Tourism in Tennessee continues to expand with new attractions, impressive state-of-the-art developments, expansions and milestone anniversary celebrations of iconic attractions that help shape “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.”
2019 marks several milestones in Tennessee, including Memphis’ Bicentennial, Bijou Theatre’s 110th anniversary in Knoxville, and the 25th anniversary of the RC MoonPie Festival in Bell Buckle. Embrace the history, relive the stories and create memories. Here’s what’s new in 2019 for Tennessee.
Photos can be downloaded here. All photos courtesy of Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, unless otherwise noted in copyright.
The pathways connect the traveler to the people, places and genres that make Tennessee the Soundtrack of America, from the largest cities to the smallest communities. Whether it is a story of the past, a star of the present or promise of the future, historic or live, Tennessee Music Pathways go where the music does.
Songs penned in Tennessee make the Soundtrack of America. A new state statute passed, annually designating the last full week of February as “Tennessee Songwriters Week.” The week is designed to celebrate the foundation of the craft, recognize songwriters and pave the way for future artists.
Baxter Seminary Park
Baxter Seminary Park will include a new live music amphitheater and walking trails, set to open in 2019.
A quarter century celebration of the ultimate Southern tradition: RC Cola and MoonPies will be packed with fun and a reunion of the past 25 year’s Kings and Queens on June 15, 2019.
Walk through the pages of storybooks in the exhibit “Reading Appalachia: Voices from Children’s Literature” February-June 2019.
The exhibit “American Ballads: The Photographs of Marty Stuart” Aug. 2019-Jan. 2020 features photos of the people and places captured by the country music star since he first went on tour with Lester Flatt at age 13.
100th Birthday of Tennessee Ernie Ford
Bristol native Ernie Ford was most notably known for his hit song “Sixteen Tons,” which sold 20 million copies. During his birthday week starting Feb. 13, there will be celebrations featuring his son, Buck.
The new distillery produces small batch gin, rum and Tennessee whiskey. Lost State has a tasting room, production area, retail area and event space.
The new welcome center and solar farm greets visitors traveling on I-40. An interactive exhibit, designed by the University of Tennessee, highlights the state’s advancements in renewable energy.
The interpretive center and National Park Service-certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail will expand with new exhibits and an education room.
The new upscale, five-story boutique hotel includes 90 rooms, meeting space, upscale décor, rooftop bar, local art and a restaurant.
A dedication ceremony for an unveiling of a memorial honoring the five service members killed in the July 2015 terrorist attack on two local military sites will be in July 2019 at Tennessee Riverpark.
The new boutique hotel includes 102 rooms, free Wi-Fi, cushy beds, stylish design, vibrant community spaces, in-room storage (enough to fit a bicycle) and a bar.
The Moon River Festival moves from Memphis to Coolidge Park in Chattanooga. The two-day family-friendly festival Sept. 7-8, 2019 highlights the music and culture of Tennessee.
Undergoing $20 million in renovations, the hotel will upgrade the 242 guest rooms with new technology and bathroom furnishings, as well as redesign the lobby, ballroom and restaurant.
Ruby Falls unveiled a $20 million expansion with upgrades like an outdoor observation area, improved ticketing experience, expanded retail, LED lights and additional parking.
The Signal is Chattanooga’s newest live music venue. The 1,300-capacity warehouse plans to host all genres of music, receptions, fundraisers, corporate events and conferences.
The sports complex expands with seven new soccer fields including a championship field complete with bleachers, a press box, a new concession facility, restrooms and parking.
Cookeville’s only craft coffee roaster’s new storefront pairs with brands such as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey to create locally roasted flavors and blends.
Saltbox Inn & Stables now includes hosting areas at The Loft, Three Trees Ceremony Site, and The Greenhouse. The new lodging, Pumphouse Cabin, is directly on the property’s waterfall.
The new 25,000 square feet of retail space on 42 acres features 1,200 parking spaces with Publix, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Ulta, Michael’s and more.
A staple in East Tennessee, Tennessee Legend Distillery expands with a new sipping shop and free tastings at the historic Putnam County Courthouse.
