identify yourself as a resident of a Southern state. When you say you are a Tennessean, it means so much more.
From wicked whitewater to the world's biggest fish fry, the
The Tennessean scoured the state for the 40 things every Tennessean -- native or otherwise -- should do while they live here. Here's the list -- in no particular order. ------
1. Travel the Natchez Trace, from
ile parkway meanders through the scenic South, connecting the lower portions of the
Nancy and Mom at the Natchez Bridge! (I took the picture so it counts!)
Nancy and Mom at the Natchez Bridge! (I took the picture so it counts!)
2. Rock on at Bonnaroo: It's hard to imagine having more fun in the middle of nowhere. This four-day, multistage music festival in
3. Go to a show at the Grand Ole Opry,
, having grown from a roaring '20s radio broadcast into a national music marvel. Its stage showcases country music legends and present-day performers. www.opry.com or (800) 733-6779 ------ I can Check this off my list! I have been a couple of times!
4. Visit Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge: Tucked amid the splendor of the Smokies, there's nothing
sleepy about this small-town experience. From go-carts to mini-golf, a bevy of family attractions line well-traveled streets flanked with stores galore. And Dollywood and Ripley's
Believe It or Not illuminate the cities' natural setting and offer tick-free entertainment in the middle of the great outdoors. www.gatlinburg.com www.mypigeonforge.com ------ I've been to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but it was before I lived here. Does that still count? I would like to go back!
5. Dip a biscuit in gravy at Loveless Cafe,
6. Put a paddle in the Harpeth, Middle Tennessee: Don't be surprised to sight a snake or a sunbathing cow along this scenic waterway. This playground appeals to outdoor enthusiasts and escapists. ------ I have gone down a river in a conoe, I need to check and see if it was the Harpeth... I might get to check this one off the list!
This was my very first weekend in Tennessee!
7. Groove at
8. Pet a shark at the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga: Fish are just the tip of the iceberg a
t this underwater adventure site, where a river and ocean journey offer a glimpse at more than 12,000 animals, including salamanders, octopi, otters and penguins. www.tnaqua.org or (800) 262-0695 ------ I went here with Allison this August... It was a celebration of our 18th Friendiversary... :)
9. Volunteer, statewide: Any true Tennessean ought to embrace the state's nickname, and the beauty of this must-do is that it can be done almost anywhere. Find a soup kitchen, an animal shelter or any other local nonprofit and devote a few hours helping others. You'll be glad you did. Volunteer information: www.hon.org or (615) 298-1108 ------ I have volunteered! I am well on my way to being a Tennessean... Humm... I am not sure how I feel about that, being a Tennessean that is...not volunteering.
10. Sport a spectacular hat at Iroquois Steeplechase,
12. Bow to Athena at the Parthenon,
I took this picture when Dad was in town!
13. Party in a pew at the Ryman,
14. Watch or run the Country Music Marathon,
15. Down a big beer on
16. Walk the grounds at the Hermitage,
17. Sign your name on the wall at Tootsie's,
18. Camp out in
19. Square dance at Mule Day,
20. Take a trip through history at Stones River Battlefield,
21. Hear the Fisk Jubilee Singers,
22. Meander around the mountain at the University of the South, Sewanee: Perched atop the
23. Buy a shot glass at Jack Daniel distillery, Lynchburg: The birthplace of Tennessee whisky is not too far away and a tour of the creation facilities is free. Don't expect to get a swig of the stuff when you're through, however -- Moore County has been dry since the days of Prohibition. www.jackdaniels.com ------
24. Battle the whitewater on the Ocoee or Little Pigeon, East Tennessee: Boasting a host of Class III and Class IV rapids, these lively waterways offer high-energy adventure. If you go with a guide -- and there are plenty just a Google search away -- there's no experience necessary. -----
25. Get a plate at the World's Biggest Fish Fry, Paris: More than 5 tons of catfish are cooked at this weeklong festival, which dates back to the 1960s. www.worldsbiggestfishfry.com ------
26. Tread the sidewalks on Music Row, Nashville: It's nothing flashy -- no more than a quiet collection of old houses and office buildings, really -- but this set of streets is where stars are made, and that alone makes it worth a visit. Numerous record labels and publishing houses hold residence here, along with famous recording sites like RCA Record's Studio B. ------ Check!
