What kind of music do they like in Nashville? Well, traditionally, they like both kinds: country and western. Commonly known as “Music City”, Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, has a well-earned reputation for being the country music capital of the world, and a visit to a classic venue such as the Grand Ole Opry will surely be part of your itinerary.
But while music still runs through the veins of Nashville, these days it comes in many forms, from classical to gospel, and there are numerous other reasons to visit this picturesque, historical, multicultural city on the banks of the Cumberland River, including the arts, family entertainment, friendly locals and a burgeoning foodie scene.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a great place to start your country music education (and join a tour of nearby RCA Studio B, where Elvis Presley recorded more than 200 songs). Stars from other genres are honoured in the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, while the Johnny Cash Museum pays homage to the Man in Black.
There’s live music just about everywhere, with famous venues including the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium and the more intimate Bluebird Cafe. Arts highlights include the art museum inside the Parthenon (a replica of the Greek temple) and the Frist Centre for Visual Arts (broad-ranging and family-friendly). For kids who are sick of art and music, there’s always the Nashville Zoo and the Adventure Science Centre.
Eat and Drink
If anything could rival music as a Nashville attraction, it’s the city’s booming food scene. You’ll find great food all over town, including Germantown, East Nashville, Downtown and Hillsboro Village. For traditional Nashville cuisine, try a “meat and three” restaurant, where you choose one meat dish and three vegetable sides, or spice things up with some Nashville hot chicken.
If you feel like branching out, you’ll find food from all over the world, from cheap and cheerful to haute cuisine, plus lots of coffee, specialty chocolate stores, candy stores, craft breweries and distilleries. And don’t forget the bars. Downtown, and elsewhere, there are plenty of places where you can combine Nashville’s two great loves: food and live music.
Where to Stay
From cute and cosy to gleaming and luxurious, from bed and breakfasts to big resorts, Nashville’s accommodation comes in all shapes and sizes. There are plenty of options three-star and upwards Downtown, where you’ll be right in the heart of the action for bars, restaurants and, of course, live music.
Not far away, Midtown is also a lively hub for nightlife, while East Nashville has been described as Nashville’s version of New York’s trendy East Village, and offers some more budget-friendly accommodation.
Looking for a pair of boots and a guitar? You’ll be spoilt for choice; cowboy apparel and music stores can be found all over the city.
For something more unusual, try shopping for clothes and used books at Hillsboro Village; custom denim, furnishings and art at 12 South; and an eclectic mix of independent stores in East Nashville.
Mall fans should head to Opry Mills (clothing outlets and other discount stores) or the Mall at Green Hills (which includes some big names, including Macy’s).
Nashville Like a Local
If you find yourself in Nashville on the first Saturday of the month and want a fast-track immersion into the city’s arts scene, get yourself along to the First Saturday Art Crawl. You can start with an architecture tour of the art deco Frist Center at 4.30pm, then move on to explore more than 20 galleries Downtown that from 6pm to 9pm open their doors to their latest exhibitions for free. Many offer wine and nibbles too, and more than 1000 people join in the artistic fun each month. Naturally, there’s live music to entertain you as you wander between galleries.