There’s no escaping music in Nashville, which is undeniably the main draw of the city. You can hear country, rock, bluegrass, jazz and pop almost anywhere you go.
Legendary musicians Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley have all performed in Nashville, with Presley even recording his first number one hit, Heartbreak Hotel, in the city in 1956.
Music aside, there’s plenty to do and see here. Visitors can watch the Tennessee Titans play American Football or take a tour on the city’s trolley bus to see sites such as Centennial Park and the Parthenon, Tennessee State Museum and the famous Ryman Auditorium. Here are ten highlights to add to your
1 The Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry is the show that made country music famous. It’s the world’s longest-running radio show and runs every Friday and Saturday plus seasonal Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Starting out at the Ryman Auditorium in Downtown Nashville, the Opry has had six homes throughout its 85-plus years. It moved to the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974 and has called the names of country music’s all-time greats, from Hank Williams and Patsy Cline to Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. Shows last for two hours and feature performances by country legends and contemporary
chart-toppers. Backstage tours are also available.
2 The Bluebird Café
This club is famous for its intimate, acoustic performances by established singers and songwriters as well as up-and-coming stars. Everyone from LeAnn Rimes and Phil Vassar mingle with writers here. Located in a small mall outside of Downtown Nashville, the 90-seat venue hosts nightly performances of three or four songwriters. Sunday and Monday nights are first-come, first-served. Getting into the venue on other nights can be tricky due to its popularity, so booking ahead is key. All reservations must be made through www.bluebirdcafe.com.
3 The Johnny Cash Museum
Fans of the Man in Black can view 18,000 square feet of memorabilia, which includes many of Cash’s personal belongings (birth certificate, letters, original song lyrics) and items from his home as well as photographs of Cash, his wife June Carter and his children.
4 The Country Music Hall of Fame
Located in the heart of Downtown Nashville, the iconic museum is open daily and showcases interactive exhibitions featuring vintage video and audio footage, artefacts and costumes from legendary country music artists such as Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift as well as Elvis Presley’s Cadillac and instruments from iconic bands.
5 Broadway, Downtown
Broadway in Downtown Nashville is really the soul of the city and is known as Honky Tonk Highway. Honky tonk bars line both sides of the road and pump live music into the streets all day, every day. There’s no cover charge to hear bands, but tip jars get passed around for donations. The music starts at 10am with the party lasting until 3am.
6 Music City trolley tour
This sightseeing bus allows you to hop on and hop off at any one of its 17 designated stops, which include The Gulch district (ideal for shopping and dining), Centennial Park and the Parthenon, The George Jones Museum and the Nashville Farmers’ Market. Passes are
good for two days and can be purchased via www.grayline.com/tours/nashville.
7 Monell’s restaurant
When it comes to dining in Nashville, experiencing traditional Southern hospitality is a must. Monell’s on Bransford Avenue is open daily and serves breakfast lunch and dinner, family-style. (Guests are seated together on long tables, while hearty dishes such as grits, mash potato, fried chicken and greens are passed around, all for a fixed price).
Downtown Nashville has some of the best stores for authentic cowboy boots, old records, souvenirs, traditional Tennessee candy and sweets.
9 ABC Nashville tour
Go behind the scenes of ABC’s popular TV series Nashville and explore real-life filming locations featured in the show with Gray Line of Tennessee.
10 Belle Meade Plantation
Take a guided tour of one of Nashville’s historic plantations. It also includes a free grape tasting at its vineyard.