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Unique Fall Break Destinations Near MTSU

Unique Fall Break Destinations Near MTSU

Fall break is weird … let’s be honest. There aren’t any movies about “going on fall break” — it’s not even a whole week, and most people just go home. 

But no matter how brief, it’s important to enjoy your break. You can take a short weekend trip to many surrounding places and have a lot of fun with some of your new friends you just met this semester. 

Here are a couple of my top picks. 

(Editor’s note: These recommendations are those of the author, not Middle Tennessee State University.) 

Alcatraz East Crime Museum

This photo of the Alcatraz East Crime Museum shows the exterior of the building, located in in Gatlinburg, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of Alcatraz East)

This photo of the Alcatraz East Crime Museum shows the exterior of the building, located in in Gatlinburg, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of Alcatraz East)

How far? Three hours, 25 minutes 

Are you a fan of true crime? If you say yes, then you need to take a weekend trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to visit Alcatraz East Crime Museum. 

With two floors of over 100 interactions, here you will see Ted Bundy’s Volkswagen and O.J.’s Bronco. (Chilling!) You will see the history of America’s greatest crimes, learn how law enforcement has changed over time and experience life on the other side of crime with lie detector tests, mock jail cells and interrogation rooms. 

And while you’re in Gatlinburg, you can take in all it has to offer. You can walk down the strip, ride the ski lift, visit the aquarium and so much more! Gatlinburg is a great place to experience a lot in a couple of days. 

Holiday World

This photo shows the "Crow's Nest" vertical swing ride and part of the "Thunderbird” steel roller coaster at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Ind. (Photo courtesy of Holiday World)

This photo shows the “Crow’s Nest” vertical swing ride and part of the “Thunderbird” steel roller coaster at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Ind. (Photo courtesy of Holiday World)

How far? Three hours 

Looking for some thrills to combat the stress of the semester? 

Check out Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana! With five “wild” roller coasters, plenty of fun shows and things to get you in the holiday spirit, this can be a day trip you and your friends remember forever! 

Pensacola Dog Beach

a white and brown dog play in the ocean

How far? Six hours, 58 minutes 

If you’re looking for an end of summer tan, the best — in my opinion — and closest beach you could go to is in Pensacola, Florida. But don’t just stop at the main beach. If you’re a dog person, you need to go to the Pensacola Dog Beach. Watching dogs experience the ocean for the first time is the best thing EVER. Also, there are a lot of really good-looking dogs there — Dalmatians, golden retrievers, and more! 

This beach is also a lot more relaxing than the typical spring-break destination beach, so it is the perfect time to reset and renew your mind. Plus, did I mention the dogs? 

Graceland

Graceland, Elvis Presley's home in Memphis, Tenn., is open year-round except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. (photo courtesy of Graceland)

Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis, Tenn., is open year-round except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. (photo courtesy of Graceland)

How far? Three hours, 39 minutes 

This is just a bucket-list trip for anyone! Elvis’s home in Memphis, Tennessee, is something everyone should take the time to go see. You can explore where Elvis lived from his mansion to his gardens and even the aircraft he used to travel. The Graceland Exhibition Center is home to many of his collections, including all his fun costumes.

While you’re there, you can also experience the culture of Memphis and learn about all it’s contributed to the blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll. 

Fall Creek Falls

Fall Creek Falls State Park stretches across nearly 30,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau. This waterfall, at 256 feet high, is one of the highest in the eastern United States. (photo courtesy of Tennessee State Parks)

Fall Creek Falls State Park stretches across nearly 30,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau. This waterfall, at 256 feet high, is one of the highest in the eastern United States. (photo courtesy of Tennessee State Parks)

How far? One hour, 38 minutes 

If you’re wanting to take in fall and all the beautiful leaves it has to offer, go take a hike with friends in Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, Tennessee. This can just be a quick day trip and it doesn’t take much planning. Plus it’s FREE! 

Spending a day outside is such a good way to refresh and restore your mind. Walking in the woods helps strengthen your immune system, which can be very important during this time of year. (Cough flu cough!) It also is a great way to bond with friends and keep those bonds strong during this stressful time of year. 

Murfreesboro, Tennessee 

If you’re a homebody, don’t worry, I understand. But for your mental health, you should get out of bed and go explore one of the cool local places around here. 

You can stay in Murfreesboro and visit places like the Stones River Battlefield, Oaklands Mansion, or Cannonsburgh Village. 

Or you can take a quick trip to Nashville to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, Cheekwood Botanical Garden, or just hang out on Music Row. (You never know what famous person is going to show up there!)

Pedestrians cross Demonbreun Street at Fourth Avenue South in downtown Nashville near the Music City Walk of Fame Park and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center as the city skyline rises behind them.

Pedestrians cross Demonbreun Street at Fourth Avenue South in downtown Nashville near the Music City Walk of Fame Park and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center as the city skyline rises behind them. (photo courtesy of GoodFreePhotos.com)

No matter what, take some time away from homework and reset to excel in the final half of the semester. Have a safe and fun fall break! 


Author Caitlin Davis is a sophomore at MTSU with dual majors in the School of Journalism in advertising and public relations and in the School of Agriculture in agribusiness.


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