"It's football time in Tennessee!"
Though UT hasn't had its best start in 2010, you can still feel the fandom — literally! The rafters of Neyland Stadium, nestled in Knoxville against the Smoky Mountains and the Tennessee River, shake when the University of Tennessee scores, soon to be followed by the mass singalong of “Rocky Top.” (Watch and sing along with the clip below.)
If you go ...
Try a hand-crafted beer at the Smoky Mountain Brewery or tailgate with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey highballs (even tour the distillery itself in Lynchburg, a three-hour drive southwest). Enjoy Knoxville’s culture with country music walking tours or Autumn on the Square, an outdoor concert series at historic Market Square. Labor Day’s “Boomsday” on the river is the nation’s largest fireworks display. And the entire family will enjoy September's Tennessee Valley Fair.
Birding, biking and dozens of other outdoor activities abound in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one hour away. See wildflowers, brilliant fall foliage, black bears and 30 species of the amphibians that make the park the "Salamander Capital of the World." View early settlers’ homesteads in Cades Cove, and Clingman’s Dome, which at 6,643 feet is the highest peak in the Smokies. Civil War buffs will enjoy the many nearby battle sites, such as Fort Sanders.
Finally, for the best in kitsch, take an hour’s drive to Gatlinburg’s Space Needle and rustic wedding chapels, or the Dollywood amusement park in nearby Pigeon Forge for musical theater, rides, shops and maybe even a glimpse of Dolly Parton herself!