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Fun Travels Across the United States

TENNESSEE 

News
Bristol
Chattanooga
Gaitlinburg
Knoxville
Lynchburg
Memphis
Nashville
Pigeon Forge

NEWS (Cities & towns follow after the News)

14 Reasons to Travel to Chattanooga This Summer

Women’s Enduro Bike Event Comes to Knoxville, Tenn.

The Ugly Truth of Wildlife Poaching: Alcatraz East Temporary Exhibit Opening Soon --- New Pigeon Forge attraction will host a special temporary exhibit on the wildlife trafficking trade

Tennessee Aquarium Gives Guests Some Adorable Reasons to Look Up -- Opening of Lemur Forest Taps Vertical Space, Tells An Important Conservation Story

Here's What's New in Tennessee for 2017:

In 2017, Tennessee celebrates the 40th anniversary of Elvis Week, the 50th of The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, the 90th anniversary of the Bristol Sessions (also known as the “Big Bang of Country Music”), and the 125th anniversary of Ryman Auditorium. And for foodies, Chattanooga’s MoonPie turns 100. Embrace the history while making memories at new attractions.

STATEWIDE

Tennessee State Parks celebrates 80 years of preserving Tennessee’s most precious natural areas including waterfalls, forests, rivers and streams.

Tennessee is a premier destination to view the Aug. 17, 2017 solar eclipse as the state is in the eclipse’s direct path. Top locations to view the eclipse are areas like Clarksville, Cleveland, Clingman’s Dome, Crossville, Dayton, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Sparta, and Sweetwater to name a few.

BRISTOL

The 90th Anniversary of the Bristol Sessions, regarded as the “Big Bang of Country Music” and, according to Johnny Cash, “the single most important event in the history of country music,” takes place in 2017.

CHATTANOOGA

April 29, 2017 marks 100 years since the invention of the MoonPie, first created by the Chattanooga Bakery as a snack “as big as the moon” for coalminers.

Songbirds Guitar Museum opens early 2017 with a never-before-seen collection of nearly 300 rare vintage guitars on the campus of the world-famous Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Tennessee Aquarium, celebrating 25 years in 2017, has recently built a state-of-the-art, 14,000-square-foot conservation riverfront facility on the Baylor School campus that serves as the only freshwater science center in the Southeast.

Chattanooga is the first city to host four IRONMAN events: the 2017 IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championships of professional and age-group women Sept. 9, 2017 and the professional and age-group men Sept. 10, 2017. Hosting this event makes Chattanooga: 1 of 5 cities in North America to host both a full-distance IRONMAN and a 70.3 IRONMAN; 1 of 10 cities in the world to host both a full-distance IRONMAN and a 70.3 IRONMAN; and the only city in the world to host a full-distance IRONMAN, a 70.3 IRONMAN and the 70.3 IRONMAN World Championships (two events, two days).

COOKEVILLE

Cookeville will join the Harley-Davidson Motor Company July 11-15, 2017 to host the first Southern Backroads H.O.G. Rally, a regional motorcycle rally drawing thousands of riders from across the globe.

Red Silo Brewing Company has opened the first micro-brewery in Cookeville-Putnam County. Specializing in small batch craft brews, the new downtown destination offers tastings, tours, and partners with DelMonaco Winery as a signature stop on their popular Wine & Stein tours.

CrossFit Mayhem, owned by four-time “Fittest Man on Earth” Rich Froning, has expanded to offer more space for visitors and retail. The new facility is a true fitness/sports destination. In addition to incredible CrossFit workout opportunities in the home gym of “Fittest Man in History,” it has a wellness center with a chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapists, and a nutritionist. A business lounge, education space, and retail are also included.

Mountain Bike Trail is now open at Cane Creek Park. Built for all riders in mind, from novice to expert, it's a first for the area. Currently at 1.3 miles, it is built for laps and designed for expansion.

Rail WITH Trail is now open. Walk, run, jog, bike, and explore more than four miles of outdoor pathways adjacent to the Tennessee Central Railway (LIVE RAIL). Trailheads are located at the Cookeville Depot Museum and the Algood Community Center.

Jig Head Brewing and Hix Farm Brewery are planning to open early 2017.

GATLINBURG

Anakeesta Aerial Adventure Park is scheduled to open in 2017 and is Gatlinburg’s newest family-friendly vacation destination with a more than 70-acre mountainside adventure park that include aerial trekking, zip lines, canopy walks, and scenic overlooks.

KNOXVILLE

The Tennessean Hotel is Knoxville’s first personal luxury hotel with 82 rooms overlooking World’s Fair Park and Knoxville Convention Center set to open April 2017 in downtown Knoxville.

Knoxville Zoo is now Zoo Knoxville, emphasizing its commitment to animals first and foremost.

The Mill & Mine is Knoxville’s new, 20,000 square-foot music hall that can accommodate a crowd of more than 1,200 in the heart of the historic downtown district.

Chef Jesse Newmister has created Kaizen Izakaya, with a lunch selection of Dan Dan noodles and Thai glass noodle salad, in downtown Knoxville. Izakaya is a place where Japanese men would go after work for sake and drinks before going home for dinner.

Maple Hall is the new underground boutique bowling alley with a full bar of a few featured cocktails and six taps, and restaurant.

Devil’s Racetrack along with two other Urban Wilderness Gravity Trails have opened in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. Beginner to double black diamond trails were created with IMBA and Bell Built Helmets after winning a nationwide grant.

LOUDON COUNTY

The Lenoir City Events Center has opened. Featuring 19,000 sq. ft. of event space, the large ballroom can accommodate up to 700 guests and approx. 1,000 guests for reception-style events. State of the art audiovisual systems, eco-friendly features, a covered outdoor patio and garden area complete the space.

City of Loudon will celebrate its 200th Anniversary in 2017.

The Stimpson Seashell Museum, anticipated to be the world’s largest publicly viewable seashell collection, will showcase thousands of rare and hard-to-find shells from across the globe and is scheduled to open 2017 in Loudon.

MEMPHIS

“Elvis Presley’s Memphis” at Graceland®’s a 200,000-square-foot, $45 million entertainment complex across the street from Elvis’™ iconic Graceland Mansion will open Spring 2017. It will be five times the size of the current visitor center, and will present the life, career and legacy of the greatest entertainer with interactive and immersive pop culture experiences that connect to Elvis’ personal interests and activities throughout his life, including his passion for automobiles and new technology.

The Guest House at Graceland has officially opened as guests can step inside the mind and style of Elvis himself to enjoy the 450-room hotel that includes two restaurants, meeting and special event spaces and a 464-seat theater for live performances and movies.

Elvis Week celebrates its 40th Anniversary and welcomes fans from around the world August 2017 with a full schedule of fun events including the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, music and conferences. The highlight will be the Candlelight Vigil where guests can pay respects to the King at Meditation Garden.

A new exhibit and interactive kiosk about activities related to the natural, recreational and cultural/historic amenities located along the Mississippi River in Memphis and the region of the Great River Road – National Scenic Byway and Trail is be installed at the TDOT Visitors Center (I-40 & Riverside Dr.) 2017 in downtown Memphis.

Heart of the Park at Shelby Farms Park features a larger variety of native trees, shrubs, and other vegetation, making way for new trails, wetlands, an 80-acre Patriot Lake, decks, and boat rentals and a pavilion for events and music.

IKEA, the only store in the Mid-South region has opened.

Harahan Bridge / Big River Crossing has opened and is a 5,000-ft. trail path with spectacular views of the Mississippi River, connecting Downtown Memphis and Arkansas.

Memphis Cook Convention Center will get a fresh look on the outside and state-of-the-art upgrades on the inside courtesy of a $55-60 million renovation, slated for completion Fall 2017.

Old Dominick Distillery, a 150-year-old brand, will provide Memphis with vodka, whiskey and bourbon and will offer tours, tasting rooms and an event space by early 2017.

MURFREESBORO

Jazzmatazz, a new 7,200 sq. ft. live music venue that is a Cajun restaurant by day and an upscale hotspot by night has opened in Murfreesboro.

Puckett’s Grocery has opened a new restaurant on the historic Murfreesboro square.

Fountains at Gateway, a Class A office and retail development in Murfreesboro, has recently opened and is a mixed-use development that includes popular restaurants such as Tom + Chee and Brixx Wood Fired Pizza.

NASHVILLE

Several musical landmarks in Nashville are celebrating major anniversaries in 2017 including Ryman Auditorium’s 125th; Country Music Hall of Fame’s 50th; Bluebird Cafe’s 35th; Historic RCA Studio B’s 60th and Tin Pan South’s 25th.

