1. The Great Smoky Mountains

There’s nothing better than cruising through the winding back roads on your way up to Gatlinburg (praying that the tourists don’t find their way here and go 20 mph in front of you) with the windows down on a warm July morning for a hike. If you’re feeling a bit lazy or tired, you know you can just take the Cades Cove loop and still get your fill of the nature.

2. Jack Daniels

Although they sell this all over the world, drinking the best Tennessee whiskey just isn’t the same when you aren’t in Tennessee. Also, you can drink knowing that anytime you’re in Lynchburg you can go take a tour at the factory to have a flight of Jack while learning the history (although you probably already know it).

3. Your swimming hole

Tennessee is full of secret swimming holes and quarries. Whether it’s Old Hickory Lake north of Nashville, Fort Dixon Quarry in Knoxville, or The Sinks in Little River, you’ll sure miss grabbing a Bud Light and kicking it here with your friends on a sunny day.

4. Barbecue

Northerners like to believe that they know what barbecue is, but they’ve never tried it Memphis-style. Taking a bite of that slow cooked pork that was flavored before, during, and after cooking can pretty much be called a transcendental experience.

5. The way of talking.

“Bless their heart” is not a very nice thing to say, as much as it might seem like it, and Jack isn’t a common male name, but instead refers to Jack Daniels (see above). There’s also the fact that nobody knows what you’re talking about when you say you’re fixin’ to do somethin’ or who the heck MeMaw and PaPaw are. The first time someone looks at you like you’re crazy for saying that you’re just “tickled pink,” you’ll sure be missing that sweet Tennessean accent.

6. Skiing at Ober Gatlinburg.

Yes, Ober is probably the smallest mountain that you could possibly ski on, and they charge almost $9 for some simple fried pickle chips, but it is the place to be in the winter. It’s nice to repeatedly go down one of the small, available slopes with your friends or sit and watch people attempt some tricks in the tiny terrain park

7. Sweet tea

When asking for sweet tea in the north, be warned for the waiter to tell you that they can bring out sugar with your warm Earl Grey tea. No, that is not okay, nor will it ever be. How has something that’s so vital to southern culture not fully spread to the rest of our country yet?

8. Store signs

Driving around on a normal day, you see a number of signs that restaurants put up, but here, they aren’t advertisements. After leaving Tennessee, I realized that this sort of thing doesn’t happen everywhere. On a typical drive, I’ll see “Happy Birthday” written to any community member who regularly eats at the convenience store next to our school or “Congratulations to Sevier County High School for their win!” at their local Zaxby’s.