By Emma Haston
Originally published in September 2019 issue
Do you live in Tennessee? Maybe you moved here for college? Can’t afford to go anywhere for fall break? Here is the ultimate guide to your Middle Tennessee fall vacation.
Rock Island State Park: Rock Island is located in Warren and White county, about two hours southeast of Nashville. There is a natural sand beach for anyone who needs a beach fix, and tons of places to swim. For the thrill seekers, there is also a spot for cliff jumping. Kayaking and boating are very popular here, and there are stores close by where you can rent canoes or kayaks. Ample hiking is available with trails to accommodate any type of hiker. Outside of the park, there are a few stores selling artisanal outdoor decor, art, and pottery. For a casual, country meal check out the Rock Island Market, with daily specials such as catfish, meat and three options, burgers, and homemade pies and cobblers. For a more upscale dinner, go to the Fog Light Foodhouse, which serves dishes such as Étouffée, crab cakes, jambalaya, steaks, and pasta.
Isha: If you’re fond of more relaxing activities, try spending a day or two at Isha Institute of Inner-sciences right outside of McMinnville. Isha is a retreat that offers light hiking, biking, yoga classes, and areas for meditation. In fact, it is the largest yoga institute in the Western Hemisphere. Yoga for beginners all the way up to advanced classes are available, as well as guided meditation sessions. You can also enjoy fresh vegetarian meals made daily for brunch/lunch and dinner. If you are staying overnight, you can stay in semi-private lodges, private rooms, or executive suites. They offer a free yoga day once a month, as well as vegetarian cooking classes. You must RSVP for these events, which can be found on the Isha website.
Sewanee: Located in Franklin County, Sewanee is a very small community and home to the University of the South. If you enjoy charming cottages, breathtaking architecture, and quirky cafes. Sewanee is a great place to spend the day. It is pedestrian friendly, so you can park and stroll while looking at the scenery. Take a look inside All Saints chapel for a local Notre Dame experience. For lunch, try going to Shenanigans for sandwiches and pub food, or stick around later to catch live music and try some local brews. For an upscale dinner, or Sunday brunch, head down the highway to Pearl’s Fine Dining for specials such as shrimp and grits, eggs Benedict, or top it off with creme brûlée. On the weekends, get your tickets for The Caverns, an underground music venue with a full bar and great acoustics.
Adams: North of Nashville is Tennessee’s spookiest town, and October is the best time to visit. It is a very small town with a big history as the home to the Bell Witch - a sometimes invisible, sometimes shapeshifting spirit that haunted a family in the 19th century. Although quite creepy, the town celebrates the legend every year in September and October with the Bell Witch Fall Festival. You can also tour the Bell Witch Cave, which belonged to John Bell, the man haunted by the witch herself. Canoe rentals are available every day except Tuesday when the site is closed. For great southern cooking, try Adams Station to get your barbecue and homemade cobbler fix.
Sequatchie Valley Institute: If you want to get in touch with nature, the Sequatchie Valley Institute is an excellent place. This non-profit is a nature preserve is located in Whitwell, Tennessee, and is a beautiful home to many residents and animals. Here you can learn all about growing your own food and living more sustainably. Along with hiking, the institute has different art galleries filled with local art. They also have Wine in the Woods, yoga, and an annual Food for Life event. Food is not always available, so if you plan on going you may want to pack a picnic. If not, there are local restaurants such as Johnny’s Hook N’ Grill, or for a treat, ice cream at Whitwell Dairy Bar. Chattanooga is only twenty-four miles from the Sequatchie Valley Institute, so it’s only a short drive for more food options.