Tourism in Tennessee continues to expand with new attractions, impressive state-of-the-art developments, and milestone anniversary celebrations of iconic attractions and events that helped shape “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.”
In 2017, Tennessee celebrates the 40th anniversary of Elvis Week, the 50th of The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, the 90th anniversary of the Bristol Sessions (also known as the “Big Bang of Country Music”), and the 125th anniversary of Ryman Auditorium.
And for foodies, Chattanooga’s MoonPie turns 100. Embrace the history while making memories at new attractions. Here’s what’s new in 2017 for Tennessee:
Tennessee State Parks celebrates 80 years of preserving Tennessee’s most precious natural areas including waterfalls, forests, rivers and streams.
Tennessee is a premier destination to view the Aug. 17, 2017 solar eclipse as the state is in the eclipse’s direct path. Top locations to view the eclipse are areas like Clarksville, Cleveland, Clingman’s Dome, Crossville, Dayton, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Sparta, and Sweetwater to name a few.
The 90th Anniversary of the Bristol Sessions, regarded as the “Big Bang of Country Music” and, according to Johnny Cash, “the single most important event in the history of country music,” takes place in 2017.
April 29, 2017 marks 100 years since the invention of the MoonPie, first created by the Chattanooga Bakery as a snack “as big as the moon” for coalminers.
Songbirds Guitar Museum opens early 2017 with a never-before-seen collection of nearly 300 rare vintage guitars on the campus of the world-famous Chattanooga Choo Choo.
Tennessee Aquarium, celebrating 25 years in 2017, has recently built a state-of-the-art, 14,000-square-foot conservation riverfront facility on the Baylor School campus that serves as the only freshwater science center in the Southeast.
Chattanooga is the first city to host four IRONMAN events: the 2017 IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championships of professional and age-group women Sept. 9, 2017 and the professional and age-group men Sept. 10, 2017. Hosting this event makes Chattanooga: 1 of 5 cities in North America to host both a full-distance IRONMAN and a 70.3 IRONMAN; 1 of 10 cities in the world to host both a full-distance IRONMAN and a 70.3 IRONMAN; and the only city in the world to host a full-distance IRONMAN, a 70.3 IRONMAN and the 70.3 IRONMAN World Championships (two events, two days).
Rock City Gardens celebrates 85 years.
Old Glory Distillery, a locally-owned, small batch, artisan distillery will spill its first barrel Nov. 1, 2017. Jumper’s Stash White Rum (named for the brave men and women stationed at Fort Campbell), Tennessee Vodka, Smooth Shine TN Moonshine, and bourbon are available.
Cookeville will join the Harley-Davidson Motor Company July 11-15, 2017 to host the first Southern Backroads H.O.G. Rally, a regional motorcycle rally drawing thousands of riders from across the globe.
Red Silo Brewing Company has opened the first micro-brewery in Cookeville-Putnam County. Specializing in small batch craft brews, the new downtown destination offers tastings, tours, and partners with DelMonaco Winery as a signature stop on their popular Wine & Stein tours.
CrossFit Mayhem, owned by four-time “Fittest Man on Earth” Rich Froning, has expanded to offer more space for visitors and retail. The new facility is a true fitness/sports destination. In addition to incredible CrossFit workout opportunities in the home gym of “Fittest Man in History,” it has a wellness center with a chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapists, and a nutritionist. A business lounge, education space, and retail are also included.
Mountain Bike Trail is now open at Cane Creek Park. Built for all riders in mind, from novice to expert, it's a first for the area. Currently at 1.3 miles, it is built for laps and designed for expansion.
Rail WITH Trail is now open. Walk, run, jog, bike, and explore more than four miles of outdoor pathways adjacent to the Tennessee Central Railway (LIVE RAIL). Trailheads are located at the Cookeville Depot Museum and the Algood Community Center.
Jig Head Brewing and Hix Farm Brewery are planning to open early 2017.
Anakeesta Aerial Adventure Park is scheduled to open in 2017 and is Gatlinburg’s newest family-friendly vacation destination with a more than 70-acre mountainside adventure park that include aerial trekking, zip lines, canopy walks, and scenic overlooks.
The Tennessean Hotel is Knoxville’s first personal luxury hotel with 82 rooms overlooking World’s Fair Park and Knoxville Convention Center set to open April 2017 in downtown Knoxville.
Knoxville Zoo is now Zoo Knoxville, emphasizing its commitment to animals first and foremost.
The Mill & Mine is Knoxville’s new, 20,000 square-foot music hall that can accommodate a crowd of more than 1,200 in the heart of the historic downtown district.
Chef Jesse Newmister has created Kaizen Izakaya, with a lunch selection of Dan Dan noodles and Thai glass noodle salad, in downtown Knoxville. Izakaya is a place where Japanese men would go after work for sake and drinks before going home for dinner.
Maple Hall is the new underground boutique bowling alley with a full bar of a few featured cocktails and six taps, and restaurant.
Devil’s Racetrack along with two other Urban Wilderness Gravity Trails have opened in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. Beginner to double black diamond trails were created with IMBA and Bell Built Helmets after winning a nationwide grant.
The Lenoir City Events Center has opened. Featuring 19,000 sq. ft. of event space, the large ballroom can accommodate up to 700 guests and approx. 1,000 guests for reception-style events. State of the art audiovisual systems, eco-friendly features, a covered outdoor patio and garden area complete the space.
City of Loudon will celebrate its 200th Anniversary in 2017.
