Nashville, Tennessee is famous for country music, but there is more to this city than meets the eye. Although country music makes up a large portion of this city’s business, it is not the biggest industry in the city. Many people find that surprising, I know I did. After all, it is known as Music City.
Regardless of your interests, there are plenty of attractions to suit anyone’s idea of fun. You can enjoy music and more at some of the top attractions in Nashville:
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
If you are into the country music scene, Nashville is the place to be. For a look into country’s past and present, check out the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. They boast over 2 million artifacts in their collection of memorabilia, featuring costumes, recordings, photographs, and more. The building itself is a work of art, appearing like a curved set of piano keys. It is a definite must-see when visiting Nashville. With a visit to the Museum, you can also purchase a tour of the historic RCA Studio B, the original major label recording studio in Nashville. Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, and The Everly Brothers, among others, used the studio to record their albums.
The Grand Ole Opry
This is a historical entertainment music venue. Although the location has changed, the show has been around for decades. It started as a radio program in 1925 and has made the careers of many of country’s greatest stars. Some performers from the original shows include Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, and Ernest Tubb. Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, and other greats were regulars on the show. Originally held in the Ryman Auditorium, it moved to its current location in 1974.
Although, it does still hold shows at the Ryman on special occasions. They did take a 6-foot circle of wood from the Ryman stage so that they could have a piece of their roots in the new building. Many people have stood in that 6-foot circle throughout the history of the show. If you plan to visit the Opry, be sure to include the backstage tour as part of your package. It is most definitely a memorable experience.
This is where all the action is. Honkey tonks line the streets in downtown Nashville where live music pours out the door, smooth and exciting, like a shot of fine whiskey. No visit to Nashville should exclude downtown. If it does, you are really missing out. Downtown is home to the Ryman Auditorium, the Wildhorse Saloon, the Tin Roof bar, and Tootsies Orchid Lounge, just to name a few. You can sit on the bank of the Cumberland River and listen as music fills the air. Or, just walk up and down Broadway or 2nd Avenue and see what sparks your interest. Perhaps check out the activity at WannaB’s Karaoke Bar and snap a picture of a future star.
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
This hotel is an experience itself. Perfectly located next to the Grand Ole Opry and the Opry Mills Mall, you could spend days in this location alone without ever heading into other areas of Nashville. Featuring their own golf course, water park, and a full-service spa, this can be the vacation destination for every member of your family. They even have their own barber/beauty shop and shoeshine stand to make sure you look your best for your night on the town. The 9-acre atrium filled with flowers, walkways, and waterfalls are gorgeous, and you don’t have to be a guest to visit the atrium. Believe me, it is worth the visit. If you get hungry while you are there, you can choose from over 20 different restaurants/bars, and then browse through the many shopping areas inside the resort.
Belle Meade Plantation
There is plenty of history to be found for those interested. The Belle Meade Plantation dates back to 1807 when John Harding purchased a log cabin and 250 acres. It served as headquarters for Confederate General James R. Chalmers, becoming an important part of the civil war effort for the confederate side. After the war, Harding’s son-in-law, William Jackson, turned it into a thoroughbred horse farm that became renowned internationally. Currently, the site holds the restored 1853 mansion, an 1890 carriage house, and the original 1790 log cabin which is one of the oldest houses in Tennessee.
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
The Hermitage is the former home of President Andrew Jackson. It is a National Historic Landmark and is over 1,120 acres featuring more than 30 historic buildings, including Jackson’s original mansion. According to visitmusiccity.com, it is the most accurately preserved home of an early American President in the United States. Jackson and his beloved wife Rachel are buried on the property. There is a lot of historical information to be learned at the Hermitage. It is well worth a visit to this interesting, and somewhat controversial, President’s home.
General Jackson Showboat
View the Nashville skyline from the comfort of the General Jackson Showboat as you enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner cruise. It is one of the largest showboats ever built and has been touring the Cumberland River since 1985. The entrance to the showboat is located in the parking lot of the Opry Mills Mall. This 300 foot long, 4 story showboat, features a 2 story Victorian Theater in the center of the boat, where live shows are performed for guests. The boat is accessible with a ramp and elevator for guests with disabilities.
The Nashville Parthenon
The Nashville Parthenon is a full-sized replica of the Greek Parthenon, complete with a 42-foot tall statue of Athena Parthenos. Located in Centennial Park, the Parthenon houses the city’s art museum. The building was built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Since Nashville has been named “the Athens of the South”, this influenced the decision to create a replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece.
Old Town Trolley Tours
Looking for a tour to show you the best that Nashville has to offer? They claim to be the most comprehensive tour of Music City, with over 100 points of interest identified. They provide you with a fun narration of all the sites of the city and you can learn little known information aboard the adorable trolleys. You can purchase one or two day tickets with hop-on, hop-off privileges. They also have a night tour that you can take. They have been in business since 1980, so it’s safe to say they aren’t going anywhere. You also get free entry into the George Jones and Madame Tussauds museums with your ticket.
J. Percy Priest Lake
Located just 15 minutes from downtown Nashville, this lake is a beautiful destination for those wanting to commune with nature. Run by the Corp of Engineers, the lake is 42 miles long and covers 14,000 acres. Boating, camping, and fishing are popular attractions at the lake.
Nashville Shores is a lakeside resort located on the edge of J. Percy Priest Lake. This 385-acre park includes a water park with 8 water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and a water treehouse. They also feature a Treetop Adventure Park with an obstacle course including suspended bridges, ziplines, cargo nets, Tarzan swings, and many more attractions. They even offer lodging opportunities with cabins and RV sites. Although, this is definitely a seasonal activity, so if you’re going in the spring or fall, be sure to check the calendar for open dates and hours.
There are multiple ways to save money on your trip to Nashville. One great way to save is the Music City Total Access Pass. For just $99, you can get access to six different attractions throughout Nashville. Check the list to see if it includes the attractions you want to see.
There are multiple packages geared to your interests, such as the Foodie Package, First Timer Package, Music Valley Package, or you can even Build Your Own Package.
Some of the local hotels may promote their own package deals, so be sure to check with them if you find one where you are interested in staying.
There are plenty of festivals and activities year-round in Nashville to keep anyone entertained. You can visit this city many times and still never see everything there is. It is a great spot for a weekend getaway. I enjoy traveling to Nashville as often as I can because I always have a good time, no matter what I do. I hope you are able to enjoy the city as much as I have.
If you’ve been there, what are your favorite activities? If not, what are you most looking forward to seeing/doing? Leave me a comment and let me know!