Nashville has always been close to my heart. I lived in Music City for many years while attending Belmont University and performing songwriter nights around town. While I make money these days doing software demos vs. music demos, music is still in my soul…
Nashville is Music City – music is in the life blood here and the air has a rhythm of roots, bluegrass, hip-hop, pop and beyond. Though rooted in country music, Nashville is much more than country – it is a gathering for music and innovation. Nashville is a center for the arts, technology and coming together.
The city has deep roots from its founding out of a regional fort to being dubbed The Athens of the South. Vanderbilt, Belmont, Fisk and dozens of higher educational institutions have build a strong foundation of academics and culture.
I’m a Belmont alum, which also has alma mater such as Brad Paisley, Lee Ann Womack and Trisha Yearwood…I was blessed to spend five years studying at Belmont with industry leaders in Music Business. I still have a dream to return to Nashville and record my album one day – but I need some more software sales first 🙂
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to travel to Nashville for work in July and when I wasn’t meeting with clients I stole a few minutes exploring my old stomping grounds.
I wanted to share some highlights and hopefully I can start a Nashville tour series soon with more detailed articles.
Country Music Hall of Fame:
Ironically this was the only museum I’ve not visited in Nashville. I volunteered at The FRIST, toured Cheekwood and Belle Meade and every other museum, but I missed The Mother of Museums until now. And I’m so grateful that I took two hours to explore the Country Music Hall of Fame museum.
This is a MUST-SEE for anyone who loves music. Visitors are able to step back into time from the early beginnings of country music to country-rock and the emergence of country-blues (think Elvis, Wanda Jackson).
I am a huge music buff and could have spent days poring over the collection of costumes, memorabilia, guitars of legends like Glen Campbell, Bob Wills, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and more.
The museum also features exhibits geared towards the modern era – this time Chris Stapleton.
You can also sign up for a tour of The Hatch Print Museum (I did do this in college) and RCA Studio B – where many major hits by Elvis, Roy Orbison and The Everly Brothers were recorded.
I was fortunate to take my Audio course at RCA Studio B while I was at Belmont and remember the HOF tours watching us record periodically.
For more information click here.
I love animals and supporting quality AZA approved Zoos. The Nashville Zoo is hands down one of the best in the country. Situated across 188 acres on an old plantation ‘Grassmere’ (built in 1810 – Grassmere is the second oldest house open for tours in Davidson County). The natural lush habitat of forest and open valley makes this the ideal spot for a zoo.
I worked briefly at the zoo in college (for the Ghouls at Grassmere events) and also volunteered a few times.
The zoo is home to hundreds of animals and unique habitats for visitors to learn and appreciate wildlife and support conservation efforts.
Going in July – it was HOT and this day felt like humidity was 150% – so some of the animals were kept inside (they like AC too), but I was able to see Rhinos, Leopards, Alligators, Meerkats and the most interactive Gibbon. It was swinging from the trees like an acrobat.
The Zoo has several restaurants, kids activities and learning opportunities. You can book your Zoo trip here.
Nashville has the unique advantage of big city meets rural charm. Just outside of Nashville you’ll find numerous scenic byways filled with history and natural beauty.
One of the best byways in the US is The Natchez Trace and it starts in Nashville. Similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway – this all-American road is run by the Federal Government and cuts through scenic and historic points from Nashville to Natchez MS (southwest).
The Natchez Trace used to be called ‘The Devils Backbone’ – given the dangers of this important historical traffic path (foot, horses, boats)as travelers (Native Americans to settlers) made their way across the region.
I used to spend many a weekend on the Natchez Parkway – driving south towards Hohenwald (an hour away) to the Meriwether Lewis gravesite or hiking the numerous trace trails.
However if you are short on time, but want to enjoy the Natchez – I recommend driving Highway 100 outside of Nashville and merge onto the Parkway. You can drive south towards historic Leiper’s Fork and Franklin TN.
I had several client meetings just outside of Franklin, which is one of the most charming towns in America.
Franklin has a beautiful and tragic history – marred by the effects of The Civil War, which devastated Franklin during The Battle of Franklin in 1864.
For Civil War buffs, Franklin offers several tours of important battle-sites and historic homes including The Carnton Plantation and The Lotz House.
Today Franklin is a laid back historic town with eclectic local shops, fine dining, family eateries and of course plenty of live music.
I enjoyed stepping into the living history of Franklin before continuing back towards Nashville on the Natchez Trace, where I enjoyed delicious home cooking at the renowned Loveless Cafe
Located at the precipice of The Natchez Parkway (Nashville-Highway 100), The Loveless Cafe is a Nashville destination that is worth the hype. Known for their sweet flaky biscuits – The Loveless offers a variety of TN home cooked meals that have lured the likes of Elton John to Carrie Underwood.
The walls are covered with signed photos of Nashville’s music elite – who swear by The Loveless…but everyone who dines here is treated like a celebrity with impeccable service.
Honkytonks and The Ryman – Downtown:
I could dedicate an entire blog series to downtown Nashville…but this trip I focused on a pilgrimage to the the soul of Music City – The Mother Church of Country Music – The Ryman Auditorium
I was able to catch an amazing show by the infinitely talented Ricky Skaggs and his Kentucky Thunder.
The Ryman, originally built as a church has near perfect acoustics…it was the home of the Opry for many years and played hosts to legends like Patsy Cline. It is my favorite music venue in the world.
The Ryman offers backstage tours during the day – which I highly recommend. And if possible buy tickets for a show at The Ryman while downtown.
After Ricky Skaggs, I treated myself to dinner at Merchants – a wonderful steakhouse and desert hotpot located in the middle of honkytonks. It is a bit of swank for your boots.
I enjoyed the steak salad with key lime pie for dessert.
While I was too tired to honkytonk hop this trip – Lower Broadway and 2nd Avenue feature dozens of great bars/music joints. Tootsies, Layla’s and Robert’s Western World are a few of my favorites.
Nashville Coffee Tour:
I love coffee (Even if it kills my acid reflux) and Nashville is a coffee lovers town.
I recommend starting off at Bongo Java near Belmont…then moseying over to the 12th Avenue South area for Portland Brew and Frothy Monkey.
We’ll be ‘traveling’ to Nashville again soon on the blog – until then keep picking and strumming to the beat of your own drum.