Nashville

Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: November 2021

Nashville is often referred to as Music City and as the capital of country music. It is located along the Cumberland River in Tennessee and is filled with lots of opportunities to learn more about the history of the city and its connection with country music.

Day 1: Grand Ole Opry

We spent the morning hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains and enjoyed the mountainous landscape. But due to the crowds, we decided to head to Nashville early. After checking into our hotel, we booked last minute tickets for the Grand Ole Opry, which boasts of being the true home to country music and for having the longest running radio program in the United States. It had its first broadcast in 1925 and since then has had much success in showcasing country music to the world.

After eating an early dinner in our hotel room, we headed out to the show. We knew in advance that there was heavy traffic around the Grand Ole Opry from when we plugged in the directions into our GPS. It turns out that the entrance into the Opry is located at the back of a mall. And it was Black Friday. So you can only imagine what the traffic situation was like. It took us over 20 minutes just to get off the highway. We then had to drive all the way around the mall parking lot.

We finally made it with a few minutes to spare before the show started. There were eight performances in total where each person or group played three songs. The list of performers included: Mark Wills, Gail Davies, Riders in the Sky, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Darryl Worley, Gary Mule Deer, Sierra Ferrell (who made her debut performance) and Dailey & Vincent. Neither of us are particularly all that into country music, but it was surprisingly a lot of fun.

By the time the show ended, the mall was no longer packed and we had no issues getting out of the parking lot.

Day 2: History of Country Music

We woke up to another beautiful day of blue skies and sun. We left our accommodations bright and early in an effort to beat the crowds and see what the city is like first thing in the morning. The parking situation was a bit confusing as many of the parking lots required paying through some parking app on a smartphone. Since we didn’t want to pay for roaming, it meant that we had to drive around longer amongst the maze of streets until we finally found a parking garage that accepted cash or credit.

We walked towards the Tennessee State Capitol. Along the way we passed the Ryman Auditorium, which was once home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974 and earned the nickname of the Mother Church of Country Music. There were a few plaques and statues to commemorate a few of the big names in country music, like Little Jimmy Dickens (who was one of the longest tenured and most beloved members of the Grand Ole Opry), Bill Monroe (who created the bluegrass music genre) and Loretta Lynn (who also played an important role in country music).

We then walked to the Tennessee State Capitol, which sits atop Capitol Hill, the highest point in downtown Nashville. It is surrounded by a number of state government buildings, statues and monuments, including the tomb of James Knox Polk, the 11th president of the United States.

From here we walked along the riverfront and passed through Fort Nashborough. It was here where Nashville was originally founded in 1779 along the banks of the Cumberland River.

Next up on our itinerary was the Country Music Hall of Fame which highlights the history and evolution of country music throughout the years. It also holds the largest repository of country music artifacts in the world.

Afterwards we walked through the Music City Walk of Fame which is located just across from the Country Music Hall of Fame, and commemorates some of the artists that have had a significant contribution to country music.

On the way back to the parking garage, we walked along the Honky Tonk Highway, a stretch of lively bars often with live music and dancing on Lower Broadway. I can only imagine what this place is like in the evening.

After eating an early lunch, we left downtown Nashville and drove to the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece. We first went for a stroll around the grounds to check out the various statues and moments.

We then went inside to learn more about the history of Parthenon. It was initially built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition since Nashville was often referred to as the “Athens of the South”. It was only meant to be temporary, but the city was reluctant to tear it down at the end of the exposition. The building however started to deteriorate and in 1920 the city was forced to tear it down and rebuild.

One of the main features of the Parthenon is the 42-foot statue of Athena, which is another re-creation from the original Parthenon. The shield itself is taller than us so that should give you some sense of the sizing.

After picking up some Hattie B’s Hot Chicken for K, we drove to Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. We booked the last tour of the day for 4p.m and got there 30 minutes beforehand, which didn’t give us much time to walk through the grounds.

The Hermitage was once owned by Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, from 1804 until his death in 1845. It is situated on over 1,000 acres and contains the first Hermitage cabin, a mansion, three cabins, a church, and a one-acre garden, which also contains Jackson’s tomb.

After racing through the grounds, we walked over to the mansion to wait for our guided tour. We were given a brief overview of Andrew Jackson and his family, the layout of the mansion, and how it’s been renovated and redesigned a few times. We then explored the lower and upper levels of the house where each room features original furnishings and belongings from when Jackson lived there.

