The name “Tennessee” originated from the old Yuchi Indian word “Tana-see,” which means “The Meeting Place.”
As soon as I arrived in Nashville, I knew I would I be tapping my toes in “Music City” and that the hospitality of the people I met would be second to none. This is a perfect place to get together with friends and family.
Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry
The first thing I did was visit the Ryman Auditorium, the “Mother Church of Country Music” and still home to the Grand Ole Opry at certain times of the year. It also hosts some of today’s most popular artists. Daily tours are offered of this ornate auditorium, and you can even go backstage! I sat for a while in the first row of the balcony to take it all in. I looked down at visitors queuing up to have their official photographs taken on the famous stage. A couple walked up the steps, and the young woman immediately posed for the photographer. Her boyfriend was fidgeting around for something in his pocket. Just as the girlfriend turned to scold him, he got down on one knee and asked if she’d marry him. She hesitated. I held my breath. Thankfully, she said yes.
The Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville
Natural Escapes in Nashville
Cheekwood Estate & Gardens was my next destination, and I wasn’t disappointed there either. This 22-hectare pristine landscape is home to an art museum, formerly the residence of Leslie Cheek Sr. and Mabel Wood Cheek. There was an amazing David Rogers’ Big Bugs exhibit in the gardens, which included enormous wooden insect sculptures of ants, spiders, a praying mantis and more.
A short drive from downtown, you’ll find Centennial Park, where you can walk, run and cycle on several pathways. This is a great place to picnic with the family and enjoy the beautifully manicured lawns. The centrepiece of Centennial Park is the world’s only replica of the Greek Parthenon.
Centennial Park, a short drive from downtown Nashville
Dinner and Music at the Bluebird Café
My next stop was for dinner and live music at The Bluebird Café. Located just outside of downtown, in an unassuming strip mall, this 90-seat intimate venue has hosted performances by some of the best songwriters over the years. Photographs lining the walls include the likes of Willy Nelson, Faith Hill, James Taylor and Neil Young. People queued up an hour and a half before the first performance of the night in order to get a seat. A typical nightly performance is made up of three or four songwriters seated at the centre of the room, “in the round.” Artists have a turn at playing their own songs, while the other songwriters accompany them, instrumentally or with vocals.
Listening to music in the popular Bluebird Cafe in Nashville
Neighbourhoods: Nightlife on Lower Broadway and Lively Hillsboro Village
Music is the heart of Nashville. With more than 120 live music venues in the city, there’s something for everyone. A brilliant place to check out during your stay is Lower Broadway. With plenty of live music to choose from, this vibrant downtown neighbourhood also features shopping and dining.
Before leaving town the next day, I explored the lively neighbourhood of Hillsboro Village. With several restaurants offering outdoor patios, this is a perfect lunch spot. I browsed the numerous local boutique shops in this low-key and friendly neighbourhood.
What a great holiday! I learned so much about Nashville, both past and present. Be sure to include Music City on your next U.S.-bound holiday.
Exploring Hillsboro Village's boutiques and restaurants
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