The historic museum in the basement of the Rhea County Courthouse is now open after upgrades and renovations. It’s the site of the 1925 Scopes Trial over the teaching of evolution.
The Harpeth Hotel
The Harpeth Hotel will be located along Franklin’s iconic Main Street. The four-diamond, 119-room luxury hotel will feature a gourmet chef-led restaurant, spa, whiskey-focused bar, and walkability to Main Street. Franklin will open an additional six hotels in 2019, totally over 1,000 rooms.
Carter House Visitor Center
The Carter House, one of three historic museums on the battlefield of the Civil War’s Battle of Franklin, will open a new visitor center with a museum and orientation center, similar to its sister property, Carnton.
Eric and Samantha Coghlan, who began their winemaking in California at the Coghlan Vineyard in 2008, now bring their award-winning wines and minimalist farming approach to Leiper’s Fork Winery.
231 Public Square & Ruby Sunshine
The newly renovated mixed-use development on the square on Franklin’s iconic Main Street downtown will feature Ruby Sunshine – a new concept from New Orleans’ famed The Ruby Slipper Cafe, along with locally-owned boutique shops and a rooftop restaurant and bar.
The new Grit, Grace and Grub food and bluegrass festival Sept. 7, 2019 will take visitors on a grub tour offering a taste of Gallatin’s local eateries.
Opening Spring 2019, Blake Shelton’s Ole Red Gatlinburg features a two-story bar and restaurant, retail area, performance space, dance floor, outdoor terrace and Southern fare like hot chicken and waffles.
The brand new all-ages science center offers fun interactive programs and exhibits including a musical Tesla coil, giant building blocks and a maker studio inviting guests to engineer a rocket, create a masterpiece and uncover something new.
Hardin County Bicentennial 2019
Hardin County marks its rich heritage – history, museums, natural beauty, recreation opportunities, downtown music and southern cuisine – with a year-long celebration through Nov. 13, 2019.
Upgrades continue with a larger aviary, adding bee hives and a clover garden. A makeover of the Inn begins in February 2019.
50th Anniversary Celebration
The city of Hendersonville plans to hold a 50th anniversary celebration at the end of July 2019.
Mary’s Magical Place is an all-inclusive playground designed and created where children, ranging from able-bodied to those in wheelchairs, can play.
Local business owners can now rent out three new retail storefronts, repurposed from shipping containers, just steps away from the West Tennessee Farmers Market.
The city will host special events, launch a restaurant week, announce a new project in King Common’s Park, host a New Year’s Eve Kick-Off party and birthday party Dec.1, 2019 to celebrate the city’s sesquicentennial.
The new bike park is a skills park for all ages on 40 acres of wooded terrain. Riders can experience the thrill of off-roading on biking trails, hiking and running opportunities. The park is within riding distance from downtown Johnson City’s shops, breweries and restaurants.
Historic District Openings
Twelve new businesses are now open in the historic district: Mill Spring Makers Market, Pink Whale Boutique, Angela’s Vintage Boutique, Bewitched Boutique, Gabriel’s Christmas and East Tennessee Hemp Company. New restaurants include Texas Burritos and More, Fork and Barrel, Eureka Bites and Icing on the Cake. The Roots Studio Art Gallery is now open also.
A new preservation project is underway to fully renovate the 1940s Jackson Theatre. The facility will serve as a music venue, theater and independent film house. The first phase will be completed in 2019.
Baker Creek Bottoms is now open with access to Knoxville Urban Wilderness, more than 50 miles of trails and four historic Civil War sites.
Knoxville will host the Bassmaster Classic for the first time March 15-17, 2019. At “the Super Bowl of bass fishing,” 50 anglers will compete for $1 million in prizes.
Bijou Theatre 110th Anniversary
The historic Bijou Theatre will mark its 110-year anniversary on March 15, 2019 with programming and special celebrations leading up to the milestone.
Tennessee Valley Fair 100th Anniversary
The Tennessee Valley Fair marks its centennial, dedicated to showcasing East Tennessee heritage, agriculture and the arts with contests, crafts, food and music Sept. 6-15, 2019.
Located just outside the Greens at Deerfield, Tennessee’s newest winery, Chapman Hill Winery is a perfect finish to a fun-filled day of golf or lake life.
