If you have any travel coming up in the near future that will take you from the Midwest or Central Time Zone to the Atlantic states of the Southeast, and you are not flying, then you are probably going to be passing through the state of Tennessee. Getting from those parts of the country to places like Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, or Virginia means driving either through the Appalachians or around them.
North Carolina has some Interstate roadway crossing the mountains, but these low-speed and winding roads are constantly in danger of rockslides and foggy weather. Virginia also has a freeway running through the mountains, but its northern route takes it towards Pittsburgh, and South Carolina has nothing cutting across its mountains.
Thus, the fastest and easiest way to get to the Southeast states of the seaboard is to pass through Tennessee and then down into Alabama or Georgia, just bypassing the mountains. The mileage might be higher, but the trip will be quicker and more convenient, and it also means the opportunity to stop for a little while in Tennessee and enjoy some local attractions.
If you’re coming from the west, then you’ll likely be crossing the Mississippi. Most such traffic does its crossing at Memphis, which is a chance to catch NBA action at Grizzles games or visit Graceland and absorb all things Elvis. On the other hand, taking Interstates from the north is more likely to take you through Nashville. Known as the home of country music, plenty of other musical genres are represented well here, as there is plenty of culture to take in and enjoy.
Should you be trying to avoid the mountains, you’ll likely pass through Chattanooga with its many highway connections, which lead towards Birmingham and Atlanta. Most of the Gulf coast is within reach of Birmingham, and Atlanta can lead to Florida eventually, although the Carolinas are only hours away.
Even if you choose to try not to drive through the mountains, visiting Knoxville or Johnson City is a chance to at least experience the edges of them. Attractions like Clingman’s Dome, Great Smoky Mountain park, Dollywood, and Gatlinburg all make for a great day or weekend. Visit a former World’s Fair site in Knoxville, and expect to see a lot of orange flags on cars when it’s college game day.