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Tennessee filled with rich history

Tennessee filled with rich history

Posted: Friday, June 25, 2010 8:02 pm
By: Gov. Phil Bredesen

Dear fellow Tennessean:
Summer in Tennessee means outdoor barbecues, lakeside picnics with family, and lazy evenings watching the sunset from the front porch swing.
It’s also the perfect time to encourage friends and neighbors to experience what almost 50 million visitors from around the world come to Tennessee to enjoy — a rich history, an abundance of entertainment attractions and unrivaled outdoor appeal.
Despite the devastating storms and flooding that struck parts of West and Middle Tennessee in May, Tennessee is open for business. Some of Nashville’s popular attractions sustained flood damage, but most attractions, restaurants, hotels and historic sites remain open and ready for visitors.
In addition, travelers to some of Tennessee’s major tourism destinations, including Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, the Smoky Mountains and northeast Tennessee, will find these locations without incident and 100 percent operational.
Tennessee is home to many family attractions and recreational opportunities, including Dollywood, the Grand Ole Opry, Jack Daniel Distillery, the National Civil Rights Museum, The James K. Polk Ancestral Home, the Tennessee Aquarium and Bristol Motor Speedway. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in America with more than nine million visitors annually. With Tennessee’s three grand divisions, it’s like traveling to three distinctively unique destinations. Whether it’s a day trip to hike in the Cherokee National Forest or boating on Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee offers vacationers a memorable trip without breaking the bank.
We’re fortunate to have these and many other attractions right in our own backyards, and I encourage Tennesseans to reacquaint themselves with all that our state has to offer.
One of the state’s newest tourism initiatives is Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. Eventually encompassing all 95 counties along 15 regional trails, three trails have already launched. Together, Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways will feature Tennessee’s five National Scenic Byways.
Experience the state’s early history at plantations, Civil War sites and the homes of two U.S. presidents along the Old Tennessee Trail south of Nashville. Ride along the Sunny Side Trail to explore hidden gems like the Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community and Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park. Nashville’s Trace Trail winds through Music City to the Natchez Trace, a National Scenic Byway. A fourth trail — White Lightning — highlights Tennessee’s role in the western settlement of Cumberland Gap, and will open at the end of June. For a list of brochures and maps, visit http://tntrailsandbyways.com/.
As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Tennessee is a perfect touring ground for history enthusiasts. We have a rich Civil War heritage, second only to Virginia in the number of battlefields. 
Last year, our state joined the Civil War Trails program, a multi-state initiative that has created driving tours and interpretive markers for both famous and lesser known sites across Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.  As the entire nation begins to commemorate the conflict’s sesquicentennial in 2011, there’s no better time to take a drive — or a hike — to learn more about the profound social and political upheaval experienced here in Tennessee.  For a list of historical markers placed as part of this program, visit www.tnvacation.com/green/heritage/civil-war/trails/.
Tennesseans can also explore any one of the thousands of state attractions that draw tourists from all over the country, including our world class festivals and outdoor events. Tennessee is home to more than 800 annual festivals and outdoor events, and 200 take place during the summertime. These special events showcase our state’s rich history and culture, outstanding music and southern cuisine, especially Tennessee’s award-winning barbeque.
Tennessee’s 53 state parks offer summer fun on less than one tank of gas with a Tennessee State Park within a one-hour drive of just about anywhere in the state.   Our state parks are ranked best in the nation, and they offer unique recreation opportunities and quality accommodations close to home. Accommodations range from camping to cabins and inn rooms, and state parks offer a variety of outdoor entertainment including hiking trails, water sports, mountain biking, golf and skeet shooting.
In addition to perennial features and amenities, Tennessee State Parks offer a host of special summer events, including the annual Cherokee Days of Recognition, Aug. 7-8 at Red Clay State Park, or the annual Butterfly Festival, Aug. 14 at Burgess Falls State Park. For a comprehensive schedule with detailed event descriptions and contact information, visit www.tnstateparks.com, or call 1-888-867-2757 to request a free parks brochure.
The summer section of www.tnvacation.com can help Tennessee travelers find drive-in theaters, train rides and water parks located close to their home town. The site also offers gas saver tips, interactive maps and trolley listings that can help make Tennessee getaways a painless way to travel. Or you can call 1-800-GO2-TENN to request a free vacation guide.
As you’re planning your family vacation this summer, I hope you’ll consider taking a short trip just down the road to some of the greatest places on earth — right here in Tennessee.
 If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other, please e-mail me at phil.bredesen@state.tn.us.
Published in The Messenger 6.25.10

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