Although known as Music City, Nashville is a destination with enough diversity for visitors who want to sample history and culture, too. Here are three one-day tours you might enjoy, plus other information to help you take advantage of Nashville’s offerings.
Start with a visit to the $37 million Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, 222 Fifth Avenue South, which is filled with artifacts, memorabilia, costumes, and interactive videos from modern-day crooners like George Strait, Faith Hill, and Alan Jackson as well as legends like Minnie Pearl, Loretta Lynn, and George Jones. Hundreds of gold albums line the walls, and you can see the newest exhibit, Family Tradition: The Hank Williams Legacy.
Tour Schermerhorn Symphony Center,127 Third Avenue South, Suite 200. Exceptional acoustic quality results from two separate buildings being designed as one, but with a barrier; 30 soundproof windows provide natural light, a feature not generally found in major concert halls.
Reminisce at two legendary downtown shops: Ernest Tubb Record Shop, 417 Broadway, and Hatch Show Print, 316 Broadway. Scour thousands of vintage records and albums at Ernest Tubb, and then watch the old-fashioned letterpress as Hatch Show Print uses techniques from the 15th century to turn out posters for today’s performers, including Bob Dylan and Coldplay.
Lunch at Jack’s Bar-B-Que, 416 Broadway. Select menu items from counter-style service and sample three types of sauces: Tennessee (tangy), Texas (sweet and hot), or Kansas City (sweet and mild).
If you’re a picker, scout the world’s premier collection of vintage, used, and new fretted instruments (guitars, banjos) at Gruhn Guitars, Inc., 400 Broadway.
Drive to Manuel Exclusive Clothier 1922 Broadway, to check out hand-made, rhinestone-studded couture costumes worn by stars like Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakum, and Kid Rock.
Cruise along Music Row, a one-mile span on 16th and 17th Avenues South, a formerly residential area where dozens of recording studios are now located in old houses.
Visit the historic RCA Studio B, 222 Fifth Avenue South, called “home of a thousand hits,” where Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Chet Atkins, and Everly Brothers recorded their famous songs. See the original Steinway piano Floyd Kramer used to record “Last Date.” (Tours available through the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.)
Head back downtown for a backstage tour of Ryman Auditorium, 116 Fifth Avenue North, home of Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1974. Acoustics at the Ryman, now a National Historic Landmark, are said to be second only to the Mormon Tabernacle.
Famous for its contemporary country music and nightly dance lessons, Wildhorse Saloon, 120 2nd Avenue North, offers fine cuisine and plenty of space for kicking up your heels.
Catch a show at the Ryman, or go bar-hopping and listen to live music at downtown honkytonks including Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, 422 Broadway, Robert’s Western World, 41B Broadway, or Legends Corner, 428 Broadway.