The Best Houston to Nashville Road Trip

From Alligator-sighting parks to rock-and-roll history to a replica of the Parthenon, this Houston to Nashville road trip hits all the must-see spots.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
From Houston to Lake Livingston, Memphis to Nashville, this itinerary has you hitting all the best places as you turn a 12-hour drive into a multi-day road trip.
Gearing up for a jaunt through the heartland? Don’t miss the opportunity to turn a Houston to Nashville road trip into an adventure. You’ll see alligators, indoor jungles, hot springs, and genuine heaps of Americana.
And you’re in luck, because the
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comparison app
has already put together a guide of must-visit stops along the best route from Houston to Nashville, taking all the stress out of planning.
Itching to get going? Here’s what you need to know.

Key trip details

Distance: 779 miles
Driving time: 12 hours and 16 minutes
Suggested length of trip: 2 to 3 days


* Houston, TX
* Texarkana, TX
* Memphis, TN 
* Nashville, TN
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Houston, TX

What to do in Houston

Space Center Houston, Houston Texas
Rothko Chapel
: Take a leisurely day to enjoy the city. Rothko Chapel, an octagonal building in the Museum District, features 14 original paintings by Mark Rothko himself and is the perfect spot to soak up some culture.
Space Center Houston
: Of course, you’d be remiss to visit the capital of space exploration without seeing Space Center Houston. The NASA Tram Tour is included in admission and offers a behind-the-scenes look at human space exploration.

Where to eat in Houston 

($$): If you’re just waking up in Houston, it’s time for breakfast! For something unique, head over to Pondicheri, an Indian-inspired breakfast spot that specializes in gluten-free and vegetarian options— the masala eggs with breakfast avocado salad is a good pick. 
($$): If you prefer more standard American breakfast fare, try Snooze. You can order classics like pancakes and bacon as well as more creative dishes like a breakfast pot pie.
MORE: The most important road trip safety essentials

Houston to Texarkana

290 miles, 5 hours 21 minutes
The first leg of your journey will take you right to the border of
. Any good American road trip needs a couple of breathtaking nature stops, and Eastern Texas has plenty of excellent choices. 
Take US-59 N to get started on the road. 

What to do in Texarkana

Lake Livingston, Texarkana, Texas
Lake Livingston
: About 1.5 hours into your drive up Highway 69, you’ll reach Lake Livingston, one of the largest lakes in the Lone Star State. Lake Livingston is gorgeous and a great opportunity to take a walk. Be ready to spot some alligators and make sure to follow all the park rules around alligator safety.
Lake O' The Pines
: Lake O’ The Pines covers about 18,700 acres and is completely surrounded by massive pine trees. It’s another awesome spot to get out and go for a quick walk (or even a swim—there are no alligators to worry about!). 
* Catch a show at a historic theatre: Once you arrive in Texarkana, catch a show at the historic
Perot Theatre
or take a tour of the 1800s
Draughon-Moore Ace of Clubs House

Where to eat in Texarkana

Texas Tea Room
($$): If you get hungry during your drive, stop in Carthage and visit the Texas Tea Room for a wide variety of dishes. 
Redbone Magic Brewing
($$): Before winding down for the night, get a bite and something to eat at Texarkana's local favorite Redbone Magic Brewing, featuring wood-fired pizza and hand-crafted burgers and wings.

Where to stay in Texarkana

Wyndham Garden
: There are plenty of hotel options in Texarkana, including most major chains. The Wyndham Garden is an affordable pick for a restful night of sleep. Cost per night: from $58

Texarkana to Memphis

277 miles, 4 hours 5 minutes
Today you’ll be driving straight through Arkansas. While you could definitely spend more time exploring the state, Memphis is a destination you want to save time for.
For the fastest route, take I-30 E followed by I-40 E.

