Located in northwest Tennessee, off the beaten path by the Cumberland River you’ll find a dynamic metropolis loaded with friendly people and comfort food, unique cultural attractions and a rich history that has weathered America’s many music revolutions to bring us the biggest names in entertainment. Awarded the international nickname “Music City” by Queen Victoria, Nashville has been one of, if not the most renowned hubs for songwriting, producing, recording, and performing around the globe; yet it offers so much more than that. Both in and outside the city limits, tourism has spiked in recent years thanks to brand new venues, a burgeoning foodie scene, and credit to the ABC hit television series, “Nashville”. If you’re from the States, road tripping or flying nationwide will make Nashville a fantastic getaway that’s easier on your wallet; with amusements that could keep you busy and enchanted for weeks on end, here are five reasons to visit Nashville that you won’t want to miss!
1. Music History
If you aren’t a big music lover or country music fan, there are still dozens of other attractions for you to enjoy while taking a holiday in Nashville – that being said, the music scene is truly what puts Nashville on the map. You have the Grand Ole Opry (housing the world’s longest-running radio show) and Ryman Auditorium (the “Birthplace of Bluegrass”); the Music City Walk of Fame and Country Music Hall of Fame Museum; RCA Studio B (where more than 1,000 Top 10 American hits were recorded by the likes of Elvis, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and more) and the rest of Music Row, with its numerous recording studios, record labels and publishing houses. Artist-specific sites like the Willie Nelson and Friends General Store and Museum and the brand new Johnny Cash Museum are open to the public, as are legendary establishments such as the Bluebird Cafe, Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Station Inn and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. You can pick and choose which famous artists and institutions to pay homage to throughout your trip, or take it all in with an educated tour guide on one of Nashville’s many sightseeing tours. And that’s just the tourist tip of the iceberg; there are dozens, if not hundreds, of choices for bars, museums, stores and more that celebrate not only musicians past, but current and future Nashville stars as well.
2. The Bar Scene
Bar aficionados: this is your city. Downtown Nashville staples feature more than draft specials: most places provide entertainment in the way of cover bands, live performances by upcoming singers and songwriters, dancing, and more. Pub crawls are frequent and typically include a round at more than one authentic honky tonk joint. Join the crowds on Broadway over the weekend in your best country attire – tourists and even locals play the part, so be sure to bring a comfy pair of jeans, cowboy/girl hat, and boots! Before you go, grab a pair of cowgirl or riding boots from popular sellers like Matisse boots, sold here, or make the trek out to the Nashville Boot Co. while visiting. Many bars with live music encourage coming up and joining the musicians on stage to sing or play your instrument of choice, so come dressed to impress and prepared with your favorite rock and country tunes!
3. Outdoor Activities
If you visit in the spring or summer, expect to schedule plenty of outdoor amusements while you’re here! Aside for typical tourist centers like Dollyland and the Nashville Speedway, the region boasts just shy of one hundred beautiful parks for walking, jogging, hiking and biking, plus numerous outdoor pools, tennis courts, nature centers, and trails for horseback riding. Percy Priest, the area’s largest lake, endorses boating, fishing, camping, picnicking and swimming, while the Harpeth River offers canoe and kayak rentals. Nashville is known for its outdoor farmer’s market open 362 days a year, and no matter the season you can always find an outdoor festival to enjoy live music, food, local vendors, films, and more.
4. Unique Culture
With over 130 music venues in the city, it’s easy to locate an alternative to tourist-laden sites and enjoy some real, authentic local Nashville talent; but music aside the arts and culture are certainly in abundance here. Visitors can walk through over 9 acres of indoor gardens, waterfalls, and an indoor river at the Grand Ole Opry, or pack a lunch at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park with its geyser fountains and circle of bells (also where the farmer’s market is located). The 12South neighborhood is Nashville’s most up-and-coming locale – check out their vintage guitar store, meet some locals in a coffee shop, boutique store or art gallery, or enjoy one of the city’s many farm-to-table restaurants while visiting.
5. Family-Friendly Activities
Despite the onslaught of bars and nightlife options, Nashville is very much a family-friendly city with something for everyone! Maybe your little artist would like to paint, sculpt, or learn printmaking at the First Center for the Visual Arts, or catch a show at the nation’s oldest running professional children’s theatre company. Let your kids bounce around at Sky High Sports, Nashville’s trampoline park with all trampoline floors and walls; or show them around Music City’s urban park with a full-sized replica of the Greek Pantheon, recreated in 1897, with a 42-foot statue of Athena. The Game Galaxy Arcade has over 100 retro 80’s style games for both kids and parents to enjoy, or there are plenty of options for go-karts and ice skating, or learning and experimenting at the Adventure Science Center, open 7 days a week.
When searching for an offbeat vacation in the States, Nashville is a city not to be missed. Between its music and comprehensive history, Southern hospitality, bar and restaurant reputation and amazing institutions, local shops, and cultural establishments, a trip to Music City could never disappoint!