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Since music is the universal language, Nashville, Tennessee, is a destination filled with creative storytellers.
Visiting Nashville inspires one to write their own Music City story while exploring the accessible, dynamic and diverse neighborhoods. There are lots of opportunities to learn about the city’s musical heritage, historic civil wars, and fascinating culture.
Here’s how to spend 3 days in Nashville and write or tell your own fascinating vacation story.
Day 1 of 3 Days in Nashville
Check Into the Beautiful Conrad Nashville
Fly into Nashville International Airport, the city is just a 15-minute drive into downtown Nashville. The city offers accommodations for every kind of traveler. There are 19 new boutique and name-brand hotels and a wide range of bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals.
Check into the new Conrad Nashville. This modern 13-story glass Champalimaud Design building has an elegant nod to music.
It has 234 large guest rooms and suites with windows that go from floor to ceiling and give great views of the city. Its relaxed environment is ideal to come back to after a day of dining, sightseeing and listening to music.
Whiskey, Barbecue and Music
Start off with a Mint Julep food and beverage tour. The family-owned company customizes tours based on visitors’ interests. Those who like spirits can visit the Nashville Barrel Company for a flight of three premium spirits inside the tasting room.
Afterward, head over to Edley’s Bar-b-que for some of the best low and slow-smoked meat meal. Order a sampler that includes any three smoked meats; the chicken covered in white Alabama sauce is a favorite.
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Also included are four homemade sides (green beans simmered in bone broth with bacon, onions and seasoning), sauces, cornbread and pickles. They make boozy milkshakes here too.
After dinner, get dropped off at Nashville’s Lower Broadway Honky Tonk Highway. It’s the city’s most famous street where world-class performers such as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and other stars began their careers.
This lively neon-lit street has incredible music streaming out of windows and doors 365 days a year. There is no cover charge to enter the bars or restaurants to listen to music. Just make sure to tip the artists, servers and bartenders.
Day 2 of 3 Days in Nashville
Take a City Bus Tour
Start your morning at the entrance of Bridgestone Arena, the Music City Visitor Center at Fifth and Broadway. The friendly staff has maps, tickets to venues and attractions, special offers and unique Music City gifts.
This is a good place to hop on a Gray Line Bus Tour to familiarize yourself with the highlights of the city. You will drive by the Country Music Hall of Fame, Frist Center for the Visual Arts and Union Station (now a beautiful hotel.)
Other sights include Vanderbilt University and the green lawns of Centennial Park with a full-scale replica of the Parthenon. Nicknamed ‘The Athens of the South’ after it was built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, this stone column structure has a 42-foot-tall golden Athena statue inside.
The bus also takes visitors past the Tennessee State Capitol, Bicentennial Park and Farmers Market, Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, GRAMMY Museum Gallery and Printers Alley. The route finishes near the Ryman Auditorium.
Tour the Ryman Auditorium
Be sure to purchase a ticket to tour Ryman Auditorium, built by Captain Thomas G. Ryman in 1892. The tour begins with an informative multi-media film led by a hologram of Ryman’s former manager, Lula C. Naff.
Built in a striking Gothic design, the venue was first a church and later hosted boxing matches and political debates. There were also informative talks by luminaries Helen Keller and Booker T Washington.
Later, it became well-known as the Mother Church of Country Music, when it was the longtime former home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1974. Now a diverse lineup of more than 200 shows per year fills the auditorium.
In the lobby, look for the Russ Faxon statue of the King of Country singer-songwriter and fiddler Roy Acuff, sitting next to comedian and singer Minnie Pearl. Together, they entertained almost every weekend at the Grand Ole Opry for decades.
Elvis also walked onstage shifting his hips as a crowd of fans sat in the original wooden church pew seats. June Carter met Johnny Cash here, and this is also where Dolly Parton first performed at the age of 13. Ticket holders can stand on the historic stage and have their picture taken as a keepsake.
Nearby is the newer National Museum of African American Music. It’s a 56,000-square-foot interactive music gallery that enlightens visitors chronologically from the beginning of music to today. There are listening stations, videos of concerts and iconic costumes and instruments from some of the most popular music stars in the world.
Indulge at Hattie B’s
When lunchtime approaches, make your way to nearby Hattie B’s Hot Chicken for an array of fried chicken plates with increasing levels of spiciness. Be sure to order scratch-made side dishes such as black-eyed peas and pimento Mac and cheese.
This family business usually has a line of foodies out the door, but it moves quickly as customers counter order and have their food delivered to their table. You can also skip the line and order ahead on their app.
Owned and operated by the father-and-son team, Nick Bishop, Sr. and Nick Bishop, Jr., there are now three locations in Nashville. These are at 5209 Charlotte Avenue; 5069 Broadway Pl Suite A-103; and 112 19th Avenue South.
So Many Music Museums
Feeling fortified, visit the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum to discover the stories behind session musicians, engineers and producers.
Each exhibit enlightens visitors about the story of some of the world’s famous musicians playing on the greatest recordings of all time. Don’t miss the Jimi Hendrix exhibit to learn about the short life of this talented guitarist, singer and songwriter.
Another must-see museum is the Johnny Cash Museum honoring the country superstar often referred to as the ‘Man in Black’. The historic building contains the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts.
These include handwritten lyric sheets, marriage licenses, clothing, records, instruments and stage props telling the story of this iconic singer’s life.
One more place not to be missed is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum featuring 350,000 square feet of galleries. This landmark is a tribute to all genres of musicians who have contributed to the world through song or made a significant contribution to the music industry with connections to Music City.
There is also an 800-seat CMA Theater and the Taylor Swift Education Center. Right outside the museum is the Music City Walk of Fame on the open terrace.
