An undeniable heartland of the American country music scene, Nashville’s reputation will arguably never escape from the country and western image, but recently the city’s headed in other directions. A heavy industrialization has bought a different, slightly corporate edge to Nashville, but done nothing to detract from the extensive bar crawling and country taverns that still prevail.
You can’t come to Nashville without exploring the country scene at least a little, though, (especially once you’ve got used to hearing that weighty accent every day), and the best way to do it, bar scene aside, is in spending a little time in the Country Music Hall Of Fame. You’ll get to drop in on Studio B as part of your entry fee, and regular live shows plus a full on explanation of the region’s passion make sure you leave with your fill of twanging guitars and strained voices.
Once you’re done with the music, there are plenty of other things to explore, too. Civil War sights are prevalent here, and include the rustic but impressive Fort Negley, the intriguing Hermitage and the pre-Civil War sight of the Belle Meade Plantation, fully restored and featuring costumed employees who give a great insight into life in the US during times of slavery. After the serious side, you’ll probably want to do something a little more fun, and the Yazoo Brewery seems the obvious option, though learning how the beers are produced is a Saturday only (non brewing day) option.
Head out of town and you’ll find a distillery that might inspire even more. Infamous Tennessee bourbon Jack Daniels is produced ninety minutes from Nashville, though you’ll get a tasting free tour, as remarkably one of the world’s most notorious alcohol producers is located in a dry district. Other major draws include some impressive scenery (check out Fall Creek and the Great Smokey Mountains if you have the time), and the crumbling Civil War town of Franklin.
This really is the heart of America’s deep south, in many ways an entirely different world to the fashionable corners of California, Florida and New York, and worth exploring for that reason alone. You’ll find yourself inundated with country music, struggling with accents yet in the heart of a city that’s far more modern than most expect. All part of the experience.