Special Venues

September 2016

East Tennessee turns on the fun at night

by Carolyn Blackburn

  • /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2016/0916/Tennessee1.jpg

    Titanic Museum Attraction, Pigeon Forge

  • /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2016/0916/Tennessee2.jpg

    Yee-Haw Brewing Company, Johnson City

  • /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2016/0916/Tennessee3.jpg

    Tennessee Smokies Baseball, Sevierville

Things really get hopping after hours in East Tennessee, where planners will find many opportunities for group bonding when the day of meetings has concluded.

From dinner in a special setting or a visit to a local winery, brewery or distillery for a nightcap, to a set of frames at a boutique bowling alley or an evening round of golf, this region of the Volunteer State offers plenty of options for group entertainment.


In Chattanooga, an evening dinner or reception at the Tennessee Aquarium surrounded by sea creatures including sharks and jellyfish, plus a pre- or post-event tour, is always a big hit with groups.

As is the one-hour-long Escape Experience-Chattanooga, a fun teambuilding activity during which groups work together to escape from a locked room.

According to Ed Dolliver, vice president of sales for the Chattanooga CVB, another popular nighttime option is Southside Social, a boutique 10-lane bowling alley with three bars, an indoor gaming area including pool tables, ping pong and shuffleboard, as well as an outdoor courtyard with seating, fire pits, a bocce ball court and horseshoes.  


There is also a boutique bowling alley in Knoxville that welcomes groups, called Maple Hall, where attendees will find 11 lanes of bowling, lounge areas, a two-lane private VIP room and a full-service bar.

“Your event can really stand out with unique cocktails, craft beer and customizable group menus,” said Sarah Rowan, senior director of sales at Visit Knoxville.

Planners can also check out the calendar of events at the historic Tennessee Theatre, the official state theater of Tennessee and a standout Knoxville attraction that stages musical performances, Broadway shows, vintage films and more.

“The experience of the breathtaking theater is almost as compelling as the show you are there to see,” Rowan said.

A more active Knoxville outing can be found at Ijams Nature Center, home to Navitat Canopy Adventures, which debuted a nighttime zipline opportunity this past summer. Attendees will get a kick out of zipping through the forest at night under the stars.


Groups can get off the ground at night in Gatlinburg, too, according to Marci Claude, public relations manager for the Gatlinburg CVB.

“Take in the Great Smoky Mountains and the lights of Gatlinburg from three vantage points high above the city,” she said, citing the rooftop bar at Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina; the Gatlinburg Sky Lift, which travels to the top of Crockett Mountain; and the 400-foot Space Needle, which offers a bird’s-eye view of the city.

Distillery and winery tours can also be arranged in the evening hours at, among others, Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery, Sugarlands Distilling Co., Sugarland Cellars winery and Bootleggers Homemade Wine.

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