One destination that captured my heart was Nashville, Tennessee. I was very excited to visit the city known for cowboy boots and country music. Along with country music, Nashville is also home to genres like Bluegrass, Classical, Blues, Contemporary Christian, Americana, and Jazz. With over 130 music venues throughout the town, visitors and locals alike can enjoy live music 365 days a year. Nashville also is a city full of history.
On arrival it is best to take some time to get acquainted with where everything is located. The main street in downtown Nashville is called Broadway and is filled with venue after venue playing live music day and night. Most of the venues have a bar and/or restaurant inside making it very easy to grab some food while listening to local artists perform. At one end of Broadway you have the riverfront, where you can easily take a stroll by the water or walk above the Mississippi River along the pedestrian bridge. At the other end of Broadway you have the Bridgestone Arena home of the local hockey team, the Nashville Predators.
Near Broadway there are plenty of museums that you can visit during the daytime. Two museums that are very close to each other are the Johnny Cash Museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Both of them you can easily spend hours in while learning about the history and influence of great country legends. Often times you can find discounted admission to one or both of the museums online.
Centennial Park is located a bit outside of downtown but is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. The 132-acre park features an iconic Parthenon, historical monuments, a lake, volleyball courts, a dog park, and walking trails. The parthenon is world’s only full-scale replica of the one in Athens. Inside the Parthenon is a beautiful gold 42-foot statue of Athena. It is the largest indoor statue in the western hemisphere
No visit to Nashville can be complete without a visit to the famous Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. When there are no scheduled evening shows you are able to take a behind-the-scenes tour. The first part of the tour is a very interactive showcase displaying the history of the Ryman and how it has evolved over the decades. Afterwords you are able to go inside the main auditorium in order to see the seating and stage. Along the way are different displays and videos informing you of events that have taken place at the Ryman.
Another great place to visit is the Musicians Hall of Fame and Grammy Museum. It takes about an hour or two to tour the museum learning about all the musicians that have made it into the hall of fame and even seeing some of their original artifacts. From the Musicians Hall of Fame you are able to walk to the Tennessee State Capitol, Tennessee State Museum and the War Memorial.
If you are able to go I highly recommend a visit to see the Grand Ole Opry, which is the longest-running radio broadcast in the world. The Opry House is located in an area called the Music Valley which is a little outside of downtown but there is plenty to do out there if you want to spend the day exploring. There is a huge Opry Mills Mall which offers a shuttle service to the breathtaking Gaylord Opryland Resort nearby.
You can easily spend several hours touring
the incredible 4.5 acre resort. It is proud to be known as the largest non-gaming in-hotel exhibition space in the world. The resort is filled with beautiful indoor gardens and waterfalls. There are many different sections of the hotel, such as the Delta section where you are able to take a boat ride on the river. In the evenings beginning at 6pm there is a water fountain show with lights and music that is fun to enjoy.
From the resort you are able to hop on a similar shuttle to take you over to the Opry House. The venue is very big and there is not a bad seat in the entire auditorium. In my opinion the Opry House is not as beautiful as the Ryman Auditorium, however it is a MUST to visit and watch the Grand Ole Opry. The shows are fantastic and get you singing and dancing along to the music.
In order to learn more about the history of Nashville you need to wander a bit outside of the city. The first place I recommend is the Hermitage which was home to our seventh president, Andrew Jackson. You are able to go on an interactive tour of the mansion and see the different rooms. Once outside you are able to see the original cabin, the gardens, and where both the president and his wife were laid to rest.
Another historical landmark is the Belle Meade Plantation. You are able to select from several different tour options to view the mansion and grounds of the 24 acre estate. The workers are all dressed in costume and give you a great detail about the history and present day use of the area. Belle Meade Plantation’s history is full of farming, a period of slavery, and thoroughbred horses. The most notable horse was named Bonnie Scotland. Almost every horse that races in the Kentucky Derby today is a descendant of Bonnie Scotland. Her descendants include Secretariat, Sea Biscuit, and California Chrome. During the tour you are able to explore the grounds including a horse stable, carriage house, dairy, various gardens, a mausoleum, smokehouse, and a log cabin. Afterwords they offer free wine tasting in the gift shop.