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New in Tennessee

It should come as no surprise that many of the newest developments in Tennessee tourism have famous names behind them.

Tennessee will always be associated with music, and its sonic history infuses nearly every aspect of the state. A number of attractions have opened in Tennessee over the past two years, with more slated for opening this summer, and many are associated with music greats such as Tina Turner, George Jones, Dolly Parton and the Carter family.

In Nashville, the newly opened George Jones Museum joins a number of other institutions that chronicle the monumental music history in the city. In the eastern part of the state, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum honors Bristol’s role in music, and the upcoming DreamMore Resort at Dollywood is the latest project of country-music legend Parton.

On the western side of the state, the new Tina Turner Museum at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center introduces visitors to the early life of a famous soul singer. And Discovery Park of America brings indoor and outdoor educational attractions to groups visiting Union City.


A Place for Discovery

Union City, a small town in northwest Tennessee, is home to one of the state’s largest new attractions, Discovery Park of America. Opened in 2013, Discovery Park was funded with an $80 million gift from a local family with the intention of providing interactive educational experiences.

The main attraction at Discovery Park is a 100,000-square-foot museum with 10 exhibit galleries that teach visitors about subjects such as energy, space, technology and transportation, as well as regional history, natural history, Native American culture and military history. Highlights include two theaters, a 20,000-gallon aquarium and a 60-foot-tall replica of the human body.

Discovery Park’s 50-acre campus also has a number of outdoor attractions. A water feature originates at an 1800s gristmill and includes various waterfalls and bridges. Visitors can explore log cabins, farm buildings and a 100-year-old church, as well as a replica of the Liberty Bell. 


Tina Was Here

Last September, the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville unveiled its newest attraction: the Tina Turner Museum at Flagg Grove School. This one-room schoolhouse where Turner attended school under her given name, Anna Mae Bullock, was moved from the nearby community of Nutbush to the grounds of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center and transformed into a museum.

The small museum has information on Turner’s childhood in west Tennessee and includes artifacts such as her high school yearbook. It also displays a collection of memorabilia from throughout her career, including gold records and costumes she wore onstage.

In addition to Turner artifacts, the museum also gives visitors a sense of what learning was like for African-American students in West Tennessee in the 1940s and 1950s with displays that include such items as an authentic chalkboard, desks and benches preserved from the school.

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.