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The Best Time to Visit Tennessee in 2023

The Best Time to Visit Tennessee in 2023

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 what’s the best time to visit Tennessee?

The best time to visit Tennessee really depends on what you want to do there. Summers are great in Tennessee, but it can be too hot and humid for comfortable hiking and camping.

Late summer and fall present amazing opportunities for your visit, while winter and spring have special things to offer for visitors looking for cheap or less crowded stays. Read on to learn more about the best and worst times to book your Tennessee trip! 

Why You Should Visit Tennessee

Colorful sunset over Big South Fork of the Cumberland River showing why you should visit Tennessee

Anthony Heflin/Shutterstock

You should visit Tennessee because the state is full of variety, scenic views, and things to do. The state has multiple indoor and outdoor activities, so there’s something going on throughout the year.

Every month has something unique to offer, so you can really visit anytime!

Of course, the state is the perfect place for musicians and music lovers to visit. It’s home to the famous Graceland in Memphis, while Nashville is the nation’s country music hub. Stop by local venues in either town to listen to smaller artists or world-famous performers.

Choose a cozy venue for an entertaining open mic night or grab tickets to a great show at Bridgestone Arena or Minglewood Hall. Walk the famous Beale Street in Memphis or take to Broadway in Nashville to barhop and drop in on local acts!

If you like the outdoors, Tennessee is a true treasure trove of activities and sights to see. It’s a really scenic state famous for its rolling hills and amazing views.

You can check out multiple forests and parks throughout the state to hike or enjoy nature. The eastern edge of the state is also on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains and home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

The major cities in Tennessee have excellent hotels and shopping as well as museums and parks. Meanwhile, the smaller towns are great for exploring and antiquing. You can go camping in and around the smaller cities or within one of the multiple forests.

Tennessee also borders the Mississippi River and contains multiple lakes. If you like fishing or spending time by the water, it’s the perfect place to visit!

Wakefest is held annually on Center Hill Lake, while the Head of the Hooch Regatta happens every year in Chattanooga. But renting a pontoon boat or taking your kayak out to the water is fun anytime of year!

It’s also easy to visit other nearby states north or south of Tennessee. Interstate 40 is an excellent cross-state highway, while Interstate 65 and 75 run north and south. Either way, it’s easy to get around and visit multiple parts of the state.

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 in Tennessee 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

If you want to visit Tennessee but are on a strict budget, go 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

Due to the cold temperatures and school starting back up, January is the least busy time to visit Tennessee.

In January, 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.

Things to Consider

Downtown Knoxville skyline featuring the World's Fair Sunsphere on a nice day during the best time to visit Tennessee

Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock

Before you schedule your trip to Tennessee, there are a few considerations to plan for. Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan your trip, especially if you want to visit multiple cities:

  • It’s in two time zones. Most of Tennessee is in the Central Time Zone, including Memphis and Nashville. However, because the state is so wide, the eastern third is in the Eastern Time Zone and is an hour ahead. Timing is essential if you want to stay in Nashville but want to take a day trip to Chattanooga, for example, since the time is different.
  • There are multiple airports. If you plan on visiting a few parts of Tennessee, you have multiple airports to choose from. The Nashville and Memphis airports are the largest, so you’ll have more non-stop flights from more cities. You can also fly into Knoxville or Chattanooga.
  • It borders eight states. Don’t want to just visit Tennessee? Cross the border into Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, or Mississippi. You can take day trips to those surrounding states to view more of the country, or you can fly into airports like Charlotte or Atlanta and drive to Tennessee from there.
  • There’s more than Nashville and Memphis. Visiting Nashville or Memphis can be great, but you’d be missing out on a lot of other great towns if you don’t venture out. Head east to towns like Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge to visit other attractions. You can also head to other small towns near the Appalachian Mountains to go hiking, find a bite to eat, or shop in antique stores and boutiques!
  • It’s home to multiple music attractions. You may already know about Graceland, but you can visit Dolly Parton’s Dollywood in Pigeon Forge as well. If you stop by Nashville, you’ll find a variety of music venues where you can listen to live music. There’s also the Country Music Hall of Fame in the state’s largest city.
  • It gets some snow. Tennessee may be part of the south, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never get any snow. When it comes down here, it can make driving harder. If you stay near the border with North Carolina, you may even run into ice or sleet during the winter, so you’ll need a suitable rental car. Some areas, like Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains, may be closed in the winter due to snow. 

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.

Is Tennessee worth visiting?

Tennessee is definitely worth visiting for people of all ages. You can visit one city or schedule a longer trip so that you can explore different parts of the state.

Visiting at different times of the year will give you unique experiences. To enjoy the outdoors here, come during the spring, summer, or fall.

Skiing and snowboarding is possible in the eastern mountains of Tennessee during the winter. Year round, there are events and indoor activities happening across the state!

So, What’s the Best Time to 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!