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Tennessee: When to Go for the Best Weather, Events, & More

Tennessee: When to Go for the Best Weather, Events, & More

What's the best time to visit Tennessee?

The best time to visit Tennessee is between June and August, offering vibrant events like the Bonnaroo Music Festival in June and the Tomato ArtFest in August. While cities like Nashville and Memphis are bustling in July, exploring smaller towns or the cooler Appalachian regions can be a refreshing alternative.

Additionally, visiting college campuses like UT Knoxville is more manageable during this time, and family-friendly attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga make for great day trips.

If you’re looking to explore a new part of the country, Tennessee is calling your name! You may want to visit Memphis, Knoxville, or somewhere in between. But before you can plan your trip, you need to figure out the best time to visit; let us be your guide!

The Overall Best Time to Visit Tennessee

Downtown Nashville skyline showing the pedestrian bridge and river in late summer during the best time to visit Tennessee

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Tennessee is between June and August. You may experience more crowds and hotter weather at this time, but late summer is an amazing time to visit! 

In August, you can go to the state fair in Wilson County, just east of Nashville. August is also the perfect time to visit to attend the Full Moon Picking Party. The Tomato ArtFest is another exciting event with live music, art, and great food.

June is another great month to visit Tennessee and listen to live music. You can attend the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester for a wild time! CMA Fest also takes place this month in Nashville.

There’s a massive Pride Festival that attracts visitors from all over. Catch the Fiddler’s Jamboree in tiny Smithville, Tennessee for a taste of old-school bluegrass and dancing. 

While you can visit Memphis and Nashville in July, consider exploring the smaller towns during this time of year. The cities have massive crowds during the month since everyone’s out of school.

If you want to avoid some of the heat, head east to the edge of the Appalachians and along the Cumberland Plateau. It’ll still be relatively hot, but it’s a few degrees cooler than the western part of the state.

If you have a kid in high school, you can visit nearby college campuses like UT Knoxville. There won’t be crowds of students, so it can be easier to explore.

Meanwhile, Chattanooga is home to the Tennessee Aquarium. It’s an excellent place for the entire family to visit. Chattanooga is only two hours from Nashville, so you can stay in one city and take a day trip to the other.

Cheapest Time to Visit Tennessee

View from Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga with cannon and vista view of the town during late fall showing the cheapest time to visit Tennessee

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Tennessee is between November and March to enjoy lower airfares and hotel prices. January is the absolute cheapest month of the year to visit Tennessee.

During the first of the year, it can get below freezing at night here. However, daytime temperatures throughout Tennessee may still reach the 50s. That can make it an excellent place to visit if you live farther north.

If you want to visit in December, the weather will be similar. You can also take in some Christmas decorations and events throughout the state. Book a stay in Nashville and go ice skating, take pictures with Santa, and ride down ice tube slides.

You can also go camping during the cooler months. Avoid December and January due to the low overnight temperatures. November and March are warm enough to sleep outdoors as long as you have a quality sleeping bag.

The week around Thanksgiving and Christmas will probably be a bit more expensive. But you can book a trip for the middle of December or anytime from January to March to keep costs low.

If you’re looking to focus on mostly indoor gatherings, November through March is great. You can get around in a rental car to keep from being outdoors for too long. Then, you can visit all of the popular attractions with the huge crowds you’d see during the summer.

Least Busy Time to Visit Tennessee

Winter snow in Great Smoky Mountains National Park showing the least busy time to visit Tennessee

Nickolay Khoroshkov/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit Tennessee is in January, when the temperatures are freezing cold and school is starting back up.

During this time, the excitement of the holidays has worn off and people don’t have as much free time off as in December or the summer. It’s the perfect time to visit Tennessee without big crowds!

That means you can visit popular attractions, like Graceland (the home of Elvis) in Memphis, without long wait times. You should be able to get into music venues, museums, and popular restaurants without a problem.

You may need to allow extra time to get places if it snows. Tennessee doesn’t get as much snow as some states. If you stay on the eastern edge of the state, you may also have to deal with sleet and ice. The weather can deter a lot of people from visiting during January.

But if it doesn’t scare you, you’ll have an easier time booking a stay and going to different attractions. You’ll also save a little money, which is always nice after the holidays! Visiting in January also means you can attend the Nashville Auto Fest.

