With a new year comes new experiences that can only be “Made in Tennessee.” Stay in new unique lodging, get lost in history at immersive museums, have fun at new family-friendly attractions and more. Plan your 2020 Tennessee vacation around these new things to do.
In 2019, Ken Burns released “Country Music,” his latest documentary on the genre from its “Big Bang” birth in Bristol, Tennessee to its influence in modern music. Bring the stories on screen to life by going on your own music pilgrimage in Tennessee with the help of the Ken Burns Country Music Pathway Official Passport. Inside, you’ll find 22 locations from Ken Burns’ documentary that have special stamps at each locale. Fill up your passport with stamps and you can receive a variety of souvenirs.
The celebration of songwriting continues in Tennessee with the 2nd annual Tennessee Songwriters Week. Past and present songwriters are honored for their talent and hits; and, future artists have a chance to be recognized at one of the many official qualifying rounds taking place Feb. 1-15, 2020 at venues throughout Tennessee. Top songwriters of each qualifying round will perform at one of six Tennessee Songwriters Week Showcase events during Tennessee Songwriters Week Feb. 23-29, 2020. The top six songwriters from each of the Showcases will have the opportunity to play at the Bluebird Cafe in March 2020.
Did you know the first Medal of Honor, the highest military award in the U.S., was given in 1863 to Private Jacob Parrott for his actions in “The Great Locomotive Chase” that ended outside of Chattanooga? In the same year, the Chattanooga area was the site of 33 additional Medal of Honor recipients. To honor this rich history, the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center will open Feb. 22, 2020 in Chattanooga. The Center, located next to the Tennessee Aquarium, will memorialize these and more valorous actions of Medal of Honor recipients, honoring their character and gallantry.
Get ready for even more fun in the Smokies with the massive, 50-acre Soaky Mountain Water Park opening May 2020 near the Sevierville Convention Center and Wilderness at the Smokies Resort in Sevierville. Cool down this summer in the 35,000-square-foot wave pool that will generate waves up to 6 ft. high. A wave river of 24,000 square feet will be perfect if you want to chill on an inner tube for a while. Kids will have fun in the play-and-spray area which will include themed elements and multiple slides. A water obstacle course, a double FlowRider to practice your surfing skills, four large slide complexes and a tubing tower with five flume are just some of the exciting experiences.
Step into a world where springtime reigns supreme as Dollywood presents its new event, Flower & Food Festival May 8-June 14. Horticultural artists will create larger-than-life topiary-like displays and other plant sculptures. You'll find the perfect selfie spot under the Umbrella Sky on Showstreet that creates a colorful awning of yellows, pinks, purples and blues. Sip and dine on garden-fresh flavors of spring. Take advantage of the special dining events and inside-the-kitchen cooking demonstrations.
DIY enthusiasts, rejoice! A/R Workshop in Bristol encourages you to bring your creativity to life through hands-on classes focused on creating custom home décor. Follow an instructor to creator custom wood signs, framed signs, chunky knit blankets, canvas pillows, centerpiece boxes, tote bags, jewelry and more. Your home décor will soon be the envy of the whole neighborhood.
You’ll want to be in Nashville in 2020 to experience the only museum dedicated to educating, preserving and celebrating more than 50 music genres and styles that were created or inspired by African Americans. The National Museum of African American Music will open June 2020 in the 5th & Broadway complex in downtown Nashville. The 56,000-square-foot facility will be filled with interactive technology, telling the full story of African Americans’ influence on music from classical to jazz, hip hop, gospel and country. Exhibits touching on history from the 17th century to today provides an array of artifacts, photos, an immersive theater experience and more.
Calling all couples! Saltbox Inn & Stables, most known for weddings, events and lodgings, expands with several new ceremony locations in Cookeville. The Greenhouse is available May-September and is ideal for smaller events featuring a heated or cooled environment for the ultimate comfort. The Luxury Barn Loft is great for an intimate wedding, small reception or rehearsal dinner. Sunflower fields, a new horse barn, floral and event rentals are also new for 2020. Saltbox Farms is also now a Tennessee Tree Sanctuary designation.
Escape to Tennessee’s first luxury treehouse bed and breakfast, Sulfur Ridge. This Instagram-able spot is just off Interstate 40 Exit 280 in rural Baxter, Tennessee for the ultimate outdoor retreat. It’s a cool blend of a rustic exterior with modern décor. Book a weekend stay to enjoy the sumptuous king size bed, rain shower, clawfoot bathtub, private deck, firepit, hot tub for two, mini refrigerator and more. If you’re drawn to vintage RV campers, Shasta Airflyte Camp is for you. Enjoy upscale, retro glamping in restored-vintage campers also available. Choose from “Peppermint Patty,” “Mellow Yellow,” or “Hot Tamale” that can sleep two adults, rest on manicured lawns with individual cooking stations, have a fridge, shower, dinette and more.
You’ve seen murals in cities, now get ready for a whole park! The town of Waverly is now home to The Walls Art Park, a one-of-a-kind art park with a walking trail located at the edge of town. Along this walking trail are 18 walls of different lengths and heights. The largest wall is 50’ long. Artists are invited to pick a wall and create whatever is in their soul. Once the walls are all painted, the art will be cataloged through photos and then repainted so new, creative art can be painted.
Renovations of The Inn at Pickwick Landing State Park and Conference Center are underway, set to be completed March 2020. Featuring 119 rooms, the Inn will have modern amenities, a new full-service restaurant and lounge. Updated conference areas will enhance any business get together, ensuring a great time for you and your colleagues. Situated on 1,416 acres of forested hills and hollows, you can easily make Pickwick your weekend destination. Hiking, biking, bird watching, fishing and boating can all be enjoyed at this state park. If you prefer a cabin of your own, be sure to rent one of the seven new cabins that have spacious living and dining areas and full-size kitchen, king-size or queen-size beds, gas fireplace, central heat and air, TV, WiFi, patios and more.
The Central Station Memphis, Curio Collection by Hilton is now open 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. Each guest room features artwork that tells the stories of train stop communities in Memphis, Chicago and New Orleans, a king sized bed or two queen-sized beds, personal steamer, refrigerator, curated playlist, 49-inch HDTV and more. Located in the trendy South Main Arts District, you’re conveniently close to a variety of restaurants, music shops, the National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum, Memphis Blues Hall of Fame and a short drive from Elvis Presley’s Graceland and Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
Start planning your 2020 Tennessee vacation to experience these new additions and more.