How to Spend A Day In Nashville
8 Things Not To Miss in Nashville
Nashville is the dynamic capital of country music that is also known as the Athens of the South, because of an exact replica of the Parthenon from the Greek original that dates from the 1896 state centennial. It is a city that seamlessly blends old-world southern charm with 21st-century attractions and non-stop music performed by famous entertainers and aspiring songwriters and singers in large glitzy venues and small out-of-the-way places.
Nashville was founded in 1779 on Christmas Day when James Robertson crossed the Cumberland River with a small group of men. Many settlers followed, and by May 1, 1780, Tennessee’s first government was founded, forming the 16th state in the new Union in 1796. Nashville became the state capital of Tennessee in 1843. The river served as a highway to the city as it continued to grow and prosper. Today the city is known for its universities and as Music City, U.S.A., for many recording studios, and as the headquarters of the Grand Ole Opry. Here is a rundown of our top eight things to see and do in Nashville
1) Explore the Neighborhoods
Like many cities, Nashville has distinct neighborhoods that offer traditional and innovative food, favorite hangouts, local dives, and even speakeasies! The downtown area is dominated by Lower Broadway and is affectionately referred to as the “Honky Tonk Highway,” where visitors will find world-class museums, restaurants, and musical venues. The Germantown neighborhood borders downtown and you will find classic row houses and some of the best restaurants the city has to offer. Melrose and Berry Hill are where many musicians record and where you can browse the many vintage and antique shops that line 8th Avenue. Adjacent to Downtown is an area known as The Gulch a revitalized railroad area filled with rooftop bars, music venues, and many dining options.
2) The Parthenon
The crown jewel of Centennial Park is the replica of the Parthenon built in 1847 for the state centennial exhibition. Here, visitors learn about the people that built this edifice both in Athens, Greece and in Nashville. The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles in Nashville are direct casts of the original sculptures that have adorned the Athenian Parthenon since 438 B.C. The highlight is a full-scale re-creation of the 42-foot statue of Athena that can also be found in Athens - Greece that is!
3) Grand Ole Opry
Founded in 1925 by George D. Hay as a one-hour barn dance on WSM, today it is still America’s longest-running entertainment radio show. Originally, this show followed a classical music show and George Hays joked that his audience had been listening to grand opera and now they were going to listen to “the grand ole opry” - and, the name stuck. As popularity grew the Grand Ole Opry moved from the Ryman Auditorium in the 1970s to the newly constructed Opry House House boasting 4,440 seats. Today, the Grand Ole Opry continues to showcase country music’s present, past, and future performers.
4) Backstage Tour of Grand Ole Opry
On this behind-the-scenes tour, you will walk in the footsteps of hundreds of country music performers including some of the icons of the genre. This tour kicks off in an immersive theatre where Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood greet you - virtually of course. You will hang out backstage, and be entertained by videos, priceless archival footage, and country music. You will learn interesting tidbits, visit dressing rooms, see a wall of names of every member of the Opry, and see the artist’s entrance where they walk out on stage. The highlight of the tour is to stand on the stage of the Opry in the wooden circle that was cut out of the Ryman Stage when the Grand Ole Opry moved here in the 1970s.
5) Country Music Hall of Fame
This fabulous ongoing tribute to country music is located in Downtown Nashville. It has been called the “Smithsonian” of country music and it is jam-packed with fascinating exhibits, recorded sound, archival video and photographs, historic artifacts, and interactive displays. “Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music” is the title of the museum’s permanent exhibition that is constantly updated. Visitors will learn about the origins, traditions, and lives of performers that have contributed to country music.
6) Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery
Originally Belle Meade or “beautiful meadow” was purchased in 1807 by John Harding who farmed the land. The Greek Revival Mansion was built in 1853 by John Harding, who at the time was one of the wealthiest landowners in the area with vast acreage and 136 enslaved people. During the Civil War, it was a Confederate stronghold until 1862 when Nashville fell to Union forces. Belle Meade stayed in the family and, in 1871 it became known for raising thoroughbred horses. Bonnie Scotland was the greatest sire to ever stand at Belle Meade and his descendants represent more than two-thirds of all Kentucky Derby winners. Today, three tours can be taken on the estate. The Mansion tour tells the story of the property through the history of the Harding and Jackson families that lived here. The Journey to Jubilee tour explores the stories of the enslaved African Americans that lived here and, the Southern Traditions Tour takes a look at southern cuisine. A winery, carriage house, stables, outbuildings, restaurants, and shops can be explored on the grounds.
7) Johnny Cash Museum
This museum tells the rags-to-riches story of the “man in black” Johnny Cash. It has the world’s largest collection of Johnny Cash
artifacts, memorabilia, handwritten notes, love letters, and costumes. Exhibits detail different periods of Cash’s life including his years in the U.S. Air Force, his marriages, and his famous prison tour. As this museum is endorsed by the Cash family, you will also see a variety of Cash’s personal items and furniture.
8) Ryman Auditorium
Once the home of the Grand Ole Opry, this venue dates back to 1892 with roots that go back to 1885 as a tent revival meeting place. Throughout its history, this building has hosted every type of event imaginable - from country music, opera, and symphonies to lectures, memorial services, graduations, and even superstars like Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Minnie Pearl to name a few. Today, attending a performance here is a nostalgic way to get a feel for this legendary music venue and the roots of Nashville’s love of music and more.