The Group Travel Leader

JUN 2017

The online home of The Group Travel Leader, America's leading publication for the group travel industry. Articles on hot destinations, attractions, news and travel trends from across the country and around the world.

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2 5 GROUP TRAVEL LE ADER T H E B Y B R I A N J E W E L L GROUPS ARE HEADED TO THE F rom the great Smoky Mountains on its eastern border to the sounds of Memphis in its southwestern tip, Tennessee is packed with classic Americana from end to end. A road trip through the Volunteer State can take groups to some signature spots that have been important parts of the American travel landscape for decades. Generations of travelers have stopped outside Chattanooga to see Rock City, flocked to Nashville to see the stars of country music at the Grand Ole Opry and made pilgrimages to Memphis to pay homage to the king of rock 'n' roll at Elvis Presley's Graceland. Combine these classics with a stop at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge and a patriotic celebration in Clarksville, and you'll make a great Tennessee tour that will have your travelers reveling in the American spirit. L E G E N D S O F T H E S M O K I E S Located along the border that Tennessee shares with North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is said to be the most- visited national park in the country. And though the park was the first attraction for visitors to the area, a bevy of others have made the towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville some of the most beloved tourist destinations in the American Southeast. Groups that visit the Smokies will find lots of area culture and tradition, along with plenty of Americana experiences, at Dollywood. The theme park, owned in part by local hero and music legend Dolly Parton, uses rides, shows and other features to tell the stories of Dolly's child- hood and the Smokey Mountain experience. "This park is so representative of true Americana and the history of the Great Smoky Mountains that was so key in the history of the South," said Pete Owens, Dollywood's director of media and public relations. "It's not all about Dolly here. It's about the spirit of the Smokies and her history here, because she is the most colorful and well-known character to come out of the great Smoky Mountains." Among signature Americana attractions at the park are the show "My People," which tells the story of Parton's siblings and cousins and their life in the Smoky Mountains, and the new wooden roller coaster, the Lightning Rod, which is inspired by the hot rod culture of the 1950s and 1960s. Many groups also enjoy a ride aboard the historic Dollywood Express. "We're the only remaining theme park in America that has a full-size coal-powered steam train," Owens said. "All of the engines we have now were built in the 1930s, and you can ride the train like the settlers did here until coal was phased out of the railroads in the '40s." The park hosts a number of annual festivals, V O L U N T E E R S TAT E VISITORS CAN SEE UP TO SEVEN STATES FROM THE LOVER'S LEAP OVERLOOK AT ROCK CITY GARDENS NEAR CHATTANOOGA. Artwork by Donia Simmons J U N E 2 0 1 7

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