By Order Of The Governor: 'Activate Your Adrenaline'

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In Tennessee this summer, we are encouraging travelers to “Activate Your Adrenaline.” There’s so much to see and do across the state, the biggest challenge is deciding where to start.

Tennessee’s State Parks system is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.  Our parks preserve and protect some of Tennessee’s most beautiful and important land areas for our citizens and visitors to enjoy. There is no admission charge, and there is a state park located within an hour’s drive of just about anywhere in the state.  What a great place to consider for making summer plans whether for visitors from out of town or for those of us who have lived here all of our lives.

You can take a leisurely hike along pristine trails through beautiful wooded canopies or tackle a longer excursion up a mountain, crisscrossing waterfalls and shallow creeks, climbing over fallen timbers or navigating steep ascents and descents for more of a challenge.

Our state parks and natural recreation areas offer a variety of activities. You can hike, fish, mountain bike, golf, picnic, stargaze, bird watch, rock climb, kayak, canoe, or sit under a shade tree and read a good book. Most importantly, take some time to relax and enjoy Tennessee’s great outdoors.

Summer is also a great time to experience some of Tennessee’s most iconic attractions. Chattanooga has the Tennessee Aquarium, Ruby Falls, the Incline Railway and Rock City, which is celebrating 80 years as one of America’s most beloved tourism sites.

Knoxville is highlighting outdoor tourism with a brand new Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center, as well as the Ijams Wilderness Center, providing an urban wilderness experience for city-dwellers and city visitors, and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is only a short drive.

Summer in Tennessee wouldn’t be complete without a trip to America’s No. 1 most visited national park.  The Smoky Mountains is a 500,000 acre park with an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.  It is one of Tennessee’s great natural treasures.

The mountain towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville offer fun for everyone with dynamic attractions including Dollywood, Titanic Pigeon Forge, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Wilderness at the Smokies, Tanger Outlets for great shopping, and the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, the largest group of independent artisans in North America.

Just up the road, in Northeast Tennessee, visitors can experience one of America’s most important recently discovered archaeological sites at the Natural History Museum and Visitor’s Center at Gray Fossil Site. Spend a day at Kingsport’s Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium or take time to visit Tennessee’s oldest incorporated city Jonesborough, and the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway in August is one of the hottest tickets in sports.

Tennessee also has 700 historic monuments and museums, including the homes of three presidents: Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Nashville; James K. Polk’s home in Columbia; and Andrew Johnson’s home and gravesite in Greeneville.

Nashville is Music City, with sights and sounds to inspire the music lover in all of us. The Grand Ole Opry, America’s longest running live radio show, is center stage. Must-see attractions include the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Ryman Auditorium, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Studio B and the famous downtown Honky Tonks on lower Broadway.  For summer family fun, Nashville Shores on Percy Priest Lake, one of our state’s premier water parks, was named by USA Today as Tennessee’s Best Beach for 2012.

Memphis, the Bluff City, on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, is “Home of the Blues” and the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” There is no question why with places like Graceland, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the Rock and Soul Museum, Sun Studio and one of the most famous music streets in the world – Beale.  Also, not to be missed is the National Civil Rights Museum, an inspiring tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Tennessee is also the only entire state in the U.S. designated a Civil War National Heritage Area. And what better time than during the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War to remember this important time in our history?  Visit one of Tennessee’s national battlefields, including Shiloh, Stones River, Chickamauga Chattanooga, or Fort Donelson. Or take the time to stop along Tennessee’s Civil War Trail, with more than 250 interpreted markers throughout the state.

Travelers can also experience some of the best of our state along the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways, 16 self-guided driving trails featuring off-the-beat sites and attractions, eateries, agritourism sites, fun museums, outdoor activities and much more.  For additional details on the Pie in the Sky Trail, Rocky Top Trail, Ring of Fire Trail, Walking Tall Trail or any one of the additional trails, visit

As you can see, there’s plenty to do in Tennessee to “Activate your Adrenaline.”  I hope you enjoy a fun-filled summer with your family and friends and are able to take advantage of the many opportunities there are right here in Tennessee.

As always, I’m interested in hearing from you.  Let me know what fun things you’re experiencing in Tennessee this summer at
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