When to Go
Peak Season: June to August
Summers are generally pleasant in mountainous eastern portions of the state, but August can be hot and humid in middle and west Tennessee. Be sure to book ahead as this is when Tennessee comes alive with the sound of music: there's the Smoky Mountains Tunes & Tales in Gatlinburg, Nashville's CMA Music Festival, Chattanooga’s Riverbend Festival, and Manchester’s Bonnaroo Music Festival. There’s also Elvis Week in Memphis, Rivers & Spires Festival in Clarksville, and, ending the summer with a bang, Boomsday Festival in Knoxville, the largest Labor Day weekend fireworks display in the United States.
Shoulder Season: mid-March to May; September to October
In spring, west Tennessee is overrun with a riot of colorful flowers, blooming trees, and bushes. As the weather begins to heat up, so does food-festival season. Check out the World’s Biggest Fish Fry in Paris, National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, International Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, and Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass in Sevierville. Can’t make up your mind? Start with the Memphis in May International Festival, where the World Championship Barbeque Contest will keep your mouth watering and your feet in line for seconds.
Autumn kisses Tennessee with a palette of cranberry, crimson, pumpkin, and nutmeg then frosts it with amber and touches of gold. All over the state, especially near the Great Smoky Mountains, fall foliage fanatics fill up area lodging.
Off Season: November to mid-March
Winter blankets the state with colder temperatures (usually 28°F–42°F) as you move east. Snow accumulates fairly frequently in the mountains and many attractions and lodging properties in this region close right after the New Year, so check schedules carefully. Those that remain open usually offer deep discounts, especially for extended stays.