Tennessee's scenic riverfront capital is something of a paradox, both elegantly Patrician and comfortably down-to-earth. It is at once a sophisticated city, built on shipping and business - most notably, the music industry - and a traditional Southern capital, surrounded by thickly forested mountains, spectacular waterfalls, and tiny towns known for sturdy Tennessee walking horses and fine sipping whiskey.
This is Music City, U.S.A., home of the Grand Ole Opry and its storied Ryman Auditorium, which launched scores of beautiful voices into country music stardom. While most of Music Row remains devoted to typically Tennessean sounds, including country, rock 'n' roll, and Christian contemporary, Nashville is now a center for just about any genre you can download, including rap, pop, alternative, and much more. If you're a fan, pick up a Nashville Music Attractions Pass with discounted entry to several melodic destinations. There is, however, much more to the city.
Day 1: The Heart of a River City
Overlooking the wide Cumberland River, Nashville is a mix of both the graciously traditional and absolutely modern. Begin your exploration of the Tennessee capital with a walking tour through history, or guided trolley trip among the skyscrapers. Better yet, book a combination tour, visiting highlights including Nashville's perfect scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Day 2: A Night on the Town
This is Tennessee, so please feel free
to relax for a spell. After a leisurely Southern breakfast (don't miss
the biscuits and gravy) consider walking around the waterfront or
stately campus of Vanderbilt University. Or head out into the Tennessee
hills, to tiny Lynchburg, where Jack Daniel's Distillery transforms fine
corn mash and pure artesian spring water into one of the world's best
whiskeys. You can't taste it here - Moore is a dry country - but there
will be plenty available to go with the live music on the Nashville
Day 3: Out into the Cumberland
settled into a scenic gap through the Cumberland Mountains of Middle
Tennessee, and surrounded with scenic and historic spots. If you have a
car and good map, the finest destination for hikers is arguably Fall
Creek Falls State Park, named for a spectacular 256 foot (78 meter)
waterfall. Civil War buffs could head out to Murfreesboro to see “Hell's
Half Acre,” or Stones Creek Battlefield. Or, book the Historic
Tennessee Tour into the rolling hills, to see the former Confederate
headquarters at beautiful Belle Meade plantation, as well as the
Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson.