Find the Country Music Spirit in Nashville TN

LovelessNashville TN is without a doubt country music’s Mecca. So much of country music’s history was made here. The top two places for people to see for country music are the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry

More Must See Places

These two places are just the tip of the iceberg. Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge should be on your list of must-see places. A montage of country music history is within the walls of this place. It was a hangout for songwriters in the early 1960s when such legends as Roger Miller, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson could be found spending some time here jotting down lyrics on napkins.

Honky Tonk

Want to hear some real honky tonk country? Stop in at Robert’s Western World to have a cold brew while you listen to some of the best musicians in Nashville. Once the place where the Sho-Bud Steel Guitar Company made and sold their pedal steel guitar, it now serves as a place where people soak up the old sounds of authentic Nashville honky tonk.

Remember those old advertising posters for shows that were completely hand designed, cut and inked? They are still made that way at Hatch Show Print. This company has been in business since 1879 and has printed show posters for such clients as the Ringling Bros. Circus, Garth Brooks and Elvis Presley. Because they are individually done by hand, each poster is one of a kind. Getting one of these as a souvenir will give you something beyond the typical vacation memorabilia.

Of course, you are going to want to know where to get the best down home southern cooking. No place does better than the Loveless Cafe. Stop in for breakfast and enjoy their sweet potato pancakes, grits, country ham and biscuits and gravy. Be sure to come back in on a Wednesday night when they have their own small version of the Opry with a variety show called Music City Roots. This cafe was opened by Annie and Lon Loveless in 1951 and has become a Nashville tradition.

Walk into nearly any restaurant or bar and you could hear someone playing guitar and singing one of the latest country hits. Walk into the Bluebird Cafe and you could be hearing the latest country hits being played and sung by the person who wrote the song. The Bluebird started the “writers-in-the-round” tradition with four songwriters who take turns giving the audience a thrill as they listen to the best music from these musicians.

No visit to Nashville can be considered complete without spending some time in Printers Alley. This block long alley went from being the red light district to being the home of great country music. Clubs here have booked such country music stars as Kenny Rogers, Roger Miller, Dolly Parton and George Jones. What many may not know is that even Jimi Hendrix worked a few gigs here when he was young and Paul McCartney penned a song here. If you think this place looks familiar, you have probably seen Carrie Underwood’s music video of her hit “Before He Cheats”, which was shot in Printers Alley.

With so much to see and do in Nashville, it is hard to cover in one visit. You will want to come back many times to see other places Nashville has to offer as well as revisit your favorites. Of course, don’t forget to visit Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry each time.

Impressive Things to See & Awesome Places to Go in Nashville, Tennessee

legends cornerIf you want to see Nashville at her finest, try to arrange your visit during the Fan Fair X festival. This summer the downtown Nashville festival will be held June 5-8 featuring live performers on six stages, celebrity autograph signings and ‘meet & greets’ with your favorite artists.

Free music literally is in the air…the hot air. So, wear cool clothing, slather on sun screen and keep well-hydrated. Artists will perform on the Riverfront Stage all day. Here’s an advance peek at just a few acts: Marshall Tucker Band, Wynonna, Collin Raye, Clay Walker, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lonestar, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan and Terri Clark.

After dark, Nashville mercifully cools down and you can either head to LP Field and catch the evening concerts or get on your boots and go honky-tonkin’ on Broadway.

Tootsie’s (World Famous) Orchid Lounge is the spot to see and be seen. The exterior is painted a vivid orchid. Downbeat is around 10:00 a.m. until whenever the music stops. Doesn’t matter when you get there, Tootsie’s will be jam-packed. If you can make your way through the crowd, be sure to peruse pictures of famous artists on Tootsie’s wall of fame.

Legends Corner located on 5th & Broadway boasts their own wall of fame, with tons of album covers. Check out Johnny Cash’s 12-string that hangs on the wall too.

“Tip” From the Locals: These guys work hard to entertain you and don’t get paid. When the tip jar is passed around, just give what you can. Be mindful, you never have to pay a cover charge.

Robert’s Western World is known for multi-tasking. By day, it’s a boot shop; by night, a honky tonk. Sunday mornings Roberts becomes a nondenominational church.

The Bluebird Café on Hillsboro is not one of Nashville’s famed honky-tonks. It’s considered a listening room, where you’ll hear songwriters (who generally aren’t renowned for their singing voices) performing their wares. It’s great fun trying to guess which songs will hit the charts.

Nashville does culture! Directly across from the State Capitol is the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, (TPAC), which was inspired by the Kennedy Center in D.C. The Nashville Opera and Nashville Ballet perform here, as well as Broadway shows on tour.

“Eat more Pancakes!” That’s the slogan of David Baldwin, owner of Pancake Pantry, a “Nashville tradition” in Hillsboro Village. Locals eat here and you can expect a long line, but so worth it.