After our tour we walked through the grounds again until it got dark. We then drove back to our accommodations.

L

79 thoughts on “Nashville

  1. Ab says:

    In 2015, we had airline points we had to use and Nashville was one of reachable places we considered. We ended up going to Columbus, Ohio instead. But I’ve always wanted to do Nashville one day, so thank you for this wonderful tour.

    Country music is not always my jam but I do enjoy it from time to time. The show you attend at the Grand Ol Pry looked like so much fun. Ditto the old homes, Hermitage, Hall of Fame, and Presidents tomb that you visited.

    The Panthernon was unexpected, doesn’t exactly shout Nashville to me. But looks cool nonetheless! 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had a great time in Nashville. It’s not just for cowboys and country music fans, although it was kind of interesting to learn about. When you do visit, I would highly recommend going to the Grand Ole Opry. That was one of the highlights of our trip (despite having to deal with Black Friday traffic). Agreed, the Parthenon was very unexpected and seemed out of place in a city like Nashville.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. michellecj333 says:

    Nashville is my hometown, where my parents and childhood friends still live, and where i visit often!! It was so much fun to hear about your visit In this way!! When i was growing up, my dad worked for the company that owned the grand old Opry back in the 70’s and 80’s and we always sat backstage. I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, and have only been to the Opry a few times in adulthood- but it is always a lot of fun!! Your trip was literally the tour of my childhood school field trips!! And places i still think are cool. Im going to have to take Shannon on a hometown tour soon. I loved this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. That’s pretty incredible that you used to sit backstage when your dad had connections to the Opry. It’s kind of funny how as kids, we don’t appreciate a lot of things. I tend to take where I live for granted and it’s only when I have someone visit that I actually get to see my city through the eyes of a tourist. I should do it more often, but it’s hard to find the time sometimes. You should totally do a hometown tour!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I couldn’t help but think “only in America” when we were visiting the Parthenon. It did seem out of place, but we visited anyway as it was listed as one of the top attractions in Nashville. We figured we should check it out to get the full Nashville / American experience. Thanks for reading. Take care. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Even though I’m not a huge fan of country music, I still had a fabulous time attending the Grand Ole Opry and learning more about the country music scene. I even considered buying cowboy boots, but then I came to my senses.

      Like

  3. wetanddustyroads says:

    Of course, you can’t go to Nashville and not attend a country show! We don’t know the full history of country music, but do enjoy the music every now and then. Thank you for taking us on a tour through Nashville … it was a bit unexpected to see “Athens” there, but I did enjoy all your pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Right!? I have to say, seeing a show at the Grand Ole Opry was probably the highlight of our visit to Nashville. Agreed, the Parthenon seemed out of place, but then again, it’s America. It’s all part of the experience.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We certainly had an action-packed day of exploring many of the sights in and around Nashville. It helped that we had such fabulous weather which made it enjoyable for being outdoors. The Parthenon seemed really strange and out of place in Nashville, but it was interesting to read about its history. I never would have guessed that it’s super popular among the residents.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Monkey's Tale says:

    I’m not a country music fan but have heard so many good things about Nashville that it is one US city that I’d like to visit. Sounds like you had a great trip exploring the very diverse historical sites! Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lookoom says:

    This is a beautiful and comprehensive visit to Nashville. I’m ashamed of how quickly I passed through in my early days of travel, when I would travel through several US states in a week, with time for nothing. At least I remember the replica of the Parthenon, long before I went to see the original on site.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I feel the same way about my first few trips, but largely around how taking pictures was just an afterthought. It’s funny to see how much my style of travel and photography (even writing) has changed over the last few years. While I’ve only seen the replica of the Parthenon, I can only imagine how much more incredible the real thing is. I’d love to visit Greece someday.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ken Dowell says:

    I did much the same trip and totally enjoyed it. Completely changed my opinion of country music. But there was some strange gravitational force that kept landing me back on Broadway, listening to one great group of musicians after another in the bars there.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bama says:

    I wouldn’t say I’m familiar with country music, although I’ve read about the Grand Ole Opry. But I can imagine when we watch live music performances, no matter the genre, it will be more likely for us to enjoy it as opposed to just listening to the same music on the radio or the internet.