The Stimpson Seashell Museum, anticipated to be the world’s largest publicly viewable seashell collection, will showcase thousands of rare and hard-to-find shells from across the globe and is scheduled to open 2017 in Loudon.
“Elvis Presley’s Memphis” at Graceland®’s a 200,000-square-foot, $45 million entertainment complex across the street from Elvis’™ iconic Graceland Mansion will open Spring 2017. It will be five times the size of the current visitor center, and will present the life, career and legacy of the greatest entertainer with interactive and immersive pop culture experiences that connect to Elvis’ personal interests and activities throughout his life, including his passion for automobiles and new technology.
The Guest House at Graceland has officially opened as guests can step inside the mind and style of Elvis himself to enjoy the 450-room hotel that includes two restaurants, meeting and special event spaces and a 464-seat theater for live performances and movies.
Elvis Week celebrates its 40th Anniversary and welcomes fans from around the world August 2017 with a full schedule of fun events including the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, music and conferences. The highlight will be the Candlelight Vigil where guests can pay respects to the King at Meditation Garden.
A new exhibit and interactive kiosk about activities related to the natural, recreational and cultural/historic amenities located along the Mississippi River in Memphis and the region of the Great River Road – National Scenic Byway and Trail is be installed at the TDOT Visitors Center (I-40 & Riverside Dr.) 2017 in downtown Memphis.
Heart of the Park at Shelby Farms Park features a larger variety of native trees, shrubs, and other vegetation, making way for new trails, wetlands, an 80-acre Patriot Lake, decks, and boat rentals and a pavilion for events and music.
IKEA, the only store in the Mid-South region has opened.
Harahan Bridge / Big River Crossing has opened and is a 5,000-ft. trail path with spectacular views of the Mississippi River, connecting Downtown Memphis and Arkansas.
Memphis Cook Convention Center will get a fresh look on the outside and state-of-the-art upgrades on the inside courtesy of a $55-60 million renovation, slated for completion Fall 2017.
Old Dominick Distillery, a 150-year-old brand, will provide Memphis with vodka, whiskey and bourbon and will offer tours, tasting rooms and an event space by early 2017.
Jazzmatazz, a new 7,200 sq. ft. live music venue that is a Cajun restaurant by day and an upscale hotspot by night has opened in Murfreesboro.
Puckett’s Grocery has opened a new restaurant on the historic Murfreesboro square.
Fountains at Gateway, a Class A office and retail development in Murfreesboro, has recently opened and is a mixed-use development that includes popular restaurants such as Tom + Chee and Brixx Wood Fired Pizza.
Several musical landmarks in Nashville are celebrating major anniversaries in 2017 including Ryman Auditorium’s 125th; Country Music Hall of Fame’s 50th; Bluebird Cafe’s 35th;Historic RCA Studio B’s 60th and Tin Pan South’s 25th.
Nudie’s Honky Tonk, an ode to rhinestone cowboy couture founded by Nudie Cohn has opened. New honky tonks like Almost Famous and Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row will open in 2017.
Nashville Zoo is slated to open the Spider Monkey Exhibit, which features an elevated boardwalk for guests to enter a treetop viewing platform where several spider monkeys can been seen and Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear where guests can discover South America's mysterious bears of the clouded forest and an array of other South American species in early 2017. The Sumatran Tiger Exhibit is slated to open Summer 2017.
The iconic Madame Tussauds comes to Music City in 2017 at Opry Mills. “Madame Tussauds Soundtrack of America” celebrates Nashville’s large influence on today’s music and culture with lifelike figures like Johnny Cash, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Minnie Pearl.
Tennessee's No. 1 historic attraction, Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, commemorates President Jackson's 250th birthday in 2017. The festivities will kick off on March 15, 2017, and will continue throughout the year with events at The Hermitage and across the nation.
The five new cabins at Pickwick Landing State Park include a gas log fireplace, a full-size kitchen with refrigerator, stove, microwave and dishwasher, dishes, drinking glasses and silverware, a large flat screen TV in the living room and a flat screen TV in each of the bedrooms, equipped with queen to king-sized beds. The majority of the cabins’ furnishings were made in Tennessee.
Alcatraz East Crime Museum opened Fall 2016 and gives guests the behind-the-scenes story of U.S. crime history with items like John Dillinger’s death mask, Al Capone’s rosary, O.J. Simpson’s Bronco, an FBI polygraph machine, Al Pacino’s submachine gun from the movie Scarface, and the latest law enforcement technology on display.
Sunglass Hut, Aerie and ASICS outlets along with Smith Creek Moonshine Distillery are now open at Tanger Outlets Sevierville.
Apple Barn & Cider Mill, a working apple orchard that features bakers, candy makers, an ice cream shop and a winery, plans to begin offering their own blend of hard cider in 2017.
2017 will be the 30th anniversary of the unveiling of the Dolly Parton Statue in historic downtown Sevierville. A museum is being planned with exhibits on the artist and statue at the Sevierville Visitor Center.
Uptown Suites is slated to open in 2017 in Smyrna.
A new Interpretive Visitors Center at Reelfoot Lake State Park, slated to open in 2017, will have an “eagle” architectural design and will tell the history of this unusual Delta region with interactive, interior exhibits.
Discovery Park of America has announced a major expansion with a unique “Children’s Discovery Garden” opening late 2016 or early 2017. Discovery Park will also enhance the STEM Landing display Spring 2017 with the addition of the Titan 1 Missile, the largest structure at Discovery Park.