Nudie’s Honky Tonk, an ode to rhinestone cowboy couture founded by Nudie Cohn has opened. New honky tonks like Almost Famous and Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row will open in 2017.

Nashville Zoo is slated to open the Spider Monkey Exhibit, which features an elevated boardwalk for guests to enter a treetop viewing platform where several spider monkeys can been seen and Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear where guests can discover South America's mysterious bears of the clouded forest and an array of other South American species in early 2017. The Sumatran Tiger Exhibit is slated to open Summer 2017.

The iconic Madame Tussauds comes to Music City in 2017 at Opry Mills. “Madame Tussauds Soundtrack of America” celebrates Nashville’s large influence on today’s music and culture with lifelike figures like Johnny Cash, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Minnie Pearl.

Tennessee's No. 1 historic attraction, Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, commemorates President Jackson's 250th birthday in 2017. The festivities will kick off on March 15, 2017, and will continue throughout the year with events at The Hermitage and across the nation.

PICKWICK LANDING

The five new cabins at Pickwick Landing State Park include a gas log fireplace, a full-size kitchen with refrigerator, stove, microwave and dishwasher, dishes, drinking glasses and silverware, a large flat screen TV in the living room and a flat screen TV in each of the bedrooms, equipped with queen to king-sized beds. The majority of the cabins’ furnishings were made in Tennessee.

PIGEON FORGE

Alcatraz East Crime Museum opened Fall 2016 and gives guests the behind-the-scenes story of U.S. crime history with items like John Dillinger’s death mask, Al Capone’s rosary, O.J. Simpson’s Bronco, an FBI polygraph machine, Al Pacino’s submachine gun from the movie Scarface, and the latest law enforcement technology on display.

SEVIERVILLE

Sunglass Hut, Aerie and ASICS outlets along with Smith Creek Moonshine Distillery are now open at Tanger Outlets Sevierville.

Apple Barn & Cider Mill, a working apple orchard that features bakers, candy makers, an ice cream shop and a winery, plans to begin offering their own blend of hard cider in 2017.

2017 will be the 30th anniversary of the unveiling of the Dolly Parton Statue in historic downtown Sevierville. A museum is being planned with exhibits on the artist and statue at the Sevierville Visitor Center.

SMYRNA

Uptown Suites is slated to open in 2017 in Smyrna.

TIPTONVILLE

A new Interpretive Visitors Center at Reelfoot Lake State Park, slated to open in 2017, will have an “eagle” architectural design and will tell the history of this unusual Delta region with interactive, interior exhibits.

UNION CITY

Discovery Park of America has announced a major expansion with a unique “Children’s Discovery Garden” opening early 2017. Discovery Park will also enhance the STEM Landing display Spring 2017 with the addition of the Titan 1 Missile, the largest structure at Discovery Park.

Tennessee is the birthplace of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll— delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history, and family adventure, infused with music, that creates a vacation that is the “Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.”  Tennessee’s tourism industry generates $18.4 billion in economic impact, more than $1.6 billion in state and local sales tax revenue and more than 157,400 tourism-related jobs.

Explore more at tnvacation.com and join other Tennessee travelers by following “tnvacation” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.

Sky Dive

Whether it’s an individual skydive or visitors would like to enroll in diving school, Tennessee provides the means to get a bird’s eye view of fall color as participants jump from a plane and descend to a soft landing. With expert jumpers with years of experience, guests can suit up with skydiving companies like Sky Dive Tennessee in Tullahoma; Adventure Sky Diving in Nashville; and Sky Dive King Air in Whiteville (40 miles east of Memphis).

Hiking

Travel the Short Springs State Natural Area trail as it opens to Machine Falls in Tullahoma with its endless cascading water and opportunities for great photos. The 1.6-mile trail is a loop that’ll take hikers to the falls and back. For a longer hike, folks can cross the bridge to get to the other side of the waterfall. Step carefully as the path can sometimes be slippery.

Located near Smithville, Tennessee, the hike to Carmac Falls is a bit steep to get to but the reward is ample. It’s situated on the property of Evins Mill Resort, so call ahead and reserve the day picnic/hike package that’s listed for $20. It’s a great way to spend a romantic afternoon or family outing.

Driving along the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway, travelers can stop off at milepost 404.7 to stretch and enjoy Jackson Falls that are beautifully sculpted as they cascade from the Duck River. A steep trail, about 900-ft. long, leads to the falls’ base.

Tennessee is the birthplace of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll— delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history, and family adventure, infused with music, that creates a vacation that is the “Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.”  Tennessee’s tourism industry generates $18.4 billion in economic impact, more than $1.6 billion in state and local sales tax revenue and more than 157,400 tourism-related jobs.

Explore more at tnvacation.com and join other Tennessee travelers by following “tnvacation” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.

The song “Chattanooga Choo Choo” turns 75 and will be celebrated in the Scenic City.

The Big River Crossing opening late 2016 will be the world’s longest active rail/bicycle/pedestrian bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River and connects downtown Memphis, TN with Arkansas.

For details and more information, contact the Tennessee Dept. of Tourist Development, 312 Rosa L Parks Avenue 13th Floor, Nashville, TN 37243 United States

Tennessee Aquarium Announces New Facility For Conservation Institute

Take A Trip to America's Most Visited Distillery - Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery Offers a True Moonshine Experience!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Ranked As One of the Top Places for Wildlife Viewing

Like Fudge? Then don't miss stopping at Forbus General Store   

Tennessee Civil War Trails Map-Guide Now Available

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development announced that the Tennessee Civil War Trails map-guides are now available, marking the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The map-guides chart nearly 200 Civil War sites throughout the state and serve as a tool to reach and inspire users to discover Tennessee’s rich Civil War history.

Tennessee’s Civil War Trails program, part of a multi-state Civil War Trails initiative, interprets and creates driving tours of both the great campaigns and the lesser-known Civil War sites. Tennessee, second only to Virginia in Civil War sites, joins North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia in this important project. The entire program has been identified by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the most successful and sustainable heritage tourism programs in the nation.

Visitors can request the map-guides via www.civilwartraveler.com, www.tncivilwar150.com or by calling (615) 741-2159.

Tennessee, the only entire state designated as a Civil War National Heritage area, currently has 150 newly interpreted trail markers as part of this program, with an additional 150 sites currently in the works. Each newly interpreted site encourages visitors to explore the markers along the trail at one’s own pace. In addition, Tennessee’s Civil War Trail offers many additional historical and recreational opportunities including preserved battlefields, hundreds of antique and specialty shops, taverns and restaurants, and much more.

The five-state Civil War Trails program creates a cross promotion marketing effort that places 2.5 million map-guides in the hands of travelers. The entire program identifies more than 1,000 places that tell the stories of civilians and soldiers during the Civil War in Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

BRISTOL

Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops, America’s most popular outdoor store, has reached a binding agreement to be a part of the new Pinnacle mixed use development located at the northeast quadrant of the Exit 74 intersection of Interstate 81 and Highway 11 W in Bristol, Tennessee. This new Bass Pro Shops® mega outdoors store will serve the Tri-Cities area and greater region of Bristol VA/TN, Kingsport and Johnson City, TN with over 3 million people in a 100-mile radius.

Bass Pro Shops’ unique, award-winning, mega-sized outdoor stores are known for combining retail with entertainment, conservation and outdoor education.
More than just a fishing and hunting store, the new over 100,000 square foot Bass Pro Shops will also offer equipment and clothing for hiking, backpacking, wildlife viewing, camping, outdoor cooking and more. A gift and nature center will also serve up a wide variety of outdoor-related items from lamps and dishes to bird feeders and furniture.

The expansive boat showroom will feature Tracker, Nitro, SunTracker, Tahoe, Grizzly and Mako boats built by Tracker Marine Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of fishing boats.

About Bass Pro Shops®:
Bass Pro Shops® operates 58 retail stores in 26 states and Canada visited by over 112 million people annually. Bass Pro Shops® also conducts an international catalog and internet retailing operation—the American Rod & Gun® wholesale division--which sells to more than 7,000 independently owned retail stores worldwide. Outdoor World® Incentives also sells Bass Pro Shops® gift cards through over 132,000 retail outlets across America. The Bass Pro Shops® restaurant division has 28 locations. The company’s Tracker Marine Group® manufactures and sells Tracker®, Nitro®, SunTracker®, Tahoe®, Grizzly® and Mako® boats through Bass Pro Shops® retail stores and over 400 dealers worldwide. The Resort Group includes Big Cedar Lodge® and other resort properties including restaurants and golf courses. For more information regarding Bass Pro Shops® store locations, products or special events, please visit www.basspro.com. To request a free catalog, call 1-800-BASS PRO. Follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bassproshops.

CHATTANOOGA                                                  

Chattanooga is a safe and walkable city. Park your car and navigate the Riverfront, Southside and NorthShore Districts aboard the free electric shuttle that connects the downtown hotels, attractions, restaurants and shopping venues, all within a very close proximity of each other. But downtown is just the springboard for everything else you will do in the city. Go to Chattanooga's web site to find new features making it more interactive; choose to "like" the attraction, restaurant, hotel, etc. Under each category on the summer site, you can add your own suggestions, travel tips or comments.
For more Summer fun, check out www.summer.chattanoogafun.com.

What to See & Do

14 Reasons to Travel to Chattanooga This Summer

Voted twice as the “Best Town Ever” by Outside magazine and named one of “The 45 Places to Go” in the world by the New York Times, Chattanooga proves to be one of the South’s top travel destinations. Summer in the Scenic City means outdoor festivals, one-of-a-kind attractions, live music and entertainment, outdoor recreation, minor-league baseball, farm-fresh dining options, river cruises, microbrews, shopping, parks, cultural pursuits, and plenty of those long, warm pleasant evenings.

Chattanooga is easy to get to and less than a two-hour drive from Atlanta, Nashville, Knoxville, Huntsville and Birmingham. That means less time traveling and more time having fun! Once here, park the car and explore the vibrant and compact downtown by foot, aboard the free electric shuttle that connects the Downtown, Riverfront, NorthShore, and Southside Districts, or on one of the 300 bikes in the bike-share system.
There’s always something happening in Chattanooga – it's just a matter of choosing which adventure to start with! To make planning a vacation easy, we’ve selected the top 14 reasons you should visit Chattanooga this summer.

Chattanooga's Top 14 Summer Adventures

1. Explore Something Brand New in Chattanooga
2. Encounter Penguins, Dinosaurs, Camels, and Gnomes
3. Cruise Down the Tennessee River
4. Cool Your Jets from Summer Heat
5. Indulge Your Inner Foodie
6. Earn Bragging Rights
7. Experience Live Music and Entertainment
8. Catch a Game or Competition
9. Climb Your Way to the Top
10. Travel Through Time
11. Opt Outside for Hiking, Biking, and More
12. Spend Time Shopping
13. Go on a Cultural Pursuit
14. Celebrate with Fireworks

Get the full scoop on planning your summer vacation at website www.chattanoogafun.com.

Tennessee Aquarium Gives Guests Some Adorable Reasons to Look Up -- Opening of Lemur Forest Taps Vertical Space, Tells An Important Conservation Story

Leading up to the grand opening of the Lemur Forest exhibit on March 1, 2017 anyone planning a visit to the building’s top floor will want to start exercising their neck muscles now. A four-month renovation has completely transformed the Tropical Cove, transporting guests into the spiny forests and rainforests of Madagascar. This lush environment soon will echo with the calls and sway beneath the paws of seven endangered Ring-tailed Lemurs and a pair of critically endangered Red-ruffed Lemurs. These charismatic, acrobatic primates will be leaping through an exhibit space designed, from the ground up, to take advantage of Ocean Journey’s most distinctive — and under-utilized — feature: its tremendous vertical space.

Lemur Forest is the end result of three and a half years of research and months of consultation with experts at other institutions that care for lemurs. Early in that process, Aquarium staff concluded that, especially when exhibiting two species side by side, it was vital to make their habitat as varied and stimulating as possible. In Lemur Forest, the Ring-tails and Red-ruffs can clamber to perches more than 30 feet above the ground and scamper through more than 120 horizontal feet of terrain full of ups and downs. Part of this habitat includes an aerial skyway arching just over the entrance to the Cove, offering guests an immediate opportunity to lay eyes on the lemurs. “We’ve created a really dynamic environment that affords these animals a lot of choices,” Collins said.  “The exhibit gives us a lot of options to ensure they remain healthy and happy.”

Beyond being exciting to watch, lemurs represent an important conservation story. All of the more than 100 known species of lemur are native to Madagascar. Like many islands, this African nation is a hotspot of biodiversity, an environment where three-quarters of the native plant and animal species can be found nowhere else. Lemurs are the most endangered class of mammals on the planet. In Madagascar, all lemur populations are declining, and more than two-thirds are classified as endangered or critically endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. That makes ensuring the health and wellbeing of captive populations all the more important, said Chelsea Feast, a lemur expert who relocated to the Aquarium from the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Md.
“They are, from a conservational standpoint, an animal that needs attention brought to it,” she said.

Although lemurs are the exhibit’s namesake, they aren’t the only newcomers to Ocean Journey. The Ring-tails, who spend less time in the trees than the fruit-loving Red-ruffs, will share ground space in Lemur Forest with several knobby-shelled — and critically endangered — Radiated Tortoises, another native Malagasy species.

Aquarium guests will be able to enjoy two new “Leaping Lemurs” presentations each day at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. These additions to the menu of Extraordinary Experiences programs provide opportunities to learn more about these amazing creatures from the experts who care for them. They will also discover how the Aquarium is supporting conservation measures in Madagascar to save lemurs and other imperiled species. “You’ll see the Red-ruffed Lemurs hanging upside-down using their incredibly strong back feet,” Feast said. “We’ll also show how the Ring-tails use their iconic black and white tails for balance. Occasionally you’ll see them sun-bathing in a yoga-like seated position which looks pretty comical. We call it ‘sun-worshipping.’”

The transformation of Tropical Cove also includes dramatic improvements to Stingray Bay. The walls of the Aquarium’s largest touch tank are now significantly thinner and smoother to make it easier than ever for guests, particularly younger visitors, to lay fingers on its many ray and shark species. Guests are also now able to enjoy an exotic display of colorful orchids and insectivorous plants housed housed in a lava rock display installed at the south end of the room just before construction of Lemur Forest began.

The Aquarium’s Tropical Cove, Appalachian Cove Forest and Delta Country exhibit have always been popular with Aquarium guests. Recent improvements such as River Otter Falls, Alligator Bayou, and now Lemur Forest make these living forests even more immersive.

The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder, appreciation and protection of water and all life that it sustains. Admission is $29.95 per adult and $18.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $11.95 per adult and $9.95 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $37.95 for adults and $26.95 for children. Excursions aboard the new River Gorge Explorer depart daily into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.” Cruise tickets are $32.00 per adult and $24.50 per child (3-12). Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities. 

Chattanooga Opened $16 Million, 3-Mile Riverpark Extension

Since opening, Chattanooga’s linear park has been recognized as one of the best in the nation. CNN Travel named the Riverpark among the “World’s 10 Best City Running Trails” and Thrillist.com named it one of “10 of America’s Coolest Urban Running Trails.”

The new expansion picks up at Riverfront Parkway near the SpringHill Suites-Cameron Harbor and extends along the river to the base of Lookout Mountain, near the International Towing and Recovery Museum (Broad Street).

Unlike the openness of the first 10 miles, which leads trekkers through wetlands and wooded stretches, the newest tract traverses a big chunk of the city’s industrial heritage. Winding through and around the borders of still-active industries, as well as a few that are closed, the new 12-foot wide stretch goes where muscle and steel long meshed to produce hard-earned prosperity.

The freshly landscaped Riverpark defines an industrial experience on one side, and on the other, vibrant green spaces and more. The expansion includes:

Riverpark Amphitheater at Blue Goose Hollow – site of  Bessie Smith’s first home and where she began singing for coins as a young girl
Chattanooga Bike Share station
Landscaped trail and green spaces
New vistas of the Tennessee River
Pavilion
Restrooms

Public art: Two large, significant pieces by internationally renowned sculptor Albert Paley and three other art pieces will be installed later this year

It’s no surprise that the popular Riverpark continues to be an economic driver for the city. Since its inception 30 years ago, total investment in the Riverpark has amounted to $150 million, mostly through federal, state and private grants. Since local leaders committed in 2012 to build this Riverpark segment, builders have invested more than $220 million in new residential units, sprouting waves of condos, apartments and new businesses.

The next phase includes a Broad-Street crossing and a short half-mile connector to the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway station. When this last short segment is finished, it also will lead to a trailhead with access to the fabulous network of trails — some 93 miles — along the flanks of Lookout Mountain’s Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park lands.

