Cheaper stay, music legend ties – how Goodlettsville, TN is luring Music City tourists

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For many northern travelers vacationing in Nashville, Goodlettsville is “the gateway” to Music City, as City Manager Tim Ellis describes.

The city’s hotels effortlessly fill during major Nashville events like CMA Fest and SEC basketball tournaments, but it wants to be more — the place to stay for Music City’s tourists year-round.

“Sometimes visitors and families need a more economical stay,” said tourism director Kimberly Lynn, the first in the city’s role. “Therefore, Goodlettsville has become an attractive area for tourists and travelers, because we’re just 12 miles from downtown Nashville.”

New focus on tourism

The former CEO and president of the Goodlettsville Chamber of Commerce, Lynn took on the new role in August to spend her attention solely on tourism.

“These visitors are spending money and those taxes are going toward your services,” she said.

The shift was funded by the city’s occupancy tax to specifically keep local hotels and businesses busy in the off seasons.

“If you find alternative revenue sources and grow them into success, it just benefits your community for long-term sustainability,” Ellis said.

She splits her time between her office at City Hall, her office at the visitors center at Moss-Wright Park, and traveling to tour bus conventions to share what the city has to offer.

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Why stay in Goodlettsville?
The Visitors Center at Historic Manskers Station in Goodlettsville sells a variety of gifts.
easily accessible with three exits off the interstateclose proximity to downtown Nashvilleno parking fees hotels are cheaper than hotels downtownGoodlettsville has local eateries and shopshandmade goods crafted at Historic Mansker’s Stationbranded cookies from local Willa’s Shortbread
Country Music ties

For those who remember the “Hee Haw” variety show, Goodlettsville has plenty of memorabilia, including Archie’s barber chair at the Goodlettsville Barber Shop.

Many Opry musicians have and still play at the family-friendly Long Hollow Jamboree, and Grandpa Jones is buried in the city.

While Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood live in Goodlettsville, the city also has older ties with: Bill Monroe, Bill Carlisle, banjo musician Leroy Troy, Patsy Cline’s band, musician Deana Carter, who went to school in Goodlettsville, music duo Lonzo and Oscar and actor Jamie Denton.

Plans for the future

Goodlettsville already brings in many school tours from Tennessee and Kentucky to its historic sites, and features popular festivals Heritage Days and Yulefest.

The Visitors Center at Historic Mansker’s Station sells items made in Goodlettsville, including items crafted by the historical interpreters at the historic site.

(Photo: Jen Todd / The Tennessean)

The tourism department is also working on new features to draw visitors and locals:

American Girl Doll Teas beginning in March, including one on Southern grace etiquette, for ages 7-12Pickin on the Porch, a bluegrass festival at the Bowen Plantation HouseHomeschool program beginning in February at Historic Mansker’s Station for ages 8-14

The city will also have three new hotels: Candlewood Suites opening in June, Hampton Inn opening in July, and Holiday Inn Express.

With those hotels, Lynn said more restaurants will eventually come to the area as well.

“It’s just a snowball effect,” she said.

Attracting different age groups

As Lynn travels to various tour conventions, she has also researched how to draw all age groups to Goodlettsville.

Older adults and senior citizens can enjoy the “Hee Haw” and Grand Ole Opry musician ties to the city.

While Historic Mansker’s Station is a popular stop for children and students, many young choirs and bands also travel to Music City to perform. Goodlettsville offers economical stays and local alcohol-free restaurants for those groups.

Targeting millennials, Lynn highlights the local restaurants, boutiques and antique shops in the city, and bluegrass with plans for the Pickin’ on the Porch concert.

Lynn said these offerings will accompany visitors’ trips to Nashville.

“This is the first big stop in Nashville,” she said. “When we can play off that and not feel like we have to be separate, the——¡n we’re all much better off.

“We know it’s good here in Goodlettsville.”

Reach Jen Todd at 615-575-7143, jtodd1@tennessean.com or on Twitter @jentoddwrites.

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