Making the journey between the two southern US states is easily one of the best road trips you can do. With lots of great stops along the way, it’s worth taking your time to visit these places on the drive from Nashville to Memphis.
With Nashville, the heart of country music, at one end, and Memphis, the birthplace of blues, at the other, the distance between the iconic cities spans approximately 210 miles. If you go straight from one city to the other, it would take approximately three and a half hours. But you’d definitely be missing out on the best stops on the Nashville to Memphis drive, given the area is full of historic towns, museums, parks, ranches and lots more.
Both cities are located in Tennessee, a state famous for Elvis Presley, Morgan Freeman, Justin Timberlake, Dolly Parton, whiskey, moon pie and cotton candy. Tennessee also has some of great natural beauty, such as caves, valleys and waterfalls, as well as being the home of the parks and historic battlefields.
So if you’re making the Nashville and Memphis drive, it’s definitely worth taking your time to see the best stops along the way.
Where to stop on the drive between Nashville and Memphis
Here are the some of the best places to see if you’re planning a Nashville to Memphis drive.
1. Nashville, TN
Welcome to Nashville, the vibrant heart of Tennessee!
Experience the electrifying rhythm of the Music City, where toe-tapping tunes and soul-stirring melodies resonate around every corner. Immerse yourself in the rich history of country music at the Grand Ole Opry and explore the legendary Ryman Auditorium. Indulge in mouthwatering Southern cuisine, from hot chicken to savoury barbecue, and savour a taste of genuine hospitality.
The Country Music Hall Of Fame & Museum, is home to 200,000 sound recordings, including an estimated 98% of all pre-World War II country recordings released commercially.
Then there’s the Johnny Cash Museum. It’s home to various artefacts that chronicle the legend’s life like Stage Costumes, including his infamous prison jumpsuit costume, vintage guitar amps, highwaymen memorabilia, gold and platinum records, and much more. The final room here is pure emotion. They had him up on the big screens singing Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt, and to see him doing that, as an old man, after everything you’ve learned before is just emotional!
Ended up buying a tshirt here – loved the whole experience. And from dabbling in his music, a visit here has set me on the path to be a lifelong fan.
If you’re planning on doing a few different Nashville attractions, then I’d recommend you look into buying the Nashville Explorer Pass – it can save you a lot of money and time if you use it right.
Stroll down Broadway’s neon-lit streets, alive with live performances and honky-tonks. Discover the city’s diverse arts scene, historic landmarks, and lush parks. Whether you’re a music enthusiast, foodie, or culture lover, Nashville promises an unforgettable, all-encompassing adventure!
Do you need a rental car for your road trip? Check out the award-winning comparison site Discover Cars for the BEST DEALS the world over. Book early for the best price!
2. Franklin, TN
The first stop, which is also one of the best stops, en route to Memphis is just a short drive from Nashville. Franklin is a city named after Benjamin Franklin and the birthplace of lots of famous country music stars. It has lots of antique shops, art galleries and nice places to eat, so you could easily spend the day or stop overnight if you have the option to.
Franklin holds a special place in American history, especially during the tumultuous times of the American Civil War. One of its most significant moments was the Battle of Franklin in 1864, which shaped the course of the war. You can visit the Carnton estate, where you can tour the plantation and learn about the site’s history, as well as the people who were enslaved there.
You can also visit the Lotz House Museum, which is a historic house that was used as a makeshift hospital for injured soldiers during the Battle of Franklin.
It’s a quintessential Tennessee town, where if you imagine a typical southern US village, Franklin would be it. If you’re searching for somewhere to sip whiskey and listen to blues in a stereotypical US city, Franklin is a great choice on the Nashville to Memphis drive.
3. Jackson Falls, TN
This is one of the best stops on the Nashville to Tennessee drive.
A little detour from the Interstate 40 but one that makes a nice change to roads and cities. Jackson Falls are beautiful, and not something you see everywhere in the Southern US. You’ll need about an hour to explore here, or longer if you want to take a picnic. It can get a little steep at times, but overall it’s a pleasant walk to the waterfall.
4. Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, TN
Country music fans, this one’s for you!
In Hurricane Mills, you’ll find the incredible Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, a place that has lots of activities to break up the drive. They have camping options, canoes, paddle boats, concerts and events and more.
Loretta Lynn’s Ranch is considered one of the best attractions in Tennessee, so it’s a must place to see and definitely one of the best stops if you’re already making the drive from Nashville to Memphis.
5. Camden, TN
A little further on from Franklin is Camden, where you’ll find North America’s only freshwater pearl farm. There’s a museum which sells pearls, although it’s important to read more on ethics of here. Camden is also a great spot to see the stunning Kentucky Lake and Tennessee River. Lots of people come here to do watersports, which can make a nice change from driving around.
