Tourism in Tennessee continues to expand with new attractions, hotels and restaurants, impressive state-of-the-art developments, expansions and milestone anniversaries that help shape “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” 2020 marks several milestones in Tennessee, including the Ken Burns Country Music Pathways, the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the Memphis skyline changing with the new development One Beale, the opening of the new National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, the 20th anniversary of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion and Dollywood’s new Flower & Food Festival. Here’s what’s new in 2020 for Tennessee.
KEN BURNS & TENNESSEE MUSIC PATHWAYS
Ken Burns tells the story of “Country Music” in his latest PBS documentary, but nothing compares to standing in the places where history was made. Visitors can use the special “Country Music” passport to guide their own country music pilgrimage along the newly-launched Tennessee Music Pathways route, the Ken Burns Country Music Pathway. Stops include the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Memphis’ Sun Studio and more. The Tennessee Music Pathways showcases the state’s rich musical legacy across all 95 counties with hundreds of landmarks and attractions.
TENNESSEE SONGWRITERS WEEK
In celebration of the craft of songwriting, the week is designed to recognize accomplished songwriters and pave the way for future artists by holding live performances across the state. Songwriters can perform in the official qualifying rounds. Top songwriters of each qualifying round will perform at six Tennessee Songwriters Week Showcase events for a chance to perform at The Bluebird Cafe. Separate from the qualifying rounds, venues and business can take part by hosting an event during Tennessee Songwriters Week (Feb. 23-29, 2020)
Opening Feb. 2020, The Monarch is a 16,000 square foot historic warehouse, renovated into an industrial, chic venue specializing in weddings and conferences. It’s an entrepreneurial venture of successful Tennessee businesswoman Kellie Fitzpatrick (owner of Lenny & Eva jewelry company).
SULFUR RIDGE & SHASTA CAMP GLAMPING
Escape to nature and lavish comfort at the now open Sulfur Ridge, Tennessee’s first luxury treehouse bed and breakfast. Upscale, retro glamping in restored-vintage campers is also available at this wooded retreat.
The boutique DIY studio offers hands-on classes for creating custom and charming home décor. Guests can take part in an instructor-led workshop to make custom wood signs, framed signs, chunky knit blankets, canvas pillows, round signs, lazy-susans, centerpiece boxes, tote bags, jewelry and more.
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 BAGEL & BAKERY
Opened downtown in Dec. 2019, the bakery features more than 24 varieties of daily freshly-maid bagels along with more than 12 flavored smears. Other baked goodies include gourmet cupcakes, cookies, brownies, cinnamon buns and more. Guests can also enjoy freshly-made basil soup to pair with sandwich and salad options.
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 September 11-13, 2020.
CASCADE DRAFT HOUSE
Opened Sept. 2019 in downtown Bristol, Cascade Draft House is open 7 days a week with 40 draft handles, over 100 draft beverages, entertainment, singer/songwriter and open mic nights.
The boutique hotel, set to open downtown in spring 2020, is named after the 1927 Bristol Sessions and offers 70 uniquely-curated sleeping rooms, including music suites. With local flair from L.C. King Manufacturing and Moon Bound Girl, the mix of historic and modern pay homage to Bristol’s country music roots. Guests can enjoy the Vison Day Spa and Southern Craft restaurant, an event space, indoor and outdoor music stages and rooftop bar.
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.
DAVE & BUSTERS
The family fun entertainment center will open at Hamilton Place Mall in 2020 for breakfast, lunch and dinner, buffet packages and lots of fun in 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
Open Feb. 22, 2020, 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.
PARK VIEW SKATE PARK
Now open, experience this 10,000 sq. ft, fully-concrete skatepark, a first for Cookeville and the only Grindline-designed skatepark in Tennessee. Skateboards, inline skates, BMX bikes and other non-motorized wheeled riding devices welcome.
The new storefront in the heart of Cookeville’s Westside Cultural District brews up traditional javas and uniquely blended brews.
