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The home of country music, Nashville, Tennessee is the place to come if you want to hear live music every night of the week. Head to atmospheric honky tonks like Robert’s Western, blues bars like Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar, or to the Grand Ole Opry itself, where legends like Merle Haggard and Patsy Cline once played.
The food is great too. Dine on southern fried chicken at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, try a slug of bourbon at Whiskey Kitchen, or explore the city’s growing craft beer scene at Craft Brewed.
Head to beautiful plantations like the Hermitage for a taste of antebellum life, stroll around Centennial Park with its replica of the Parthenon, or take the kids to Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.
Whether you want a music-packed trip, a family vacation, or a week of fine dining, Nashville delivers.
The Grand Ole Opry is country music’s most important venue, and it’s still a wonderful place to catch the latest acts. But there are smaller bars too to take in great country music, like Robert’s Western World, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Legend’s Corner, and Layla’s
Local specialties include smoking hot chicken (try the menu at Prince's Hot Chicken Shack), meat and three (Arnold’s Country Kitchen is the place to go), and biscuits, both in savory and sweet varieties.
You can visit elegant pre-Civil War plantations like the Hermitage, which was the home of President Andrew Jackson. Head to the Belle Meade Plantation for the best museum of southern history and tours that include free wine tasting.
Nashville isn’t all about the Opry and honky tonks. There are also plenty of outdoor festivals like the July 4th fireworks, June’s CMA Music Festival, and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in nearby Manchester.
While Elvis made his home in Memphis, he spent years in Nashville building his career. Visit RCA Studio B where he recorded 150 tracks or pick up copies of Elvis posters at Hatch Show Print.
Founded in 1925, this Nashville landmark has launched the careers of hundreds of best-selling country artists. Every week, there are at least three showcases, where the best current talent struts its stuff.
After seeing the polished artists at the Opry, head to Broadway and experience the rougher side of country at honky tonks like Layla’s or Honky Tonk Central.
The antebellum south was famous for its beautiful plantation architecture, and several of the finest examples are in the Nashville area. Don’t miss the Hermitage, home of U.S. President Andrew Jackson.
Country music has a proud history, and often a heart-breaking one too. Re-live the lives of tragic artists like Patsy Cline or Hank Williams and celebrate their music at the Country Music Hall of Fame on Nashville’s 5th Avenue.
Get some fresh air in Centennial Park, see the beautiful flowers at Cheekwood Botanical Garden or take the kids to Nashville Zoo, home to gibbons, macaws, and even kangaroos.
The best time to visit Nashville is between May and July, when the temperatures are high, but not too hot, and many of the major music festivals take place. Winter is a cheaper time to visit and the honky tonks will still be buzzing, while early spring and fall are great times to enjoy the plantations without large crowds.
Flights to Nashville International Airport are the simplest way to visit Nashville. To get into town from the airport, take a shuttle bus provided by Jarmon Transportation or pre-arrange a taxi or limo with one of the many companies present at the airport. Expect to pay around $30 for a taxi to downtown destinations.
If you want to take the train, the nearest station is in Memphis, which is linked to New Orleans and Chicago via the City of New Orleans service.
I-40 passes through Nashville, linking the city with destinations to the east (like Philadelphia or New York) and the west (like Memphis). I-65 also passes through Nashville, connecting it to northern and southern destinations, so the city is fairly easy to reach by car.
The Greyhound stop is at 1030 Charlotte Ave and the company provides connections to most major American cities. Megabus also run services to Nashville from Chicago and regional cities like Knoxville, and their buses stop on Commerce St.
Popular hotels include the Comfort Inn, the Courtyard Nashville, and the Holiday Inn, all of which provide comfortable, reliable accommodation at reasonable prices. For a more up-market vacation experience, The Hermitage Hotel is a gorgeous 19th-century hotel, while The Hutton Hotel, is a smaller boutique option with a focus on gourmet food and high-quality service. At the other end of the scale, Music City Hostel is a great place for backpackers to sleep.
Opryland – As the name suggests, Opryland is clustered around the Grand Ole Opry. It’s also the best place to stay if you intend to shop thanks to Opry Mills, where you’ll find major retailers like H&M and Ralph Lauren. There are plenty of musical attractions in the area. Visit the Willie Nelson Museum, take in an Elvis tribute act and round everything off with a southern feast at Nashville Palace.
Downtown – The business core of the city, Downtown hosts the city’s artistic institutions, including the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, while major touring acts usually find space for a concert at the Bridgestone Arena. Check out Broadway as well, home to the city’s best honky tonks, including Tootsie’s and Layla’s.
Midtown – Known for its restaurants, Midtown is a safe area that has plenty of hotels. Check out the seafood specialties at South Street Original Crab Shack and stay for the rock and roll shows or go up-market with the gourmet Italian food at Giovanni Ristorante. Vanderbilt University is next door too, and it’s worth taking a walk on campus to see its 19th century architecture and sculpture gardens.
Nashville MTA runs an efficient bus network that serves the whole city center. Basic fares are low at $1.70 for a single journey, and you can save money with $5.25 day passes. Buses tend to finish around 5 p.m., so taxis might be better if you go out in the evening.
Basic taxi fares are $3 for the pick-up, then $2 for every additional mile and $1 for each extra passenger. Uber is cheaper, with a base fare of $1 and then $0.93 per subsequent mile.
Major car rental agencies like Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis are present in the city. Expect to pay around $30 per day for a normal sized vehicle. Parking costs around $6 per hour in surface lots and over $10 in most garages, although many locations have cheaper rates after 5 p.m.
Opry Mills is a massive outlet mall filled with big names, including H&M, Coach, and Kate Spade. Gruhn Guitars on 8th Avenue is the place to look for musical instruments, while Imogen & Willie in 12South is a popular custom denim boutique. Green Hills is another district that’s full of high-end clothing stores, including Dillard’s and Macy’s.
Nashville isn’t an expensive city. 12 eggs cost around $2.40 while a bottle of wine is $14. The best places to shop for groceries are supermarkets like Publix, Kmart, Safeway, Wal-Mart, and H.G. Hill and there are also Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s outlets in the center of town.
For the best southern fried chicken in Nashville, head to Hattie B’s in Midtown. A broader southern soul food selection is available at Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Lockeland Table is a little more experimental (but still offers traditional American fare), while Bro’s Cajun Cuisine is an excellent seafood restaurant.