Day or Evening Cruises

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Do you like the idea of a riverboat or lake cruise but don’t have the funds, time or inclination for a lengthy, days-long excursion? Well, you’re in luck because Tennessee offers a number of options for cruises that are shorter in duration — usually just a few hours.

Southern Belle

This Chattanooga-based riverboat offers dining, sightseeing, seasonal and daily cruises as well as private charters. Whether you want to view fall’s changing of the leaves or book a romantic dinner, there are several options available. For more information: chattanoogariverboat.com

Star of Knoxville

If Knoxville is a more convenient departure point, check out the lunch, dinner, sightseeing, special holiday or themed cruises available on board the Star of Knoxville. Also available are private charters for weddings, reunions and the like. For more information: tnriverboat.com

General Jackson Showboat

One of the biggest showboats in the country, the General Jackson is based in Nashville and offers midday and evening cruises complete with live musical entertainment that you’d expect from a trip to Music City. For more information: www.generaljackson.com

Wildlife-viewing tours

While the middle of winter might not be when you think about taking to Tennessee’s waterways, it’s the prime time to view majestic bald eagles. Each January, Land Between the Lakes hosts catered tours that include naturalists helping you spot not only eagles but other wildlife.

Reelfoot Lake is home to one of the largest wintering bald eagle populations, so it’s also a great place to go on an eagle-viewing cruise in January or February. For more information: reelfoot.com/scenic_boat_cruises.htm

The Nashville area has an array of options, too. For example, Blue Heron Cruises offers nature cruises and private pontoon parties departing from Fred Sanders Marina and Restaurant in Mt. Juliet and cruising Percy Priest Lake. For more information: www.blueheroncruises.com

River rafting

With so many waterways, Tennessee is also great for river rafting, kayaking, canoeing and a number of other watersports. Chances are if you live near a river, there is a business or dozens offering rentals or guided excursions. For river rafting, here are a few options:

  • Rafting in the Smokies — Enjoy several Class III and IV whitewater rapids along the scenic Pigeon River with a trained guide in every raft. Calmer Class 1 and II rapids along the Big Pigeon River are offered as family floats. raftinginthesmokies.com
  • Nantahala Outdoor Center — Located in Bryson City, North Carolina, “the NOC” offers a number of different rafting excursions on several rivers, including the Ocoee, Nolichucky and Pigeon in Tennessee.noc.com
  • Ocoee Rafting — This Ducktown company has been taking adventurers on trips down the Ocoee River since 1976. Trips leave from the Ocoee Rafting Center.ocoeerafting.com

An internet search will produce many more hits for various outfitters providing guides and trips along Tennessee’s thrilling whitewater. So start planning now for your next adventure.


An evening river cruise on the General Jackson takes you along Nashville’s skyline on the Cumberland river.

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About Author

Trish Milburn

Trish Milburn wrote her first book in the sixth grade and has the cardboard-and-fabric-bound, handwritten, and colored-pencil-illustrated copy to prove it. That “book” was called Land of the Misty Gems, and not surprisingly it was a romance. She’s always loved stories with happy endings, whether those stories come in the form of books, movies, TV programs or marriage to her own hero. Trish grew up in Kentucky and worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist for a number of years. She still does freelance work, but she devotes most of her time to writing novels. While working toward her first sale, she finaled in the prestigious Golden Heart contest sponsored by Romance Writers of America eight times, winning twice. She was also a finalist in Harlequin American’s Great American Novel contest, which led to her first sale to American. Other than reading, Trish enjoys traveling (by car or train – she’s a terra firma girl!), hiking, nature photography, and visiting national parks. Two of her life goals are to visit every unit of the U.S. National Park Service and hike the Appalachian Trail. While many authors buy themselves a piece of jewelry or gorgeous new shoes to commemorate their first sales, Trish bought herself a TiVo so she doesn’t miss any of her favorite shows while she’s typing away at the computer keyboard to meet her deadlines. In addition to romances for Harlequin American, Trish writes young adult novels under the name Tricia Mills for Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group.

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