You don’t have to love country music to enjoy this Tennessee town, but let’s be honest…it certainly helps. With music blaring from nearly every street corner, it’s a country music fans dream. We spent a couple of days in Nashville and tried to maximize our time by listening to great country music, enjoying southern food and learning how this up and coming city has come to be.
We drove to Nashville from Eastern Tennessee after exploring Knoxville and Great Smoky Mountain National Park. A beautiful 2.5 hour drive on I-40 will get you from Knoxville to Nashville in no time. We checked into the ultra chic Hutton Hotel. Its location near the West End is close to hip nightspots and lively cafes. If you want to head even closer to the action, a free shuttle service will drop you off at your desired destination and pick you back up when you’re ready.
After we were all settled in, we headed to the strip of neon lights where bars line the streets and artists are trying to get their big break.
Our first stop for dinner was at Rippy’s Bar & Grill. We had the best pulled pork sandwiches there while we listened to a live band play. Halfway through the meal, we realized that the lead singer of the band was on The Voice.
After dinner we headed down the strip and went where the music led us. Our next stop, Honky Tonk Central, where there are 3 full stories of live music, great food and great times. There were bands on each floor. If you didn’t like the song playing, you go up to the next floor, grab a drink and settle in. This is not Saturday night karaoke. These bands are high quality and play songs from the radio that you can sing along to.
Once you have pulled yourself out of bed from a night out on the town, it’s time to hit the streets to take in the town. Our first stop, the Country Music Hall of Fame.
This is where you can learn about country music history and traditions. You can check out exhibits from your favorite artists, see actual writings of the rough drafts of popular songs and learn about the importance of preserving this genre of music. You can easily spend hours here or just browse.
Head over to the Ryman Auditorium to check out the “Mother Church of Country Music.” The Ryman Auditorium was originally designed to be a place of worship, but the famous Grand Ole Opry made its debut in 1943 and played there every week for nearly 31 years thereafter. A tour of this country mecca is a must and gives you an appreciation for the legends that have stood on the stage: Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and many others. One of our favorite moments from the Ryman was being able to go on stage and get our picture taken on the famous stage.
A trip to Nashville is not complete unless you pay a visit to the Grand Ole Opry. Performances can be seen at the Grand Ole Opry House, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. It endured a huge flood in 2010, but has been fully restored. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and it’s a great way to see a number of artists from past, present and future. It’s not your typical concert. Multiple artists play for about 20 minutes and there’s a quick turn around time between artists. And then at the end of the night, the headliner stays on for 30 minutes or so. Unless you’re Eric Church, and then in that case, it’s closer to 1 hour.
If you can’t spend a lot of time in Nashville, you can certainly get your money’s worth in a weekend. With numerous opportunities for bar hopping, great music and a look into country’s past, Nashville should be on everyone’s short list regardless of your music preference.