The new Tennessee Riverpark App is now available for iTunes and Android. It utilizes modern technology to enhance the historic and educational interpretative opportunities along the Tennessee Riverpark. Users can experience interactive maps, videos and augmented reality. And, they’ll enjoy learning more about Chattanooga’s industrial history, the civil war and the birthplace of Bessie Smith.

For more information please contact the Chattanooga Area CVB, 2 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402 United States

Tennessee Aquarium Announces New Facility For Conservation Institute

The Southeast is home to an incredible array of freshwater biodiversity. More than 660 of the 905 native fish species found in the United States live within a 500 mile circle that’s centered on Chattanooga. The rivers, lakes and streams are also home to half the freshwater turtles found in North America, and nearly all of the salamanders, mussels and crayfish found on the continent.

Unfortunately, freshwater ecosystems are the most threatened on Earth. Extinction rates of freshwater animals are two to five times higher than terrestrial or marine animals. And, as human freshwater use continues to grow, it becomes more challenging to understand, protect and restore populations of imperiled aquatic species. “The Aquarium has been educating our guests about freshwater and working on conservation projects with a variety of partners in our region for nearly 25 years,” said Charlie Arant, the Aquarium’s president and CEO. “The time has come for us to expand those efforts in order to have an even greater impact on this region for generations to come.”

A new 14,000 square foot riverfront facility will be constructed in Chattanooga to serve as the only freshwater science center in the Southeast. This biological field station will house propagation systems for reintroduction programs, three fully-equipped labs for researchers, a spacious teaching lab for rising high school and college students as well as meeting space for collaborative projects with other scientists.

Leading up to creating a centralized hub for this important work, TNACI has been hiring additional experts. Scientists with extensive backgrounds in conservation genetics, field biology, cave biology, and geographic information systems are now on staff. The team’s scope of work is expanding to include new research projects with turtles and salamanders. Dr. George plans to have eight to 10 scientists and educators moving into the new building when the doors open sometime in the late summer or fall of 2016.

The new location, on the south campus of the Baylor School, connects TNACI to the Tennessee River and opens the door for more educational opportunities for schools throughout the region. These programs will focus on high school, college and graduate students who are really dedicated to careers in environmental science. “Baylor School is immensely proud to partner with the Tennessee Aquarium,” said Scott Wilson, Baylor School Headmaster. “This opportunity represents a triumph for TNACI, Baylor, and everyone in this region who is passionate about freshwater conservation, science, and education.”

The Conservation Leadership in Action Week, or CLAW camp, has been highly successful in its first four years. Plans are in the works for expanded summer programs that go beyond a one-week crash course of conservation lessons. "I have witnessed the life-changing effects of the CLAW program on high school students,” said Tennessee Aquarium board member Franklin McCallie. “There is no substitute for learning about the critical importance of fresh water and the life it sustains than tramping in our creeks with the TNACI scientists conducting research and conservation projects. With the building of the new facility, diverse students from all schools in our region will have new opportunities like these during the summer or within the school year--and some of these students will even walk away with new career paths in mind.”

Healthy rivers and watersheds are vital to local economies, to enjoyment of the natural world and to the quality of the environment on which we all depend. Like all challenges related to public health, there are no quick and easy fixes. Dr. George and other Aquarium experts believe that expanding TNACI’s programs now will help build a healthier future for our communities and help solidify Chattanooga’s environmental reputation on a national level.

As a lead supporter, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee recognizes the crucial role of TNACI’s work to collaborate, educate and work toward environmental prosperity. Their contribution helped begin the $4.5 million dollar expansion of TNACI’s work to examine and protect our physical environment’s resilience, health and well-being.

Consolidating scientific efforts within a state-of-the-art facility will enable the Aquarium to focus on the research and restoration of freshwater animals and their habitats throughout our region in ways never before envisioned. With continued community support, the Aquarium hopes to grow its commitment to freshwater science to $8 million over the next five years. “This is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility for us,” said Arant. “People are really concerned about the health of our waterways, and we will lead, convene and collaborate with others for the benefit of our region. Twenty years from now we’ll look back on what TNACI has achieved, both on a regional and national level, and we’ll be very proud we took this next step to protect our water.”

TNACI Facebook: www.facebook.com/TennesseeAquariumConservationInstitute
TNACI Twitter:twitter.com/tnacigogreen

About The Tennessee Aquarium --- inspires wonder, appreciation and protection of water and all life that it sustains. Admission is $29.95 per adult and $18.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $9.95 per adult and $8.50 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $35.95 for adults and $24.95 for children. Excursions aboard the new River Gorge Explorer depart daily into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.” Cruise tickets are $32.00 per adult and $24.50 per child (3-12). Advance tickets may be purchased online at <http://www.tnaqua.org>www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities. 

High atop Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls opened the ZIPstream Aerial Adventure,

an obstacle course built in trees with ladders, nets, bridges, tunnels and zip lines. www.rubyfallszip.com        

Cherokee History Is New Focus in Southeast Tennessee

Local tourism professionals are working alongside scholars, citizens and history buffs in a movement that is uncovering new stories and raising awareness of Southeast Tennessee’s extremely significant Cherokee history, a part of America’s most important Native American past.

Representatives from Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association and the Convention & Visitors Bureau of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce are unveiling new driving trail brochures highlighting the rich Cherokee history and encouraging visitation to the area. The Bradley County brochure is titled “Your Passport to Explore Cherokee Heritage.” The SETTA brochure is “Southeast Tennessee Cherokee Native American Guide.”

A remarkable convergence of events prompted this focused attention and cooperative effort, including the opening of the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park; this year’s 30th anniversary of Red Clay State Park; the 25th anniversary of the Joint Council Reunion with the lighting of the eternal flame, and the PBS series “We Shall Remain,” which focused one entire episode on the Trail of Tears and the Cherokee experience in and around Southeast Tennessee. Portions of the film were shot at Red Clay, the last eastern capital of the Cherokee Nation.

The brochures offer more than a crash course of Cherokee history. One guide takes visitors from early Cherokee years to in-depth removal routes of some 15,000 Cherokees. The other outlines the precise location of the Cherokee Agency where passports were required to enter into Cherokee territory. This same area later became the largest emigrating depot with federal troops holding Cherokee and other tribes for departure on the Trail of Tears. Some of the highlights include Ross’s Landing in downtown Chattanooga, The Brainerd Mission Cemetery, The James Brown Cherokee Plantation, and Red Clay State Park, the last capital of the Cherokee Nation in the east. The Red Clay Council Grounds also became the center of the Cherokee Nation’s diplomatic efforts to avoid removal

SETTA created their driving trail brochure with the help of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Dr. Duane King, research specialist and noted scholar of the American Indian, and a committee of regional representatives. According to Woody, the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU is currently conducting a heritage plan for Bradley County especially focused on Charleston. Under the direction of Dr. West, the team will present the plan in August. West has said that Bradley County is an understudied area and this study should help organize sites and stories. The CVB and Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society will use that plan to gain support for future project development and interpretation.

Woody recalls that many of the residents were reluctant to pass down such a tragic story through the generations. The recent national efforts to tell the Cherokee story have helped residents realize this is an important story to tell, especially during this national movement toward awareness of Native American history and culture.

Both guides are currently available at area Welcome Centers throughout Tennessee in addition to various tourism sites, museums, history centers and chamber offices. Brochures may also be found by visiting www.southeasttennessee.com; www/docs/26/native-american-trail or www.visitclevelandtn.com/downloads/passport.

Lookout Mountain

Visible from nearly any spot in Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain offers visitors the unique opportunity to explore nature and history. Located deep within the mountain is Ruby Falls, a 145-foot underground waterfall, accessed by a cave filled with stunning geological formations. Above ground, there is Rock City, a 4,100-foot-long walking trail that takes you on a journey through lush gardens and provides breathtaking views of the Chattanooga Valley. Lookout Mountain is also part of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, which memorializes one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War.

Tennessee Aquarium

When Chattanoogans envisioned a renaissance for their city more than 2 decades ago, they looked no further than the Tennessee River. It was the inspiration for the opening of the world’s largest freshwater aquarium as well as a saltwater aquarium that was added later to reflect the river water’s eventual journey to the sea. Located right on the banks of the river, the Tennessee Aquarium is Chattanooga’s most popular attraction, providing visitors the opportunity to go eye to eye with sharks, giant spider crabs, river otters and alligators through attractions like its Special Animal Encounter programs and the Tennessee Aquarium Backstage Pass.

