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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Tennessee Mountain Meetings


Tucked into the northeastern corner of Tennessee, the cities of Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport anchor the state’s Tri-Cities region. The area’s steep mountains, rolling hills and lush valleys are part of the Appalachian Mountains’ Valley and Ridge Province. Johnson City is the largest of the three cities, but Kingsport is home to the Tri-Cities’ largest venue: the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center. The massive complex boasts nearly 82,000 square feet of function space and 42 event rooms. The resort has a 35,000-square-foot convention center, and the conference center has three ballrooms, two amphitheaters and outdoor space with a patio and courtyard.

Johnson City sits just west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The recently renovated 206-guest-room Holiday Inn is the city’s largest event space, with more than 11,000 square feet, including a 4,800-square-foot ballroom that can seat 450 for meals.

Carnegie Hotel and Spa is a replica of its historic namesake, said Jenna Moore, director of sales for the Johnson City Convention and Visitors Bureau. The AAA Four Diamond property has 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including the Grand Soldiers Ballroom, which can seat about 250 for banquets.

Next door, the IACC-certified Millennium Centre can welcome up to 800 attendees. Its 25,000 square feet of meeting space features state-of-the-art conference rooms and a 5,900-square-foot ballroom that can be divided into thirds.

The Freedom Hall Civic Center is a recently renovated multipurpose arena that welcomes trade shows and conventions with banquet capacity for 800 or theater seating for 8,500.

The Gray Fossil Site is an active Pliocene-era fossil dig site where visitors can watch paleontologists as they dig up fossils, including “a mastodon with a 12-foot tusk,” Moore said. The center now also houses the Hands On! Discovery Center, which has two event rooms for up to 55 and 30 guests, respectively.

Groups can enjoy the surrounding mountains with rafting trips on the Nolichucky River or guided mountain biking trips.

The city of Bristol straddles the state line, so “half of our city is in Virginia, and half is in Tennessee,” said Courtney Cacatian, executive director of Discover Bristol. Though most of the meeting hotels are on the Virginia side, the Tennessee side offers several venues as well, most notably the Bristol Motor Speedway. The NASCAR short track has event space that can seat 175 guests for meals, and groups can also arrange for guided tours and driving experiences, Cacatian said.

In Bristol’s historic downtown, planners can also book the restored 732-seat Paramount Theater and arrange for a demonstration of its historic Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Work is underway on Lost State Distilling’s new space in a historic building just under Bristol’s signature sign. The bottom floor will house the distillery, and the top two floors will have a bar and an event space.