The Historic Loudon Theatre has opened its new stage in the courtyard, highlighting the major renovations to the stage, lobby and seating area.
25th Anniversary of the TN Soybean Festival
The 25th Silver Anniversary Soybean Festival in September 2019 will pay tribute to soybean farmers with events like a tractor rodeo and toy pedal tractor pull show.
Memphis in May joins the bicentennial celebration with a new event, Celebrate Memphis on May 25, 2019. The event will honor the city’s rich heritage, colorful history and ring in a new century of soul.
Downtown Memphis is getting a fresh jolt with five new hotels: Arrive Memphis (with a donut shop & basement bar), Hotel Indigo, Curio by Hilton, Moxy Hotel (steps from Beale St.) and Hilton Garden Inn.
The entertainment complex will feature new exhibits, including “Elvis through His Daughter’s Eyes,” “Hillbilly Rock,” “Elvis Gospel,” and the “50th Anniversary Exhibit Celebrating Elvis’ Historic 1968 Comeback Special.”
The company now brings 60 stations and 600 bike share systems to downtown, South Memphis, Cooper Young, Orange Mound, Overton Square and Crosstown.
One of the longest-running college football bowl games in the U.S. turns 60 Dec. 31, 2019.
Opening in early 2019, the Malco Powerhouse Memphis will bring a VIP experience movie theater downtown with recliner-style cushioned seats, bar and café featuring brick oven pizzas.
Peabody Hotel 150th Anniversary
Where blues musicians created influential recordings, Elvis Presley signed his first major record contract and five resident ducks march daily through the lobby. To celebrate the anniversary, the Peabody will have special offers and events year-round.
Memphis welcomes the United Soccer League’s inaugural season at AutoZone Park in March 2019. The pro soccer team name, 901 FC, pays homage to historic Beale Street.
The golf tournament formerly known as the WGC Bridgestone Invitation moves from Akron, Ohio to Memphis in summer 2019 and will take place at TPC Southwind.
The retreat now offers miles of ATV and hiking trails and ample camping options.
The Fountains at Gateway has a new conference center with a walkable retail district including a variety of restaurants and shops, as well as corporate putting greens and pocket parks for relaxation.
Opened in late Dec. 2018, the new craft brewery spans more than 80 acres with a taproom, concert venue, wet & dry dog park and 18-hole disc golf course.
Country star Dierks Bentley welcomes visitors to Whiskey Row. Located on Nashville’s historic Broadway, the restaurant serves live music and American gastropub cuisine with a modern twist.
Hatch Show Print 140th Anniversary
Hatch Show Print marks its 140th anniversary. In operation since 1879, the historic letterpress shop designs and prints 500-600 different posters a year and provides artwork for diverse projects.
Heaven’s Door Distillery
Legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan plans to open the Heaven’s Door Whiskey Distillery in 2019 in a church building constructed in 1871 south of Broadway.
Visitors staying in Nashville’s SoBro neighborhood have a playful new option in Margaritaville Hotel, set to open in fall 2019. The hotel will feature 217 rooms, event space and two dining concepts.
Merle Haggard Museum
The Merle Haggard Museum and restaurant will open in 2019 featuring instruments, clothing, memorabilia, awards and other artifacts belonging to the legend.
Nashville hosts the NFL Draft for the first time April 25-27, 2019 with events in venues across downtown.
The new art-centric hotel melds a 1930s foundation with a 21st century attitude, resulting in a luxury hotel surrounded by downtown’s skyline. The hotel has a restaurant, bar and coffee shop.
Country singer Blake Shelton’s new two-story bar on lower Broadway features a performance space, dance floor, and rooftop restaurant with panoramic views of the city.
The newly-opened luxury indoor/outdoor water park showcases a slide tower, rapid and lazy river, activity pool with rock climbing and basketball and wave pool with a giant LED movie screen.
The new museum tells the state’s story through the “Tennessee Time Tunnel,” combining artifacts, exhibits, personal stories, thought-provoking interactive experiences and a 250-seat Digital Learning and Outreach Center.
The Center now offers guided fly-fishing and kayaking excursions on the Clinch River.
