Sitting in a Waco N369AS with an open cockpit, aviators take in panoramic views at up to 2,000 feet during flights with Music City Biplane Tours. From John C. Tune Airport in West Nashville, passengers embark on one of five set tours or create their own jaunt around Nashville airspace, with each excursion including 15 minutes of flight time. The roar of a 300 hp radial engine rips through air while the wind whips past eyes of eager, aerial sightseers. Self-style a flight that glides over Nashville's country music-history, scenic riverbanks, and views of Dolly Parton's biodome. Other tours include a Romantic Sunset tour and the Cumberland River tour.
As a Sugar Creek Carriages horse, Flint attends so many weddings he might as well be standing on a cake. The charming percheron draft horse sports a fair complexion and snowy mane that match traditionally white wedding dresses and the wedding carriages he often tows. He is one of 10 well-groomed, mannerly horses and ponies that provide the horsepower for an array of stylish buggies. Additionally, the animals make appearances at festivals, reenactments, and kids' pony parties. Sugar Creek Carriages also networks with the entertainment industry, a connection that recently led pop singer Justin Bieber to rent a carriage while he was in Nashville and his unicorn-drawn chariot was in the shop.
Sportations connects amateur adrenaline jockeys to certified professional adventurers, drawing from a nationwide network of aeronauts and speed demons to introduce habitual pedestrians to the wonders of skydiving, ballooning, hang gliding, and stock-car racing. Thrill seekers can zipline across a forest canopy, hollering like Tarzan or taunting nearby birds until they agree to race. Helicopter tours ferry patrons skyward over landmarks and cityscapes, whereas paragliding adventures get up close and personal with blue skies and clouds. For most sports, Sportations accommodates groups of any size, from physics classes empirically proving gravity's existence to solo ballooning supervillains declaring dominion over all they see.
Dream Adventures USA's guides lead informative, scenic tours down the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. Up to three sets of sightseeing eyes can climb aboard each Yamaha 110 jet ski for a river trek. Cumberland River voyages, which cover up to 120 miles, include an exploration of Old Hickory Lake's coves, inlets, and dam before breezing through downtown Nashville and stopping at Rock Harbor for lunch. A sampling of up to 60 miles of the Tennessee River loops around Long Island and gives riders a view of the Alabama state line, which glows like the first down marker used on NFL broadcasts. Both tours begin with a brief safety overview and conclude at the original launch site.
On the evening of November 30, 1864, the town of Franklin, Tennessee, bore witness to more than five hours of carnage as Confederate forces under the command of General John Bell Hood assaulted an entrenched corps of Federal troops led by General John M. Schofield. The heaviest fighting entailed a frontal attack on the Federal lines—incorporating about 20,000 soldiers on each side, or more soldiers than Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg. General Hood hoped this attack would dislodge the Federal forces and that he would be able to eventually recapture Nashville.
Over the course of the next five hours, this charge resulted in a staggering number of casualties and General Schofield steadily withdrew his forces toward Nashville, leaving behind a battle-scarred town as well as a battered Confederate force. Today, the Battle of Franklin Trust allows visitors to learn more about this key battle by visiting and taking guided tours of several sites that played integral roles in the events that took place on and around November 30, 1864.
The Carter House served as the command post for General Jacob D. Cox, a Federal officer tasked with overseeing the construction of defensive positions as the Confederate forces advanced. These defenses were constructed within 300 feet of the home, and guests have the opportunity to explore the grounds as well as the home, including the basement where the Carter family and roughly two dozen civilians sought shelter from the battle being fought outside their doors.
One of those civilians was Albert Lotz, whose own home still stands 110 steps away from the Carter residence. The Lotz House bears its own battle scars, too, including a charred indentation in the wood flooring that was caused by an errant cannonball.
Located one mile away from the two houses, the McGavock family's Carnton Plantation also welcomes guests, providing them with tours of the site that served as the area's largest field hospital after the fighting ceased. The plantation features two acres of land that the McGavocks offered as the final burial site for approximately 1,500 Confederate soldiers who died at the Battle of Franklin, making it the largest privately owned military cemetery in the nation.
When Franklin On Foot founder and guide Margie Thessin discusses the Civil War’s impact on Franklin, she shuns dry textbook summaries. Instead, she gathers groups before historic homes and battle sites, and she explains, “The war happened here. The people who lived here– this war was their 9/11. This was their Pearl Harbor.” Suddenly, she sees sets of eyes light up, as minds make the leap from musty tomes and texts to the people who lived¬—and fought and died—where they now stand 150 years ago.
To make history relevant, Ms. Thessin humanizes it, honing in on the famous and lesser-known people who shaped Franklin and the struggles they faced to do so. In that spirit, she seeks out guides who are not only passionate about history but possess a natural knack for storytelling.
In keeping with her commitment to orchestrate vivid tours, Ms. Thessin conducts them by bike or on foot. “You get so much from a place by walking it instead of looking out a window of a bus—you may as well fly at 32,000 feet,” she says. Small groups of sightseers stroll or if preferred, Charleston across the downtown area or expand their tour’s scope by cruising on one of Franklin On Foot’s 24-speed Fuji bikes.