The new Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center, in downtown Lewisburg, W.Va., has a conference room available for small meetings; the center can also be booked for private events. The center’s location in Budget Travel’s coolest small town in America for 2011 adds to its appeal.
Springtime in Hot Springs, Ark., brings thoroughbred racing to Oaklawn Park, and the racetrack goes all out for group outings.Saturday Morning at Oaklawn tours of the barn area can be arranged; the track also provides special areas where groups can dine and watch the races. This year, the track will have live music, a beer garden, special seating and family-oriented activities in its infield each Saturday through April 13, when the Arkansas Derby is run.
In Bentonville, Ark., a small town elevated in stature by the presence of Walmart headquarters, a 21C Museum Hotel opens downtown in March. The 104-room property is within walking distance of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, whose founder is a Walmart heiress.
Bentonville’s 21C, like its sisters in Louisville, Ky., and Cincinnati, has art all around, including its 12,000 square feet of event space.
The main art gallery, outfitted with extensive audio-visual equipment, is the hotel’s largest meeting space, at 2,500 square feet. It adjoins an outdoor, 1,200-square-foot terrace, the North Yard. Four smaller art galleries, ranging from 320 square feet to 1,200 square feet, add break-out and reception options; several of the spaces adjoin the 2,145-square-foot Art Yard, with its sculptures, moveable furniture and and permanent fire pit.
Heads will be in a whirl in November when the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park opens in Wilson, N.C. The 30 massive whirligigs made by Vollis Simpson, a well-known artist and native of Wilson County, are being moved from his farm to a two-acre park in downtown Wilson’s Artisan District.
They are the largest display of kinetic sculptures made by Simpson. Tours will be offered; there’s also a repair and conservation center to visit.
Another moonshine maker, Short Mountain Distillery, has popped up in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Local stone-milled grain and Tennessee spring water are the not-so-secret ingredients for this sour mash ‘shine. Open for tours since March 2011, the distillery has already been featured on the Discovery Channel.