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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Rare, Remarkable and Southern

Some Southern meeting venues are simply unforgettable.

Unique venues make for memorable meetings — the kind that keep attendees coming back year after year. And while conference and banquet rooms have their time and place, a distinctive and unique setting for an after-hours reception or end-of-conference party will make your entire event one to remember. Here are five special places throughout the Southeast that will excite and delight your meeting’s attendees.

National Corvette Museum

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Seven decades ago, America fell in love with its first sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette. Sleek, speedy and sexy, the “Vette” burst on the scene in 1953 in all its curvy, fiberglass glory and established itself as the American sports car.

The museum dedicated to the Corvette opened in 1994 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, not far from the General Motors’ Bowling Green Assembly Plant, where Corvettes are built.

The museum is also a favorite site for meetings and celebrations.

“Guests have so much fun at our private events,” said Eliza Nicola, senior sales manager of facility rentals. “The Skydome, our own conference center, the Chevrolet Theater — we have so many options, and of course all of these magnificent cars. What we hear time and time again is everybody says they like to book events here because it’s different than your average hotel ballroom. When you walk in, we have Corvette Boulevard, where Corvettes are lined up that people have custom ordered.”

The museum’s conference center has 8,297 square feet of space, as well as a stage, bar and prep kitchen. Other meeting spaces include the Chevrolet Theater, Corvette Boulevard and the Skydome. Planners can choose from full catering and bar options, including the Stingray Grill. Factory tours are also available.

The GRAMMY Museum

Cleveland, Mississippi

Muddy Waters, Elvis Presley and BB King all called Mississippi home. And at a cotton gin four miles outside of Cleveland, Mississippi, Delta bluesmen Robert Johnson, Honeyboy Edwards and Pops Staples created songs that became the foundation of American music. This rich legacy is why the Recording Academy selected Cleveland for the second location of its GRAMMY Museum (the first is in Los Angeles).

Built in 2015, the 28,000-square-foot GRAMMY Museum partners with the institute to give students majoring in music real-world experience in the business side of the music industry.

“Our interactive exhibits are included when you hold an event at the museum, so guests can do their own tours of the permanent collection and current exhibits,” said Brittany McClendon, the museum’s communications and development manager. “We have a classroom, a conference room and a sound stage for presentations. Groups can hold a lunch or dinner in our large lobby, and we can also arrange things on the front porch.”

The museum has several spaces available for meetings, including its 5,400-square-foot front porch, 2,700-square-foot lobby, a 130-seat theater and a smaller conference room.

The Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House

Macon, Georgia

Another music-centric venue is the Allman Brothers Band Museum in Macon, Georgia. Although the band is said to have “invented” the genre known as Southern rock in Florida in 1969, the following year found the band decamping to Macon to record at Capricorn Records. In keeping with the communal spirit of the times, much of the band — girlfriends, groupies, roadies and children — moved into an 18-room Tudor Revival home known as “the Big House,” remaining there until 1973.

In 2009, the Allman Brothers Museum at the Big House opened, hosting the largest collection of Allman Brothers memorabilia in the world, including instruments, albums, concert posters and notebooks containing lyrics written by Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts. Many rooms are preserved as they were when the 1900 home on Vineland Avenue served as the nerve center for the group.

The monument to the founders of Southern rock celebrates their legacy and is available for events. Guests can gather on the gracious grounds and enjoy live music at one of rock music’s inconic historical locations. The Charles H. Jones Pavilion outside the house can accommodate groups of up to 200. Groups also get access to the museum, although food and beverages must remain outside due to the nature of the exhibits.

American Rose Center

Shreveport, Louisiana

Everything (and every event) is coming up roses at the American Rose Center, a gorgeous garden at the national headquarters of the American Rose Society in Shreveport, Louisiana. “We have been at this location in Shreveport for 50 years, so we’re celebrating that 50th anniversary” said Claire Bissell, the society’s executive director. “And last year, we completed a $2 million garden restoration project, which included renovating the gardens and updating our meeting and venue spaces, as well as our ballroom.

With about 20,000 rose bushes of 100 varieties in 65 separate gardens on more than 100 wooded acres, the center is both fragrant and colorful, with an extended bloom season.

“Our large ballroom can accommodate up to about 400 people,” said Bissell. “There’s also a large pavilion on the back of our building where we can open up our glass doors from the indoor ballroom and join that indoor and outdoor space.”

Groups can hold outdoor events for up to 1,500 in the gardens at the Rose Center. Indoors, the Klima Rose Hall can seat 200 guests, and the Beaird Reception Hall can accommodate 150 guests seated. All catering, audiovisual gear and other equipment must be provided by third-party vendors.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon, Virginia

The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association is the oldest national historic preservation organization in the country, and we have them to thank for the preservation of Mount Vernon, the Virginia plantation where Revolutionary War general and first president of the United States George Washington and his wife, Martha, made their home. The Palladian mansion and 30 outbuildings occupy 500 acres overlooking the Potomac River, about 15 miles from Washington, D.C.

The estate has a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces for meetings, parties and other special events. Groups of up to 1,200 can be accommodated on Mount Vernon’s East Lawn, which overlooks the river. The Mount Vernon Inn restaurant is perfect for receptions, and groups of up to 300 can hold events in the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center, which also offers fascinating exhibits and short films. Another venue option is the Ford Orientation Center, which can accommodate groups of up to 400.