The one-of-kind hot chicken restaurant will open at 1914 Galleria Blvd. in Feb. 2020, markings its fourth location to open in just five years. The restaurant will have a patio, wall-to-wall big screen TVs, a large private event space and a full-service bar extending more than 45 feet.
MARCY JO’s MULETOWN
Open Nov. 2019, Marcy Jo’s Muletown, sister restaurant of iconic Marcy Jo's Mealhouse & Bakery, serves up home-cooked breakfast and lunch daily, and features monthly songwriters’ nights.
PICKWICK LANDING STATE PARK
Pickwick Landing State Park will have new bird aviaries. Renovations of The Inn at Pickwick Landing State Park and conference center are set to be completed by March 2020.
THE HARPETH HOTEL
The Harpeth Hotel, a Curio by Hilton property, is downtown Franklin’s newest most luxurious hotel with 119 rooms, iconic design inspired by the stories of Franklin and an on-site spa. With a nod to local flavor, 1799 Kitchen inside The Harpeth Hotel features mouthwatering dishes and distinct cocktails.
HILTON GARDEN INN
The new 102-room hotel, opened in July 2019, includes a full-service restaurant, bar and room service.
50th ANNIVERSARY OF 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.
COOKING 101 RESTAURANT AND COOKING CLASSES
Enjoy a prepared meal or learn to make your own yummy dishes at this one-of-a-kind eatery.
GUTTER BOUND DISTILLERY
American spirits crafted in the spirit of the American Craftsman. Each bottle produced at the first legal distillery in Hurricane Mills contains locally-produced, small-batch, handcrafted spirits.
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.
ELST BREWING COMPANY
Elst was created by four Knoxville neighbors that shared an appreciation for great tasting beer and the process of creating a recipe, sourcing the finest ingredients and combining them with precision and science. Other new breweries also dot Knoxville, including Geezers, Next Level, Albright Grove, New Tap House and High Wire.
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.
NAIA 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.
Open late 2019, new hotels welcome guests, including Tru by Hilton Knoxville North, 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.
Amici, the new take on Italian favorites, is now open. Head chef and owner Christopher Thompson creates fresh pasta and pizzas from scratch and incorporates local, southern ingredients.
UNION COUNTY OPRY
Known as the Cradle of Country Music, Union County is noted for its musical heritage, including legends like RoyAcuff, 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 new mixed-use development at the corner of Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Avenue and South B.B. King Boulevard just steps from Beale Street is an eight-story, 250,000-square-foot office tower with retail space for high-end restaurants, a grocer and boutiques.
GRACELAND EXHIBITION CENTER
Visitors can journey through space and study dinosaurs with all new exhibits. The center offers every-changing exhibits year-round and two dining options: TCB Food Hall and the Jungle Room Bar.
THE GROVE AT GPAC
An outdoor venue at Germantown Performing Arts Center, The Grove will include the TruGreen Lawn, an outdoor space equipped with a stage, as well as First Horizon Foundation Plaza. Expect a unique, upscale outdoor experience to enjoy local musicians, national headliners and more.
The music, arts and culture scene have new additions including the CLTV (Collective) CMPLX dedicated to providing a platform for African American artists through art-based programming and a statue of Johnny Cash in Cooper-Young where he made his professional debut in a neighborhoodthat remains one of the city's premiere spots to hear live music.
The downtown Memphis skyline is changing with the addition of One Beale, set to open in late 2020. The project at the foot of Beale Street will include a full-service Hyatt Centric hotel with a rooftop lounge, riverfront restaurant opened by longtime Memphis chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, retail, offices and apartments.
A game-changer for downtown Memphis, the $950 million proposed mixed-use development envisions a boutique hotel overlooking AutoZone Park, restaurants and green space. Construction is set to begin in early 2020.
THE LAKE AT MEADOW CREEK PARK
A new road is complete, offering ease of access to the lake which is part of a 300+ acre park near downtown. Current amenities include fishing and non-motorized boating. Hiking trails are in progress, and bike trails are in the planning phase.
