1. Heros of Honky Tonk Row
There’s one thing everyone wants to do in Nashville, and there’s never a cover charge on famed Broadway—aka Honky Tonk Row—where legendary dive bars like Tootsie’s and Robert’s Western World host live music seven days a week. These tourist-thronged stages are the proving grounds for many musical hopefuls, though big names occasionally stop in to play a set. Visit Music City is a good source of information on live music in Nashville.
2. Tootsies Orchid Lounge
Of all the honky tonks on Broadway, Tootsies Orchid Lounge is the most famous. It was a favorite between-sets haunt of Grand Ole Opry guests when the renowned radio show played at the nearby Ryman Auditorium. Today the Opry has moved to a larger venue, but Tootsie’s still draws major crowds to its pair of stages.
3. The Parthenon
Long heralded at the “Athens of the South,” Nashville decided to take the characterization and run with it by building a full-size replica of the The Parthenon, complete with a towering statue of Athena at its core that was sculpted by famed Nashville artist Alan LeQuire. The Parthenon sits at the heart of Centennial Park, and today serves as an art museum.
4. Wall of Fame
Gold records cover the walls from floor to ceiling at the Country Music Hall of Fame, which boasts an incredible collection of country-music relics and memorabilia. While there you can join a tour of RCA Studio B, which was the site of legendary recordings from Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison and many more.
5. I Believe in Nashville
Nashville may be the country-music capital, but it’s not all guitars and twang. Up-and-coming neighborhoods boast beautiful street art amid hip, vibrant communities. Here in the trendy, upscale 12 South area, you can find everything from gourmet popsicles to hand-stitched denim.
6. Vintage Boots
Vintage is hot, and nowhere are ornate cowboy boots more in fashion than in Nashville. Bypass the Broadway boot emporiums for one of the many chic vintage shops scattered around the city, and you’ll be rewarded with great deals on some new/old kicks.
7. Bluebird Cafe
Tucked into a strip mall, the Bluebird Cafe is a Nashville staple, not to mention a regular backdrop in the brand new TV drama, Nashville. The hallmark of the Bluebird is local songwriters (that’d be the people who actually write the hits, rather than stars who record them) playing “in the round.” It’s an intimate, acoustic experience with some of the biggest names you’ve never heard of.
8. Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry
Though it wasn’t where the Grand Ole Opry was born, the Ryman Auditorium is where the renowned radio show got its legs, hosting the who’s who of country music for more than 30 years. The Opry outgrew the Ryman in the 70s, but the small auditorium continues to attract big acts from all music genres who pine to play on its hallowed stage.
9. Hatch Show Print
One of the oldest, still-working woodblock letterpress shops in the country sits just around the corner from the Ryman Auditorium. The two were historically intertwined as Hatch Show Print built its reputation on posters for the Opry’s country music stars. Today, Hatch Show Print is still cranking out prints the old-fashioned way, and business is booming. Not only do musicians from across the spectrum get posters here, but also event organizers and brands across the country that want to incorporate the classic look into their advertisements.
10. Modern Opry
The modern day Grand Ole Opry has moved to the massive complex outside the city called Opryland, complete with hotels and an amusement park. But the radio show itself plays on, and it’s still packing in the crowds with today’s top country music stars, like Jason Aldean, who’s playing here at the show’s 87th anniversary special.