Bluff View Art District

As the name indicates, the Bluff View Art District sits high above the Tennessee River. The neighborhood is filled with restaurants, an art gallery and an outdoor sculpture garden. It is also home to one of Chattanooga’s most popular coffee shops, Rembrandt's. Adjacent to the Art District is the Hunter Museum of American Art and the historic Walnut Street Bridge, which is now a pedestrian-only bridge connecting Chattanooga's downtown with the North Shore district.

Mysterious Creatures & Breathtaking Art Coming to Chattanooga
Tennessee Aquarium and Hunter Museum Present Jellies: Living Art

A new wave of excitement is coming to downtown Chattanooga as the Tennessee Aquarium and Hunter Museum of American Art team up to bring “Jellies: Living Art” to Chattanooga. This special exhibit showcases jellyfish, some of the most mysterious creatures on Earth, alongside breathtaking glass sculptures inspired by nature and embodies the spirit of the award-winning, highly rated gallery at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Visitors to the Aquarium’s Ocean Journey building will find themselves immersed in a glimmering world of animals and art. Six species of jellyfish will capture the imagination as they pulse in specially designed exhibits beside striking studio glass. The exhibit is designed to illustrate how the jellyfish and the art share common characteristics of color, pattern, movement and rhythm.

In one portion of the gallery, jellyfish displays will be paired with mirrors which will produce a visual feast for the eyes surrounding guests with an endless swarm of moon jellies. In other areas, slowly pulsing sea nettles will dance a watery ballet. Blubber jellies will strike a chord with those who imagine what it’s like to venture to another world - the ocean realm.

These delicate and mysterious creatures of the deep have intrigued people and fueled artistic expression for centuries. Guests will marvel at the way artists, like world-renowned Dale Chihuly, infuse glass with striking colors and patterns while creating works that appear to flow with a graceful motion and rhythm. Works from Chihuly’s “Macchia” series will be on display at the Aquarium along with other stunning works from artists Stephen Powell, Cork Marcheschi and Thomas Spake.

This collaborative effort promises to draw visitors to downtown Chattanooga who will be encouraged to relax and enjoy all that the pedestrian-friendly “Scenic-City” has to offer. The Tennessee Aquarium and Hunter Museum are located on the Chattanooga riverfront and linked by a short walking corridor which leads guests through an outdoor sculpture garden and across a unique glass bridge.

Visitors wishing to complete their Jellies: Living Art experience may choose to purchase discount combination tickets for the Tennessee Aquarium, Hunter Museum and IMAX 3D Theater. “Under the Sea 3D” features stunning images of several jellyfish species as well as playful sea lions, fierce-looking great white sharks and graceful leafy sea dragons.

The Hunter Museum of American Art inspires and excites imaginations through the visual arts. The Hunter Museum is located at 10 Bluff View in Chattanooga and is open every day except Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The Hunter Museum is open until 5 p.m. and on Thursdays until 8 p.m.

For more information call the Hunter at (423) 267-0968, or visit the Web site at www.huntermuseum.org.

Civil War Trails Program

with 13 interpretive signs and maps – making it even easier to visit the area’s historic sites. www.chattanoogafun.com/civilwar. Discover seldom-seen Civil War photographs in the exhibition, “Between the States”, at the Hunter Museum of American

Free electric shuttle.

You’ll find dining, attractions, parks, festivals, live music and shopping. Park your car and visit the Tennessee Aquarium and their IMAX 3D Theater; take a lunch, dinner or sightseeing cruise aboard the Southern Belle Riverboat or Civil War or eco cruises on other boating options; stroll through the Bluff View Arts District and Hunter Museum of American Art, through the gardens at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, along the 13-mile paved Riverwalk, or over the Walnut Street Bridge; have a picnic, play in the water fountain or ride an antique carousel in Coolidge Park; take the kids to the Chattanooga Zoo and to one of the country’s top children’s museums, the Creative Discovery Museum; or check out the AT&T field for a Lookouts baseball game. You won’t want to miss the open-air Chattanooga Market each Sunday from May-Dec. where you’ll find locally grown and made goods, great food, artisans selling their works and plenty of live entertainment.

Lookout Mountain and Around Town Fun

Only a few miles from downtown, explore scenic Lookout Mountain where you’ll see seven states at Rock City Gardens; plunge deep underground to the majestic Ruby Falls; ride up and down the mountain on the nation’s steepest passenger railway, the Incline Railway or check out the nation’s largest and oldest military park, Chattanooga-Chickamauga National Military Park. Within 15 minutes from downtown, you can be riding aboard the Tennessee Valley Railroad or dropping 14 stories on the OH-Zone! freefall ride at Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park.

Extreme Adventures

Teens and anyone young at heart will find that Chattanooga’s wild rivers and ample natural resources make us a top destination for extreme adventures. Whitewater raft or kayak the Ocoee River; boulder or rock climb on the mountainous terrain; dodge paint during an intense game of paint ball or test your limits on a tandem hang gliding flight over 2,000 feet in the air off of Lookout Mountain. For adventures a little less extreme, enjoy a walk or bike ride on the downtown Riverwalk, a game of golf or rock climbing at one of our indoor facilities or Walnut Wall in Coolidge Park. No matter your passion, you’ll want to get out and play.

Where to Eat

You can’t come to Chattanooga without visiting some of the local hot spots – where the food is the attraction. Savor the local flavor in restaurants downtown that use seasonal fresh produce, breads, pastries and more produced in the Chattanooga area. There are numerous fine-dining restaurants that offer the Farm to Table practices including Table 2, Alleia, Public House. But don’t forget the tried-and-true favorites like Tennessee’s first Green-Certified restaurant, 212 Market; Blue Plate; Back Inn Café; St. John’s where Nathan Lindley has been nominated for a James Beard Award; and Hennen’s to name a few. Don’t miss out on some locally brewed beer made at Big River Grille and Brewing Works or the Terminal Brewhouse.

Sugar's Ribs

While the restaurant might close at night, the kitchen at Sugar’s is humming 24/7 as mouthwatering ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken are prepared fresh daily. You can have lots of fun here sampling the various barbecue sauces. The restaurant has a downtown location and one southeast of downtown on Missionary Ridge. There is live music every night at the downtown location.

Urban Stack Burger Lounge

As you savor your tasty burger at Urban Stack, you can also feel good about your carbon footprint. The restaurant is located in one of the oldest buildings in Chattanooga, the Southern Railway Baggage Building from the 1870s, which was refurbished into a LEED-certified establishment. In addition, all of the meats are all-natural, organic, grass-fed or free-range, from sustainable and humane farms.

Easy Bistro & Bar

Owner and chef Erik Niel describes his menu as “French-inspired Southern cooking.” Niel believes strongly in fresh ingredients -- be they from a nearby farm or flown in the same day from a New England fishery -- which is why new menus are printed daily. In addition to the delicious cuisine, the white-tablecloth Easy Bistro has an extensive wine list and takes great pride in its creative cocktails.

Where to Stay

The Chattanoogan

The Chattanoogan makes a big deal of its AAA Four Diamond rating -- and it should. The downtown hotel features 199 exquisite guestrooms with contemporary decor; a full-service spa; and Broad Street Grille, one of 3 on-site restaurants, where the chef posts the names of the local farms that supplied the food for that day’s menu. At sunset, guests often gather around the large fire pit in the hotel’s finely manicured courtyard.

Read House Hotel

Opened in 1926, Read House Hotel maintains its original charm while being fully updated with modern amenities. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is now part of Sheraton Hotels and has 241 guestrooms. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, you should consider a meal at the restaurant, Porter's Steakhouse, or stop by the lobby to see its 2 stories of black walnut paneling, marble flooring and a detailed plaster ceiling with 2 bronze chandeliers.

Bluff View Inn

The Bluff View Inn is a collection of 3 bed-and-breakfasts: an 1889 English Tudor, a 1908 Victorian and a 1927 Colonial Revival. While each property is unique, they all offer the same level of personal service. Guests have some of the best views of the snaking Tennessee River and easy access to the surrounding Bluff View Art District, a creative haven within walking distance from downtown Chattanooga.

GAITLINBURG

Take A Trip to America's Most Visited Distillery - Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery Offers a True Moonshine Experience!