CLIFFS AT MEADOW CREEK PARK
In addition to new access to this 300+ acre park and lake, Monterey is now 1 of 10 destinations in the U.S. to receive a national rock-climbing conservation grant and will soon add hiking trails + rock-climbing access, offering varying levels of climbing for guests.
CHIHULY AT CHEEKWOOD
A decade after the first Dale Chihuly exhibition at Nashville’s Cheekwood Estate & Gardens smashed attendance records, Chihuly at Cheekwood is making a comeback. The new exhibit opens April 25, 2020 and marks the reopening of the Carrell Woodland Sculpture Trail.
FIFTH + BROADWAY
Opening fall 2020, Nashville’s newest downtown destination will transform the former Nashville Convention Center into a vibrant, mixed use mecca with the National Museum of African American Music, restaurants, stores, a brewery, craft cocktails, live music and more than 2,000 parking spaces.
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 2020 in the old Elm Street Methodist Church downtown.
MOXY DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE
The hotel features chic and modern guest rooms, locally commissioned artwork and multiple social & lounge spaces to convey the energy in Music City. The hotel in the former records storage facility is steps away from the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium and Bridgestone Arena.
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.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSIC
The museum set to open in summer 2020 will be the only museum dedicated to educating, preserving and celebrating more than 50 music genres and styles that were created or inspired by African Americans.
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.
TENNESSEE STATE MUSEUM
“RATIFIED! TENNESSEE WOMEN AND THE RIGHT TO VOTE”
In a new and temporary exhibit opening March 2020, the museum will explore key roles Tennesseans played in the national movement with artifacts, interactive and immersive displays, imagery and multi-media. It will be complemented by programming throughout the state to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
DOLLYWOOD’S NEW FLOWER & FOOD FESTIVAL (MAY 8-JUNE 14)
Spring in the Great Smoky Mountains is about to get a little brighter with the festival that immerses guests in the splendor of spring flowers through creative and aromatic displays, an “Umbrella Sky,” colorful characters in Wildwood Grove, and the freshest flavors of spring with mouthwatering cuisine.
THE ISLAND IN PIGEON FORGE
The flying theater attraction at The Island is a state-of-the-art ride system featuring national wonders and landmarks, set to break ground in early 2020 and open in 2021.
JUNCTION 35 SPIRITS
Straight from the hills of The Smoky Mountains, Junction 35 Spirits is bringing a long-time family tradition to the public. The rich local history of making and running spirits diverging with the Master Distillery brings together a taste like no other. This is the first distillery restaurant in the Smoky Mountain region, located inside The Shops at the Mountain Mile.
THE TOWER SHOPS AT THE MOUNTAIN MILE
The now open Mountain Mile features retail, amusements and dining and is anchored by the Mountain Monster thrill ride, a 200-foot-tall drop tower featuring three different experiences: a swing, a tower drop and sling shot. Located inside the Tower Shops at The Mountain Mile, REI Co-op will open a new store in spring 2020, bringing quality outdoor gear, rentals, expertise and experiences to the region.
BLEDSOE COUNTY GEOCACHING TOUR
Discover fascinating stories, spectacular views and great food as your GPS guides you on an adventure. As part of this new geocaching tour, 44 geocaches are hidden at sites across Bledsoe County, the Sequatchie Valley and at Fall Creek Falls State Park.
PORTLAND PIZZA AND PUB
This new restaurant serves delicious, creative pizzas, baked goodies and local craft brews.
SILVER SPRINGS VINEYARDS
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.
RIVER CITY MARKET
A new multi-purpose facility downtown will house the Savannah Farmers Market, annual winter ice-skating rink and musical events throughout the year.
TENNESSEE RIVER MUSEUM
Hardin County will use the awarded $75,000 Tourism Enhancement Grant to expand the museum’s steamboat exhibit to the basement level by adding an elevator. Discover the exciting stories of pre-historic life to post-war reconciliation with one-of-a-kind artifacts detailing the unique history of the Tennessee River Valley.
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, Little Bear Winery, Goodwater Vineyards in Gatlinburg and Cades Cove Cellars 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