27. Satisfy your greasy desires with a Rotier's burger, Nashville: A massive mound of meat served between two pieces of toasted French bread? This burger is hard to beat. Swig a milkshake on the side in this vintage-style eatery. www.rotiers.com ------ I've been to Rotier's! I can mark this one off the list!
28. Sample the Music City microbrews, Nashville: Looking for a tasty beverage with local flavor? Yazoo, Blackstone and Bosco's all produce excellent ales that have been recognized nationally. ------ I have had beers from all three... I would have to say I am a Yazoo fan!
29. Dare the depths of the Bell Witch Cave, Adams: The historic haunting grounds of "Kate," the Bell Witch, these chilly caverns are said to be the doorway through which the spirit enters and departs our world. Lore also states it's the site of supernatural happenings, including mysterious electrical outages and movement paralysis. www.bellwitchcave.com or (615) 696-3055 ------
30. Jam at the Station Inn on Sunday night, Nashville: Known for a keen bluegrass sound, on these evenings well-known artists may mingle with local amateurs, blending their talents to create an unpredictable but highly entertaining performance. www.stationinn.com or (615) 255-3307. ------
31. See eagles soar at Reelfoot Lake bird sanctuary, Dyersburg: Home to one of the country's largest wintering populations of eagles, Reelfoot Lake is a draw for anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the creature, along with the many other birds swirling around the sanctuary. If you go, bring your binoculars. ------
32. Indulge in a mineral bath, Red Boiling Springs: The Armour Hotel houses the state's only working mineral bathhouse. The smell is not savory, but the healing effects are said to be heavenly. www.armourshotel.com ------
33. Get into the goo at the RC and Moon Pie festival, Bell Buckle: A seed-spitting contest, synchronized wading, cloggers -- it's hard to imagine a more interesting festival itinerary. This June marks the event's 15th anniversary. www.bellbucklechamber.com/rcmoon.html ------
34. Hear the symphony in the Schermerhorn, Nashville: Music City may be a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll, but it's also a little bit choral, classical and even cabaret. Since late 2006, the Schermerhorn has been the perfect setting to sample another chord in Nashville's rich musical melody. www.nashvillesymphony.org or (615) 687-6500 ------ AMAZING! I love this place!
This may be an illegal picture!
35. Pluck some Prince's Hot Chicken, Nashville: Don't let the dDecor fool you; the chicken that comes out of this kitchen is delicious. Not for the weak-willed or tender-tongued, the fried fowl is fiery but also fantastic. Definitely a bit of Southern flavor worth sampling. ------
36. Peek in the men's room at the Hermitage Hotel, Nashville: How could you miss making a jaunt to the john when it could be in America's best restroom? Voted 2008's No. 1 in a contest held by the Cintas Corp., the onyx and lime green dDecor of this five-star hotel pit stop sets it apart from all others. ------
37. Snag a piece of history at Hatch Show Print, Nashville: This letterpress print shop delivers eye-catching creations that have visually logged local advertising and entertainment history since the late 1800s. The company, which sits just next to the Ryman, still churns out its unique art today. www.countrymusichalloffame.com/site/experience-hatch-today.aspx or (615) 256-2805 ------ Check!
38. Watch others bid big at a livestock auction, statewide: You haven't lived until you've seen a steer sold at auction. It's part of everyday farm life for many Tennesseans. ------
39. Rendezvous for ribs at Rendezvous, Memphis: Flame-broiled and rubbed with spices, the ribs here are what draws tourists to this joint. Secretly stashed down an alleyway, this treasure is somewhat hidden, but the search is worth it. ------
40. Sing karaoke in Music City, Nashville: Of course most locals would immediately think Lonnie's when looking for a place to put their vocal talents -- or lack thereof -- on display, but there are plenty of places to step on stage and sing. Who knows, you might just be discovered.