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From Electric to Eclectic in Nashville

The hits just keep on coming in Music City USA.

Nashville, Tennessee, steadily rose to fame throughout the 20th century as the capital of the country music industry and the home of the Grand Ole Opry. Marquee attractions such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Opryland Hotel made the city a popular destination for tourists from around the region. But in the past decade, a new string of high-profile openings and sizzling media attention, including the hit TV drama “Nashville,” have made Music City more popular than ever.

Today, groups have many reasons to include the Nashville area in their travel plans. In addition to the longtime favorite attractions, the city has a bevy of new experiences waiting to give visitors unprecedented access to the area’s music, art and history. And in the surrounding suburbs, groups can enjoy a slower pace of life and authentic charm that provides a relaxing counterpoint to the excitement of Nashville.

Downtown Developments

Much of Nashville’s tourism scene is based in the downtown district, which is home to several major attractions and many of the honky-tonk music clubs packed with visitors night after night to hear up-and-coming performers. The growth of interest in downtown has outpaced the growth of the area’s hotel inventory, with the increased demand sending downtown room rates sky high. But help is on the way in the form of numerous new hotel projects in the city center.

“There’s a projected 14,000 hotel rooms in development in our area currently,” said LouAnna Henton, senior tourism sales manager for the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation. “A lot of that development is in the downtown area. Between now and the end of the year, there are five properties expected to open in downtown.”

Those hotels include a 500-room JW Marriott opening this summer. Groups may be particularly interested in a new Drury Plaza that will open on Third Avenue in 2020.

“We expect to see some relief in room prices coming down,” Henton said. “That’s great for our tour and travel market. It’s going to give them some access to downtown that they haven’t had in several years.”

Whether they stay downtown or not, groups spending time there will be able to enjoy a variety of new attractions. On the site of the old Nashville Convention Center, a new multiuse development called Fifth and Broadway is expected to open in 2019 with retail stores and a food hall that features local companies. The development will also be the home of the new National Museum of African American Music.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.

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