The ultimate pilgrimage for music enthusiasts, Nashville is not only the centre of the USA’s music industry, but the world’s. Just south of its Downtown lies the city’s famed Music Row, an area home to hundreds of label offices, radio stations and recording studios alike, and the reason that Nashville is not only the capital of country music but has also earned its moniker ‘Music City USA’.
And, it's not just country music that is produced here; you'd be hard pressed to find at least one current top 40 song not written in Nashville. Here, the likes of Johnny Cash and Pat Boone made their mark, emerging from the self-proclaimed Music City as lyrical legends. It's unsurprising, then, that iconic music venues abound, from historic theatres to countless museums that showcase the city’s melodies of past and present.
Country musicians, Nashville
In downtown Nashville, there are more than 300 bars open from 11am to 3am – don’t miss the iconic Honky Tonky highway on Broadway, where free music in bars such as Legends Corner and AJ’s Good Time honour country music with hours of performances. The renowned Red Door Saloons in East and Midtown Nashville, featuring a bar made of pennies and a fabulous American hot dog menu, is another Nashville classic. It's also worth a visit to the Johnny Cash museum, often heralded as the world’s number 1 music museum. Celebrating the Man in Black's legacy, it features a whole host of ephemera and memorabilia, including a wall of his LP sleeves, guitars and stage outfits.
For a classic Nashville country experience, you can’t miss a show at Grand Ole Opry, a weekly country-music stage concert in Nashville. Experience the best in Western and country music in what began as a long running radio show and is now an international phenomenon, having featured everyone from Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline to Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton.
Finally, don't miss a visit to The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – one of the world's largest museums and research centres solely dedicated to the preservation of classic American music. Learn about the roots of Tennessee as well as world-famous songs, and then make time to head on a tour of iconic The Ryman, known as the Mother Church of Country Music and one of American music’s most treasured landmarks. Then there's the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, featuring the likes of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia and instruments used to record the songs of Elvis, Frank Sinatra and The Beach Boys, to name a few.
When it comes to food, think ribs, BBQ, meat, beer and bourbon. From home-made joints and American diners to speakeasy bars, you don’t have to look far for some classic Southern soul cooking – a lot of it fried. Loveless Motel and Café is a local favourite for American biscuits and the Southern classic of banana pudding, as is Tennessee legend Prince's Hot Chicken for – unsurprisingly – spicy fried chicken. Nashville has its fair share of high end eateries too, such as Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in downtown Nashville. Wash it all down at Jack Daniels Distillery in nearby Lynchburg for a fascinating tour detailing all there is to know about the world-famous Jack Daniels whisky.