Located in Gatlinburg at 903 Parkway, traffic light #8 (approx. one hour from Knoxville) in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine Distillery offers a true Appalachian moonshine experience with free tours that include an authentic working moonshine still! Meet the distiller and makers of moonshine while learning the science of the distilling process and the history of moonshine before enjoying free samples of shine (for those 21 and older, of course!). Enjoy live bluegrass music and don’t forget to stock up on hooch at the Ole Smoky gift shop! The Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery is open 7 days a week from 10 AM – 10 PM.

Sold in a traditional 750 ml Mason-style jar, the moonshine is a century old family recipe that shines in many varieties including Original Moonshine (100 proof), White Lightnin’™ (100 proof), Lightnin’ Line (80 proof): Strawberry Lightnin’, Lemon Drop Lightnin’ and Hunch Punch Lightnin’TM, and the 40 proof line including: Moonshine Cherries™, Peach Moonshine™, Apple Pie Moonshine™, Blackberry Moonshine™, Strawberry Moonshine™, Lemon Drop Moonshine™, Pineapple Moonshine, Watermelon Moonshine, Sweet Tea Moonshine and Charred Moonshine™, in addition to seasonal flavors and a selection of other food products.

For more info on Ole Smoky Moonshine and distillery visits, call (865) 436-6995 or go to their website www.olesmokymoonshine.com.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Honored with Quarter Launch in Gatlinburg

The United States Mint launched the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program coin honoring Great Smoky Mountains National Park Jan. 29, 2014. Hundreds of people were in attendance at the event that took place at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, in Gatlinburg, Tenn., one of the gateway cities to the 520,000-acre park. Participants included Great Smoky Mountains National Park Acting Superintendent Pedro Ramos, and local radio co-host Jay Adams, who served as master of ceremonies. Following the event, members of the public exchanged their currency for $10 rolls of newly minted Great Smoky Mountains National Park quarters.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is world-renowned for its diverse flora and fauna. The reverse design on the quarter shows an historic log cabin found within the park. Lush green forest and a hawk circling above are also featured. “Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee,” “2014,” and “E Pluribus Unum” are inscribed.

The America the Beautiful Quarters Program is a multi-year initiative that honors the 56 national parks and other national sites in each state, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. Started in 2010, the final coin will be produced in 2021. The quarter-dollar replica coins for sale are made of 0.999 fine silver and weigh five ounces.

The bureau is accepting orders for these products at its online catalog, www.usmint.gov/catalog, and at 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). Hearing- and speech-impaired customers with TTY equipment may order by calling 1-888-321-MINT (6468).

For more information on the program and the schedule of events, visit www.usmint.gov/events.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Ranked As One of the Top Places for Wildlife Viewing

Budget Travel recently ranked Great Smoky Mountains National Park among the Top 13 best places in the United States for wildlife viewing. The forest-filled national park is cited as the best place in the U.S. to view black bears. According to the article, Great Smoky Mountains National park houses the largest protected American black bear habitat in the eastern part of the country with an estimated 1,500 bears currently living there. The best places to catch a glimpse of the furry mammals are in Cades Cove and the Cataloochee Valley.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is more than 800 square miles of hiking trails and offers a diverse area teeming with wildlife, including elk and deer, and more than 1,600 flowering plants. The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

KNOXVILLE

What to See & Do

Women’s Enduro Bike Event Comes to Knoxville, Tenn.

Tennessee’s first ever women's only enduro mountain bike race is here for its first event! Bell Joy Ride Knoxville and 3rd Coast Productions is encouraging all women that mountain bike to come out for the 3rd Coast Productions Presents Bell Joy Ride Heartbreaker at Baker Enduro. There will be 5 FUN stages that will test each riders’ skills and endurance. Expect fun, fast and flowing downhill terrain. Whether you like to ride, race or just enjoy getting outside with your friends, the Bell Joy Ride with Third Coast Productions brings together the women’s cycling community in a unique and supportive environment. Come for the race, stay for the after party!

The highlight of the weekend is a women's enduro race on Sunday catered to all levels, including the first-timers (Beginner) category, all the way up to the seasoned racers (Expert). If you want to learn more skills and gain confidence on the bike, join the Joy Ride course pre-ride on Saturday, June 10 (day before race). Grab your friends, your family, and your biggest supporters for a weekend of FUN for all! Open to the public for spectating if not racing!!

Then cap off a full day with the Men's Joy Ride DRAG Race with guys dressed in skirts, halter tops, and heels! The race will start promptly after the Heartbreaker at Baker Women’s Enduro race and feature a dirt crit format. Men will race for 20 minutes on a short course near the start/finish. Spectators will get to cheer on their favorite riders on a super fast, fun lap. Registration is required.

In March 2016, Bell Joy Ride Knoxville TN Ambassador, Missy Petty and her rad squad of lady Joy Riders hosted the first of many all women mountain bike rides: all women, all levels, all the BIG FUN!! People were so excited, we knew we had to keep making history. 3rd Coast Productions features the 4th Season of the only southeast regional enduro series in 5 states, 3rd Coast Enduro Series.  VP and Co-Owner, Shellie Dimery wanted to take a special interest in elevating women to excel to the next level in MTB and enduro racing. Both Bell Joy Ride Knoxville TN and 3rd Coast Productions, brings the Heartbreaker Enduro the first women’s enduro race in the southeastern United States. Show up to shatter a personal record, or make new rad friends. Watch volunteers out-costume each other. Come for the men’s drag race. If you’re a first-time or long-time enduro racer who believes competition and fun aren’t mutually exclusive, that every downhill shred can bring us closer together, come join the Bell Joy Ride Heartbreaker at Baker! Bring your full stoke and HIGH-FIVES!!

Schedule of Events and Prices:
Saturday June 10
All Day – Course will be marked and open for practice
Evening hours – Pre-Race Party Sponsored by Yee-Haw Brewing Company and SoKno Taco

Sunday June 11
7:30 – 8:30am – Rider check in & registration
8:45am – Riders Meeting
9:00am – Riders leave for Stage 1
3:00pm – Awards
Awards go 3 deep.

Categories (registration fee $75 for all racers– includes t-shirt): And, you don't have to hold a license (or not hold a license) to be in contention or compete in any category.

Beginner: Must be between the ages of 19 and 99 years old on 12/31/2017
Sport: Must be between the ages of 19 and 99 years old on 12/31/2017
Expert: Must be between the ages of 19 and 99 years old on 12/31/2017
Masters: 40+
Masters: 50+

All riders in all categories are eligible to win prizes, thanks to Visit Knoxville, Bell Bike Helmets, Harper’s Bike Shop, CamelBak, Industry 9, Infinit Nutrition, Thompson, and many more! A $100 prime has already been donated by Jeremy Walker to go to the fastest downhill time of the day!!

There are no volunteers like Joy Ride Volunteers! Join us in making the Heartbreaker at Baker the biggest party in town. By volunteering, you help keep the races running smoothly. (And if you do it in a tutu or unicorn costume — all the better).

Find out more information at 301 South Gay Street, Knoxville, TN 37902 |  800.727.8045 |  865.523.7263. For more on the information listed above, please call Visit Knoxville or Visit Knoxville's Visitor Center at (865)523-7263 or 1-800-727-8045

Knoxville Visitor Center

Run by Visit Knoxville, it's a one-stop shop for Knoxville information. Here you'll find locally-made lovely crafts in the gift section, plus the free WDVX Blue Plate Special - a daily, live, noon-time performance of Americana music.

Open Mon-Fri from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday - Noon to 4 p.m.

Sunsphere

This a must-see. Built in 1992 for the World's Fair, it stands 266 feet tall land has 26 stories. The actual ball itself houses only five levels, and the panoramic views are outstanding. Located at 810 Clinch Avenue or World's Fair Park Drive, this attraction is free and very safe for all ages, plus an elevator will speed you up to the viewing level where signs and maps point to structures in all directions. I also loved the many trees and flowers. There are numerous benches to relax on and watch passserby.

Market Square

Market Street is located in the center of Downtown Knoxville and offers an eclectic blend of culinary delights, a variety of stores for all kinds of shopping, and the location for all kinds of free entertainment. I loved the Water Play Foundtain and spent an hour there watching tiny toddlers run in and out of the sprays and couldn't s;top taking photos of them playing beneath the water jets.

This area runs from Wall Avenue to Union Avenue.

Fair Grounds

We were surprised at how pleasant it was walking around the Fair Grounds where we could watch all kinds of events going on. At this time, children - and adults - were escaping the 95 degree heat wave by walking beneath lovely sprays from a wide waterfall.

