Everywhere you look—from indie bands in Cannery Row’s trendy clubs, to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum—you’ll see and hear Nashville’s vibrant culture. Ryman Auditorium, “The Mother Church of Country Music,” has seen the likes of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and countless others legends during the past century. The Grand Ole Opry hosts the world’s longest running live radio show. There are also dozens of intimate venues featuring all genres of music. Bluegrass fans will love The Station Inn while The 5 Spot is known for rowdy rock ‘n’ roll shows. And the tiny Bluebird Café, located in a strip mall near Downtown, is a world-famous showcase for song writers.
Nashville offers plenty to satisfy all of your senses. Immerse yourself in Greek mythology at The Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the original in Athens. Stroll through Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and then explore Cheekwood’s Museum of Art, housed in a restored Georgian-style mansion. Admire the Victorian architecture on Music Row, home to Nashville’s recording studios and music publishing houses. Recharge with country ham and eggs with red-eye gravy at the famous Loveless Cafe, or a syrupy stack of hotcakes at The Pancake Pantry.
Across the snaking Cumberland River lies bohemian East Nashville, where many up-and-coming musicians live. You’ll find relaxed music venues, as well as a selection of home-style cooking and upmarket restaurants. If you have kids (or not), try some ice cream at the old-school Pied Piper Creamery.
Rent a car and drive through posh Belle Meade, home to the historic Belle Meade Plantation. Here a costumed guide leads visitors through a Greek-revival mansion and outbuildings dating back to 1807. Head to bucolic Franklin, a 21-mile (34-kilometer) drive from Downtown Nashville, for historic theaters, celebrity mansions and sprawling farms.
Consider taking your trip in June, when Nashville hosts the CMA (Country Music Association) Music Festival. This popular event brings together singers and musicians with hundreds of thousands of devoted fans from across the globe.