When you’re planning a large gathering for friends and family, choosing the ideal location can be difficult. You want plenty of space, local hospitality and activities for all ages. You also want plenty of indoor and outdoor space suitable for meals and festivities. Most of all, you want a site within your budget. Gathering your loved ones together isn’t cheap, and you’ll want money left over for activities once you arrive. Offering many things to see and do just 30 minutes away from downtown Nashville, Wilson County is a perfect taste of Tennessee culture outside of the big-city bustle. Here you’ll find welcoming people and a culture that blends country charm with urban amenities.

The county’s major city, Lebanon, is located just off Interstate 40 and home to many of the area’s hotels and restaurants. Here you’ll find Fiddlers Grove Historic Village, a replica of pioneer towns from the 19th century. Guests can chat with a blacksmith, sit in the desks of a one-room schoolhouse and ride in an authentic buggy. If members of your group want to explore more local history, the Historic Lebanon Driving Tour app will guide you to the city’s 28 historic sites.

In nearby Watertown, visitors can explore Sellars Farm, home of an ancient Native American village from the Mississippian Period. The area has a walking trail and is the discovery site of the state’s official artifact, a stone statue known as Sandy. Those with a taste for hearty Italian and large dining space should try the town’s Nona Lisa Pizzeria, and shoppers will enjoy the antiques and collectibles along the city square. Want to take a night off from chatting with family members and quietly enjoy a movie? Take a short trip to the historic Stardust Drive-In, tune your radio and enjoy a feature flick.

Wilson County has also established itself as formidable “music incubator” with groups as talented as the nearby Nashville superstars. Artists often cut their teeth in local venues, where your group can enjoy country, bluegrass, folk and rock music any time of day. Who knows, you may see a future chart-topper. Sufficiently inspired musicians in your group can participate in a symposium, where they learn the basics of guitar or mandolin in a welcoming environment.

Perched above the Cumberland River Valley, Mount Juliet boasts large parks and recreation centers for groups of any size. Charlie Daniels Park has more than 9000 square feet of barbecue and activity space to ensure your family gets quality outdoor time. Gazebos, pavilions and an amphitheater are available for rental, and younger family members will want to spend all day at Planet Playground and Ava’s Splashpad. Have a competitive family? Try a volleyball or basketball tournament on the free courts available next to the ample picnic areas. The nearby Cedar Creek Sports Center is perfect for a large group that wants to take a break from the local sights and let loose. Batting cages, miniature golf and a driving range are all available to rent out, and private party rooms are perfect for catered meals and indoor celebrations.

Want to explore several of these towns in one day? The Tennessee Central Excursion Trains take riders through Wilson County and history itself in comfortable coaches. The authentic early 20th century locomotive encounters train robbers and westward pioneers while making stops in nearby towns. The accompanying museum focuses on rail life and the industrial development of the southern United States.

Wilson County contains three public golf courses, tennis courts and ample opportunities for hunting and fishing. Cedars of Lebanon State Park has 117 campsites and welcomes large groups with its spacious cabins. The area also has hiking trails, volleyball courts and fireplace bowls for guests’ enjoyment.

The area has major festivals and events year-round. The Wilson County Fair is the largest in the state with more than half a million visitors, and countless rides, displays and food vendors entertain guests of all ages.

With so many activities, your group will surely work up an appetite. Luckily, Wilson County can provide meals for any budget. Numerous southern barbecue joints provide plenty of protein and vegetables for your reunion, and many chains in Lebanon can deliver to your hotel or rented picnic space. Lucky for those with a sweet tooth, the area features some of the best confectionaries in the country. Walker Creek Toffee specializes in the English confection, with caramels and roasted pralines also prepared fresh daily. You may want to provide a breakfast treat for your hungry crew with Gourmet Doughnuts or sandwich supplies from Bay’s Southern Breads. 

Many of Wilson County’s attractions are accessible from Interstate 40, which passes through Knoxville to the east and Nashville and Memphis to the west. The area’s location is within a day’s drive from anywhere in the central U.S. For those who prefer to fly, Nashville International Airport receives flights from across the country and is a short 30-minute drive from many of Wilson County’s attractions.

With its budget-friendly amenities and welcoming locals, Wilson County is an ideal site to host your next reunion. Open space and countless activities ensure your group will share an unforgettable experience, and the warm hospitality is what keeps families returning to the area year after year.