Learn about Nashville,
Tennessee, by reading Nashville – A Vacation With Strings
Attached by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer. It features a mini, but
thorough tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to know to plan
your trip including getting there, objective information on places to
stay and eat, and things to do. At the end of the article, we've
provided a summary of the contact information for your easy reference.
Nashville – A Vacation With Strings Attached
by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer and WTA Member
Country Music Hall of Fame and
Photo courtesy of Barry M. Winiker
Country music fans all over the world know
Nashville, and each year this "Music City" attracts millions of visitors to the
home of not only country music but fine restaurants, fascinating museums,
exciting amusement attractions, and homes of presidents.
Nashville became known as "Music City" when WSM radio announcer David Cobb
gave it that nickname in 1950 on Red Foley’s NBC radio broadcast. But the city
was well known for its musical heritage long before that. In 1925 the National
Life and Accident Insurance Company founded a radio program over radio station
WSM. Its name at that beginning was WSM Barn Dance. It continued for two
years under that name. The Saturday night program followed a broadcast from New
York that consisted mainly of classical music. Opening the Barn Dance program,
announcer George Hay quipped, "For the last hour we’ve been listening to music
taken largely from grand opera and the classics. We now present our own Grand
Ole Opry." The name stuck.
Photo courtesy of Donnie Beauchamp
The program has been aired continuously since 1925. It’s the world’s longest
running radio program and still available for you to watch performed at Grand
Ole Opryland, a modern amusement park just northeast of the city. The Grand Ole
Opry production moved to this amusement park in 1974 after more than 30 years at
the Ryman Auditorium, a place you will want to visit. Ryman was constructed
originally as the Union Gospel Tabernacle. When the Grand Ole Opry moved into
it, this past use prompted the nickname "The Mother Church of Country Music."
Most of the fine musicians and entertainers of country and western music
appeared on its stage.
Daily shows are presented at Opryland, but if you want tickets to see the
Grand Ole Opry broadcast, its best to buy your tickets on line in advance.
Of course you will want to tour the Grand Ole Opry Museum, near to the Ryman
Auditorium, and see exhibits honoring such legends as Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff,
Minnie Pearl, and others as well as many of today’s stars. (Incidentally, the
price on that tag that hung from Minnie Pearl’s hat was $1.98.)
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has a wealth of exhibits to
introduce you to Music City and country music. This, too, is just a few steps
from the historic Ryman Auditorium. Here you will see many treasures like Elvis
Presley’s gold Cadillac, Gene Autry’s string tie, and the hand written lyrics to
Momma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To be Cowboys.
Another entertaining way to see and listen to country music is to take a ride
on the General Jackson showboat. This 300-foot paddlewheel riverboat has
four decks but performances are presented in the two-story Victorian Theater.
March through December is the time for lunch and dinner cruises. Midday cruises
on the Cumberland River include a country music show and lunch and evening
cruises offer the show and a fine dinner.
True country music lovers will want to visit Gruhn Guitars shop on Broadway.
This shop is world famous for vintage instruments and has hundreds of the
stringed instruments including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, banjos,
basses, and mandolins ready to be inspected.
Nashville has a variety of neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive
flair. There is Germantown, for instance, Nashville’s first suburb so named for
the influx of German immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century. Now this
neighborhood is closer to the center of activity. There is a downtown section of
town but locals don’t know it by that. But, ask where South Street is and they
can tell you exactly how to get there.
From this downtown section, walk approximately one mile along The Music Mile,
which connects downtown with Music Row - the center of the recording industry.
Here artists like Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, Brenda Lee, Vanessa
Williams and others made recordings and where millions of copies were pressed.
Music is but one of the many reasons for visiting this area. Nashville has a
fascinating history and there are many points of interest here to show it. This
city’s history began more than 200 years ago when two groups of settlers built a
fort on the banks of the Cumberland River.
