2 May 2018 by Claire Benktander
Nashville – the city of soul food and NFL football, but first and foremost, music – specifically of the country variety. 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. We've collated a list of the top 5 things you must do when you visit Nashville, from enjoying all-day music that lines honky-tonk bar streets to whisky tours and sampling classic Southern fare.
1. Listen to live music in a honky-tonk bar
Nashville is the home of music and honky-tonks, it in itself defined as ‘Music City’. 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 all wonderfully explored with our All-American Music Tour.
2. Explore the Johnny Cash museum
You’re in the city of music, so it’s only fitting that there’s a museum dedicated to one of the best-selling artists of all time. Featuring the largest collection of Johnny Cash artefacts and memorabilia in the world, the Johnny Cash museum is 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.
3. Go to a show at Grand Ole Opry
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. If you really want to get in the spirit, you won’t be out of place in a cowboy hat and boots.
4. Sample some classic Nashville fare
Think ribs, BBQ, meat, beer and bourbon – Nashville is not the place for dieters. 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. But 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.
5. Head to the Country Music Hall of Fame and The Ryman
We know Nashville is all about the music, and The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is 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. Explore all this and more with our Rhythms of the Deep South Self-Drive.