2. Great Smoky Mountains
Cummins Falls State Park
Not far from Nashville, this canyon waterfall is spectacular. Not only does it look great and you can spend plenty of time taking pictures, but you can also swim at the base to cool off on a hot day. There are two trails, one to the base which I would definitely recommend, and one to the top. Supposedly it’s a loop, but I didn’t see how. It’s roughly a mile one way for each trail. The trail in the canyon requires walking over rocks and you’ll likely be ankle to knee deep in some parts when crossing is necessary, making it a really fun hike. It’s mostly dry and flat. The hike brought back fond memories of The Narrows in Zion National Park. A permit is required which you can purchase there or online in advance. If there is rain in the forecast, it might close temporarily or for the day due to potential flash flooding.
On the outer edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, this very touristy but fun town is a great place to stop for a bite to eat or to indulge your inner tourist. Even just driving through is fun. Kind of reminded me of Atlantic City, NJ with its restaurants and amusements, but without the beach and casinos. Pigeon Forge is also just up the road, which is home to Dollywood (Dolly Parton) and there is a massive strip of amusements from laser tag to bumper cars to arcades. Also tons of restaurants and a model of The Titanic. Reminded me of a place that would exist if Atlantic City and Las Vegas had a tiny baby.