Fair Grounds Hours: From 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Hours may vary during special events.

Chilhowee Park

You'll enjoy the setting here by a lagoon with a picnic area and lake for fishing. Admission is free. It's open daily from April through September, and is located at Beaman and Magnolia Avenue adjacent to the knoxville Zoo.

For more information call 865-637-5840.

Concord Park

Situated on a lake with a marina restaurant, launching ramps, picnic areas, shelters, overnight camping, a children's play area, tennis court and two swimming pools, this is a great place to be on a hot day.

Located at 10901 Northsho9re Drive. For more information call 865-521-2346.

Knoxville Zoological Park

Here you'll find over 1000 animals in native environs. It's known for its African Elephant exhibit, large cats, and a children's petting zoo area.

Located at 3333 Woodbine Avenue. For more information call 865-657-5331.

World's Fair Park

This is the site of the 1982 World's Fair and includes the Knoxville Museum of Art, Tennesee Amphitheater, Candy Factory and the Sunsphere. It cost $63 million dolars to park and features country flags, fountains, seating, park atmosphere, festival and performance lawns, jogging trail, sidewalks, and is lighted and security patrolled.

Knoxville Museum of Art

The museum serves the region by providig a variety of art programs to expose children and adults to the living world of arts. Workshops are offered to develop artistic skills, and special tours are available for groups.

Located at the World's Fair Park. For more information contact 865-525-6101.

Knoxville's Historic Old City

Ghosts of cowboys and confederates walk the streets of the Old City; Knoxville's most unique and vib rant collection of rstaurants, shops, nightclubs and antique stores.

Location: Surrounding the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Central Stret at the north end of Downtown. For more information call 800-727-8045.

Women's Basketball Hall of Fame

Exploring the Women's Basketball of Fame is lots of fun with ineractive things to do. Open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon-Sat, and noon-6 p.m. on Sunday. Admissiion charge.

Location: 700 Hall of Fame Drive. For details call 865-633-9000.

Where to Stay

Four new hotels are worth a closer look in north and west Knoxville. MainStay Suites, located in north Knoxville at 144 Merchant Dr. right off of Interstate 75, has 86 guest rooms that feature fully equipped kitchens in all rooms, weekly housekeeping services, free continental breakfast and coffee, free premium cable television, free high-speed wireless Internet access, plus an exercise room, among other amenities.

Hampton Inn & Suites

also in north Knoxville off of Interstate 75, is located at 5411 Pratt Rd. The hotel features 102 guest rooms, including 32 suites. Amenities include a smoke-free environment, complimentary On the House hot breakfast, indoor pool, business and fitness center, complimentary high-speed Internet access and complimentary USA Today newspaper Monday through Friday, among other items.

Holiday Inn Express West

is a brand-new hotel in west Knoxville, located at 816 N. Campbell Station Rd., right off of Interstates 40 and 75. With 79 guest rooms, this hotel features free high speed Internet access, microwave and refrigerator, free local calls, an indoor heated swimming pool and a business center and fitness facility.

West Knoxville's Country Inn & Suites

is located at 9137 Cross Park Drive. The hotelís spacious rooms feature non-smoking rooms and amenities such as granite-appointed bathrooms, 37î flat-panel LCD/HD televisions, an indoor pool, free hot breakfast, guest laundry facility, business center and fitness center, among other things.

Holiday Inn Knoxville Downtown

I stayed here and enjoyed the hotel, the room and the view from the window where I could see the Sunsphere - a golden glass ball that was built as the signature structure for the 1982 World's Fair. (See more about the Sunsphere above in What to See & Do), plus the hotel is close to the water. Found the room very comfortable, received a free newsapaper each day, and the staff was excellent.

Location: 525 Henley Street, Knoxville, Tenn. 37902. Phone: 865-522-2800; Fax 865-971-1492.


For more information on these hotels or to book a reservation, visit www.Knoxville.org.

Where to Eat

The Hill

Good food and fun is what Knoxville does best. The Hill, Knoxville's newest restaurant in the border region of the Fort Sanders neighborhood, is committed to doing both.
The restaurant's entire upper level is devoted to the bar scene. The downstairs dining area, which also has its own bar as well as a corner for video gaming, offers a delicious menu filled with plenty of sandwiches, burgers and deep-fried goodies, but there ís also a handful of lip-smacking entrees, such as fajita quesadillas, grilled sirloin steak and chicken Alfredo. The Hill has a great selection of appetizers such as nachos, potato skins, chicken fingers, cheese sticks and Southwest egg rolls that really help start out a great meal.

The Hill is located at 1105 Forest Avenue and the staff can be reached by phone at (865) 540-1011.

Lynchburg

Jack Daniel Distillery

turns 150. America’s oldest registered distillery and the world’s best-selling whiskey is one of Tennessee’s most iconic destinations. The milestone anniversary celebration kicked off on New Year’s Eve and continues throughout the year in Lynchburg and around the world.

MEMPHIS

Guest House at Graceland

Located just a few steps from the gates of Elvis’ Graceland, the 450-room resort features a Southern colonial exterior with specialty suites designed by Priscilla Presley, two restaurants, meeting space, and a 464-seat theater for live performances and movies.

NASHVILLE

What to See & Do

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

began operating Studio B in 1977 and in 1996 restoredthe primary studio area to its original look.  Beginning in the fall of 2003, facilitated by the philanthropy of the Mike Curb Family Foundation, Belmont University students began using Studio B as a workshop for completing recording projects, a partnership that also supports the Museum’s educational programs.  Educational tours and recording opportunities, staffed by both organizations, are offered through the Museum to arts organizations, students, educational institutions and visitors.

Nashville’s Musicians Hall of Fame at Municipal Auditorium will soon house an 8,500 square foot Grammy Museum gallery and historic landmark designation.

Where to Stay

Loews Vanderbilt Hotel

Nestled in the heart of Nashville’s trendy West End corridor, the 340-room Loews Vanderbilt Hotel is within walking distance of Vanderbilt University, one mile from Music Row and a short 15-minute drive from Nashville International Airport (BNA). The hotel offers the ultimate Music City experience, complete with southern hospitality, indulgent comforts and on-cue services. The property is one of only 73 hotels nationwide to achieve the AAA Four-Diamond designation for 25 consecutive years.

From its lobby jukebox stocked with tunes of VIP guests to its impressive collection of autographed records and musical memorabilia, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel is a “home away from home” that reflects Nashville’s heritage and local music culture. Live music nightly and wake up calls recorded by Nashville entertainers Vince Gill, Amy Grant and Brenda Lee give guests a glimpse of the authentic sights and sounds that make Music City famous.

PALL MALL

Forbus General Store

Don't miss the Forbus General Store, established in 1892. The fudge that I tasted was as the owner says, "The freshness is our most important ingredient. Our fudge stays fresh 10-10-14 days at room temperature. Do not refrigerate as dehydration occurs, but it can be frozen indefinitely." Try any one of many flavors, including chocolate, maple nut, amaretto chocolate swirl, peanut butter, vanilla nut, chocolate peanut butter, chocolate nut and rocky road. Even if you don't want fudge, there are countless other goodies to try and an amazing array of merchandise - and in the middle of the store, you can watch locals playing checkers or another game.

Located at 3902 North york Highway, Pall Mall, Tenn. 38577; 1-931-879-5427.

PIGEON FORGE

What to See & Do

Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge

Alcatraz East, a new crime museum opened in East Tennessee on December 16, 2016. The museum, which gives visitors the behind-the-scenes story to our nation’s crime history is a must-see for all ages. Crime and investigation has always been a popular topic; from books, to television shows, and movies, people are intrigued with how crime happens and cases are solved. Now, these enthusiasts are in luck, with our nation’s history of crime, justice and the law enforcement coming together at Alcatraz East.

The new crime museum is located at the entrance to The Island, featuring Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, and is adjacent to Stages West and The Comedy Barn. The exterior façade, a 19th century prison, was inspired by the historic Alcatraz Penitentiary in San Francisco. Within the 25,000 square feet, two-story museum, there are over 100 interactive exhibits that can be enjoyed by all ages. The self-guided tour covers the history of American crime, the consequences of crime, crime scene investigation, crime fighting, and pop culture.

Some of the highlights of the many crime related artifacts on display include John Dillinger’s death mask, Al Capone’s rosary, a Bonnie & Clyde collection, the Bronco from the OJ chase, an FBI polygraph machine, Al Pacino’s submachine gun from the movie Scarface, items related to the 2012 Benghazi attack, and the latest in law enforcement technology. The interactive features of the museum will include a CSI lab, a simulated shooting range, safe cracking, digital fingerprinting, and DUI safety training.  The museum’s mission is to provide guests of all ages with a memorable journey into the history of American crime and its consequences through a captivating, interactive and educational experience.