The new Clinch River Brewery is the only craft brewery in Anderson County. It features a beer garden and restaurant on site at the Appalachian Outdoor Center.
Travelers now have the chance to take self-guided or guided tours within the walls of the infamous former maximum security prison, once known as “the end of the line” for the state’s most dangerous criminals, including James Earl Ray. Other experiences include moonshine, live music and a restaurant.
In 2019, Sweetwater Valley Farm will be Tennessee’s first Lely XL dairy farm, milking 500 cows with robotic technology. Renovations are now underway with a new tour for guests in 2019.
Dollywood’s new $37 million expansion includes Wildwood Grove, set to open in 2019. The expansion includes 11 guest experiences, including a suspended family roller coaster called the Dragonflier – the 55 ft. tall Wildwood Tree, live entertainment, indoor and outdoor play areas, a new restaurant and more.
The National Enquirer Museum
Plans are underway for the new National Enquirer Museum, which would contain one interactive exhibit that would give visitors the option to create their own tabloid headlines to share online.
Anchored by the 200-foot-tall Mountain Monster coaster, the new Tower Shops at Mountain Mile features 180,000 square feet of retail and family entertainment.
Yee-Haw Brewing Company now offers guests an immersive experience into its one-of-a-kind, locally-brewed craft beer options.
In a new customizing experience, guests can build Ridez (the size of a football) with 649 million possible combinations between body styles and colors, rims and tires, lights and sounds, accessories and decals.
The historic site and living history museum unveiled $2 million of upgrades visitors can enjoy, including re-roofing the museum/interpretive center, ADA accessibility and parking areas and new fencing. Rocky Mount hosts special events, such as Wooly Day, Spirit of the Harvest and Candlelight Christmas Tours.
The Walking Tall 50K/25k will have 15.5 miles made up almost entirely of single track trail. It will feature a fire tower to climb and a swamp boardwalk almost a half-mile across.
Hwy 109 at Main Street Project
A pavilion project with the design of a strawberry crate, including large strawberries for children to climb on is set to be completed in early 2019.
The state park now has additional biking trails on the east and west sides of the dam, linking the Norris Watershed and bike trails at Norris Dam.
A new structure is slated for October 2019 on Court Square downtown with products homegrown or handmade within 100 miles.
The McNairy Planetarium is a new updated astronomical machine, which exhibits the most remarkable phenomena, motions and revolutions of the universe for public entertainment or education.
Visitors will be able to freely move around the space once occupied by the Legendary Sheriff Buford Pusser.
“Tennessee’s First Hero” Exhibit
The new exhibit at Sevierville Visitor Center honors John Sevier, the man who reshaped the U.S. with westward expansion, gave Sevierville its name and served as Tennessee’s first governor.
This newly-opened, 88-room farm-inspired hotel features hardwood flooring in every room and luxurious linens.
A new memorial with a Blue Angel F/A-18c Hornet honors the legacy of Marine Captain Jeff Kuss, who, at 32 years-old, tragically lost his life when his jet crashed before the Great Tennessee Air Show.
There are new upgrades to the stage, sound and lighting at the depot that hosts events like the Simply Smyrna Celebration, farmer’s market and Depot Days.
Upgrades at Reelfoot Lake State Park include seven new cabins at the Spillway on the lakefront, new playground & exercise equipment, new walking track and lakefront park.
The adventure park and museum will get new trams to take visitors to outside exhibits. There will also be two new hotels built next door with a pavilion for picnics and plans for a farmer’s market.
The interior of the museum is undergoing a complete renovation with new displays, high-tech audio-visual presentations and artifacts to present the life stories of the famous Cherokee, Sequoyah.
OTHER STATE INITIATIVES
Ten Tennessee stops along the new U.S. Civil Rights Trail include the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Woolworth on 5th in Nashville and Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton, which played a pivotal role in advancing social justice in the 1950s and 1960s, shifting the course of U.S. history.
The Tennessee Whiskey Trail is made up of approximately 30 distilleries across the state, ranging from small, boutique operations to well-known distilleries crafting legendary Tennessee whiskey for generations. Be sure to get your passport stamped at each stop to receive a commemorative gift.