Music fans should add Nashville’s most famous music epicenters—The Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium—to the top of their must-see lists. Located just around the corner from the hotel, The Grand Ole Opry (615.871.OPRY) is steeped in tradition and glory. It began as a radio broadcast in 1925, and soon emerged as a place where legends are made and newcomers pay homage. Catch some of today’s hottest country acts—Vince Gill, Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood—or stop in the gift shop for a souvenir.
The historic Ryman Auditorium in downtown was completed in 1892, and housed the Grand Ole Opry from 1934 to 1974. Known as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman underwent extensive restoration in the mid-1990s and now serves as a concert hall featuring music legends like B.B. King, Lou Reed and George Jones, and a number of today’s country, jazz, comedic and rock stars. Soak up some music history with a tour (615.889.3060).
Loretta Lynn. George Strait. Waylon Jennings. Dolly Parton. Elvis Presley. Johnny Cash. Hank Williams. These are just a handful of the famous musical acts that have been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (615.416.2001). Get up close and personal with a tour through the museum’s permanent exhibit, Sing Me Back Home. The artifacts, photographs and interactive media will take you on a journey through country music’s roots. The self-guided tour covers two floors of the museum. The story moves in chronological order, featuring information on the music and makers, photos, instruments and costumes.
Home of the Honky-Tonk (and Jazz, too!)
Lower Broadway is home to many honky-tonks, the most famous of which is Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge (615.726.0463). Part bar, part concert venue and career-launcher, a number of famous faces have passed through Tootsie’s, including Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline and songwriter Roger Miller. And today’s up-and-comers pour their hearts out nightly on the famed stage. In fact, the lounge even has its own retrospect DVD with Nelson as the narrator.
Much like Tootsie’s, Legend’s Corner (615.248.6334) is another hot spot on Broadway. With live music and a crowded dance floor, Legend’s plays tribute to the history of Nashville music with nostalgic memorabilia lining the walls. If you’re looking for more of a down-home bar, this is the place.
If you’re more into jazz than honky-tonk, you’ll want to check out F. Scott’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar (615.269.5861). Named after famed author F. Scott Fitzgerald, the friendly staff serves up an eclectic mix of wines and high-class Southern fare, such as bourbon maple pork chops or braised turkey legs with dumplings. Patrons can enjoy jazz every night of the week. Plus, a large portion of the fresh ingredients come from local farms.
True jazz lovers should plan a trek to B.B. King’s Blues Club (615.256.2727), one of three outposts nationwide. A house band and other featured music artists take the stage nightly at the superb blues club located in the heart of downtown Nashville on Second Avenue.
Collectors should add Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop (615.255.7503) to their itineraries. Founded by the late “Texas Troubadour” Ernest Tubb, this esteemed music shop has been around for more than 60 years. Tubb’s features an extensive collection of Grand Ole Opry performances on DVD, spotlighting the biggest country music stars of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. The shop is also home to the Midnight Jamboree, the second longest-running radio show, broadcast every Saturday night on WSM 650-AM.