Located on the Cumberland River, Nashville is the heart of the American country music scene, home to the Grand Ole Opry and other melodious institutions. And with its ties to Andrew Jackson, "Music City" also boasts plenty of early United States heritage.
What We Love
Ryman Auditorium: The “Mother Church of Country Music” was built in 1892 by steamboat operator Captain Tom Ryman as an actual church and served as home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. Shows are still held year-round, including performances staged in conjunction with the Opry in the spring and fall. Backstage tours offer quirky stories about the bygone stars.
RCA Studio B: This historic music spot produced 45,000 songs between 1957 and 1977, including hits by Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Charlie Pride, and Waylon Jennings. Guided tours commence at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Best Known For
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: This dramatic, modern museum covers the entire history of American country music — from frontier fiddle tunes and folk songs to recording megastars such as Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Taylor Swift.
Grand Ole Opry: Legends of country music take the stage alongside up-and-coming stars for live performances every Friday and Saturday night year-round, as well as Tuesday nights (March-December) and Wednesday nights (June-August).
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Who It's Best For
Country Music Fans: It's a no-brainer — Nashville is a paradise for anyone who cherishes the sound of the American heartland.
American History Buffs: Andrew Jackson's Hermitage estate on the edge of Nashville is one of the great presidential homes, while the surrounding countryside is spangled with Civil War sites and historic plantations.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Beware of Lower Broadway: The old honky tonks are pretty sleazy and the stores — other than the famous Ernest Tubb Record Shop— are fairly tacky.
The New Opry Isn't Very Grand: The current theater, which took the place of the Ryman Auditorium in 1974, is an architectural monstrosity that looks more like a factory than a place to savor music.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.