If you prefer secret-recipe biscuits and country breakfast fixin’s, The Loveless Motel and Café is a must-try. This establishment received the Best Biscuit award from the Food Network in 2010. Don’t miss “Music City Roots”, a Loveless adaptation of the Grand Ole Opry, happens every Wednesday night.

People watching will make time whiz by at these famous eateries. Keep your eyes peeled for your favorite country singers. They have to eat too!

Enjoy your time in Nashville. If you can’t see and do everything, then as we say in the South – y’all come back anytime!

Exciting Things to Do In Nashville, Tennessee

Ryman_AuditoriumIf you want to squeeze every ounce of fun out of your Nashville vacation, pre-planning is key to eliminating disappointment. Millions of tourists descend upon Music City USA annually, so that top attractions, such as the Grand Ole Opry sell out well in advance. Book your tickets online to ensure you’ll see the show of your choice.

In the beginning, the Grand Ole Opry was called the WSM Barn Dance, a radio broadcast. In 1943, it moved to the iconic Ryman Auditorium in order to seat the huge crowds. The Opry moved again in 1974, to the red barn-like structure, named the Grand Ole Opry House.

The energy levels onstage and in the audience vibrate so high, you’ll feel like you’re experiencing the very soul of country music. Sit back, enjoy and remember to breathe!

Try to spend at least one night in the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center (formerly Opryland Hotel). The venue is so huge you will receive a hotel map when you check-in. You’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to a tropical fairyland complete with gorgeous waterfalls, lush gardens with lime, orange and avocado trees and swaying fountains. Take the boat ride on the indoor Cumberland River. The Grand Staircase, inspired by “Gone with the Wind”, offers an awesome photo-op.

At Opryland Hotel you’ll be in close proximity to the Grand Ole Opry House, Opry Mills and the General Jackson Show Boat. This is another top Nashville attraction where you’ll want to make early reservations online.

We’d suggest the dinner cruise, which comes complete with Southern cuisine and a stage show rivaling Broadway. A live Dixieland band entertains while you board the stunning paddle-wheel boat. You will cruise on the Cumberland River to downtown Nashville and back.

While you’re in this area, pop into the Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Music Valley Drive. Next door is the Texas Troubadour Theater and home of Ernest Tubb’s Midnite Jamboree, held by the record shop each Saturday at midnight. The Jamboree is broadcast on WSM radio, immediately following the Grand Ole Opry. If you’re an autograph hound, head back to the record shop after the show where the Jamboree artist’s traditionally sign autographs. All that and free admission too!

In the event you aren’t aware the beloved Opryland USA, theme park was demolished to build the mega-mall, Opry Mills. Nashville citizens weren’t pleased, calling it “one of the dumbest decisions in Nashville History”.

When flooding occurred in 2010, waters reached heights of 10-feet in Opry Mills. Many of the retail vendors have now reopened, including the IMAX Theater. Fashionistas will find the specialty shops visit-worthy.

Believe it or not, Nashville isn’t all about music. History buffs will resonate with President Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. You’ll tour the mansion, guided by ladies in ruffled gingham dresses and old-timey bonnets. Most of the home is encased with glass walls to preserve the furnishings. You can take also a wagon driven tour of the manicured grounds and gardens.

So there you are – a little taste of Nashville. Have big fun and make long memories.

The Nashville Zoo

There isn’t a person alive who doesn’t enjoy visiting the animals in a well kept and attractive animal park. The Nashville Zoo boasts not only the normal animal exhibits, but offers some animals that are not readily available in other zoos around the country. In addition the Nashville zoo is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day away.

An accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is more than just a zoo. It’s a zoo with a difference. The Nashville Zoo is a sprawling 200-acre park and plantation farmhouse that is rich in history. It is conveniently located just 6 miles southeast of downtown Nashville, making it easy to find and easy to reach if you’re vacationing in the Nashville, Tennessee area, or even if you’re a local area resident.

The Nashville Zoo offers programs for visitors, that excite tourism as well as programs for local residents that are designed to offer help to the community as a whole. For example, the zoo’s offerings include a Dino Trek that allows you to see 15 life sized dinosaurs that will walk, slither and hiss their way across your life. For a limited time during the summer, the Dino Trek, hugely popular, is available at the Nashville Zoo.

In addition, the zoo also hosts a day camp that is available to local residents for children who have special needs. The program is a big hit with kids and was designed for children who can benefit from one on one individualized interaction with adults in the program.

Throwback Movie Thursdays

Thursday nights are movie night. Called Throwback Movie Thursdays, there are classic music hits, old fashioned games and interaction before the movie and the movie is shown on a giant screen on the Festival Field every Thursday. The movies are major hits from the 80s and 90s, designed to be entertaining and fun for the entire family.

Thursday movies are 6 dollars for non zoo members and free to all those who have a zoo membership. Food and drinks are available for movie goers and parents are encouraged to attend the movies along with their children.

