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Revered as the “Country Music Capital of the World,” Nashville is home to a modern music scene that now includes the biggest names in almost every genre. Established acts take the stage at the Ryman Auditorium, while talented newcomers looking for a big break play at smaller venues like Exit/In and the Bluebird Cafe. You can catch a concert every night and still fill your days with outdoor fun at one of the city’s public parks, the Nashville Zoo or nearby Radnor Lake. With so much to do in Nashville, you can sing hello to Music City in any key you please.
THINGS TO DO:
Singin’ in the Sun: Nashville’s public parks are as diverse as its music. Enjoy foot races and horse races at the Warner Parks, commune with nature at Radnor Lake or cool off at Cumberland Park’s water features. A visit to Centennial Park on the West End will also put you at the steps of the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the temple in Athens, now serving as an art museum.
Collector’s Items: Hosting visiting exhibitions in place of a permanent collection, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts always offers something fresh and new. Country music lovers can brush up on their knowledge of classic acts at the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Johnny Cash Museum or RCA Studio B. Auto enthusiasts enjoy the Lane Motor Museum, which showcases the largest collection of European cars in the country.
Home Sweet Home: Nashville’s Civil War history is on display in grand 19th-century estates that still stand today. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage and Belle Meade Plantation are two of the most prominent Civil War-era homes in the area, with many more now functioning as inns and event venues.
Ryman Auditorium: For both country music’s biggest stars and brightest hopefuls, performing at the 2,363-seat Ryman Auditorium is a rite of passage. Originally the Union Gospel Tabernacle and later home to the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman is an institution in country music, occasionally hosting visiting artists of other genres as well.
The Grand Ole Opry: Founded in 1925, this weekly live country music stage show is arguably the crown jewel of Nashville’s music scene. The 4,000-seat auditorium was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015 and offers backstage tours in which visitors can learn more about the program’s legacy. Country stars can be inducted into the Opry, which is considered one of the industry’s highest honors.
Up Close and Personal: Many big-name musicians got their start in the intimate cafes and bars of Nashville, such as the Bluebird Cafe and Douglas Corner. Don’t go expecting background music for your drinks and dinner: Local, music-loving regulars listen closely to the city’s rising talent, and established artists often return for a taste of home.
WHEN TO GO: In the warmer months (April-October), Nashville’s city parks are alive with festivals, like Brew at the Zoo and the CMA Music Festival, both in June. Summer highs usually max out in the 80° range. In the winter, expect a significant chill in the air, with average temperatures hovering right around 40°—just chilly enough to enjoy the holiday music and winter-themed shows at venues like the Grand Ole Opry.
TRAVEL TIP: Looking to see some beautiful foliage or just gather your thoughts? Natchez Trace Parkway offers 444 miles of scenic driving, hiking and biking opportunities, with plenty of history as well. Once a Native American trail, the parkway is peppered with waterfalls and scenic overlooks, winding past Civil War battle sites near Tupelo and American explorer Meriwether Lewis’s gravesite at marker 385.9.