Half of the U.S. population lives within 600 miles of Nashville, according to the city's Chamber of Commerce. As for the other half, Nashville's conveniently located airport has its own Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. So, if you're ready for a vacation, or just want to be a tourist for a long weekend, here are 10 travel ideas (listen in alphabetical order) to make the most of Music City.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
This is the ultimate destination for country fans, whether you've been listening for decades or you've just discovered the music. The top floor explains the origins of the music while the lower exhibits show memorabilia from current superstars like
The former log cabin home of
Grand Ole Opry
An essential stop on the Nashville package tours, the Opry remains a favorite among older generations. However, contemporary fans may be delighted to find
Loveless Cafe/Music City Roots You'll need a car to get to the Loveless Cafe and probably a nap after you eat. Their biscuits are nationally famous, although some locals prefer the delicious dinner menu. On Wednesday nights, the barn out back hosts Music City Roots, a neat radio show with a satisfyingly diverse roster. (8400 Tennessee Highway 100)
The weekends can get crazy downtown, especially in the Lower Broadway honky-tonks. You'll hear "Family Tradition" everywhere you go, except at Robert's, where the bands often reach farther back in the country canon. Pick up classic country CDs at the
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center After an expensive remodel following the flood of 2010, this sprawling hotel site is now a worthwhile destination for everyone -- not just for weddings, conventions and tourists. The restaurants are impressive and the décor is impeccable. It's a "can't miss" destination over the holidays. (2800 Opryland Drive)
To see a show at the Ryman is to step back in history. Countless stars from the Grand Ole Opry sang here, including
Songwriter Nights To see songwriters in action, catch an "in-the-round" show at a small club. Usually three or four writers sit on stools and swap songs while everyone listens politely. The Bluebird Café (4104 Hillsboro Pike) is famous, but it tends to get crowded. A laid-back option is the Listening Room Café (209 10th Ave. South, Suite 200). They both serve food, too.