Once the home of a church and the Grand Ole Opry, the famed Ryman Auditorium invites audiences to sit in the pews and listen to everyone from Diana Ross to Coldplay. If you visit the “Mother Church of Country Music,” be sure to book ahead for tickets and take a cushion for the wooden seats. If undiscovered singers and the heroes behind the hits are more to your taste, check out the iconic Bluebird Cafe in Nashville’s Green Hills. Be warned, the venue only seats 100 people, and patrons arrive early, so call ahead for reservations. And you might get lucky, as those already enjoying a spot on the music charts have been known to pop in for a set. If line dancing is your thing, venture downtown to Second Avenue to the Wildhorse Saloon, a three-level historic warehouse featuring dance and live music. Known to serve more than 3,000 gallons of barbecue sauce and 2 million pickle slices per year, the Wildhorse offers something for everyone.
Nashville is known for its specialty boutiques and Bella Linea aims to please in this category. Recognizing the need for “soft, gorgeous linens like you find in Europe,” Bella specializes in the “European Sleep Style of duvets and comforters, ” offering quality linens and bedding basics from all over the world along with sumptuous gifts, bath, and home accessories. For a unique mix of couture, designer, and lifestyle fashions, turn the corner and head to The Cotton Mill. Nashville’s premier place for everything from resort to women’s evening wear, they offer one of the best jean selections in the city. AshBlue is the go-to source for unique one-of-a-kind items such as handcrafted jewelry and furniture with both an international flair and fine craftsmanship. (Stock up on Turkish-T cotton towels, a favorite of actress Gwyneth Paltrow.) And if it’s Italian ceramics, original artwork, and European treasures you are searching for, stop in across the street at the Caldwell Collection. Shoppers can find everything from hand-colored architectural engravings to wood-fired ceramics. All four stores can be found in Nashville’s Green Hills shopping area on Bandywood Drive.
Located in the former home of the Cheek family (of the Maxwell House coffee empire) is the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. The mansion has been home to everything from the Smithsonian’s modern masters exhibit to the stunning Dale Chihuly sculptures in the garden. Situated on 55 acres in Nashville’s Belle Meade, the permanent collections include the contemporary art of Larry Rivers, Andy Warhol, and Red Grooms along with the third largest collection of Worcester porcelain in the United States. Take a breather at lunch and enjoy a fried green tomato salad and fruit tea at the Pineapple Room Restaurant; those with children can enjoy Family Night Out in June and July.
After your excursion to Cheekwood, stop by the historic Belle Meade Plantation for a view of life in the 1800s. A guided tour gives visitors a glimpse of the fully furnished mansion and its period antiques. The original cabin from 1807 and the carriage collections along with a restored slave cabin will also take you back in time. The mansion boasts a winery, gift shop, and on-site restaurant, Harding House. And yes, they have fried green tomatoes on the menu as well.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a must-see on any music aficionado’s list. Located in downtown Nashville, the museum houses the history of this beloved music genre from its humble beginnings to present day. Visitors will enjoy the historic country video clips and recorded music along with a collection that includes more than 800 show-stopping costumes, 600 instruments, and hundreds of other objects ranging from microphones to automobiles.