedom, get together with friends, and stretch their proverbial legs. Vaccination isn’t a passport back to “normal life” though, but as summer begins, we thought it would be a fun time to review some ways to enjoy all the variety Tennessee has to offer this season. As we all know, now, socializing is safer outdoors and while maintaining social distancing, even post vaccine. So we do encourage people to keep those practices in mind, even as we offer these suggestions for enjoying the natural beauty, and the natural flavors, of Tennessee this summer! And with Earth Day having just passed, you can also enjoy knowing that these options promote environmental responsibility!

Places to Stay

Eco-friendly lodging options help play a significant part in reducing water, plastic and energy waste every day. Here are a few lodging options that will have guests snoozing smart and more carefree all night long:

The Crash Pad – Chattanooga 

Located in Chattanooga, this eco-friendly, LEED-certified glamping spot is unlike any other. Offering 24 bunk beds or five private rooms, complimentary DIY breakfast and walking distance to some of the area’s restaurants and bars, this classic, yet charming hostel provides visitors with a blend of reclaimed and renewable resources to ensure the best of energy efficiency while supporting local sustainable businesses.

Hutton Hotel – Nashville

Known for its four-star, four-diamond service, the Hutton Hotel goes above and beyond to provide its guests with an eco-friendly stay. From the time guests arrive, they are greeted by bamboo floors and furniture made from reclaimed wood. The rooms are equipped with automatic, motion detection lights, and to cut back on the use of plastic guests can find soap, shampoo and conditioner all in dispensers. 

David Crockett State Park Cabins – Lawrenceburg

A sunset over Lake Lindsey at David Crockett State Park in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. | Photo Credit: Rob Fitzhugh

The David Crockett State Park Cabins are perfect for a weekend getaway, with plenty of opportunities to get outdoors. Equipped with geothermal-powered HVAC units and gas fireplaces, these LEED-certified vacation homes are ahead of the curve on energy conservation. The state park also has the Tennessee Naturalist Program which serves as an educational training program to provide service and outreach efforts to help preserve Tennessee’s natural beauty and resources.

Places to Eat

People come to Tennessee from all over to try its award-wining restaurants and signature dishes whether it’s a southern comfort dish or a night out at one of the many farm-to-table establishments across the state. Dive into these local, sustainable-friendly restaurants, bars and wineries that play a part in reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Husk – Nashville

Appetizers at Husk in Nashville, Tenn. | Photo Credit: Tennessee Tourism/Melissa Corbin

Known for their ever-changing menu of fresh ingredients all from the south, Husk takes Southern cuisine to the next level. This farm-to-table approach provides a menu full of seasonal food and drinks all while saving the environment and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Local Goat – Pigeon Forge

Located in Pigeon Forge, the Local Goat specializes in locally sourced and sustainable foods. Customers can enjoy a selection of craft food and drinks such as “bhaahhbu” back ribs, ahi tuna steak, a buckberry old fashioned and much more.

Winery at Seven Springs Farm – Maynardville

Wander down the historic “Thunder Road” to the charming Winery at Seven Springs Farm. This winery like many others across the state makes its wine on-site which helps to cut back on long-haul delivery and greenhouse gas emissions. They offer tours across the vineyard for their visitors to get outdoors and learn about how they make their wine and take in the picturesque views.

East Nashville Beer Works – Nashville

Make a toast to Earth Day with friends and family at East Nashville Beer Works by sipping away on its locally brewed beer. A member of the Tennessee Sustainable Spirits program, the brewery aims to reduce their environmental impact and energy footprint through practices such as using tankless water heaters and implementing temperature controls.

Places to Play

Whether you are looking to explore Tennessee’s great outdoors or wander down the cities charming neighborhoods, these unique attractions offer environmentally friendly fun all while stressing the importance of being sustainably responsible.

Historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement – Collinsville

Once the Settlement opens June 5 for the season, guests can stroll through a re-creation of the past from the earliest “first home” to the expansive Dogtrot House, a tobacco-drying house, smokehouse, church/schoolhouse, wildlife center, loom house, cobbler’s shop, teacher’s home and more. Picnic tables are placed throughout the property to enjoy a picnic outdoors and a covered pavilion with tables and restrooms, is also on site. A visitor center greets guests and offers period souvenirs.

Tennessee Aquarium – Chattanooga 

Chameleon at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tenn. | Photo Credit: Tennessee Aquarium/Casey Philips

Make a splash by visiting the Tennessee Aquarium to learn more about the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, their scientific studies and what they are doing to restore and conserve the earth’s ecosystems. Through their Global Passport Program, guests can learn more about different species from around the world and the role they play in their environment.

Able – Nashville

While in Nashville, stop by Able, an ethical fashion brand dedicated to sustainability. The company strives to make a positive impact on the environment by using recycled packaging and mailers, repurposing discarded hides for their leather products, creating all their jewelry by hand without the harsh chemicals needed from a manufacturer and picking clothes that are made from all-natural fibers.

Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park – Johnson City

Guests can cycle their way through Earth Day at the Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park. With over 40 acres of terrain and trails, bicyclists and hikers of all ages can spend the day in the great outdoors enjoying the beauty of Johnson City.

Hike MoCo – Wartburg

Established in 2017, Hike Morgan County is a network designed to encourage hikes on Morgan County trails and promote a healthy lifestyle. Throughout the network’s organized hikes, hikers are encouraged to pick up trash along the way to help preserve the beauty of Morgan County’s trails and surrounding areas.

Sometimes it is easy to forget how much your home state has to offer! This diverse selection represents a tiny portion of what a quick daycation or staycation in Tennessee has to offer. And there’s a lot more we couldn’t include, even just in the Nashville area. You don’t have to be a tourist to find some place awesome to eat, play or stay in Tennessee—maybe even local places you haven’t heard of—so check out the resources at tnvacation.com for more information! 

Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

Rumble Boxing Gulch, Nashville


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