Tourism in Tennessee continues to expand with new attractions, impressive state-of-the-art developments and milestone anniversary celebrations of iconic attractions that help shape “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.
2018 marks several milestones in Tennessee, including honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the National Civil Rights Museum on the 50th anniversary of his death as his dream lives on in Memphis, the opening of the new Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, Tennessee Theatre’s 90th Anniversary in Knoxville and the opening of Anakeesta Adventure Park in Gatlinburg. Embrace the history while creating memories at new attractions. Here’s what’s new in 2018 for Tennessee.
Tennessee Music Pathway
The pathway will ultimately include Tennessee music history and points of interest across the state in all 95 counties. The unparalleled impact of Tennessee’s music has been felt worldwide. The current live music scene where visitors may go and listen to the music that shapes the Soundtrack of America is integral to the pathway
Civil Rights Trail
In early 2018, The Civil Rights Trail will launch, highlighting more than 140 sites in 14 states that played a pivotal role in advancing social justice in the 1950s and 1960s, shifting the course of U.S. history
Tennessee Whiskey Trail
The Tennessee Whiskey Trail is made up of approximately 30 distilleries across the state. These distilleries range from small, boutique operations to well-known distilleries that have been crafting legendary Tennessee whiskey for generations. Be sure to get your passport stamped at each stop.
30TH Annual Sheriff Buford Pusser Festival
This festival May 26-28, 2018 includes visits to “Walking Tall” Sheriff Buford Pusser’s Home and Museum, the new McNairy County Courthouse Jail Experience Center, a bus tour and lunch with daughter Dwana Pusser Garrison
The new state natural area adjacent to Burgess Falls State Park, Window Cliffs is a 275-acre escape
BIG SOUTH FORK NATIONAL PARK AREA
Laurel Fork Rustic Retreat
Big South Fork welcomed two new cabins, Shady Haven and Arabian Nights, added to the 10 vacation homes/cabins already featured in the nature area in Jamestown and Oneida, Tenn.
Steele Creek Splash Pad
This safe “zero-depth” water play area is filled with interactive features such as sprinklers, ground nozzles and dumping water buckets.
The Nature Center at Steele Creek
The $1.5 million upgrade at this 2,600-square foot facility includes new exhibits like an island of aquariums and forest displays, giving visitors a new way to see the vast biodiversity.
Songbirds Guitar Museum
Featuring an unparalleled collection of more than 400 rare vintage instruments. Exhibits will be refreshed periodically inviting guests back time and again to enjoy new chapters in guitar history.
Chattanooga Hop Trolley Tour
Hop aboard the Chattanooga Hop Trolley Tour, which takes visitors on a 75-minute tour and stops at 12 iconic attractions and points of interest throughout the city.
Ruby Falls Expansion
America’s deepest commercial cave and largest underground waterfall is amid a multi-year expansion including upgraded operations (lobby, ticketing, parking) and an outdoor observation area.
The MLK/Big 9 District
The historic Martin Luther King Jr. district features the Levitt AMP free concert series, music venues, restaurants, the Bessie Smith Cultural Center and public art, including the 40,000-square-foot MLK mural by world-renowned artist Meg Salignman.
The City Forum
The City Forum, with more than 100,000 square feet of warehouse space, brings the ultimate family experience with high-speed karting, a boutique bowling lounge, and a full-service restaurant called The Loading Dock.
Frank Sutton Statue
Visit a life-size bronze statue of Clarksville native Frank Sutton, sculpted by Clarksville artist Scott Wise. Sutton is best known for his role of Sgt. Vince Carter on TV’s Gomer Pyle. He is buried in the city’s historic Greenwood Cemetery.
Pat Head Summitt Legacy Plaza
Located at Clarksville’s Freedom Point, the plaza honors this sports icon and Montgomery County native. A larger-than-life sized bronze statue of Pat Head Summitt in a classic coaching moment is the highlight.
2018 Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Ohio Valley Conference awarded Cookeville’s Tennessee Tech University with the championships, which will be May 10-12, 2018.
The Cookeville-Putnam County Convention & Visitors Bureau launched VisitCookevilleTN.com, designed to serve as the bureau’s No. 1 marketing tool.
CrossFit Mayhem 3.0 Expansion
Four-time “Fittest Man on Earth” Rich Froning unveiled CrossFit Mayhem 3.0, a fitness/sports destination.
Public Dock Added on Douglas Lake
The Lakeside of the Smokies has added a public dock on Douglas Lake, the perfect place to launch boats, jet skis, kayaks or paddle boards.
Off the Grid Mountain Adventures
Aerial adventure park with a 3,000-foot-long zip line, Hagglund rides, a sky tower for repelling and jumping, as well as a giant swing that can reach 50 mph.
122ND Anniversary Annual Finger Barbecue & Picnic
This festival features bluegrass music and a whole hog barbecue with sides and desserts each October.
Masters & Makers Trail
The trail winds through the scenic beauty of the Williamson County countryside where travelers can visit with the crafters of wine, beer and spirits.
