The USA is full of amazing places to visit—it’s a country that’s full of rich cultural heritage and beautiful landscapes, a bit like England, really, then, but much bigger.
The USA is full of amazing places to visit—it’s a country that’s full of rich cultural heritage and beautiful landscapes, a bit like England, really, then, but much bigger. There’s also not that big of a hype over Jeremy Kyle here, but still, each of the country’s 50 states have something to offer. The State Capitol of Tennessee, Nashville, is no exception, and has a pretty cool collection of places to visit.
While there are many places to visit in this lively city, here are a few of my favourites.
Often called the ‘Mother Church of Country Music,’ the Ryman Auditorium was built in 1913 by Thomas Ryman, after he was moved and converted by Christian preacher Reverend Sam Jones in 1885. Ryman felt so inspired by him that he built a permanent place for him to preach.
Ryman died shortly after its construction, and several years later the venue was purchased by a local businesswoman and turned into a performance space to give local country musicians a more permanent home, playing host to artists such as Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn and Minnie Pearl.
In recent times, performers such as Miranda Lambert, The Raconteurs and Jack White have all played at the Ryman. It’s an interesting place, and is full of lots of history and stories that you can either discover yourself or on a guided tour – you can even see a show yourself if that’s your thing.
Speaking of Jack White, his own record label, Third Man Records, is based in Nashville. While you can’t see the studios where all the magic happens, you can visit the Novelties Lounge, which contains some weird and wonderful bits and bobs, like the Third Man Record Booth, which allows you to record a song and have it pressed straight to vinyl.
The Lounge is full of other random stuff too, from The White Stripes memorabilia to an extensive collection of records and CDs by the company’s vast, unique array of artists.
It’s certainly worth stopping by – you might even be lucky enough to meet White himself!
The Man in Black, Johnny Cash, really was pretty cool. He penned some great songs and contributed to the songwriting, country and even gospel music industries. There are only so many books and pages on the internet that you can read on him, however, and the Johnny Cash Museum really does immerse you in his world and life.
It contains artefacts, photos and video clips that bring you face to face with one of the most influential artists in music.
Even if you’re not a fan of Cash’s music, the museum is a great place to visit, and allows you to see how the music industry itself has changed and evolved over the years.
If you haven’t gathered by now, Nashville really is all about the music, and the one place that cements this city’s musical significance has to be the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Packed to the rafters full of information on some of the most influential artists in country music, from Dolly Parton to Taylor Swift, the Hall of Fame, like the Johnny Cash Museum, brings you face to face with artefacts, treasures and a ton of historical facts.
While the Country Music Hall of Fame serves as a hub of, well, country music awesomeness, it also serves as a stop for shuttles that take you to the Historic RCA Studio B tour, which is only included in the ‘Platinum’ Hall of Fame ticket package.
The tour allows you to see inside Studio B, where many powerful musical figures like Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton recorded some of their greatest hits. The old equipment is still there, and the architecture is mainly unchanged, allowing you to really, ahem, step back in time, if you’ll pardon the cliché!
If you’re not really into music, then there are plenty of other things to see and discover in Nashville. Take the Nashville Parthenon, for example. Built as a wooden structure in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, and later rebuilt as a permanent, stone structure in 1931 after constant public admiration, the Parthenon is a complete replica of the Greek original in Athens.
Inside are plenty of treasures, and the architecture is stunning and interesting, while the grounds that the Parthenon sits in are fantastic to explore.
Nashville is home to some pretty cool hotels, too. The swanky Hermitage Hotel, which opened in 1910 and was Nashville’s first million dollar hotel, is full of incredible architecture, and has an alluring sense of sophistication in the air.
Even if you’re not a guest at the hotel, you can expect to be treated with respect and receive a warm welcome from the staff, who will be more than willing to tell you about the hotel’s history.
I was lucky enough to be let into one of the coolest, art-deco men’s bathrooms I’ve ever been in, and that alone is definitely worth seeing!
There’s also another cool hotel in town, too – the Union Station Hotel. Originally a thriving train station that opened in 1910, it was later turned into a hotel in 1986 and has since been recognised as one of Nashville’s finest treasures and hidden gems.
Like with the Hermitage, whether you’re a guest or not you can expect a warm welcome from the staff, who will be happy to talk to you about the hotel’s rich history and point out features of its extravagant architecture.
I was lucky enough to be shown some of the breathtaking rooms available in the hotel, so it’s well worth asking to see them- if you’re not already a guest, of course.
Another of Nashville’s hidden gems, the Tennessee State Capitol Building is nestled on the edge of the town centre. Constructed in 1859, the building has been a hive of government activity ever since, and is open to the public to tour for free.
You can either take an hourly tour or explore the building on your own, and the staff members leave their office doors open, allowing you to see the building’s fine and exquisite architecture as well as have friendly chats with them about the building’s history and their role within its daily runnings.
Situated near the Union Station Hotel, the Frist Centre for the Visual Arts is Nashville’s finest art gallery. Featuring both paid and free exhibits, as well as a cafe and gift shop containing lots of quirky bits and pieces, there’s something for everyone at the Frist.
Even if you’re not an arty person (i.e. you like playing hide and seek in places like the Tate Modern rather than admiring the artwork…) then it’s still worth popping in to see some of the building’s fine, unique architecture, as well as to sit and take a quiet break from the otherwise lively atmosphere of the city.
If you think I’ve missed out any other top places that you think should be included in this list, let me know in the comments section below!
Image: Kaldari / Wikimedia Commons