As soon as you step off the plane in Nashville, it becomes apparent why the Tennessee state capital is nicknamed “Music City.” A guitar case bobbing through the crowd on its owner’s hand, live tunes spilling from a cafe and souvenir shops with music-themed memorabilia reinforce Nashville’s claim to fame—and that’s all before you leave the airport.
For a two-and-a-half-hour flight from New York City, you could be spending a long weekend in the town legendary singers consider home. If you’re new to the country scene, there’s also plenty of Tennessee culture and history to take in. Use the sites and activities below as a model for your trip, and you’ll come home happily exhausted.
Top tip: To cover the most ground in a short time, you may want to partake in a tour experience, such as the one offered through Adventures by Disney (ABD). Feel like a country rock star with exclusive, behind-the-scenes experiences that heighten any Nashville adventure.
- The Bluebird Cafe: This cute and cozy listening room is a hotspot for aspiring and established songwriters. The Bluebird is so popular, it’s nearly impossible to ensure you’ll get inside for live music and good eats on any given night. Drop by the website for details on reservations, or vacation as part of a tour group like ABD to guarantee a private, intimate performance.
- Downtown Nashville: Day or night, stroll along Broadway’s bars and restaurants for live music by up-and-coming musicians, souvenir shopping (think requisite cowboy hats and boots), and Southern cooking.
- The Hermitage: Andrew Jackson’s mansion, set on 1,100 acres of farmland, is now a well-preserved museum with most of its original artifacts and 1830’s decor still intact. “Meet” the former president and his family, donning period attire, when you visit the historical site. ABD bonus: Vacationers enjoy an after-hours visit, dinner, ghost stories and 19th-century dancing.
- Hatch Show Print: Colorful show posters and concert handbills originating from Hatch, one of America’s oldest working letterpress print shops, are displayed at The Bluebird Cafe and all over Nashville. Visitors have the chance to learn about the history of the shop and letterpressing, as well as to create their own prints during special programs.
For the music buff
- RCA Studio B: Check out where musicians like Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton recorded some of their best-known songs, contributing to the studio’s current heritage of 35,000 tracks created under its roof.
- Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: Dig deeper into the country music genre’s past and present at this museum, whose inductees include Johnny Cash, Reba McEntire and Kenny Rogers.
- Nashville TV Tour: Through ABD or a company like Gray Line of Tennessee, ride a coach bus to view the filming locations of ABC’s TV drama Nashville, starring Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, Charles Esten and Jonathan Jackson. You may also get to see Taylor Swift’s home or where stars like Nicole Kidman hang out.
- Grand Ole Opry: Take in a backstage tour and a show at this world-famous venue where even the most recognizable singers have to be approved members (or specifically invited by members) to play.
Where to stay
A short ride away from downtown Nashville and adjacent to the Grand Ole Opry, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center is the perfect base for your trip. The hotel’s modern, spacious rooms foster comfort and relaxation. Its signature atrium lends a sunny brightness to the indoor environment and features 9 acres of spectacularly maintained gardens with a jungle-like atmosphere. An Atrium room affords guests a private balcony with a view over the resort’s indoor river (yes, that’s correct!), which has guided boat tours. Dine at any of Opryland’s 17 restaurants, swim in all three of the hotel’s pools, relax at the spa, or peek through the window of onsite famous country music station 650 AM WSM.
A long weekend in Nashville provides just the right combination of luxury, entertainment and relaxation.