The best time to visit Tennessee is during the spring or fall when the weather is the most beautiful and the crowds are relatively small. The summer months are also a good choice because of the sheer number of events going on – as long as you don’t mind higher temperatures and larger crowds.
Deciding when to visit Tennessee depends on where you want to visit and what activities you want to do. Some cities in Tennessee are busier than others at certain times of the year. Be sure to keep in mind where you want to go, what kind of weather you can tolerate, and how you feel about crowds when planning your visit.
As a local, I’m here to help you figure out when to take the perfect trip. Here’s what you need to know about the best time to visit Tennessee!
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When is the Best Time to Visit Tennessee?
The summer months are the most popular time to visit Tennessee, and destinations across the state have all kinds of special events from May through August. However, the spring and fall months are better for visitors who want cooler temperatures and fewer crowds.
Of course, there’s such a wide range of things to do and places to see in Tennessee that everyone’s ideal trip will differ. Visiting Nashville or Memphis is very different from visiting Knoxville or Pigeon Forge. Taking a trip to see a music festival is nothing like taking a hiking trip.
I live in Middle Tennessee and regularly visit destinations in West Tennessee and East Tennessee. Let’s break down everything you need to consider when planning your trip to the state, including the best time for weather, avoiding crowds, and traveling with kids:
When to Visit Tennessee for Good Weather
Tennessee typically has the best weather in the spring and fall. While the temperature can fluctuate, you can generally expect highs ranging from the 60s to 80s during these months. The fall is typically drier than the spring.
In my opinion, spring is the best season to visit Tennessee because everything starts to bloom. However, you might prefer the fall instead if you have spring allergies.
Also, keep in mind that although the weather is typically more pleasant during spring and fall, there is always a possibility of experiencing severe weather like thunderstorms, flooding, or tornados.
When to Visit Tennessee for Cheap Prices
Prices can vary widely depending on where you go in Tennessee. Destinations like Nashville and the towns surrounding the Great Smoky Mountains National Park typically have higher prices than other areas.
Generally, you’ll find the cheapest prices for your Tennessee visit from January until around March. During this time, some attractions may be closed or have shorter hours. However, you’ll also sometimes find deals offered by Tennessee attractions that remain open to draw in visitors during the slower season. Hotel prices are usually at their lowest from January until March.
Visiting during the week rather than on weekends can also help your budget. Costs like hotels and parking are usually lower on weekdays.
When to Visit Tennessee for Families and Kids
The summer months are one of the best times for families and kids to visit the state. There are plenty of fun activities in Tennessee planned when school is out.
While it may be more crowded, outdoor activities like visiting Nasvhille’s parks, listening to live music, or testing out the roller coasters at Dollywood make for an enjoyable family vacation.
Try to plan your visit for May or June instead of later in the summer if you have small children. The heat in July and August can be especially difficult for little ones who aren’t used to it.
When traveling with kids in the summer, always try to plan indoor activities like the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga or the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville for the middle of the day when possible.
When to Visit Tennessee to Avoid Crowds
Some parts of Tennessee have crowds nearly year-round. In general, you can avoid crowds by visiting during the winter. January is typically the slowest time for tourists. The busiest time in most destinations is during the summer and during holidays.
That being said, the area around the Great Smoky Mountains also tends to be crowded during the fall months when the leaves are changing.
For the fewest crowds, try to plan your trip during weekdays if possible. Check to see when schools are out for spring break or when they are let out for summer to help avoid crowds as well. Also, check to make sure your visit doesn’t overlap with major concerts or music festivals.
👉 Pro Tip: Traveling when there are fewer crowds usually means you’ll find cheaper accommodation and airfare. In Tennessee, the cheapest prices are usually in January, February, and September.
Tennessee by Month
January and February
Tennessee’s weather is typically the coldest during January and February, but it’s also the time with the fewest crowds. Plus, January and February is the cheapest time to visit Tennessee.
The temperature is usually freezing at night with highs averaging around the 50s during the day. Of course, there’s always the possibility of significantly colder or warmer weather.
In the winter, some attractions may have shorter hours or may not be open every day after the rush of the holiday season. Overall, there are usually fewer events going on, so this is the best time to find discounted flights and hotel rooms.
March and April
Spring weather typically begins in March. Of course, be aware that there’s still a possibility for snow. It’s unlikely, but snow can happen this late.
The spring is a great time to visit for outdoor activities, like hiking trails near Nashville or in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
Businesses and attractions typically start opening for longer hours in the middle of spring. The Bell Buckle Daffodil Day takes place in March, and the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival takes place in April.
But it’s not yet the peak tourist season. You can still catch deals on flights and accommodations in March and sometimes in April as well.
