Nashville, Tennessee is a city that's built from insurance and music-business money. The Christian book-publishing industry has taken hold there, too.
In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Nashville began a campaign to turn its city into a happening place. It succeeded. But, still, the town takes music seriously. Known as Music City USA, Nashville is headquarters for over 130 music publishers, 180 recording studios and 80 different record labels. On a warm evening after dinner, walk up Broadway from Second Avenue past Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Gruhn's Guitars, and the Ernest Tubb Record Store and you'll hear band after band playing in little bars and restaurants. These are real players in tight-sounding bands. Nashville's like an organism with music oozing from its pores. You'll enjoy it.
But, don’t make the mistake of thinking music is all Nashville has to offer. It is a savvy southern city loaded with hospitality and a host of activities for all ages and interests. The Bicentennial Mall offers a taste of Tennessee’s history. President Andrew Jackson’s farm, The Hermitage, is a bona-fide tourist site. President Jackson and his wife are buried in the tranquil garden. And, remembering you're in the heart of the south, you can step back to gracious antebellum days at the Belle Meade Plantation, the “Queen of Tennessee Plantations.” You’ll think you are in Athens, Greece at The Parthenon, built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. The Parthenon is the only full-scale copy of the ancient Greek temple in existence. Its centerpiece statue of Athena is the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western world.
Every city has many different kids of attractions beyond the ones it's famous for. Nashville's include the unique collection of cars, motorcycles, and one-of-a-kind vehicles at the Lane Motor Museum. Explore science and the skies at the Adventure Science Center and Sudekum Planetarium. Talk to the animals at the Nashville Zoo and Grassmere Wildlife Park. After all that activity, relax in the Tennessee Botanical Gardens.
But, in Nashville, you always come back to music. The $37 million Country Music Hall of Fame looks like the world’s largest piano keyboard on the outside. Inside, it is a treasure trove of music memorabilia and interactive exhibits. Video clips, recordings and dynamic exhibits offer glimpses into the careers of recording greats like Chet Atkins, Roy Rogers, Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee and the Everly Brothers. View the gold interior of Elvis’s white Cadillac and his gilded grand piano. Visit the Ryman Auditorium where many giants of country music got their start. Gaylord Opryland Resort (originally Opryland USA) boasts nine acres of lush indoor gardens, winding rivers and a 44-ft. waterfall enclosed under majestic glass atriums. Take a tour by Delta flatboat inside the resort. While you are there, experience the legendary sounds of performers like Charley Pride and Josh Turner at The Grand Ole Opry. And, take a tour at the Gibson guitar company.
Everywhere you go, you'll find top-quality independent restaurants, too. I recommend Go-Ten for Japanese, Amerigo's for Italian. But, the city is chock full of other cuisines, too. Ask your hotel concierge for help. When it comes to variety and fun, Nashville finishes first.