SOAR Adventure Tower
Soar Adventure Mini Golf is the latest addition to the complex, adding 18 holes of putting fun with a nod to its musical surroundings with each hole in the shape of a musical instrument.
Worthington Galleries is packed floor to ceiling with ancient coins and prehistoric pottery to contemporary works of art and everything else in between.
Umbra Coffee Shop
Customers pick from a full espresso bar menu, loose leaf teas and chai lattes, and iced cold-brew coffees.
A 72-acre outdoor aerial adventure park with a Chondola ride, dining, shopping, racing zip line, mountain coaster, tree canopy walk, and children’s playground.
Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster
The coaster along the hillside at traffic light No. 3 will thrill riders as they glide down the track.
Trophy Water Guide Service & Fly Shop
The new business has embraced Watauga River’s trophy trout designation by offering guided fly fishing trips, float and wade trips, as well as a fly fishing and light spin tackle fly shop.
Casey Jones Village “The Farm”
The “hands on” authentic Southern food experience features a very large vegetable garden, a Saturday morning farmers market, as well as a century-old barn and cotton gin building.
Tannery Knobs Bike Park
With trails rated from beginner to advanced, pump tracks and specific skill-building areas, Tannery Knobs will soon be East Tennessee’s premier mountain bike skills park.
East Tennessee State University will welcome football fans this season in its brand new $33 million on-campus stadium.
1906 Train Depot
The train depot, saved from demolition and moved piece by piece from the tiny community of Chuckey, has been restored as a museum honoring the area’s railroad history.
Kingsport Selfie Trail
Grab your selfie stick, download the app and capture your photo in front of the unique spots and artsy murals like the Balloon-Loving Giraffe or Bellafini Chocolates in the Historic Downtown District.
Tiger Forest at Zoo Knoxville
A new habitat for critically endangered Malayan tigers and white-naped cranes, immerses guests in the exotic Orient.
The Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel
Built in Tennessee for Tennesseans by Tennesseans, this locally-owned, 82-room luxury hotel has quickly become Knoxville’s newest talking point.
Everly Brothers Memorial Park
Everly Brothers Memorial Park is a tribute to the duo whose storied musical career has deep roots in Knoxville.
90th Anniversary of Tennessee Theatre
After a $26 million restoration, the movie palace is the region’s leading performing arts center and will celebrate its 90th anniversary in October 2018.
20th Anniversary of WDVX Radio
Knoxville’s listener-supported radio show celebrates 20 years on the air with vintage recordings, interviews with artists, and special concerts.
The Venue at Lenoir City
The 19,000-square-foot venue is the premier space for conferences, weddings, and milestone events.
30TH Anniversary of Tellico Village
The active lifestyle community offers natural beauty, boating, fishing, swimming and waterfront living. This year’s theme is “30 Years and Getting Stronger.”
Manchester Downtown Square
The square is undergoing a major renovation.
50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Death
The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s assassination in Memphis continues at the National Civil Rights Museum.
Elvis Presley’s Memphis at Graceland
The state-of-the-art entertainment and exhibit complex, more than 200,000-square-feet in size, immerses guests in the life and career of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Take a dance class, stock up on locally-sourced produce, explore an art gallery, grab a craft beer from an on-site brewery and do some retail therapy in the former Sears distribution center.
Big River Crossing at Harahan Bridge
Walk, ride or run the 5,000-foot longest public pedestrian bridge spanning the Mississippi River.
The Children’s Museum of Memphis is restoring the 1909 Dentzel Memphis Grand Carousel. Artisans hand-crafted all the wooden elements for future generations to enjoy and learn about historic preservation.
Heart of the Park at Shelby Farms
Recently expanded to 80 acres, enjoy new trails, wetlands, decks, picnic pavilions, boat rentals, and much more.
Old Dominick Distillery Get a taste of new spirits in town: vodka, whiskey and bourbon with distillery tours and tasting rooms built into the old Tennessee Brewery.
IKEA For furniture and appliances to home accessories, visit the only IKEA store in the Mid-South region.
Belle Ridge Retreat
Putnam County’s newest outdoor retreat offers more than 600 acres of outdoor opportunities boasting hiking, UTV, and horseback riding trails.
Mossy Creek Station Festival Park and Pavilion
Join in the fun at one of the family friendly events, including Rockn’ the Creek Summer Concert Series, Mossy Creek BBQ Battle, Old Time Saturday festival, and a Hometown Christmas Celebration.
Steel Barrel Brewery at Hop Springs
Opening in May 2018, this agritourism destination includes a 10-acre hop field, a fermentation lab in conjunction with Middle Tennessee State University, a 2,000-seat amphitheater and Steel Barrel Brewery’s craft brewing facility and taproom.
Opening in 2018, the quickly growing gourmet burger fast-food concept offers customizable, mini gourmet burgers in a welcoming, stylish environment with gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options.
Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant
Cooking up authentic comfort food like the meat-and-three and famous slow-smoked BBQ.
