Tourism in Tennessee continues to expand in 2020 with new attractions, state-of-the-art developments and milestone anniversary celebrations. Much of the news continues to help shape “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.”
This year marks several milestones in Tennessee, including the 50th anniversary of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Gatlinburg, the opening of The Island flying theatre attraction in Pigeon Forge and Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion Festival’s 20th anniversary. Here’s what’s new in 2020 for Tennessee. Photos can be downloaded here. All photos courtesy of Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, unless otherwise noted in copyright.
KEN BURNS & TENNESSEE MUSIC PATHWAYS
Ken Burns’ “Country Music,” is airing on BBC Four this autumn as six, hour long episodes followed by two 90-minute episodes. The documentary series traces the history of the American artform from its origins in southern Appalachia to Nashville’s Grand Old Opry and everything in between. The broadcast coincides with the first anniversary of the launch of the Tennessee Music Pathways, a statewide program identifying, interpreting, promoting and preserving Tennessee music events, venues, locations and stories.
TENNESSEE SONGWRITERS WEEK
The state statute annually designates the last full week of February as “Tennessee Songwriters Week,” designed to celebrate the foundation of the craft, recognize past and present songwriters and pave the way for future artists. Statewide events include in-the-rounds, songwriter showcases, open-mic nights, educational workshops and more.
Escape to nature and lavish comfort at Sulfur Ridge, Tennessee’s first luxury treehouse bed and breakfast. Upscale, retro glamping in restored-vintage campers is also available at this wooded retreat.
BIRTHPLACE OF COUNTRY MUSIC MUSEUM
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum will host new Special Exhibits in 2020: American Ballads: The Photographs of Marty Stuart and Henry Horenstein’s Honky Tonk will be featured exhibits in 2020.
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Feel the need for speed? The popular Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway will be held September 20 as part of the 2020 NASCAR Playoffs.
BRISTOL RHYTHM & ROOTS REUNION
The music festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this year from September 11-13, 2020.
WEST TENNESSEE DELTA HERITAGE CENTER
The center will add a new music history mural and outdoor art depicting the region and music history, a new covered pavilion for performances and will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Exit 56 Blues Fest May 23-24, 2020.
HAUL OF FAME TRUCKING MUSEUM
The 10,000 square foot museum will highlight well-known companies from the Golden Age of Trucking and will include an 18-wheeler truck-driving simulator for visitors to experience for FREE.
NATIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR HERITAGE CENTER
The center next to Tennessee Aquarium memorializes the valorous actions of the recipients of the nation’s highest military award and promotes the history and character associated with their gallantry.
The new classic arcade is now open with over 50 vintage machines to play and enjoy, such as Centipede, Joust, Mrs. Pac Man and more.
Imagine bowling, but with axes! The first of its kind in the Upper Cumberland, this family-friendly, axe throwing attraction brings out the competition in everyone with four lanes and two targets per lane.
SKY HIGH SPORTS
The new indoor trampoline park includes open jump, dodge ball, foam pits, basketball hoops, climbing walls, arcade games, ninja warrior course, kids court, soft play area for kids 2 and under and full-service concession stand.
The new storefront in the heart of Cookeville’s Westside Cultural District brews up traditional javas and uniquely blended brews.
The 12,000 square feet, climate-controlled garage and showroom are filled with international flair with special events like “Cookeville Cars & Coffee” or “British & European Car Picnics.” Guests can take part in special events, sell a prized family heirloom or buy a classic car.
PICKWICK LANDING STATE PARK
Pickwick Landing State Park will have new bird aviaries. Renovations of the Inn and conference center are set to be completed by March 2020.
THE HARPETH HOTEL
The Curio Collection by Hilton property will be one of Tennessee’s newest luxury hotels when it opens August 2020. Nestled on Franklin’s iconic Main Street, the luxury retreat will also feature iconic design inspired by stories of Franklin, multiple restaurants and on-site spa.
RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT!
The Gatlinburg outpost of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020. Just in time to celebrate, the museum recently completed a major renovation and brought in 490 new exhibits.
A new WELCOME CENTER opened late 2019 for visitors to learn more about attractions in Grainger County and Cherokee Lake. The site will also provide visitors the guide to the Historic Grainger County Trail, a self-guided driving trail.
ADVENTURE ACTION PARK
The action park has a main court, bouldering wall, dunk zone, flying trapeze, ninja warrior obstacle course, zip line, battle beams, go karts and more.
ANCIENT LORE VILLAGE AT BOYD HOLLOW
The fantasy-world-turned-real-life-resort has more than 100 whimsically decorated, grass-roofed homes along with 50 treehouses, miles of walking trails and a 1,000-seat outdoor amphitheater.
GYPSY CIRCUS WILD CIDER BARRELHOUSE
In fall 2019, Tennessee’s first craft cidery opened the first wild, barrel-aged manufacturing facility in its 4,000 square foot taproom with 40 taps of Gypsy Circus’ products, local craft beer and a restaurant.
