My 14-year-old daughter, who is teaching herself virtually every instrument known to mankind, joined me a few months ago for a quick but fun trip to Nashville. Tennessee’s capital rightly calls itself “Music City.” You can’t swing a saxophone in any direction whatsoever without hitting someone playing music, usually live, in virtually any location, formal venue or park sidewalk.
It’s no exaggeration to say music (not just country music, either) is serious business here. Naturally this place was like Nirvana for her and her love of music. I bet it will be yours, too. Rock on.
The first stop to make when you hit town is the Visitor’s Center adjacent to the Bridgetown Arena at 501 Broadway. Awesome Nashville swag is available for sale by very friendly, very helpful staff who want you to have a great time. They stage live music right here amongst all the Music City brochures, mugs and t-shirts, and if you are at all talented you can book yourself a gig on their website! If you aren’t, you can still make believe it thanks to the props they have set up next to the faux stage.
No matter your feelings on museums, this is one to check out. Music City’s Musician’s Hall of Fame, located in the Historic Nashville Municipal Auditorium, imparts the thrill of knowing that so many legendary artists have performed in this very space. Within the museum are musical instruments on display that many lesser-known musicians played, but for music that you’ve surely heard before. The sitar on that Beatles hit? You’ll admire it here, not far from one of Jimi’s workaday guitars.
Yes, Mr Hendrix’s guitar (one of many he would have played in his short life, but still) is lovingly displayed with all due reverence behind bulletproof glass. Finally, the most exciting part: the large sections within the GRAMMY Museum Gallery in which you can play instruments, compose music, produce music, and much more, all on your own (with guidance from the exhibits themselves). Feel like a rock star for a couple of hours in this place!
If you’re really into country music – and even if you’re not – you’ll surely get something out of a tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. In the beautiful Hall of Fame itself are permanent and temporary exhibits of all your favorite country music stars past and present. Do sign up for the tour of RCA’s historic studio B, the “Home of 1,000 Hits,” while you visit the Hall of Fame. Luminaries like Elvis Presley put Nashville on the map thanks to their recording sessions here.
Veterans to Nashville won’t let you leave until you’ve checked out the Honky Tonk scene on Broadway. It’s all neon all the time to complement the music, food and dancing on this iconic street! Each venue has different policies for admission for anyone under 21 but if it’s daytime or early evening, you should be okay; just ask the staff at the door. One recommendation for lively fun and tasty food in a spacious, energetic Music City atmosphere is the Wildhorse Saloon. All ages are welcome until 9:00 pm nightly for live music, dining and dancing. Learn the newest line dancing steps demonstrated here, and amaze your friends back home with your trendy self.
Now that you’ve experienced downtown Nashville, you probably need some room to roam along with some fresh Tennessee air. Your best bet: head over to Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort. This scenic hideaway of cabins and RV spaces features an exciting variety of adventurous activities from which to choose. Your folks will probably be content to rent a pontoon boat for some leisurely relaxing and fishing. Fine, but make sure they set aside ample time to join you in rocking the Treetop Adventure Park, an obstacle course in the treetops, and the refreshing Waterpark. The website has all the deets so check it out first.
What’s up with the controversial views Americans have about their Commander-in-Chief? Well, their 7th one, anyway? Find out when you step back in time at the Hermitage, home of the 19th century’s “People’s President,” Andrew Jackson. The grounds, as beautiful as they are, provide a bittersweet backdrop into the workings of a southern cotton plantation, slavery and all. Rustic slave cabins scattered about the landscape contrast with the majestic mansion. Fascinating interpretative signs which provide an explanation of daily life here skirt the leafy, tranquil countryside.
Experience a part of Nashville’s musical heritage when you tour the Grand Ole Opry. No less than three backstage tours are offered here, the Ground Zero of America’s country music origins. Performances have been broadcast on radio, and then TV and now Internet, for almost a century. Take one in while you’re here; check the website for backstage and show information. And whatever you do, get here early to fight for the limited parking spaces. Better yet, summon back that Uber driver you had ferry you around downtown!
A really unique hotel, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, lurks next to the Grand Ole Opry, and if you’re in town on a convention you may be lucky enough to stay there. If not, though, the hotel is still worth a visit, especially when the weather is less than ideal. The highlight of this facility is its multi-story enclosed atrium, around which the guest rooms cluster alongside dining options and boutique shops. Luckily there is no charge to marvel at the property’s lush waterfalls as you amble through its nine acres of indoor gardens. A Delta Riverboat Cruise, all indoors, is even offered for a nominal charge.
You can book a single or tandem (double) kayak at River Queen Voyages and spend the better part of an afternoon riding some sick Cumberland River waves. Kidding about the waves. But yeah, the journey involves plenty of soothing immersion into nature when you’re not basking in the majesty of downtown Nashville’s skyscrapers from a unique river vantage point. You can choose a canoe if you prefer, but either way this is a great way to get some cardio action in while admiring the scenery. Read the FAQ’s here thoroughly before you go!