The Hermitage, Home of
President Andrew Jackson
Photo courtesy of Mike Rutherford
Nashville was the home three American presidents: Andrew Jackson, James Polk,
and Andrew Johnson. Jackson arrived in town to serve as the public prosecutor,
fell in love and built the plantation - The Hermitage - for his beloved
Rachel. Be sure to drop over and visit the Hermitage, which today is much like
it was when the Jacksons lived there 200 years ago. More than 95 percent of the
furnishings are original to the home. The grounds contain replicas of slave
cabins, a smoke house, and the first Hermitage home. The Belle Meade Plantation
started as a log cabin in 1907. It developed into one of the best-known
farms for breeding racehorses. In 1881 a horse bred here had the honor of being
the first American horse to win the English Derby. Thoroughbreds War Admiral and
Sea Biscuit trace their lineage to Belle Meade.
Over on Chestnut Street you will find Fort Negley, the largest and most
important fortification built by Union troops occupying Nashville during the
Visit the Tennessee State Capitol. It is one of the oldest state capitol
buildings in the nation and is very much like it was when built in 1859. On the
capitol’s grounds you may visit the tomb of President James Polk,
The area known as The District is where you will shed your history lessons
and join in the evening revelry. The District is crammed with nightclubs, bars
and restaurants, most with live music. Bars along Printers Alley were set up
during the depression of the Thirties. Local printers established bootlegging in
their basements and many are operational today, the reason you will go down some
steps to them.
Many other interesting tidbits make this a sure place for you to visit.
Interesting items like this being the home of Oprah Winfrey who got her start as
the first female and first African American to be a news anchor on a television
station in Nashville. Also, song writers along Music Row created custom scores
for television shows such as Today, Dateline, King of the Hill, and
Regis and Kelly. Additionally, this is where Joel Owsley Cheek
invented a coffee blend and convinced the manager of the Maxwell House Hotel to
serve it exclusively. It became so popular that Nashville was the center of the
nation’s coffee business in the early 20th century and the comment
from President Theodore Roosevelt after he sipped a cup of the brew - Good to
the last drop - remains as a slogan today.
Music, memories, or magic moments - whatever your reasons may be, a visit to
Nashville can make memories come to life and life become memories.
How To Get There
If you are coming by air, the Nashville Airport is served by l5
different airlines with more than 400 daily arrivals and departures. The
two major carriers are American and Southwest.
For persons in the United States, Nashville is a convenient
destination. It is within 650 miles of more than half the nation’s
population. Nashville is intersected by three major highways: I-40,
I-24, and I-65.
Where To Stay
Nashville has more than 32,000 hotel rooms ranging from small Bed and
Breakfast locations to the Opryland resort and convention center with it
2,881 rooms. This is the largest non-gaming hotel in the United States.
You have your choice of national chain facilities like Best Western,
Days Inn, Hampton Suites, Doubletree, Hilton, or Holiday Inn, and others
in downtown area, or a wide variety of choices in more suburban areas.
You can also check rates and book your room and rental car at
WTA’s Online Travel Booking Service.
Deep discounts may apply.
Where To Dine
Almost any place you go in the Nashville area, the food is served
with Southern charm. You will find ethnic dining facilities like
restaurants in Germantown, Nashville’s first suburb.
At various restaurants in the area you will find on the menu a
"meat-and-three." This is based on the serving of a meat with three side
dishes. There is a typical New York delicatessen.
A Nashville favorite for years in the downtown area is South Street
Original Crab Shack and Authentic Dive Bar, or, as it is known to
locals, simply as South Street. This Cajun restaurant serves large
portions of spicy entrees of seafood and barbeques.
The Broadway Brew House is another place to visit if you are a true
beer connoisseur. They have 70 different beers on tap and another 100 or
so in the cooler. Here you can enjoy New Orleans-style food.
The area offers many different menus and price levels. When you visit
Nashville, bring along a big appetite.
Notice: This information is current as of December 2007. It is recommended
that you contact the numbers, and/or visit the websites above to determine any
changes to the information.