    That replica of the Parthenon is quite impressive! Can you imagine if the original one in Athens were still intact like that. That would have been an incredible sight!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny how that works. The same can be said about watching a sporting event. The energy and excitement from everyone around you in the audience can be contagious. I know what you mean about the Parthenon. I can only imagine how much more incredible the real deal is. I’d love to visit Greece someday.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. BACK ROADS AND OTHER STORIES says:

    What a great tour of Nashville. Funny, I am reading this as we crossed the Smoky Mountains and we are comfortably tucked away for the night in a National Forest. I love that you went to see the show even though neither of you is into country music. Good thing it ended up being fun!

    Like

  9. ourcrossings says:

    Looks like you had a great time in Nashville, Linda 🙂 I am not a big fan of country music, but I suppose it’s different when you are in a place like Nashville and get to listen to a live performance. Because listening to music on your iPhone or even radio simply can’t replicate the powerful feeling of having the bass hit your chest and high-end sounds surround you on all sides.
    Thanks for sharing it and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny how that happens. I feel the same way with sports. I find watching something on the tv isn’t all that exciting, but when you’re at a live game, it can be so much fun. All the energy from the audience can be contagious. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

  10. travelling_han says:

    Lovely post. I’m not a huge country music fan but visited Nashville in 2019 and there was still so much to do in the city. I thought it was lovely – a perfect weekend break destination 🙂

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Agreed. I’m not a fan of country music either, but it was interesting to learn more about that genre of music and its evolution. Like you said, there’s other stuff to do and see beyond the county music scene.

      Like

  11. alisendopf says:

    I hear Nashville is amazing, and you’ve just added to its allure. Grand Ole Opry – I was JUST having a conversation with a friend. I didn’t know if it was an event or a place or what, but you’ve cleared that up. You’d think I’d know more about country music living in Alberta… 🙂

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Haha, exactly, I would have expected you to have more knowledge of country music considering you’re surrounded by a bunch of cowboys in Alberta! I’m not a huge fan of country music, but the Grand Ole Opry was surprisingly a lot of fun and much better than I was expecting. I have much more of an appreciation for country music now.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. BrittnyLee says:

    Nashville!!! This is where my cousin, Carl and aunt, Sandy live! Tennessee has a lot to offer but it’s so stinking hot in the summer !! You picked a great time of the year to go. 🙂 We always visited during the summer months because I was off of school. I remember the heat though, and that sun. Wow 😳 . The Grand Ole Opry is awesome. I haven’t been there since I was a kid but I remember it being super cool. I am not a huge fan of country music either, at least not new country. I enjoy older country like Loretta Lynn and Patsy haha and also 80s and 90s country. They’re my favorites. They were my childhood jams.

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I can’t handle the heat, so I’m really happy we visited at the end of November when the temperature was a bit cooler and there weren’t as many people around. I don’t really listen to country music either, but I gotta say, the Grand Ole Opry was a lot of fun. I agree about how the older country music is a lot better.

      Like

      • BrittnyLee says:

        It is !! It just feels like the older stuff just has more heart!! Yeah, I’m the same. The heat makes my stomach act up and I burn something terrible even with sunblock so I have to be careful. It’s crazy!!

        Like

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        We like to joke that our family motto is to “cling to the shadows”. You have to do much more planning when spending the day in the heat in terms of reapplying sunscreen and making sure to drink enough water, otherwise the consequences can be severe.

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      • BrittnyLee says:

        Honestly, though. Haha ! I love that motto. Ours is “be nightwalkers” or “early morning walkers” haha we walk in the night in summer or the early morning haha. I am always wearing hats and sunblock from head to toe . People at work look at me so strangely while I’m applying sunblock before being outside for recess . It’s dead in the sun.

        Like

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Those are good mottos too! It’s all about avoiding the sun and when it’s the hottest and protecting our skin. I’m the same way, I layer up on sunscreen and typically always wear a hat and sunglasses outside in the summer. I have zero interest in tanning.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. rkrontheroad says:

    Thanks for the tour of Nashville – I’ve never been. Glad you were able to get into the Opry. I’m not a country music fan either, but it’s so iconic! I remember reading about the women’s suffrage sculpture

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Nashville exceeded my expectations and the live country music wasn’t actually that bad. I was a bit hesitant about going to the Grand Ole Opry, but figured we should to get the full Tennessee experience. I’m glad we did as it was the highlight of our time in Nashville.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh, the Places We See says:

    You saw a lot of Nashville on this recent trip! We’ve been to several of these spots, but not all. Sometimes I think as tourists we see more than those who live in the area. And you saw a lot. I agree with you about country music: I’m not into it, but the Ryman is a fun place anyway, and the shows are good.

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