If you don’t like cars, Music at the City Winery is another popular event. Check out the First Saturday Art Crawl in Nashville if you want to visit right after the new year. Extend your stay into February to enjoy more indoor activities.

You can have a Valentine’s Day date at J. Alexander’s in Nashville, visit Fort Fun, or partake in the Nashville Wine Auction Pairings. It may be winter, but the state has plenty of stuff for you to do indoors! 

Worst Time to Visit Tennessee

Aerial sunset view of Memphis skyline including the famous pyramid during the worst time to visit Tennessee

Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock

The worst time to visit Tennessee may be in May, when the state receives a lot of rainfall and humidity picks up. 

Of course, the amount of rain you’ll have to deal with depends on the part of the state you’re in. Memphis receives about eight days of rain on average in May. Knoxville gets about nine days of rain.

Some years may be more or less wet than average. Either way, you should only visit Tennessee this month if you plan on doing a lot of indoor activities in between the rainstorms! You might also find the latter part of May is busier as kids start to get out of school.

Some states have school through June, but others end school weeks ahead of that. College kids also get off in May, so your flight out of Tennessee may be more crowded.

Near the end of the month, you also have to worry about Memorial Day. A lot of people travel for the holiday weekend, even if they still have school or work. You’ll want to avoid flights on Friday before and on the Monday holiday.

If you need to visit around that time, be sure to book your hotel far in advance. Otherwise, consider visiting earlier in the month or waiting until June.

Then, you won’t have to worry as much about the weather and the start of summer affecting crowds. Luckily, May isn’t a total waste of a month to visit. In Tennessee, you can check out the Beans and Cornbread Festival in Gatlinburg, which is small and far from the larger city crowds.

There’s also Street Food Month in Nashville if you don’t mind the city. In May, Dollywood hosts Barbecue and Bluegrass. You can enjoy some good food and music in Pigeon Forge, near the eastern edge of Tennessee.

Frequently Asked Questions

Iconic Beale Street in Memphis lit up at night for a frequently asked questions section on the best time to visit Tennessee

Blues Clubs on historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee at twilight on August 25, 2017/Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Tennessee can be one of the best states to visit in the United States. If you still have questions about scheduling a trip, read on to see the most frequently asked questions about when to go! 

What's the best month to go to Nashville?

The best month to go to Nashville is any month between April and October. While you can run into rain in May and heat in the summer, the weather is generally pretty good.

Because of that, there are more events and festivals that you can visit. Plus, you can choose to stay inside or explore the outdoors without needing to bundle up.

What's the cheapest time of year to go to Nashville?

The cheapest time to go to Nashville is from November to March, with January being cheaper than the other months. Aside from the holidays and spring break, travel demand usually drops.

Hotels and airlines may lower their rates to try and attract visitors. If you're willing to visit when it's cooler, you can take advantage of those sales.

When is the rainy season in Tennessee?

Tennessee doesn't really have a rainy season, but May comes with a decent amount of rain. It can also get wet during November and December.

If you want to go camping or do other outdoor activities, avoid those months. However, if you need to visit during those months, you can enjoy plenty of indoor attractions.

What months are warm in Tennessee?

July is the warmest month in TN, with daily average high temperatures around 89 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also get into the lower and mid-80s from the end of May through the middle or end of September.

If you want to visit during the summer, you'll want to dress accordingly. Be sure you drink plenty of water, especially if you spend multiple hours outside during the day.

So, When Should You Visit Tennessee?

The best time to visit Tennessee is in the summer and early fall, including the months of June, July, and August. It can get a bit warm, but there are plenty of indoor activities to keep you cool.

You can enjoy the outdoors and visit the state fair and other festivals during this time.  You’ll see fireflies (“lightning bugs” in Tennessee), sip sweet tea on a hot day, and enjoy a paddle through the many lakes and waterways!

Summer comes with a lot of crowds and higher prices, so consider visiting in January (the cheapest time to visit Tennessee) if you’d rather avoid that. It’ll be somewhat cold but not as frigid as in some places.

Try to avoid visiting in May, when Tennessee gets a lot of rain. Things are wet, but flowers are blooming, temperatures are nice and warm, and everything’s green. 

All things considered, Tennessee is a gem of a state that’s definitely worth a visit. Plan your stay during the best time to visit Tennessee and you’ll be talking about your trip for years to come!