“Crime is part of history, and oftentimes crimes lead to laws and then those laws create change. The good news is learning about it often leads to crime prevention,” states Vaccarello, “Whether you want to try out your CSI skills or look at Ted Bundy’s infamous VW Bug, we definitely have something of interest for everyone at Alcatraz East Crime Museum.”

The museum is something that its owner, John Morgan, had always envisioned. No stranger to running successful attractions, he also owns WonderWorks located a mile away from Alcatraz East. The museum also has a star-studded board of advisors who help contribute to its mission of education. The experts range from historians to law enforcement. The board includes a Navy Seal, warden, medical examiner, law enforcement and, notably, Judge Belvin Perry, best known for presiding over Casey Anthony trial.

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum will be open 365 days a year, from 10 am to 9 pm, with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.alcatrazeast.com.

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages - so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction will be located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit www.alcatrazeast.com.

The Ugly Truth of Wildlife Poaching: Alcatraz East Temporary Exhibit Opening Soon --- New Pigeon Forge attraction will host a special temporary exhibit on the wildlife trafficking trade

When a Minnesota-based dentist paid $54,000 to trophy hunt in Zimbabwe in 2015 with a professional guide, he unknowingly was about to kill the beloved and iconic lion- Cecil. The images from that hunt went viral and although the dentist’s actions were not deemed illegal, the event sparked a worldwide outcry and raised awareness about the plight of wildlife, including lions, tigers, and elephants. Since that incident, the public is increasingly committed to protect wildlife and to put a stop to the trade of illegal wildlife poaching.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the illegal wildlife trade is a multibillion-dollar business, that involves the illegal trade of live animals and objects made from their parts. Many of the animals involved are endangered, making the practice an international crisis. Poachers either capture animals to sell, or kill them for their fur, bones, shells, and other body parts to be used in everything from traditional medicines, to clothing and jewelry. Even locally, effecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, bears are poached for their gallbladders and bile, which are used in traditional medicines. Only thirty-four states explicitly ban the trade, and these parts can go for $5,000 in Asia. Those interested in learning more about the wildlife trade can attend the temporary exhibit “Ivory, Tortoise Shell & Fur: The Ugly Truth of Wildlife Trafficking” at Alcatraz East Crime Museum, which will open on May 15, 2017.

“This is a heartfelt exhibit that brings awareness to illegal wildlife trade, an important issue visitors won’t want to miss,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer for Alcatraz East, “This is a problem that is devastating to animals and the planet. The exhibit will also teach guests how to be proactive and find out how they can help.”

The exhibit was first displayed at the Crime Museum in Washington, DC in 2015 by the Center for Conservation Impact, in partnership with the Freeland Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, INTERPOL, Kashmir World Foundation, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, WildAid, and Wildlife Trust of India.

“There was such a positive response to the exhibit, we felt the issue is too important to not share again with new audiences,” says Vaccarello.

Many people are unaware of how critical the poaching situation has become around the world, yet the statistics are alarming. It’s estimated that 97 percent of the world’s tigers have been lost in the last century, 76 percent of elephants have been lost during the last 13 years, and over 1,200 rhinoceros were killed last year alone. These animal populations have been depleted to supply black market demand for worthless natural medicines, jewelry and other souvenirs, and are considered status symbols, as the case with shark fin soup.

International travelers normally take home souvenirs from their trips, but what they may not realize is that the materials used to make those trinkets may have been illegally harvested from endangered and protected wildlife. These include items made from ivory and tortoise shell, so when shopping for souvenirs, it is best to ask questions about what products are made of, where it came from, as it may not be legal to bring back to the U.S. This exhibit will include items confiscated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other border agencies.

“Wildlife trafficking is a serious epidemic that is plaguing our world due to Asia's sensational demand for Rhino Horn, which is made from nothing more than keratin, the same as our finger nails along with Elephant Ivory made from dentine, the same as the human tooth.” explains Katie Cleary, model, film producer and writer of “Give Me Shelter” available on Netflix, and founder of World Animal News which brings you the latest breaking animal welfare news from around the world. “The more that we are educated about wildlife crimes and trafficking of endangered species and the ways to stop it, the better equipped we are to bring it to an end and protect these innocent species before it's too late.”

Recent news headlines show this problem is ongoing, with 18 rhino horns being seized in Mozambique in April, and news being shared about the illegal animal smuggling coming across the Mexican border, including of birds and lizards to be sold as pets in the U.S.

"The collaborators are excited Alcatraz East will feature our exhibit on the important and timely topic of illegal wildlife trafficking,” says Jennifer Sevin, president of the Center for Conservation Impact, a partner in the exhibit. “From ginseng to freshwater mussels and bears, illegal wildlife trafficking is as much a local issue as it is global.”

“Ivory, Tortoise Shell & Fur” begins May 15, 2017 and will run through Spring 2018. Alcatraz East officially opened December 16, 2016. The new crime museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.

The 25,000 square foot museum is designed with a jail façade, has a star-studded board of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial.

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum will be open 365 days per year, from 10 am to 9 pm, with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.alcatrazeast.com.

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages - so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction will be located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit swww.alcatrazeast.com.

Where to Stay

Margaritaville Island Hotel

The new Margaritaville Island Hotel located in Pigeon Forge on The Island, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, has opened phase one of the hotel with 55 guestrooms and suites in 2015. The vacation destination hotel is in the heart of everything the area has to offer and minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park known for its extraordinary beauty, breathtaking views, and abundance of outdoor activities.

The perfect blend of mountain latitude and island attitude, Margaritaville Island Hotel brings a new perspective to the Smoky Mountains experience with its contemporary surroundings, high level of service and attention to detail. Inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of singer, songwriter and author Jimmy Buffett, Margaritaville Island Hotel is the perfect setting for vacationers to escape the everyday, discover a new outlook and just chill. The laid-back, welcoming approach of the islands combined with genuine Southern Appalachian hospitality, creates an exceptional hotel experience where the comfort and pleasure of guests come first.

The guestrooms and suites at Margaritaville Island Hotel are contemporary mountain-luxe style perfect for unwinding and recharging. Colors of the mountains and the ocean are the backdrop for stacked stone fireplaces, driftwood-finished furnishings and luxurious bedding. Spacious baths designed with walk-in rain showers, granite-topped rustic wood vanities, vessel sinks and wood grain-effect tile create a serene bath experience with the feel of a mountain stream. Every guestroom comes complete with a wet bar, microwave and Margaritaville "Frozen Concoction Maker," so guests can create their own blended beverages to enjoy by the fire or on the balcony.

Onsite dining at Margaritaville Island Hotel includes the "Changes In Latitude" Lobby Bar for cocktails and lite bites, the Chill Bar at the Rooftop Pool and the Margaritaville Coffee Shop serving everything from lattes to pastries. The Compass Rose banquet room will soon offer meeting and event space for up to 200 including a riverfront terrace. Adjacent to the hotel, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville serves coastal-inspired comfort food and handcrafted beverages. The two-story Margaritaville restaurant has multiple bars and an exterior patio overlooking the Little Pigeon River complete with fire pit and live performance stage. The Island entertainment complex offers a great selection of dining, entertainment and shopping options within steps of the hotel, providing plenty of choices for guests without leaving the property.

For more information on the Margaritaville Island Hotel including room rates, availability and more, please visit: margaritavilleislandhotel.com or call toll-free: (844) 434-6787

About Margaritaville:
Margaritaville is inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett, whose evocative songs inspire a cross-generational yearning for an island adventure. Comprised of retail shops, restaurants, consumer products, hotels, casinos, resorts, vacation ownership and even a national radio station on Sirius/XM, Margaritaville delivers a tropical experience where guests can enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of their favorite destination regardless of their current latitude.

Since launching its first location in Key West, Margaritaville has expanded to some of the most popular US tourist destinations, including: Atlantic City, Chicago, Destin, Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, and Panama City Beach. International locations can be found in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Republic of Panama and Turks & Caicos. Margaritaville Resorts are located in Pensacola Beach, Bossier City and Pigeon Forge. The Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort located in Florida is scheduled to open Summer 2015.
Visit margaritaville.com for more information. Find Margaritaville on Facebook facebook.com/margaritaville

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