Nashville is a great mid-South city rich in history, bursting with Southern hospitality and food and humming with a vibrant musical heritage.
The town began with the settlement of Fort Nashborough, named for Revolutionary War hero Gen. Francis Nash. The city later became Nashville, home to President Andrew Jackson. And after it rebounded from the Civil War, Nashville developed itself as a hub of collegiate education, giving it the nickname as “Athens of the South.”
But most people know Nashville as the heart of the nation’s country music industry, which is why it’s nicknamed “Music City.”
Whether you’re traveling to Nashville to tour the historic sites, enjoy the family friendly activities or learn more about country music, the city has it all.
Start with accommodations. The Hermitage Hotel, built in 1908 as Nashville’s first million-dollar hotel and named for Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage estate, is a grand downtown landmark, from its breathtaking lobby to the outstanding customer service. The hotel is centrally located and offers dining options as well.
Visitors to Nashville should start with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to receive an excellent overview of the city’s music industry. The museum includes rhinestone costumes, original instruments, Elvis’ car and much more. Here visitors can pick up a tour to the Historic RCA Studio B, where numerous stars recorded 35,000 songs, including Elvis’ “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Once you hear some of the recordings made at Studio B you’ll see why it’s nicknamed “the Home of a Thousand Hits.”
The Grand Ole Opry began in Nashville in 1925 by an insurance company looking to advertise its policies with a “WSM Barn Dance” (WSM being the company’s motto, “We Shield Millions). The show became immensely popular and was renamed the Grand Ole Opry in 1927, quickly becoming one of radio’s longest shows, later moving into television. The Opry performed within the Ryman Auditorium for nearly 31 years before relocating to a larger space at Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
Since the move, the Ryman has been lovingly restored, is open for daytime tours and is used as a performing space, with the Opry returning on special occasions. The Grand Ole Opry can still be heard regularly at Opryland at its sparkling new Grand Ole Opry House. The resort offers almost 3,000 rooms and nine acres (yes, that’s acres!) of indoor gardens and waterfalls and is a great place to stay, especially for families.
Other places to visit include:
- The Nashville Symphony’s new $123 million Schermerhorn concert hall with its almost 2,000 seats on three levels, a massive custom-built organ, a choral loft that can accommodate 146 chorus members and soundproof windows letting in soft, natural light.
- The Parthenon in Centennial Park is the world’s only exact replica of the Greek temple to honor goddess Athena, built for the Tennessee Exposition in 1897.
- The 1830 Hermitage was the home of America’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson, and includes home, horse-drawn wagon and seasonal walking tours.
- The Frist Center for the Visual Arts occupies a renovated 1933 post office and the building is as much an exhibit as the changing art displays.
- For kids, there’s the Adventure Science Center and the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.
For more information on Nashville, visit the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau
If you are interested in visiting southern states, check out our Nashville & Memphis Vacation Package and start planning your next vacation!
The Hermitage Hotel
Cheré Coen is a Lafayette, La., travel writer and author. Her latest book is “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana.” Follow her at WeirdSouth.blogspot.com.