From behind-the-scenes tours of iconic recording studios to glamping under the stars, this trip is full of glitz, glamour, and grit—just like Dolly herself.
by Black Tomato
At Black Tomato, music and musicians themselves continually inspire us and are powerful cultural connectors when you travel; from the balconies of Cuba to the underground venues pulsing in Senegal. Music and travel are even more closely intertwined than the live performances themselves, in whatever format or setting they may be. Music is deeply sensorial—evocative, iconic, mesmerizing—and these memories stay with you years later even when certain details may fade away. They can ignite memories of salty air, roaring fires, spice markets, sunsets, and sundowners—mental talismans from journeys past.
So, it is our great pleasure to collaborate on an exclusive itinerary for BeatRoute, emblematic and inspired by the most legendary force of nature (and force for good) we can possibly think of: Dolly Parton. Dolly’s wide appeal is obviously due to her inimitable talent, yes, but also her completely authentic sense of self. From behind-the-scenes tours of recording studios to guided hikes on the Appalachian Trail in Gatlinburg (her home) to glamping under the stars, we hope we did Dolly proud. And when it comes to insider access, yes, we can even arrange for you to meet the soulful queen herself. The ask? Donations to her charitable causes. For us, that says it all: humble, passionate, kind, full of glitz, glamour but most importantly grit. This is Dolly’s Tennessee. So, buckle up, you’re in for a ride.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park 3 Nights Glamping at Under Canvas
Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains is located just 10 miles from Gatlinburg, Tennessee (where Dolly was born and raised) and is set upon 182-acres of lush, wooded terrain, minutes from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Beckoning travelers to Tennessee’s ancient mountains and misty blue vistas, Under Canvas’ eco-friendly glamping accommodations offer an unparalleled outdoor experience in “The Land of Blue Smoke”.
Oh, sometimes I go walking through fields where we walked Long ago in the sweet used to be And the flowers still grow, but they don’t smell as sweet As they did when you picked them for me.
– Dolly Parton
The Stargazer offers all the luxuries of their Deluxe Tent with a viewing window above the king bed. Enjoy a private en-suite bathroom, wood-burning stove, and private deck. Perfect for couples looking for an elevated glamping trip.
The Great Smoky Mountains have inspired Dolly Parton since she was a little girl, so this is where you simply must start. Dolly herself is so deeply tied to the region, she has made her permanent home in Gatlinburg and is an official ambassador for Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Honeysuckle vine clings to the fence along the lane Their fragrance makes the summer wind so sweet
And on a distant hilltop, an eagle spreads its wings And a songbird on a fence post sings a melody In my Tennessee mountain home
– Dolly Parton
Privately guided full-day hiking on the Appalachian Trail:
The hike to Charlies Bunion begins from the large parking area at Newfound Gap. Hikers will travel eastbound along the Appalachian Trail to reach this popular rock outcropping. The steady climb over the course of the first two miles of this hike will quickly leave the crowds behind at Newfound Gap. For your effort during this portion of the hike, you’ll be rewarded early and often. At roughly two-thirds of a mile, you’ll enjoy grand views of the North Carolina Smokies towards the south. Hikers will also enjoy a wide variety of wildflowers that bloom at these elevations during the spring and early summer, including varieties such as violets, spring beauty, and trout lilies.
Why we’re sending you here:
Dolly was born in Sevierville and currently resides in a stunning area called Locust Ridge, at the tippy top of the mountain, which is on the edge of Pittman’s Center. This is certainly an area worth exploring. In Pittman’s center, it won’t be unusual to see a bald eagle fly by, and is home to arguably the best trout fishing in the nation. When Dolly writes about the mountains, she’s talking about Pittman’s Center. So, you’re literally living her stories and living her songs by exploring this breathtaking part of the world.
With that in mind…
Private fly-fishing lesson:
Get ready for a successful fishing trip in the Smokies! As the oldest fly shop in Gatlinburg and the only fly fishing outfitter in town, you’ll be outfitted in the highest quality fishing gear from Orvis, Simms, Sage, Ross, Echo, Syndicate, Redington, and more. They have the area’s best selection of locally hand-tied and commercial flies. Open year-round, our guides are TWRA license agent and carry rental equipment. These are the best guides and the preeminent trout fishing HQ. With guide services offered and being only minutes from wild mountain trout streams or local stocked waters, we will have you on your way to a great outing in no time. Travelers will have a full day fly fishing or on a draft boat, this is ideal for first-timers.
What else to do:
Spend some quality R&R at Under Canvas but also check out downtown Gatlinburg for fun live music. We would be remiss not to include some time on your own to Dollywood Theme Park. It’s simply a must. It’s a little cheesy but it’s the best kind of cheesy. Biscuits and gravy, funnel cake, it’s a hoot. Have your Dollywood mini-moment after a breakfast at Old Mill Pottery House Café.
Spanning 160 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood offers more than 50 world-class rides, high-energy entertainment, award-winning dining, and the friendliest park atmosphere in the world. They even received an award for being so friendly! Dollywood offers you the chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains and the incredible spirit of its people, all at a place fun for all ages. Enjoy an oasis in the mountains with rides and slides at Dollywood’s Splash Country. Come make memories you’ll be sure to treasure always.
Depending on when you go, there’s a fabulous music festival called Songwriter’s Festival and it gathers songwriters from Nashville, LA, NYC all over the world.
