The natural beauty of Tennessee, combined with the activities of the Department of Tourist Development, has made tourism a major industry in the state. Tennessee was the first state to create a government department devoted solely to the promotion of tourism. In 1999, the state spent $11 million to attract tourists through advertising. In 1997, domestic visitors spent $9 billion on day trips and overnight stays in the state.
Leading tourist attractions include Fort Loudoun, built by the British in 1757; the American Museum of Science and Energy at Oak Ridge; the William Blount Mansion at Knoxville; the Beale Street Historic District in Memphis, home of W. C. Handy, the "father of the blues"; Graceland, the Memphis estate of Elvis Presley; and Opryland USA and the Grand Ole Opry at Nashville. There are three presidential homes—Andrew Johnson's at Greeneville, Andrew Jackson's Hermitage near Nashville, and James K. Polk's at Columbia. Pinson Mounds, near Jackson, offers outstanding archaeological treasures and the remains of an Indian city. Reservoirs and lakes attract thousands of anglers and water sports enthusiasts. The top attractions in 1998 included (with annual attendance records): Dollywood (2,200,000), Tennessee Aquarium (1,150,148), Bristol Motor Sports (1,050,000), Ober Gatlinburg (1,004,659), and Casey Jones Village (840,000).
There are 33 state parks, almost all of which have camping facilities. Altogether, they cover 88,160 acres (35,678 hectares). Among the most visited state parks are the Meeman-Shelby Forest in Shelby County, Montgomery Bell in Dickson County, Cedars of Lebanon in Wilson County, and Natchez Trace in Henderson and Carroll counties. Cherokee National Park is the most visited national park in Tennessee (10,500,000). Extending into North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers 241,207 acres (97,613 hectares) in Tennessee and drew nearly ten million visitors in 1998. Other popular national parks include the TVA's Land Between the Lakes National Historic Park (2,081,053), Cumberland Gap National Historic Park (1,500,000), and Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park (1,022,500).