Heralded as Music City, U.S.A., and the country-music capital of the world, Tennessee’s fast-growing capital city also shines as a leading center of higher education, appropriately known as the Athens of the South. Nashville has prospered from both labels, emerging as one of the South’s most vibrant cities in the process. The District, the downtown area along 2nd Avenue and historic Broadway, has become a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, with restaurants, specialty shopping, and entertainment options. The historic sites throughout the city—such as the Hermitage and the Belle Meade Plantation—add another dimension.
Because there are many interesting and amazing things to see and experience in Nashville, today we give a first short list of must see’s
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
One of the world’s largest museums and research centers dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of American music, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a must-see for everyone visiting Nashville. The museum has amassed one of the world’s most extensive musical collections since its charter in 1964. The museum immerses visitors in the history of sounds of country music, its origins and traditions, and the stories and voices of many of its architects! In addition to the galleries, the museum has the 776-seat CMA Theater, the Taylor Swift Education Center, and multi-purpose event rental spaces. The museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm. This is one museum you don’t want to miss out on visiting!
Ryman Auditorium is a 2,362-seat live performance venue best known as the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. Built in the 1880s, the Ryman Auditorium is named in honor of the man who built the Nashville landmark. As the largest structure in the area, the Ryman Auditorium soon became a popular place for community events, political rallies and popular turn-of the-century entertainment including operas, symphonies, bands, ballets and theatrical productions. While the Ryman was gaining recognition as an entertainment site, George D. Hay was creating a radio show that would become an international phenomenon – the Grand Ole Opry®. In 1943, with crowds too big and too rowdy for other Nashville venues, the Opry found a home at the Ryman. For the next thirty-one years, the Ryman served as the premier stage for the Opry’s live radio shows, which included such legends as Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Minnie Pearl, Patsy Cline and Roy Acuff. There is something truly special about visiting and catching a performance at the Ryman Auditorium, which makes it an extremely popular Nashville landmark!
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art
This privately-funded 55-acre estate on the western edge of Nashville was formerly the residence of Nashville’s prominent Cheek family. Converted into a museum in 1960, this gorgeous Georgian-style mansion is a must-see. Cheekwood’s art collection was founded in 1959 upon the holdings of the former Nashville Museum of Art and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The core holdings include broad collections of American art; American and British decorative arts; contemporary art, especially outdoor sculpture acquired for the Woodland Sculpture Trail. Extending across the grounds from the Museum of Art, the Botanical Garden encompasses the entire 55-acre (22 ha) site with an emphasis on display, education, and study.
Centennial Park and Parthenon
The Centennial Park is a large urban park approximately two miles west of downtown Nashville. This gorgeous park was originally farmland that had belonged to Anne Robertson Johnson Cockrill, the first teacher in the state. In 1897, it was the site of the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition and was renamed Centennial Park. Most of the buildings and exhibits were dismantled after the exposition ended, with the exception of a full-scale model of the Athenian Parthenon. The Parthenon replica, built largely out of plaster as a temporary exhibit building began to fall into disrepair and was proposed for demolition on several occasions, but public sentiment in favor of this symbol of Nashville as the “Athens of the South” precluded this. Finally, in the 1920s it was agreed to replace the temporary plaster building with a permanent, concrete and steel replacement which remains today and has been refurbished on several occasions. Today, the Parthenon functions primarily as an art gallery. It contains a statue of Pallas Athena, said to be the largest indoor sculpture in the Western world.
Belmont Mansion, also known as Acklen Hall, and originally known as Belle Monte, Belle Mont or Belmont, is a historic mansion located in Nashville, Tennessee on the campus of Belmont University that today functions as a museum. In 1849, Adelicia Hayes Franklin married Joseph Alexander Smith Acklen, a young attorney from Alabama, and they immediately began construction of Belle Monte (Belmont) on 180 acres (73 ha) in Davidson County. It was completed by 1853 as an Italian villa style summer home. Months before her death, Adelicia sold Belmont, and the surrounding land, to Lewis T. Baxter for around $54,000. In 1890, it opened as a women’s academy and junior college. The school merged with Ward’s Seminary in 1913 and was renamed Ward-Belmont. The Tennessee Baptist Convention purchased the school in 1951, and created a four-year, coeducational college. In 2007, Belmont University separated from the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Today the mansion is owned by the Belmont Mansion Association and Belmont University while it is operated and preserved by the Belmont Mansion Association. Gilt frame mirrors hang over marble mantels reflecting the elaborate gasoliers and elegantly furnished parlors. Much of the original Venetian glass still adorns the windows, doors, and transoms of Belmont. The Grand Salon is considered by architectural historians to be the most elaborate domestic interior built in antebellum Tennessee. The gardens are now maintained as part of the University campus, including five cast iron gazebos. The 105-foot (32 m) water tower remains on the grounds and today serves as a Bell Tower for Belmont University.
Not sure what to do in Nashville? Choose Grand Avenue Tours
Experience Nashville in Grand style. Large or small, whether one person or an entire convention, we invite you to the beautiful grounds of Arrington Vineyards, to see the landmarks from Johnny Cash’s life in Hendersonville, or head up to the Bourbon Trail of Kentucky. Fans of ABC’s Nashville will want to check out the real house in Belle Meade where Rayna James lives or drive out to Juliette Barnes’ rented mansion.
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