This weekend I had a conference in Nashville, so Chris and I got there a day early and stayed a day late to see the sights of “Music City”. Downtown was super crowded- there was an Ed Sheeran concert, a huge Vanderbilt-Georgia football game, Oktoberfest, and it was Art Weekend, just to name a few events. There are at least two big mega-hotels being built in downtown right now, so hopefully in a few months there will be more rooms to rent right down in the action. Here are a few things Nashville has to offer:
*Grand Ole Opry. This past weekend was the Opry’s 92nd birthday, so they had some old favorites in for the show. We got to see Pam Tillis, Ricky Skaggs, Hunter Hayes, Mike Snider, Diamond Rio, Connie Smith, Tracy Lawrence, Vince Gill, and the Oak Ridge Boys. Tickets start around $40 and parking is free. They generally have shows three nights a week.
*Art Walk: On the first Saturday of the month, Nashville art galleries open their doors (and their wine stash) for free at over 20 places, and include a free shuttle that stops at 5 spots in the city. It’s a great way to see some amazing contemporary art and feel pretty cultured, all while getting free drinks.
*The Hermitage: a bit outside of town is the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home before and after his presidency. It’s a look back at life in the 19th century on this 1,120 acre estate, and on the weekends, they feature a live-action lesson in “The Duel- Art of the Southern Gentlemen”. $20, or half price with military ID.
*Country Music Hall of Fame: You can visit the hall of fame, see memorabilia, and learn about the induction process. Right now they have exhibits on Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats, as well as Loretta Lynn, Jason Aldean, Shania Twain, and Lynn Anderson. Tickets start at $25.
*Don’t miss Parnassus Bookstore, or their mobile book bus- the bookshop is owned by Author Ann Patchett, and hosts events, independent authors, and book clubs.
*The Bluebird Cafe: Many a country-music singer or song-writer got their start at the Bluebird, and you can still listen to a set for free most nights of the week. But you better reserve early, or get in line for their first-come first-served church pews. You literally never know who might show up at The Bluebird, so you might see a star- or someone who’s about to be one!
*The Ryman Auditorium: In the 1920s this was the place to be for acts such as Charlie Chaplin, Roy Rogers, and Harry Houdini. Later the Ryman was the place where Johnny Cash met June Carter, Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline played, and the Grand Ole Opry got it’s start. In the 70s the Opry moved out, and the Ryman was almost abandoned. But it was renovated in the 90s, and it’s been named “Theater of the Year” for the last six years and still features shows such as Emmylou Harris, Kings of Leon, and Blues Traveler.
*Centennial Park: This park just outside of downtown was the site of the 100th anniversary of Nashville Exposition. For the occasion, a life-sized replica of the Parthenon in Greece was constructed there, and still stands today. The park includes a one-mile walking path, a lake, an arts activity center, sports courts, and a sunken garden.
Of course you have to eat while you’re in Nashville, and here’s a few they are famous for:
*Tennessee, or Memphis Barbecue is a style, rather than a place. It differs from Kansas City, Texas, or Carolina bbq, by almost always being pork, and not being marinated or topped with a sauce- instead they use a dry or wet rub. Some delicious Nashville bbq spots are on this Thrillist.
*Hot chicken: Prince’s Hot Chicken has been serving it up for almost a hundred years. We ate there and I can attest to it being both delicious and hot. Be prepared to sweat- and to wait. The restaurant “on the other side of the tracks” is so popular that there’s almost always an hour wait. Another popular hot chicken place is Hattie B’s.
*GooGo cluster: Invented in 1912 in Nashville, the GooGoo cluster consisted of real milk chocolate, peanuts, marshmallow, and caramel. You can visit the store and dessert bar down on Broadway Street.
*The Standard: the only antebellum house left in downtown, now a restaurant and private cigar club. The location has been used in several country music videos, and a whole host of famous dignitaries have visited, resided, or dined there.
Once you’ve had your delicious Nashville dinner, it’s time to go down to Broadway Street and visit some honkytonks. There are literally dozens of bars and clubs all in a row, so just pick one that has good music coming out of the open front windows, and head on in. Most do not charge a cover so you can visit several in one night!
What are some of your favorite Nashville sights? Leave your comments below: