From old-world charm tothe new frontiers of Southern style, from high culture to hot chicken and honky tonks, Nashville is a greatest-hits packagefew other cities can top.
Nashville sits in the heart of Tennessee, just a four-hour flight from Los Angeles and a two-hour flight from New York City.
Nashville also sits at the heart of some of the greatest music ever to hit the airwaves of America.
From lonesome cowboy bluesto boot scootin’ boogies, since the earliest days of vinyl Nashville has produceda never-ending stream of country classics.
Today, music makers and music lovers of every genre make the pilgrimage to Music City USA, hoping to experience a magic calledThe Nashville Sound.
But visitors soon discoverthe city’s magic extends far beyond music.
Nashville’s soundtrack beganwith the sound of axes and falling timber, at Fort Nashborough.
Battling displaced Cherokee and fierce winters, there was little time for fiddle playing.
But over the decades Nashville grew into a prosperous citythat embraced the arts, becoming the state capital of Tennessee in 1843.
Nashville’s early prosperity was fuelledby the plantation and slave trade.
Call into Historic Travellers Rest, the estate of Tennessee founding father, John Overton.
Wander the grounds, where the doleful work songs of slavesstill hang heavy in the humid air.
Then explore the home, where the merry strains ofCamptown Races once filled the parlour where Overton entertained friend and neighbour, Andrew Jackson, the seventh US president.
In the 1800s, a long, bumpy buggy ride separated the two friends.
Today it’s just a short drivefrom Travellers Rest to The Hermitage, the opulent plantation home and final resting place of President Jackson and First Lady Rachel.
But the real Queen of Tennessee’s plantationsis Belle Meade.
Explore the remaining 30 acresof an estate which once stretched for miles, where the slave quarters and rocking chairs look as though they were vacated only yesterday, and where the mansion’s columnsstill bear the scars of battle.
The uneasy social fabric of the plantation erawas torn apart by the Civil War.
Climb to the ruins of Fort Negley, built by runaway slaves and free black men, this Union fort played a decisive rolein the Battle of Nashville and helped pave the way to emancipation.
Visit the Tennessee State Museum and learn more about the city’s role in the Civil War, and how it rose from the ashesto become the Athens of The South.
By the beginning of the 1900s, Nashville had flowered into a sophisticated metropolis filled with fine civic architecture, colleges, and befitting its classical aspirations, a full-scale replica of the Parthenon.
In 1911 Nashville rolled outthe first automobile entirely designed and manufactured in the South.
Named after the ancient Greek footrace, the Marathon Motor Works created beautiful roadsters and tourers which were in demand all over the globe.
The former motor worksis also home to boutique stores, such as Antique Archaeology.
The dusty offspring of theAmerican Pickers television series, this is the place to find a one-of-a-kind souvenir salvaged from the barns and garages of Tennessee.
To see the South’s most iconic motorcar, head to Cooter’s Place, a museum dedicated to the Dukes of Hazzard.
Parked outside is one ofthe few surviving General Lees, one of the 300 Dodge Chargers that were jumped, rolled and wrecked duringthe hit television show’s six -year run.
But of course, it wasn’t Nashville’s motor cars that caught the world’s attention, but the driving rhythms of its banjos and steel guitars.
Step into The Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium.
For country diehards, a tour or concert at this former downtown tabernacle is as close to heaven as it gets.
In 1943, a one-hour country music show, The Grand Ole Opry, was broadcast live from the Ryman, reaching living rooms as far away as Canada.
In 1974, the show’s popularity forcedit to relocate to a larger, modern venue.
Today, The Grand Ole Opry House is the home to the longest-running radio broadcast in US history.
Take a backstage tour of thechange rooms, watch a live radio interview, and then sit back as country starsgather ‘round a hallowed circle of timber, cut from the Ryman’s original stage.
Just steps from the Grand Ole Opry House, is Nashville’s Madame Tussauds.
You won’t find movie or sporting stars here; this wax works is a celebration ofthe giants who shaped American Music.
The celebration of music continues back downtown, at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.
From the Steinway which addedthe heartache to Stand By Your Man, to the bass which put the lowdown into Motown, this is the place to get close to someof the world’s most revered instruments.
Just a fifteen-minute walk away is a monument dedicated solely to country’s brightest stars, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Featuring a mind-boggling collection of photographs, costumes, instruments, and automobiles, this is the ultimate ride through country music.
Follow the scent of fresh ink downstairsto Hatch Show Print, a letterpress print shop that’sbeen posting a unique blend of colour and style onto Nashville’s walls for over 100 years.
The Museum is also the custodianof RCA Studio B, where artists like Elvis, Roy Orbison and Dolly Partonlaid down some of their biggest hits.
Nashville features smaller museumsdedicated to individual artists too.
Walk the line down 3rd Avenueto the Johnny Cash Museum, an intimate tribute to thelife and times of The Man in Black.
Once you’ve been schooledin the history of country music, it’s time to enjoy some! From the Johnny Cash Museum, it’s just a one-minute boot scoot to Lower Broadway.
Join the stream of happymusic lovers on the Honky Tonk Highway and catch the country stars of tomorrow.
Step through the purple doorsof Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, one of the original Broadway honky tonks.
Late owner, Tootsie Bess, embodied the family spiritof Nashville’s early music scene, feeding struggling up-and-comers while evicting rowdy patronswith a well-placed jab of her hatpin! Right across the road, don’t missthe honky tonk which celebrates the life, suits, and automobiles of Nudie Cohn, the tailor whoput the rhinestones into country’s flashiest suits.
If Nudie’s gives you the urgeto go the full Glenn Campbell, you’ll find plenty of outfittersstudded along Broadway too.
Now there are some folks, who just can’t warm to country.
If that’s you, don’t despair, take the ten-minute walk to Printers Alley, where you’ll find Nashville’s hottest blues and jazz.
After a 3am finish on Broadway Music or Printers Alley, there’s no better way to kickstart the new day than with a late breakfast at Pepperfire, where you’ll quickly discover why Nashville is the hot chicken capital of the world.
Once you’ve mopped the sweat from your brow, take a wander throughthe city’s diverse neighbourhoods.
From Lower Broadway, mosey north along the Fifth Avenue of The Arts, checking out the historicsites and galleries along the way.
On Broadway’s southern side, spread your wings and explore the upmarket storesand quirky boutiques of the Gulch.
Then cross the tracks andenter the weird and wonderful world of Jack White’s Third Man Records, a music store like no other.
Grab a rental bike and takethe half-mile ride through 12 South, where a new breed of chefsand designers are redefining southern style.
12 South is also home to some rockin’ street art, including the city’s favourite mural.
When it’s time to slow the tempo, Nashville’s downtown offers plentyof riverside parks and green spaces.
On the city’s southern outskirts, be serenaded by wind andwater amid the 55 artful acres of the Cheekwood Estate and Gardens.
While nearby at the Radnor Lake State Park, wrap yourself in a cloak of dappled green and birdsong as you follow the six miles of forest trails.
When the sun gets low in Nashville, all trails lead back downtown.
Pull up a chair at one of the roof-top bars, or just take in the views from the Pedestrian Bridge and enjoy the skyline of a city so full of surprises.
Nashville is more than justthe world capital of country music.
When it comes to history, hospitality, style, and plain ol’ good times, Nashville is home to some of America’sgreatest and most enduring hits.