Several new breweries will open Knoxville, including Elst, Geezers, Next Level, Albright Grove, New Tap House and High Wire.
Open late 2019, new hotels welcome guests, including Tru by Hilton Knoxville North, Tru by Hilton Knoxville West, Aloft by Marriott Knoxville West, Embassy Suites by Hilton Downtown (featuring a rooftop pool and ballroom), the Drury Inn & Suites Knoxville West and Hilton Garden Inn Papermill.
PEYTON MANNING’S SALOON 16
The NFL quarterback and Graduate Hotels will open a western-inspired, high-end “watering hole” with a jukebox, dart board, live piano and outdoor dining.
CHAPMAN HILL WINERY
The new local vineyard and winery in Campbell County includes a tasting room and festivals/events throughout the year.
SILVER SPRINGS WINERY
The new winery in the rolling foothills of the Smokies is open daily for wine tastings. The winery is inspired by a love of great wines and the founders’ fond memories of creating wines with his grandfather in old world Greece.
SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
In 2020 and 2021, Knoxville will become the first Tennessee city to host the NAIA Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. The action goes down March 4-7, 2020, and March 3-6, 2021, at the Allan Jones Aquatics Center.
UNION COUNTY OPRY
Known as the Cradle of Country Music, Union County is noted for its musical heritage, including legends like Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Carl Smith, and Kenny Chesney. The Union County Opry will feature a once-a-month series of musical concerts.
CENTRAL STATION HOTEL
Open fall 2019, the Curio by Hilton branded property, is in a repurposed 105-year-old building with touches of mid-century modern design that includes a bar, vinyl record library, DJ and local Memphis photography.
The music, arts and culture scene have new additions including the CMPLX in Orange Mound and a statue of Johnny Cash in Cooper-Young where he made his professional debut in a neighborhood that remains one of the city’s premiere spots to hear live music.
FIFTH + BROADWAY & NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSIC
Opening early 2020, the museum is part of downtown Nashville’s $450 million Fifth + Broadway development, and will feature five permanent galleries honouring the genres of jazz, blues, hip(no hyphen)hop, gospel and R&B, in addition to a 194-seat theater and changing gallery.
HEAVEN’S DOOR DISTILLERY AND CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Legendary singer/songwriter Bob Dylan will debut a distilling operation, concert venue, restaurant, whiskey library and art center (showcasing his own paintings and sculptures) in fall 2020 in the old Elm Street Methodist Church downtown.
The downtown development will bring 1,100 new hotel rooms, a 1-acre park, new concert venue, 3.5 million feet of office space and 1,000 residential units. The company Amazon will be among the tenants.
NEW HOTELS IN NASHVILLE
Luxurious new digs open in 2020 and early 2021 include a Grand Hyatt in Nashville Yards, a Virgin Hotel on Music Row, a Joseph Luxury Collection Hotel in SoBro and a W Hotel in the Gulch.
THE ISLAND IN PIGEON FORGE
The flying theater attraction is a state-of-the-art ride system featuring national wonders and landmarks, set to open early 2020. The Mountain Mile, featuring retail, amusements and dining, will open, anchored by the Mountain Monster coaster, which includes four different rides. Southern cuisine is on the menu at the new Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant.
A new multi-purpose facility downtown will house the Savannah Farmers Market, annual winter ice-skating rink and musical events throughout the year.
TENNESSEE STREET PARK
Outdoor exercise equipment and a fitness zone will be along a hiking trail inside Tennessee Street Park.
MCNAIRY COUNTY COURTHOUSE JAIL EXPERIENCE CENTER
Legendary McNairy County Sheriff Buford Pusser earned a national reputation (and a biopic) for busting moonshiners and gambling rings in the 1960s. The immersive museum lets visitors experience Pusser’s office and jail firsthand.
GATLINBURG WINE TRAIL
The new wine trail with tastings includes Sugarland Cellars, Tennessee Homemade in Gatlinburg, Goodwater Gatlinburg and Cades Cove in Townsend. This will be the fourth self-guided wine trail in the Nine Lakes Wine Country/9 Lakes of East Tennessee.
Smiling faces, great food and satisfying portions. Aubrey’s Restaurant expands to a new location opening in Sevierville in 2020.
THE RIDGE OUTDOOR RESORT
Rustic meets luxury at this new outdoor resort with spacious 70-foot RV sites, tiny homes and glamping safari tents. Amenities include outdoor pool, modern bath house, fitness room, pickle ball, basketball and laundry facilities.
FALL CREEK FALLS INN
Tennessee’s largest and most visited state park has a new 95,000-square-foot inn worthy of its scenic surroundings, including a conference center and restaurant.
DISCOVERY PARK OF AMERICA
The new “Fact, Fiction & Farming Today” exhibit uses videos, graphics and farmer profiles to educate visitors about the realities of modern farming. Other upcoming exhibits in 2020 include Agriculture, Woman’s Suffrage and an Astronauts traveling exhibit.