Who says you have to be a country music fan to enjoy Nashville?
This vibrant city is known for being the center of county music with venues such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as well as the famous Ryman Auditorium. The latter is the setting of the Grand Ole Opry an iconic country music concert venue that has showcased some of the greatest stars of the genre since its founding in 1925.
Visitors from all walks of life come to Nashville to experience the music that has made this city so iconic throughout the world. Unfortunately, I am not the biggest fan of country music and didn’t come to town to appreciate it.
What I wanted to do was explore its streets, learn its history and eat some great food. To do all of that, we started our visit outside of the city, twenty minutes from downtown Nashville in Belle Meade Plantation.
Plantations, Thoroughbreds and Former Presidents
Stretching 30 acres, Belle Meade Plantation is mostly famous for its past history of breeding Thoroughbreds where many have raced and won the Kentucky Derby.
However, the plantation has also an interesting background: As Tennessee was one of the last states to secede in the Civil War, a small part of the Battle of Nashville was fought at Belle Meade and its main manor used as headquarters by the Confederate Army.
Today, the estate and mansion are open to visitors and their house tour goes over the plantation’s history, its prized horses and finishes with a delightful wine tasting.
Forty minutes away is the Hermitage, the former home of President Andrew Jackson. This great house is an impressive example of Antebellum architecture from the 1800’s and one of the most visited in the country.
Our tour of the estate told the story of the home and plantation - It went in depth about the president as a public figure and as a private citizen.
The Parthenon of Nashville
The first time I heard about it, I could not believe that someone had built in Nashville an almost exact replica of the Athenian Parthenon.
Located ten minutes from the heart of town, the city’s Centennial Park is dominated by this immense building originally created in 1897 for Tennessee's Centennial and International Exposition.
If you are interested in going, it will not take too much of your time and you can share with others that you have finally visited the Parthenon all the way in Tennessee!
An Afternoon Along the Neon Lit Downtown
Wandering in and out of numerous shops located along the lively Broadway Street is the thing-to-do in downtown Nashville. Around this area, you will find the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium, Frist Center for Visual Arts and some of the most popular sights in the city.
This area is also the most packed with visitors and home to a variety of country music bars, restaurants and an assortment of distinct shops.
I recommend visiting the Hatch Show Print, which is a nostalgic print shop where you can see posters of live concerts that have been created for many notable music performers.
We stayed until nightfall to experience the energetic nightlife that is awakened when several neon signs that line the streets come to life. The bars, which play music day and night, become much louder and the crowds, that sometimes appear from nowhere, start to pack the sidewalks of the city.
The Over-The-Top, Fantastic Hotel
If you are the type who enjoys unique architecture, make some time to visit the Gaylord Opryland Resort, located twenty minutes from downtown.
After a quick research prior to our trip, I could not bear the thought of not visiting this over-the-top hotel!
The massive complex is packed with retail and restaurants placed within an artificial botanical garden where you can paddle-boat along its river. As we strolled through its lavish gardens, we felt as if we were in a large greenhouse as the skylight loomed overhead.
Nashville is a busy and entertaining city! Regardless if you are a country music fan or not, you will always find something unique and entertaining to do.