Tennessee's tranquil rural landscapes unfold across the state, from the rich black fields along the Mississippi to the lush horse farms of central river valleys, to the Appalachian Mountains with their forests and plowed furrows of red dirt. It's fitting that the home of country music has so much country left to enjoy.

Even Tennessee's largest urban areas have a connection with the land that's rare in cities of their size. Memphis sprouted from the cotton lands and still shows the signs, and Nashville became famous by marketing the music of the southern countryside.

Where Tennessee seems least rural is in tourist centers such as Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, where miles of miniature-golf courses, amusement centers and motels seem to be intent on overrunning the stoic Smoky Mountains. Not to worry, though: The mountains will endure, as will the state's rural charm. Travelers who can appreciate both, or who are interested in the styles of music that have grown so well in the Tennessee dirt, are likely to have a great time in the state.

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