Nearby have dinner at The Farm House just south of Broadway, offering a menu focusing on great Southern food and cocktails prepared with locally sourced ingredients.
Chef-Owner Trey Cioccia’s innovative fare includes delicious pimento cheese beignets, fried green tomatoes with pepper jam, and roasted buttermilk chicken served with white beans, ham and arugula. Finish with fried apple pie or a cookie plate with milk jam.
Day 3 of 3 Days in Nashville
Take a Historical Journey
Rent a car or take a car service to Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. This was the home of the 7th President of the United States, also known as the People’s President. His home is one of the largest, most visited presidential estates in the United States. It’s also one of Nashville’s top-rated attractions and is located minutes from downtown and Gaylord Opryland Resort.
The 1,120-acre National Historic Landmark features a tour of the president’s home. There are also walking trails to visit more than 30 historic buildings and slave quarters. You can also see the cemetery where President Jackson, his wife Rachel and some of his household staff are buried.
Then visit some of the bloodiest battle sites in the Civil War. The town of Franklin was founded in 1799 and named after Benjamin Franklin. Thousands of historic tourists visit the site of the Battle of Franklin, Carnton, and the Carter House each year.
Built in 1830, by Fountain Branch Carter, the Carter House was caught amid the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864. Capt. Tod Carter, who grew up in the house, was involved in the battle and mortally wounded.
The house and outbuildings show obvious battle damage with over 1,000 bullet holes still visible today. This site serves as a memorial to the Carter family, as well as both Confederate and Federal soldiers. The museum includes artifacts and information on the Carter family, their slaves and the Battle of Franklin.
Another moving historical attraction is Carnton, home of Carrie and John McGavock. Upstairs their home served as the largest Confederate field hospital following the Battle of Franklin. Soldiers’ blood still stains the wood floors.
Robert Hicks immortalized Carrie McGavock in his New York Times bestseller ‘The Widow of the South’. The expansive McGavock Confederate Cemetery is on site, as well as a fully restored garden and slave quarters.
Visit the Charming Town of Franklin
Afterward, explore the storybook town of Franklin, designated a Great American Main Street and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s just 17 miles south of Nashville, offering a 16-block historic district preserved with southerly heritage, music, shopping, and Southern culinary delights. Celebrities Justin Timberlake, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and Brad Paisley live or have lived in or near Franklin.
One of the most famous restaurants in town is Puckett’s. It used to be a little grocery store but now serves Southern “meat-and-three” meals. Select one slow-smoked BBQ meat with three side dishes. There is a small stage offering live, local music in a laid-back and down-home atmosphere.
After a meal, walk into Franklin Town Square. It was named “Tennessee’s Most Handsome Town” by The Rotary Club in the 1920s to encourage business expansion. There is a lot of history in the square starting with a towering Confederate soldier statue overlooking Victorian and modern buildings along Main Street.
Nearby is a newer statue of the U.S. Colored Troops near Williamson County’s first courthouse completed in 1858. The Courthouse served as a hospital after the Battle of Franklin, and this area was also where slaves were sold starting in 1813.
If you have time, one more historic site is Traveller’s Rest or Golgotha. This well-preserved Federal-style plantation house was built in 1799 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
It was owned by John Overton, a friend of Andrew Jackson. Visitors can tour the home showcasing pre-1840 antique furniture and the slave quarters.
Music Row and a Special Dinner
Before dinner, take a walk or drive along Music Row in one of the most unique neighborhoods in the world. Located southwest of downtown Nashville, this historic district is considered the heart of Nashville’s entertainment industry, particularly country and gospel music. The Country Music Association is located here along with numerous record labels, publishing houses, music licensing firms, recording studios, video production houses, radio stations and media houses.
Streets are named after some of country music’s top entertainers including Chet Atkins and Roy Acuff. This is where Elvis recorded more than 200 hit songs. Many of the businesses honor their number one stars with colorful banners displayed out front congratulating the songwriters, producers and talent.
Drive back into Nashville for dinner at The Electric Jane entertainment club. Near the entrance is a purple mural of guitarist and singer Prince. This modern-day dining and live entertainment venue deliver some of the finest entertainers in Nashville. Order from an appealing food menu that includes Greek Saganaki, a flaming cheese appetizer.
Those looking to splurge may want to dine at Mimo Restaurant & Bar inside the new Four Seasons Hotel Nashville. Michelin-starred Chef Aniello ‘Nello’ Turco heads up Southern Italian Cuisine meets Southern Hospitality with a stellar team of culinary and hospitality greats.
After dinner, purchase a ticket to the Schermerhorn Nashville Symphony, named in honor of the late Maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn. The Maestro led the GRAMMY Award-winning Nashville Symphony for 22 years.
It’s located downtown in the SoBro neighborhood, across from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The spectacular interior of the building hosts a wide range of musical events, including classical, pop, jazz and world music concerts.
After three days in Nashville, you will have a story to tell about your journey through Music City and its historical past.
If You Go
Conrad Nashville – https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/bnaleci-conrad-nashville/ 1260 West End Ave., (615)327-8000.
Noelle, Nashville, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel – https://www.noelle-nashville.com 200 4th Avenue North Nashville, Tennessee 37219, (615)649-5000.
Food and Drink
Nashville Barrel Company – https://www.nashvillebarrelco.com/home
Edleys BBQ – https://www.edleysbbq.com
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken – https://hattieb.com
The Farm House – https://www.thefarmhousetn.com
The Electric Jane – Mimo Restaurant and Bar – https://www.fourseasons.com/nashville/dining/
Mimo Restaurant and Bar – https://www.fourseasons.com/nashville/dining/
Author Bio: Jill Weinlein enjoys discovering new destinations that appeal to all of the senses. She writes about hotels, cruise ships and culinary adventures.
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