This year, on the way back to Colorado from Bonnaroo (more on that later), Sarianna and I stayed a few days in Nashville, Tennessee, aka Music City. This was our second time to Music City. Our first was on our Georgia roadtrip in 2014 before she moved to Fort Collins and I embarked on a career of prison-life. No, I’m not a career criminal… I work in a prison. Anyway, we loved it so much the first time we had to stop again.
This time it was more of a spur of the moment decision the last day of Bonnaroo. Should we stay in Nashville? Sure, why not! Here are a few things I believe to be some of the best of what Nashville has to offer (in no specific order). Drumroll please…..
#1- Stroll Lower Broadway
Nowhere else in the country can you find great country or bluegrass open mic night EVERY NIGHT. Multiple bars like Second Fiddle, Tin Roof, Tootsie’s, The Stage on Broadway, Layla’s, etc. offer this great feature and they’re all located in a three block stretch. Broadway Street is the perfect place for barhopping when live music is your preferred jukebox. You may pay a cover depending on what bar you go to and what night it is, but normally you’ll just be spending money on booze and food- two great things worth spending money on.
Pro Tip: Take an Uber! Parking is expensive and don’t lie, you’ll be drinking. This way you drink responsibly AND save money. You’re welcome.
#2- Ryman Auditorium
Do you love music? History? Music history? Then this is the place for you! The Ryman Auditorium tour gives a great backstory to how Nashville became famous for its music roots. I can’t tell you too much… Buuutttt I will say that The Grand Ole Opry moved in back in 1943 and called the Ryman it’s home all the way until 1974. Want to know more? That’s what the tour is for! They offer a self-guided tour for the leisurely wander-at-your-own-pace folks, a backstage guided tour that’s extra informative, and you can even go the extra mile and record a song in the recording booth! Wouldn’t that be a great souvenir to show your colleagues… or maybe not, depending on your pipes. Regardless, Nashville’s roots started here. Teach yo’self! You can even add this as a pitstop before heading to Tootsie’s or Tin Roof for a beer or two (as mentioned above).
I hear the acoustics are nice, and I’m sure you can attend a show there too… if that’s what you’re into. I’m into it, but sadly there weren’t any shows scheduled the two times I’ve been to Nashville. Sounds like a reason to plan another trip to me!
#3- The Johnny Cash Museum
This is a MUST SEE for any and all Johnny Cash lovers. Honestly, even if you only know one Johnny Cash song (if so, shame on you) you’ll walk away knowing more about the Man in Black than most fans. Like his daughter, Cindy Cash, said, “Whatever anybody needs to know about my dad that they don’t know already is in that museum.” This is the museum of museums. This collection is absolutely vast and undoubtedly the largest collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and items alike in the world. The only way you’ll understand is by experiencing it.
For around $20 you can wander the building for hours listening to audio clips and songs, but most of your time will be spent gawking at instruments, outfits, letters, pictures, awards, and albums. This is also something you can do while wandering Broadway Street. Look at that, saved on parking again! Boom!
I was very surprised when I saw this full scale replica of the original Parthenon, situated in the middle of Centennial Park. The original Parthenon was once a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, located atop the Athenian Acropolis, in Greece. Sadly, an ammunition dump explosion by those pesky Ottomans back in the day (no, not the comfy footstool you bought for your non-reclining sofa) turned it into the now skeleton of what it once was. If you don’t know, now you know. Gosh, let’s not digress again since this post is about “things to do in Nashville” and not “things to do in Athens,” I’ll get back to Centennial Park. Why?… was my main question. Why is it there? If you’re wondering the same thing, throw your gum away (seriously, there are signs) and head on inside. Touring this amazing structure answered that question and sooooo many more… and all for a whopping price of $6 per adult. Oh, and don’t forget to head upstairs to see a ginormous replica of the Athena Parthenos statue. It’s large and in charge.
#5- The Grand Ole Opry
There was only one thing my Grandma made me promise to do while visiting Nashville- go to The Grand Ole Opry. She had visited multiples times as a lover of both gospel and country music. Me, not so keen on either… So, at first I thought there wouldn’t be much to see but man, was I wrong! First off, this is the biggest conservatory I’ve seen in my life.
Fun Fact: In 1996, water from more than 1700 sites around the world were “blended” into the river, Delta, that runs through the conservatory, commemorating the opening of “The Delta” as seen above. How crazy to think, 1700 sites around the world we combined!!! Also, massive guitars!
BONUS: Loveless Café
The Loveless Cafe is much more than just a café on the side of the road. Only 20 minutes down the road from Nashville is an adorable mini-town called the Loveless Café. The wait may be a few minutes but there’s plenty to occupy your wait time, from a game of cornhole to a “Hams & Jams” market. If you want to explore after you’re done eating instead, you can make a reservation on OpenTable and get a table quicker. Trust me, it’s worth the drive. This is true home cookin’. The biscuits are sooooo deliciously fresh, and taste even better paired with their homemade preserves. I loved their blackberry preserves so much I even brought some home for my mom.
Music City has SOOOOO much to offer! Experience it!
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“One of the magical things about Nashville is just how many incredibly talented people are here and the way they support each other.”
– Callie Khouri