What to do from Texarkana to Memphis

Beale Streets, Memphis, Tennessee
Buckstaff Bathhouse
: We recommend leaving Texarkana early to get to Buckstaff Bathhouse. The Bathhouse is located next to a huge hot spring along the Ouachita River and has been a luxurious soaking destination for more than one hundred years. If you feel like getting pampered, try their facials, manicures, pedicures, and massages. 
: Graceland, the former residence of Elvis Presley, is the second-most visited building in the United States for a reason. The colonial-style mansion is full of rock and roll memorabilia and even features a private airplane that Elvis kept on the grounds. 
Beale Street:
Located right next to the Mississippi River, Beale Street is the prime destination for Memphis tourists. The street is full of everything from historic jazz halls, famous tourist attractions, blues-themed nightclubs, and incredible restaurants. It’s hard not to find something interesting while walking on Beale!
* Hit the touristy spots: If you have more time, take a tour of
Sun Studios
, visit the
Memphis Zoo
, or stroll around the
Memphis Botanical Gardens

Where to eat in Memphis

* Catch a meal and a show: In Memphis, head to
Alfred’s Restaurant and Bar
B.B. King’s Blues Club
for live music while you eat. 
The Arcade Restaurant
($): The next morning, visit 50’s throwback diner Arcade Restaurant for breakfast.

Where to stay in Memphis

The Peabody
: After you’ve had a fun night on the town, stay at The Peabody, a famous hotel listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the iconic resident ducks walking through the lobby. Cost per night: from $209
Pro Tip If you want to do as the locals do, keep an eye out for flyers along Beale Street. You’ll find plenty of events and shows to enjoy while you’re there!
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Memphis to Nashville

212 miles, 3 hours
The first part of your drive will take you right to the city of Jackson—and you should definitely listen to Johnny Cash’s album “Folsom Prison” to put you in the mood. From there, it’s onto the home of country music.

What to do in Nashville

Nashville Parthenon, Nashville, Tennessee
Rusty's TV and Movie Car Museum
: Take a break in Jackson to see Rusty’s TV and Movie Car Museum— they’ve got the DeLorean from Back to The Future and much more! 
Cypress Grove Nature Park
: If you’d rather take a walk outside, Cypress Grove Nature Park is a beautiful chance to get out.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
: Yee-haw partner! The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum features over 2.5 million artifacts, two massive floors of gallery space, and the historic RCA Studio B where countless country classics were first recorded.
Nashville Parthenon
: Standing right in the middle of Nashville’s Centennial Park, the Nashville Parthenon is a full-scale recreation of the one in Athens, Greece. The inside features a 42-foot gilded sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena and a permanent display of historic American paintings.
The Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
: The Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center has a sprawling atrium and features over 50,000 tropical plants arranged in gardens meticulously maintained by a team of 20 full-time horticulturists. The area is also filled with shops, restaurants, and attractions, making it almost too easy to spend a whole day walking around the premises.

Where to eat in Nashville

400 Degrees
($): When in Nashville, you’ve got to eat hot chicken—and there’s no better place to try it than at 400 Degrees.
Big Al's Deli
($): If you’re in the mood for some homestyle southern cooking, Big Al’s Deli offers up incredible dishes like fried catfish and spicy shrimp and grits. 
The Blacksmith Restaurant
($$): For a bite to eat in Jackson, hit up the rustic-chic dining room of The Blacksmith Restaurant for a truly inspired burger and cocktail.

Where to stay in Nashville

Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
: If you’re looking to splurge, stay at the aforementioned Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. Cost per night: from $279
Hilton Homewood Suites
: For something a little more budget friendly, the Hilton Homewood Suites is ideally located and has an indoor pool. Or try one of the many unique Airbnbs in the city! Cost per night: from $128

Why you need roadside assistance

Even the best-planned road trip runs the risk of a breakdown—and you don’t want to spoil a whole day just by locking your keys in your car.
To make sure your trip doesn’t become a disaster, it’s important to have good roadside assistance. With
’s roadside assistance program, you get free lockout assistance, battery jumps, gas refills, and even Uber credits for emergency rides. Plus, it’s only $6.99 a month!

Finding cheap car insurance

And before you head out, you’ll also want to ensure you’ve got the right car insurance coverage—and
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