In addition to the special programs, hits at the zoo’s animal exhibits include:

African Crested Porcupine Exhibit
Lynx Exhibit
The African Savanna
The Bamboo Trail
Bairds Tapir Exhibit
The Unseen New World
Critter Encounters
Flamingo Lagoon
Pantanal Exhibit
Gibbon Island

Landers McLarty Subaru Review

Subaru LogoIf you are looking for a new Subaru, Landers McLarty Subaru in Huntsville is worth checking out, both in person and online. I know it’s a little way to drive but it was really worth it for me, enough so that I’m taking time to write this review. The dealership has a nice selection of new Subaru vehicles available. Sticker prices might be a bit high compared to other dealerships elsewhere so be prepared to negotiate.When you are negotiating on a particular vehicle, ask that it be held while working on a deal so you are not disappointed that the car you wanted was sold while you were negotiating or waiting on loan approval. This can happen with any dealership as more than one person may be interested in the same car.

Landers website does well in presenting all the vehicles available, both new and used. So it is wise to browse the site first, getting all the information you need to make a smart deal before going to the dealership. Then you can go with a list of features the site shows for the cars you are interested in and verify that those features are there and work properly. You can also have a printout of the CarFax with you. Not all dealerships have websites this complete so Landers McLarty Subaru does have an edge here.

Educating yourself on the vehicle you want to buy, what your trade in’s blue book value is and knowing what to look for that could indicate a problem with a vehicle before you go to the dealership is a good idea and that goes for visiting any dealership. Should you run into any problems during your dealings, contact customer service right away. They are responsive and can help resolve any problems.

Top Spots for Fall Foliage in Middle Tennessee

fall colorsLeaf turning time in Middle Tennessee triggers holiday-like festivities. The panoramic beauty of fall foliage fascinates both locals and out-of-towners. The most spectacular colors this side of heaven are on display for leaf peepers pleasure. From flaming-red maples and crimson sumac to red sweet gums and golden hickories, incredible colors blanket Tennessee hills, highways and byways.

While you may prefer driving to view the lovely leaves, alternate vehicles such as bicycles, helicopters, boats, hot air balloons and trains are available. Hiking and horse trails and are located in state parks.

Piggy-backing leaf peeping with fun activities is trending now. We’ve compiled Nashvillian’s pet places to go and fun things to do between mid-October and late November when fall foliage peaks.

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a favorite haunt of locals. Stretching 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville are more than 100 types of trees decked out in dazzling colors. Points of interest include:

  • Watch for milepost 375.8, the Old Trace Drive where you’ll enjoy magnificent overlooks of a hardwood forest.
  • Milepost 382.8, Metal Ford and milepost 392.5, Swanview Overlook have places to pull over and admire multihued leaves.
  • Get out of the car and take a stroll at milepost 385.9, Meriwether Lewis or Fall Hollow, milepost 391.9.

Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic route, which does not permit commercial traffic. Devoid of stoplights or stop signs, the Parkway is a cyclists dream. You can bike amidst beauty, birds and leaves dancing in the breeze.

Fall Creek Falls State Park celebrates “Fall Colors Weekend” on October 18-19. It’s the spot for reconnecting with Tennessee nature. Not only is Leaf Peeping Season in its prime, there are photo-ops galore. Millikan’s Overlook is a don’t-miss for photography buffs. Hike up Buzzard’s Roost to see the lone Virginia Pine and surrounding views of the wooded canyon.

How about a zip lining adrenaline rush? As multicolored tree tops go whizzing by, you’ll marvel at the variety of shapes and hues as you “fly” through the air.

Radnor Lake State Park is for those who prefer roads less traveled. Here, you’ll find peace and serenity, which locals dub closest to the heart of nature you can possibly get. Walk the hiking trails for a taste of true wilderness and striking fall foliage, against the backdrop of Radnor Lake.

Cheekwood is situated on 55 peaceful acres in Belle Meade. Meander among 5,000 richly-colored Chrysanthemums and awesome fall-hued trees. Beware of scarecrows on exhibit, but sort of hidden!

The Fontanel Mansion, previously owned by Barbara Mandrell, nestles in the Whites Creek Valley, amongst rolling hills. You’ll have a panoramic view of the forest that boasts a potpourri of autumn leaves. The Nashville Scene recently designated The Woods at Fontanel “best outdoor amphitheater in Nashville”.

Old Hickory Lake features the fall foliage cruise by Wanderin’ Star Yacht Charters. This is an interactive experience where you’ll get to hoist that sail and even sail the Catalina 25.

The General Jackson Showboat cruises up and down the Cumberland River. Make your way to the top deck where you can bask in vibrant colors of trees flanking the river. Do the Midday cruise for optimal daylight. In addition, you’ll enjoy a lovely lunch and country show.

Get on-board the Tennessee Central Railway’s Fall Foliage Trip for a panoramic view of autumn leaves at their gracious best. Call early to reserve a coveted seat in the glass-enclosed dome.

Get a birds-eye view from a hot air balloon. Watch while treetops create a giant red-orange-yellow rainbow. Guys, if you’re ready to pop the question, you won’t find a more unique and romantic setting!

Enjoy your color-full journey!