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Playing an intimate backyard country concert in San Antonio, Texas
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Hear the Country

Whether it’s fiddlin’ tradition keepers, storytelling crooners or guitar-slinging rabble-rousers, country music was and has always been made in the USA. The roots that sprang from Virginia and Tennessee and spread to Texas, Colorado and beyond will never wither – thanks to legendary artists like Jimmie Rodgers, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney.

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An exhibit inside the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol

Birthplace of Country Music Museum

The 1927 Bristol Sessions were the “Big Bang of Country Music,” an explosion of 76 songs by 19 acts recorded by such legendary artists as the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Virginia, captures that history through interactive exhibits and hands-on activities that celebrate this landmark moment in country music. Time your visit in fall to coincide with the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, which sets up shop at venues throughout this city that spans two states (Virginia and Tennessee).

The Tennessee Theatre, one of the stops on the Cradle of Country Music Downtown Walking Tour in Knoxville

Cradle of Country Music Downtown Walking Tour

Country roots run deep in Knoxville, Tennessee. The city served as a launch pad for stars like Dolly Parton, Chet Atkins, Roy Acuff, Kenny Chesney and a host of others. Take in its ties to early country music on this one-hour walking tour that weaves through landmarks celebrating artists like Hank Williams and Elvis Presley. A few more musts: A top spot for Tennessee barbecue, Sweet P’s Downtown Dive, boasts awesome brisket, ribs and banana pudding; and the Wagon Wheel is where you roll for must-see live country music performances.

Inside Rockmount Ranch Wear in Denver, Colorado

Rockmount Ranch Wear

Rockmount Ranch Wear in Denver, Colorado, has been the go-to place for Western attire and gear since 1946. Country legends like Willie Nelson and Alan Jackson are regulars, but Paul McCartney, Miley Cyrus, Will Ferrell and Robert Redford all have purchased button shirts, hats, boots and other western items here. Shop at Rockmount to "cowboy up" your look before music festivals like the RockyGrass Festival, held annually in late July in nearby Lyons, and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which is held in late June and features acts from bluegrass to rock.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indianapolis skyline

8 Seconds Saloon

The 8 Seconds Saloon in Indianapolis, Indiana, opened as a bowling alley in 1952, but its original lanes are now part of a massive dance floor. The saloon’s stage has been romped and stomped upon by legends like Brooks & Dunn and David Allan Coe, as well as up-and-comers such as Craig Morgan and Carly Pearce. A night at the saloon is a perfect chaser if you’re in town for a race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway or a visit to its museum.

Woman touring a horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky

Festival of the Bluegrass

Every June, music fills the Kentucky bluegrass region at the family-run Festival of the Bluegrass in Georgetown just outside Lexington. Fans will see everything from progressive grass stars to traditional bands. The festival dates back to 1974, when Bob and Jean Cornett arranged an amazing lineup headed by future legends Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley. Today, the festival boasts three stages and a music camp designed to teach bluegrass to children. If your stay extends beyond the festival, visit Lexington’s many horse farms and the legendary Keeneland racetrack.

A performer during the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, pays homage to the Old West and country music tradition of storytelling with six days of poetry, music, dancing, open mic events, workshops and food. Held every January, the event brings together a wide range of acts, including swing bands, cowboy singers and comedic poets. Nearby, the Elko Western Folklife Center is dedicated to educating the public about the American West. Foodies won’t want to leave town without enjoying a pastry dish or peach pie at B.J. Bull Bakery near the Humboldt River.

Taking a ferry from dowtown Seattle, Washington

Little Red Hen

The birthplace of grunge music is also home to one of the country’s most revered country bars. In addition to a heaping helping of local acts playing everything from honky-tonk to country rock, The Little Red Hen in Seattle, Washington, boasts karaoke, line dancing, dance lessons and two food menus. To relax after a raucous night out, go sightseeing along downtown's waterfront or take a short drive to Green Lake, where you can stroll along the shore or visit the Woodland Park Zoo, which houses 300 species, a vintage carousel and concerts in the summer.

Interior of the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling, West Virginia

Wheeling Jamboree

The Wheeling Jamboree in West Virginia has introduced millions of radio listeners to country music since its inception in the 1930s, hosting performances by Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, the Oak Ridge Boys and countless others. It continues today and is celebrated by a festival every April that includes performances by up-and-coming country singers, newgrass legends and traditional singer-songwriters. While in town, tap into your inner kid at the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum, which showcases an array of classic train sets, dolls, space toys and other artifacts.

A country musician playing at a street festival in Nashville, Tennessee
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Country Stories


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Discover the movie and take a music road trip

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