Check out the latest group travel industry updates.

Adventure train added to Santa Fe Railyard District

Sky Railway, Santa Fe, N.M.
Credit: Courtesy

SANTA FE, N.M. — Hop aboard Sky Railway, Santa Fe’s new adventure entertainment train, for rides focused more on the journey than the destination. Two former Santa Fe Southern Railway engines and several historic passenger cars have been restored and reimagined by a team lead by Game of Thrones author, George R.R. Martin, and feature visuals that reference his work in the form of a graffiti art-inspired dragon and wolf.

The fantastical rail adventures roll merrily along an 18-mile stretch of track, dating to the 1880s, between the Santa Fe Railyard depot and the Lamy depot. Adventure rides range from holiday themed experiences to murder mysteries, from sunset cocktail rides to after dark stargazer express runs.

U.S. Civil Rights Trail adds new Tennessee stops

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Travel South recently announced the addition of two new sites and one expansion along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, including the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville and Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis. The new additions join other landmarks for a total of 14 Tennessee stops on the trail.

Stax Museum of American Soul, Memphis, Tenn.
Credit: GTM/Courtney Birchmeier

The National Museum of African American Music, which just celebrated its first anniversary, is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the many music genres created, influenced and inspired by African Americans. The “One Nation Under a Groove” gallery is focused on how music inspired the Civil Rights Movement and evolved with the issues of the day.

In Memphis, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located on the original site of Stax Records studio since 2003, pays special tribute to the artists who recorded there, as well as other American soul legends. Many of the artists and musicians who recorded at Stax were from the surrounding neighborhood, local churches and schools. In a time when racial tension was high, the studio was integrated from day one, focusing on producing its own sound, a Memphis sound.

Another Memphis site along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail is Clayborn Temple, now expanded to include “I AM A MAN” Plaza, which features a sculpture alongside a wall filled with the names of those who participated and rallied in the historic 1968 Memphis sanitization strikes.

San Francisco Opera approaches centennial

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — This September, the San Francisco Opera will kick off its centennial season honoring the company’s first 100 years while renewing its commitment to innovation. San Francisco Opera is only the third American opera company in history to reach this centennial milestone.

The centennial season opens on Sept. 9 with an Opening Night Concert followed by eight mainstage operas, additional concerts, and community events through July 1, 2023.

In addition to the opera’s 100th season, this year also marks the 90th anniversary of the War Memorial Opera House. San Francisco was the first in the U.S. to build a civic opera house as well as the first to vote municipal support for a symphony orchestra.

Virginia Museum of History & Culture sets reopening date

New Great Hall, Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Richmond, Va.
Rendering: Courtesy Virginia Museum of History & Culture

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) will soon complete the most extensive and transformative renovation in its nearly 200-year history, one that began in October 2020. The museum will unveil its $30 million renovation on May 14.

The renewed museum complex of nearly 250,000 square feet will include multiple new exhibition spaces for long-term and changing exhibitions; a new immersive orientation theater; a new interactive learning space for families; a new research library with a state-of-the-art rare book and manuscript suite, and multiple new education/meeting rooms; a new café, museum store and other amenities; and multiple new and renewed community and event spaces.

The museum will also debut “Our Commonwealth,” a new exhibit that explores Virginia’s five regions with artifacts from cultural institutions highlighted within. VMHC has developed regional partnerships with institutions around the state, including a partnership with Richmond’s Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia to share collections and resources.

New amphitheater to open in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The highly anticipated Orion Amphitheater will open this May in Huntsville’s MidCity District. The outdoor space will hold 8,000 people and will be used year-round for both concerts and community events. Other plans include hosting farmers markets, art displays, theater performances and meeting spaces for large-scale gatherings. Orion will feature themed food and drink areas to satisfy everyone from wine and whiskey drinkers to beer and hard seltzer connoisseurs.

The area outside of the venue will be known as Apollo Park. This public park will be open year-round for people to exercise and roam freely. Only when there are specific ticketed events will the entire campus be enclosed — otherwise patrons are encouraged to utilize the grounds for their enjoyment throughout the year.