Ramp Festival (yes, the food!): there’s an abundance of produce and this is a fun and quirky one to visit if it happens to arrive when you’re in town.
Where to eat:
The Village Café & Creamery in Gatlinburg is an absolute classic and looks like an old Swiss /Austrian village. It has been there for decades.
Pancake Pantry is legendary. It’s retained its same charm forever. Our pro tip? Go for lunch, not breakfast—most people want to go for breakfast (because it’s excellent) but we recommend lunch.
Old Smoky Moonshine Distillery. Take on a moonshine tasting over live Appalachian music, they have an endless array of flavors to try and it’s oh so much fun.
Nashville, Tennessee 3 Nights at Thompson Nashville
Now it’s time to bid adieu to the mountains and head to buzzy Nashville, a place Dolly has graced and connected with deeply. Home to some of the most vibrant musical talent in the nation, this is your home for the next three nights.
There’s no place like Nashville, and at the heart of this little big town’s explosive growth, this luxury boutique hotel in The Gulch is the place to be. Sharing the block with beloved bluegrass and roots music icon The Station Inn, Thompson Hotels celebrates this city’s creative spirit, with Nashville’s own Hastings Architecture Associates and a stellar homegrown culinary team, weaving an energetic new neighborhood luxury hotel destination into the local fabric. Check out the rooftop bar at L.A. Jackson for craft cocktails, 20 regional brews, and spectacular views from downtown Nashville to SoBro. Then head down to Marsh House restaurant for a seafood-focused take on Southern cooking, driven by the bounty of local farmers and makers.
Why we’re sending you to Nashville:
Music is everything to Nashville, not simply country music, and the city is a vibe worth experiencing. But we want to elevate the experience by giving you access you normally can’t get, in the hopes it may inspire you. Dolly herself has graced many of these stages and studios, so follow in her footsteps and enjoy what’s next.
Once home to musical titans such as Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, Roy Orbison, and The Everly Brothers, this is one of the world’s most famous recording facilities. Today it serves as a popular cultural attraction and as a classroom for students who visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Built by Nashville businessman Dan Maddox in 1957 and leased to RCA Records, RCA Studio B was first known as “RCA Victor Studio.” It became a cradle of the Nashville Sound in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Studio B hitmakers also have included Country Music Hall of Fame members Bobby Bare, Floyd Cramer, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and of COURSE, and most importantly, Dolly Parton. Dottie West, as well as pop trumpet player Al Hirt, and gospel greats the Blackwood Brothers, bluegrass pioneer Lester Flatt, and R&B legend Fats Domino have also made this home.
It’s here that we’ll arrange a private tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum and the famous RCA Studio B before having you write and record your own country song with a prestigious writer. Quite a keepsake.
Grand Ole Opry Behind the Curtain Experience & VIP Circle Room Access – Private:
We’ll take you on a guided Backstage Tour of the Grand Ole Opry, behind the curtains of one of country music’s most famous concert halls. This tour is the best way to see “The Birthplace of Country Music.” Walking through the streets of Nashville, you’ll get a close-up view of the sites that make this world-class city one of the top-visited places in the United States. Nashville hosts the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Parthenon, just to name a few. Check out Printers Alley what was once the center of Nashville’s printing industry—the city’s two largest newspapers were once based here—is now a collection of nightclubs showcasing some of Music City’s best up-and-coming musical acts. Jimi Hendrix, Barbara Mandrell, Hank Williams, and, Dolly Parton all cut their teeth in Printers Alley. We’ll have you meet with some insightful music historians while at the Grand Ole Opry and end on a high note with VIP Circle Room access for cocktails in this clubby lounge.
Ryman Auditorium Exclusive Tour:
This historical and legendary landmark plays host to some of the finest musical talent in the world, so we’re taking you after hours on a guided tour (small group) to soak it all up (from the stained glass to the soundstage). When you walk through the doors of the historic Ryman Auditorium, one thing you will feel immediately: this isn’t just another nightly music venue – you are in the presence of greatness and this is hallowed ground. This is where bluegrass was born—where Johnny Cash met June Carter and was here that country music found an audience beyond its own back porch, and countless careers took off as deals were signed on napkins and paper scraps backstage. This is a building where anything is possible: a soul can find redemption, a crumbling building can find salvation, and an unknown kid with a guitar can find his or her name in lights.
What else to do:
Wander. Wander through Nashville, through its honkey tonks, its craft cocktail bars, its elevated food scene. Don’t come with an agenda and we guarantee you will leave inspired. But one absolute must…
White Limozeen: Check out White Limozeen, the vintage-glam bar and v v over-the-top restaurant atop Nashville’s Graduate Hotel that aims to be all things Dolly with bright pink walls, an onyx wraparound bar, glittery chandeliers, and even a giant pink chicken-wire sculpture of the “Jolene” singer herself. The newly opened, indoor-outdoor space, named after a song and album of Parton’s, represents “the glitzy pinnacle of a thematic voyage at the 12-story Midtown hotel,” said Graduate Hotels CEO and founder Ben Weprin. He’s the one who came up with the Dolly idea. This place is chic and sexy, with just the perfect amount of kitsch. We recommend ordering (or sampling!) 4 cocktails inspired after her: The Dolly, The Jolene, The Shelby, and the 9 to 5.
Your journey ends here.
Price: from $4,850 per person, including all experiences and accommodations, excluding flights.