Panther Creek Brews
Panther Creek Brews are small-batch, privately brewed beers that are unique and bold, with all the quality of the major league breweries, but crafted with a personal touch.
NASHVILLE Tennessee State Museum
The new museum opening in Fall 2018 will feature advances in technology and interactive displays, a Tennessee Time Tunnel with a chronological overview of the state’s milestones and 250-seat Digital Learning and Outreach Center.
August Moon Drive-In
Nashville’s 40,000-square-foot dome recreates a 1960s drive-in theater via classic cars, simulated starry sky, burgers and shakes, and the largest non-iMax movie screen in the U.S. Opens in Spring 2018.
Ole Red Nashville
Opening in Spring 2018, country singer Blake Shelton’s two-story bar on lower Broadway features
a performance space, dance floor, and rooftop restaurant with panoramic views of the city.
SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland Resort
The $90 million luxury indoor/outdoor water park for guests features a slide tower, rapid and lazy river, activity pool with rock climbing and pool basketball, waterfalls and wave pool with a giant LED movie screen. Opening Fall 2018.
The historic two-story Federal style house in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood’s turned six-suite boutique will open the Carriage House in the third quarter of 2018. The 2,000 foot addition will encompass two stories and four additional suites, doubling the capacity of Germantown’s only hotel.
James Beard Award-winning chef RJ Cooper leads the kitchen at Henley, located inside the new Kimpton Aertson Hotel in Midtown.
Ray Stevens Cabaray
The Vegas-style venue has a piano lounge, dining, recording studio and entertainment by multi-Grammy winner, Ray Stevens.
Patsy Cline Museum
Visitors can explore the life and legend of country music’s top female entertainer of all time, presented in an interactive, state-of-the-art setting.
The cultural experience offers a unique blend of culture, art, music, entertainment, food, services and retail in one location. It is in the style of traditional marketplace streets from old Mexico.
Madame Tussauds Nashville Take a musical journey from past to present in this one-of-a-kind, music themed wax museum.
30th Anniversary of Nashville Shakespeare Festival
The Nashville Shakespeare Festival celebrates 30 years. The season kicks off with Hamlet in January. The playwright’s works come to life in Centennial Park with food trucks, vendors and preshow entertainment for Shakespeare in the Park in August/September 2018.
Woolworth on 5th
A 1930s five-and-dime that became the site of historic sit-ins, downtown Nashville’s Woolworth gets new life as a restaurant serving up soul food with a local, healthy spin.
Crafter’s Beer Market and Social
Oak Ridge’s first Craft Beer & Market Social will have more than 24 craft beers on tap, a spacious outdoor patio, and endless activities.
8th Rowing Lane on Melton Lake
An 8th rowing lane added another reason to make it “America’s Favorite Rowing Venue.”
Old Hickory Centennial Celebration
Celebrate the centennial June 1-3, 2018 with historic tours, music and food at the marina, golf courses and Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage.
The new home of Bluegrass Underground opens March 2018, located at the foot of Monteagle Mountain in the rolling hills of Grundy County. Artists on the 2018 lineup include Brandi Carlile, The Sam Bush Band, Flatt Lonesome, The Turnpike Troubadours and Kathy Mattea.
Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner & Show
This high-energy dinner theater production tells a tale of Dolly Parton’s family history.
Pigeon Forge Snow
The indoor facility uses state-of-the-art patented technology to provide real snow all year long, highlighted by 15 lanes for snow tubing.
Summit Tower and Cascades Waterpark
The 98 suites were designed to combine modern resort amenities with Smoky Mountain charm and a 30,000-square-foot waterpark.
Margaritaville Island Inn
Beach perfection in a sea of mountains featuring 104 cozy, coastal-inspired rooms.
Big Hill Pond State Park
Kayaks and canoes are now for rent. The site features 28 camping sites, horseback trails, and 30 miles of hiking trails. In October 2018, BHPSP will feature the park’s first 50k/25k runs.
Country musician Ronnie McDowell has remodeled his grand home into a concert venue.
McNairy County Courthouse Jail Experience Center
The McNairy County Courthouse Jail will become an experience center based around Sheriff Buford Pusser and his legend.
Walking Trail of Music Legends
Introduces local music legends as you make your way through historic Selmer.
Tennessee Legend Distillery
Visit the retail store on Highway 66 in Sevierville for delicious moonshine and gifts
Sevier Distilling Company
Schedule a behind-the-scenes tour and watch as every drop is fermented, distilled and bottled by master craftsmen at Sevierville’s newest distillery
Smyrna Outdoor Adventure Center
Programs are geared towards bringing people inside to enjoy the activities, yet also getting them outside to experience any of the 10 parks within the Smyrna Parks system
Pull up a rocking chair and enjoy the taste of tradition. The moonshine distillery cooks its carefully crafted shine inside an old-fashioned copper still.
Rico Figliolini has published and owns blog sites related to travel and leisure, casting and entertainment news, parks and recreation and social media marketing. Traveling a weekend at a time with family and friends.