Other things to do in Camden include visiting the Patsy Cline Plane Crash Memorial, Rock Man Antiques and Museum, and Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park. The latter is about a 13 minute drive from Camden, but well worth it!
6. Jackson, TN
Arguably the mandatory place to see along your drive from Nashville to Memphis; Jackson is the birthplace of Rockabilly Music. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a mix between blues, rock, country and R’n’B. You can hear it in the songs of Elvia, Carl Perkins and many others.
But there’s more to Jackson than just music. It’s home to the Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum, which celebrates the legendary train engineer Casey Jones. There’s also Cypress Grove Nature Park, where you can see unusual trees and stretch the legs with a hike. And like many of the other best stops on the Nashville to Memphis drive, restaurants in Jackson serve the best southern American grub!
7. Tennessee Safari Park, TN
Spread over 700 acres, the park houses more than 1000 animals from six continents. Unlike a zoo, you can watch the wildlife in more of a natural way, from the comfort of your car. The drive is 7.5 miles, where animals will come up close to your car and be quite nosey. You can also feed some of the animals, so remember to buy a bucket of feed at the entrance – the inquisitive ostriches and zealous zebras will thank you for it
8. Memphis, TN
You’ve made it!
Now find out how to spend a fantastic weekend in Memphis and uncover all the city has to offer!
For your last stop on this epic road trip from Nashville to Memphis, head over to Beale Street in Memphis. This legendary street is just bursting with the sounds of jazz, blues and rock, and also has lots of bars, clubs and great places to eat. It’s the heart of downtown Memphis, meaning you’ve reached your destination.
Other popular stops between Nashville and Memphis
In addition to these must-see stops highlighted above, there are lots of other places to look out for if you have time on your road trip from Nashville to Memphis.
- Leiper’s Fork: This rural village is just outside of Nashville and is famous for its art scene. .
- Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg: You can get a guided tour around the distillery to find out how the famous Tennessee whiskey is made.
- Jack and Jill’s Windmill Bakery: This bakery in Manchester is a great place to stock up on pastries, bread and cakes if you need an energy-boost en route.
- Shiloh National Military Park: The park is another historic place that was linked to the American Civil War, where one of the battles took place.
- Shelbyville: Otherwise known as The Pencil City, Shelbyville is a stereotypical city in Tennessee that hosts the Walking Horse National Celebration. It also shares a name with a town featured in the Simpsons.
Quicklist of the best stops on the Nashville to Memphis drive
- Stop 1: Franklin
- Stop 2: Jackson Falls
- Stop 3: Loretta Lynn’s Ranch
- Stop 4: Camden
- Stop 5: Jackson
- Stop 6: Tennesse Safari Park
Or, the Memphis to Nashville drive?
Whether you want to see live music, waterfalls or historic sites, the drive from Nashville to Memphis can be a holiday in itself. I’d highly recommend giving yourself two or three days to explore this region, given how historic and iconic many of the sites are. It’s also a good way to build up to the lively city of Memphis, where you can relax and celebrate in one of the most famous musical cities in the world.
Is the drive from Nashville to Memphis nice?
The drive from Nashville to Memphis is quite scenic and enjoyable, taking you through the beautiful countryside of Tennessee. The route is dotted with lots of interesting things to see and you’ll pass through historic towns on the way. Furthermore, there are plenty of opportunities for interesting detours and stopovers, such as the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Tennessee Safari Park, or Shiloh National Military Park. So not only is the drive pleasant, but it’s also filled with a variety of attractions that make the journey fun!
Is it easy to drive from Nashville to Memphis?
Driving from Nashville to Memphis is generally straightforward. The primary route is via I-40 W, a well-maintained highway that offers a smooth drive. However, if you want to make stops along the way then some of the road surfaces might change.
What is the halfway point between Nashville and Memphis?
The halfway point between Nashville and Memphis is around Bucksnort, a small community located in Hickman County, Tennessee. However, the nearby city of Jackson is a more notable location close to the midpoint, offering amenities such as food, fuel, and accommodation as well as plenty of things to do.
Which are the best places to stay between Nashville and Memphis?
Several towns and cities between Nashville and Memphis offer excellent accommodation options. Jackson is a popular choice, with a range of hotels, motels, and B&Bs. For those interested in camping or RV travel, parks like the Nashville KOA, Natchez Trace State Park, and Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park offer campgrounds. Other towns such as Dickson and Henderson also provide a variety of lodging options.
How long does it take to drive from Nashville to Memphis?
The driving distance from Nashville to Memphis is approximately 212 miles (341 kilometres) and typically takes around 3 to 3.5 hours, depending on traffic and the exact start and end points of your trip. However, this can extend significantly if you plan to make stops at points of interest along the way. Always allow extra time to enjoy the journey and travel safely.