L.A. to me feels like music industry, and Nashville to me feels like music community.
Sheryl Crow, Wall Street Journal
Let me begin by saying, I grew up on country music. So two days in Nashville was always going to be on the #BussingUSA journey. I remember on our family road trips when I was about eight, we had a pile of cassettes in the middle compartment of our car – all country. When I was that age I didn’t mind, singing along to hits by Lee Kernaghan (Australian country) with some Trisha Yearwood and Neil Diamond thrown in for good measure. But then I hit the age of Backstreet Boys, Five and Spice Girls and could no longer handle the country crooners.
Fast forward just a few pubescent years and a show called Nashville premiered on ABC and I was hooked. The cast makes the television series and as I watched the episodes I began to enjoy country music once more. Here is a look at my favourite moments in Music City and how you should totally spend two days in Nashville.
Country Music Hall of Fame
Going to Nashville and not visiting this establishment is like going to New York and not seeing the Statue of Liberty – you can’t miss it. During my visit there was a Kenny Rogers exhibition happening, which I actually found interesting. He is currently focusing on his photography career and has had a few photos used on the covers of prolific American magazines.
I loved looking at the costumes of past and present, particularly Dolly Parton’s of course. I also learned a lot about performers I had heard of but didn’t know much about, including Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams. The detail on display here is extraordinary and very informative. The Hall of Fame is very interactive, so if you do visit with the family be assured there is plenty to keep the kids entertained whilst you take a closer look at the exhibits.
As I walked down the stairs to exit I had to hold onto the rail as I didn’t want to fall whilst looking at all of these records on display. It’s a magnificent wall of accomplishments by the best in this business.
Honky Tonk Row
This is what my map named Broadway from the riverfront to 6th Street. I thought the name suited the brightly coloured buildings with neon signs flashing outside. As I walked down the street during lunch time, I had the hardest decision of my trip choosing where to eat. Obviously it had to be based not only on the menu but the best live music. After walking up and down each side I chose Rippy’swhich was a great choice for a decent priced burger and great music.
Myself and fellow patrons also got a surprise when a producer from America’s Got Talent walked onto the stage to promote the program’s upcoming auditions in Nashville and introduced last year’s runner up who performed. As a celebrity stalker, this was a big deal for me. I googled her immediately and found Emily West to have her own website and Wikipedia page, so of course she must have been legit.
Broadway has plenty of live music venues to choose from day and night, plus just a few boot stores if you are looking. You can also continue on down 2nd Street into the historic district for even more food, drinks and music options. This city’s downtown is full of life, which I loved. Everyone I met seemed happy to live in a place that breathes music.
Home of the Stars Tour
Okay, like I said, I have a slight celebrity issue. But this was too good to pass up. Unfortunately I thought our driver and guide could have had a bit more personality, but overall I enjoyed the Gray Line tour. Not only because we saw some amazing houses/mansions/castles, but I liked being able to visit the neighbourhoods outside of Nashville too. We were focused primarily around Brentwood which allowed me to see more of the city’s surroundings than I would have using public transit.
Some of the houses we saw belonged to Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, Reese Witherspoon, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw and so many more.
Musician’s Hall of Fame and Museum
I actually didn’t know what to expect when I first walked in the door of this Hall of Famebut I was immediately warmly welcomed into the facility and placed in a room to watch an introduction video. It explained that the museum is dedicated to the people behind the artists: the bands, studio performers, back-up singers, producers and more.
I thought it was a great initiative and I really enjoyed walking through the different areas and viewing all the amazing displays and learning about what it takes to make a musician. I took lots of photos of guitars for my dad and I rather enjoyed this sign.
I recommend a visit here to see behind the scenes.
The Ryman is the world famous home of the Grand Ole Opry, which broadcasted from the auditorium between 1943 to 1974. I had honestly not heard of this country music institution until watching the Nashville TV show. But it was, and still is, an important milestone in a singer’s career to perform on this stage. You can also visit the new Grand Ole Opry located on the city’s outskirts.
Inside there are displays, an illustrated timeline of the auditorium’s history, and an educational video featuring some big country music stars. You are even able to get your photo taken on the stage, which is a big bonus for fans.
The Ryman Auditorium is a National Historic Landmark and is nicknamed the Mother Church of Country Music. However, I think a visit here is only necessary if you are a diehard country music fan as it is $15 to enter.
Check out my US Budget Travel Guide
Yep, Nashville has a Parthenon, which is a full-sized replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. It was built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and is the centrepiece of Centennial Park, just west of downtown Nashville. But the best part of the structure is inside when you walk into the room and see this Athena Parthenos statue. Her golden presence towers 13 metres over you. It really has to be seen to be believed. She is also gilt with more than eight pounds of gold leaf, which I just find incredible.
The park is well located just outside of the city with a public bus stop very close. I sat for a moment outside in a swinging bench chair, enjoying the nice afternoon and lake views next to the Parthenon. There were children running around the water, people feeding the local ducks and teenagers gossiping and giggling as they checked their smartphones. It seemed like an epicentre of Nashville life.
Music City Hostel
This is where I stayed during my two days in Nashville, which had both positives and negatives. Firstly, the staff here are fantastic and friendly. There is also a communal kitchen and lounge area where I regularly sat at the dinner table on my computer, chatting to everyone about their day, their plans and sometimes their music. The rooms are divided so when you enter there is a little lounge area, one bathroom and three separate rooms housing usually four people each.
This was a little inconvenient in the morning as most people woke up around the same time so getting a chance to use the bathroom proved difficult. However, there was a spare in the communal area which I used every morning without a problem. The room you sleep in is also quite small, so if you have a lot of luggage and your roommates do too it could prove difficult to move.
The hostel has a sister hostel a bit closer downtown but it was a little pricier, so I chose the cheaper option, as per usual. But I walked into the city both mornings which took about 25 minutes and was quite a nice way to start my day. Then I caught a bus back to the hostel in the evening, which took less than 5 minutes. Perfect!
Overall, I really enjoyed Music City and I could see why so many people at the hostel were moving to the city. It is young, exciting and musical, what more could you want?
What would you do with two days in Nashville?
Thank you to Visit Music City for supplying me with a complimentary pass to the listed attractions. However, all opinions are my own.