"Nashville - City of Music" Nashville by mightywease

Nashville Travel Guide: 782 reviews and 1,913 photos

Bluegrass and the Bat Building

Before I went to Nashville the only thing I knew about the city was that it is the home of Country Music. And my knowledge of Country Music was limited to Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and the soundtrack to "Oh Brother Where Art Thou". So all in all I didn't know much!
As ours was a failry short trip (3 days in Nashville, 3 days in Memphis and for a lot of that we were on organised tours) there wasn't an awful lot of time to get to know Nashville better or see a lot of the city. However, what I did see I really, really liked and was enough to make me want to go back.

Highlights we did get to see were

The Country Music Hall of Fame - an absolute must whether you are a country music fan or not. Wonderful!

RCA Studio B - the fantastic tour guides make you feel like you were there in the room when Dolly Parton was recording "Coat of Many Colours" or Elvis singing "Are You Lonesome Tonight"

Broadway - Hatch Show Print, Gruhn Guitar's and Ernest Tubbs Record Shop by day. The Bluegrass Inn, Tootsie's Orchard Lounge and Robert's Western World plus many others by night

Downtown Nashville - Saturday morning we followed a walking tour in our guide book ("Frommer's Nashville and Memphis") which took us past Fort Nashborough (a replica of the original 1780 settlement), the Tennesse State Capitol building, Union Station, the Frist Centre for the Visual Arts and throught the historic area around 2nd Avenue. There you get a sense of how old and new combine as the Victorian buildings nestle quite happily in the shadow of the Bell South Building and other modern constructions

Bicentennial Capitol Mall - a 19 acre park built to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Tennessee becoming a state. The park includes the Pathway of History - a wall detailing events in the states 200 year old history, a walkway givng details about the different counties in Tennessee, a number of memorials, fountains and an amphitheatre. There is also a 200 foot long granite map of the state.

Opryland Hotel and Conference Centre - 2883 rooms surround three large plant-filled glass covered atria which also include streams, fountains waterfalls and even a river. Plus shops and restaurants. Like the Palm House at Kew Gardens mixed with the Burlington Arcade, an upmarket hotel and the National Exhibiton Centre!

Thigs we didn't get to see (and reasons to go back) include

The Frist Centre for the Visual Arts (we had a quick coffee in here but sadly not enough time to see any of the exhibits)

The Van Vechtan Gallery

The Tennessee State Museum

Belle Meade Plantation

The Grand Ole Opry (we were given the chance to go here but instead chose to investigate the bars and music on Broadway)

plus lots more

I liked Nashville a lot. With such a short space of time spent there you have to go on feelings and, to me, Nashville lfelt ike a comfortable, interesting city with a vibrant cultural life. I'd certainly go again.

Where is everybody?

One of the things that really struck us about Nashville, and Memphis, was the seeming lack of people! Or should I say the lack of people walking around.
Living in London, and with my only other expeinece of the USA being New York, I am used to the hustle and bustle of people on streets. A place where you develop an internal radar so that you can negotiate Oxford Street, Covent Garden or even Sutton High Street without bumping in to your fellow men, women, children and dogs!
Visit the town centre of most British cities/towns on a Saturday morning/afternoon and you'll find yourself somewhere that is a mixture of meeting place, shopping area, amusement arcade and playground. Most of all you will find people walking and strolling around.
In downtown Nashville, however, on our Saturday morning/afternoon stroll, we saw only a handful of other people walking about. I am not sure why it bothered me (I mean bother in the sense of 'wondering about it' rather than 'worrying about it'). Maybe because it was so alien to what I was used to . However I found it strange enough and intriguing enough to want to comment on it!
I did wonde if the cliche "the car is king" ,which is often trotted out when talking about the States, was true. Were most people driving to and from places rather than walking? There was a fair amount of traffic on the roads and when we did pop into places i.e. the Frist Centre for the Visual Arts, we did see quite a few people compared with people we'd seen on the streets. So possibly.
I don't know the downtown district well but there did seem to be a lot of municipal and office buildings which looked closed for the weekend. Which would mean that without the influx of people coming in to work there would be less people around (where I work in Warren Street in London it is very busy Mon-Fri but as quiet as anything at the weekend). Also downtown Nashville is not like the traditional town centre, as I described before, that you would find in a British city. It's not a shopping centre as such. Indeed when we did visit a shopping mall (Opry Mills) later in the afternoon we did encounter a lot more people.
America is just so much bigger than Britain! Therefore are there just less people to fill the space! (The latter reasoned argument was possibly thought out after a few Bud Light's later in the evening!).
I'm not sure what the answer is but if anyone else has any ideas, views or comments please let me know!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great Nightlife, Interesting Daylife!
  • Cons:Didn't seem to be a lot of public transport
  • In a nutshell:Music City USA and much more
  • Last visit to Nashville: Jan 2004
  • Intro Updated Feb 14, 2004
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mightywease

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