May Through August
The summer months are the busiest time to visit Tennessee. Expect crowds if you visit Nashville, Memphis, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and other popular destinations across Tennessee.
This is the best time to visit to take advantage of the many events taking place across Tennessee. Listen to live music at CMA Fest, attend Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, or spend some time at the Smoky Mountain Bigfoot Festival.
Be prepared for hot weather though. While May and June are sometimes mild, July and August tend to be hot. For visitors not used to humidity, the heat can be oppressive.
September and October
Temperatures begin to cool off again as the fall begins. The crowds also thin out once children go back to school. September tends to be one of the quietest months in most Tennessee cities and towns. Hotel prices can be very good in September depending on where you visit.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is especially popular during the fall, but it’s usually not quite as busy as during the summer months. The scenery in the Great Smoky Mountains and across the rest of Tennessee is especially beautiful when the leaves change in the fall.
November and December
Crowds arrive once again for the holiday season as the year wraps up. However, the weather can be unpredictable during these months. While you can usually expect cooler weather and possibly a day or two of snow, it’s also not uncommon to have a few days where temperatures reach into the 70s.
The Christmas season is a popular time to visit Nashville. Or, for something a little different, head to East Tennessee to visit Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge and stop to see Dollywood all decked out for the holiday season.
Tennessee Weather and Climate
Tennessee generally has a moderate climate with four separate seasons. The summers are relatively hot and humid while the winters are cool or cold.
Average temperatures in the summer are around 83 degrees Fahrenheit, and average temperatures in the summer are around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it can be significantly colder or hotter at times.
The eastern portion of the state typically experiences cooler weather due to the difference in elevation. Knoxville temperatures average slightly cooler while Nashville average temperatures are usually a few degrees lower than Memphis.
Tips for Visiting Tennessee
Check the Weather
The weather roughly follows the seasons, but it’s possible you may have unusual weather. In Nashville, we’ve had snow in early November followed by tornadoes in January. You never know exactly what the weather will be like, but checking the predicted forecast can help you decide what you need to bring.
There’s nothing worse than being too hot or cold while exploring Music City, walking down Beale Street, or making your way to the top of Lookout Mountain. Most days, you can expect the morning and evenings to be cooler than the afternoon no matter where you are in Tennessee.
Be sure to reference this awesome packing list for Nashville and wear layers.
Plan Your Trip Around Events & Festivals
One thing Tennessee does well is plan exciting events. Of course, there are music events happening all year in Music City, but you can always check out more niche activities if you visit Nashville like Nashville Fashion Week in the spring or the Tomato Art Fest in the summer.
You can also visit Wilson County to experience the Tennessee State Fair in August or check out the Cooper-Young Festival in Memphis.
Read About the Severe Weather Seasons
Hopefully, you won’t experience any severe weather during your trip, but it’s always a possibility. The state experiences events ranging from severe thunderstorms to tornadoes to flooding. Know how to get weather alerts for the area you’re in. Heed any weather warnings from official sources.
Bringing a small portable power bank will let you keep your phone charged while you’re out sightseeing, and also let you check for severe weather updates if needed.
Consider Your Transportation
Visitors have several different major airports to choose from in Tennessee, including BNA in Nashville and MEM in Memphis. The state’s largest cities all have varying degrees of public transportation.
Depending on where you want to visit, it can be worth renting a car in Nashville to save time going from place to place and make the most of your trip. Use Discover Cars to compare car rental prices and get the best deal.
FAQs About When to Visit Tennessee
What time of year is the weather best in Tennessee?
The weather is best in Tennessee from March until May and then from September until October. While the weather can be unpredictable at times, you can generally expect some cool mornings and pleasantly warm afternoons during these months. The average high usually falls in the range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
What month is best to visit Nashville?
June is the best month to visit Nashville if you don’t mind the crowds. The city has lots of cool events like CMA Fest, hosted by the Country Music Association, that allows country music fans to see and meet their favorite artists.
What is the coldest month in Tennessee?
January is the coldest month in Tennessee, but the weather can differ somewhat across the three regions of Tennessee. The average low temperature is about 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average high temperature is around 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
What are the average monthly temperatures in Tennessee?
The average monthly temperatures in Tennessee can vary from east to west. The climate is considered moderate with four distinct seasons. In the winter months average temperatures include lows that are generally in the 20s and 30s with highs in the 40s and 50s
Now you’re ready to pick the best time to visit Tennessee for your trip! Whether you plan to spend time in Music City, explore the attractions in Memphis, or be part of the summer crowds in Cades Cove, you’ll have a great visit. Before you go, make sure to check out my list of the best weekend trips from Nashville!
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