Wow! What a Fourth! Nashville’s Fourth of July spectacular, Let Freedom Sing, was definitely a show stopper. Although, I’m not sure the folks at Nissan Stadium are all that happy about that one stray shell that hit the stadium (big oopsey!).
See all the pretty yellow tape? Just some minor damage. The fireworks company is picking up the tab for repairs. It should be all ready to go for the Titans home opener on August 19.
But wait! Before we get too far ahead of ourselves (wait, it’s only two months to football season? ROLL TIDE! ROLL!) Sorry….where was I? Oh yes! I realize that many families are planning vacations for the summer so I thought I would go over some of the awesome things to see and do here in Nashville. This is certainly not the definitive list and I will have more posts on the subject in the future, but, it’s a good start.
In recent years, Nashville has grown by leaps and bounds. What was a rather sleepy southern capital when I was a teenager has exploded into a vibrant, hip, cosmopolitan urban center. So, without further ado, my top ten list of awesome things to see and do in Nashville.
Well you knew I had to go there. I could go on for several pages about the ‘Mother Church’. In fact, I have a far more comprehensive post planned in the near future about this Nashville icon. This fantastic performance venue is quite literally the soul of Nashville and at its very heart. The Ryman has hosted performers ranging from Enrico Caruso to Elvis Presley and everyone in between. It is open for tours daily so you can drink in all that wonderful history.
Of course it is most famous as the original home of the Grand Ole Opry since June 5, 1943. Reopened after a complete restoration in June of 1994, it is a premier performance venue in Nashville for music and theatre of all types. If you are going to see a country or bluegrass performance in Nashville, make certain to see it at the Ryman. The atmosphere is completely unique and cannot be recreated anywhere else!
Live Music Everywhere
It’s kind of hard to get around that in this town. The music industry remains a mainstay of Nashville. Restaurants, diners, clubs and bars all over town will feature live music. Musicians in Nashville are some of the best in the world! One of the greatest things is that you never know who might show up to play. It could be just an ordinary night or you could stop in at Tootsies and get treated to an impromptu jam by whoever played at the Ryman that night. You just never know.
If Country or Bluegrass is not your thing, Nashville has music for everyone. Jazz, Rock, Blues, Reggae, New Wave, Gospel, Classical, or Opera. You name it and you will find it in Nashville.
The Parthenon is one of the iconic images of Nashville. And awesomely cool too! Originally built in 1897 for Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition as a temporary structure of plaster, wood and brick, it is a scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece. It was converted to a permanent concrete structure in the early 1920s. In 1990 a 42 foot sculpture of Athena was added to the interior to complete the recreation of the original. It now serves as one of Nashville’s art museums. (Fun fact: I performed with my alumni group here once: Nashville Early Music Ensemble)
The Hermitage was the home of our nation’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson. It is considered by most to be one of the best preserved early presidential homes. It was opened to the public in 1889. An award-winning restoration was completed in 1997 that has beautifully restored it to its 1837 appearance. The last parcel of original land that had been sold off was bought back in 2003, restoring the original boundaries of the farm. The house, grounds, and many outbuildings are all open to the public. Rachel’s garden is especially beautiful in the spring.
A major disaster was narrowly averted in 1998 when at around 4:00pm on April 16th an F-3 tornado crossed the property. It missed the house and the gravesite of President and Mrs. Jackson but destroyed over 1,000 trees on the farm. Most of those had been planted by Jackson himself nearly two centuries earlier.
This being Nashville, we made music from sawdust. Gibson Guitar was authorized to produce 200 limited edition “Old Hickory” guitars using wood from the destroyed trees. The first one produced was presented to the Smithsonian.
Today as you tour this beautiful National Treasure, you can see it as Andrew Jackson did.
Downtown Presbyterian Church is one of the most beautiful and unique buildings in Nashville. There has been a Presbyterian church on this site since 1814 in one form or another. The current building dates to before the civil war although the interior was finished toward the end of the nineteenth century. Markers point out where famous Nashvillians sat and worshiped. Guided and self-guided tours are available. Check their website or call for more information. It is well worth a stop.
Belle Meade was the home to the Harding family. They were noted for their horses and hospitality. It is another of the beautifully preserved ante-bellum mansions in Nashville. It is open for tours and today it is a favorite location for local brides. This is another of Nashville’s icons. Many of horse racing’s most famous thoroughbreds can trace their lineage back to Belle Meade stock.
Belmont Mansion was the summer home for Adelicia Hayes Franklen Acklen Cheatham. She is a fascinating woman. I may spend a future blog post just on her. Belmont or ‘Belle Monte’ as she named it was not a revenue producing plantation. Its sole purpose was to be a summer home for herself and her second husband Joseph Acklen. The mansion is spectacular and one of Nashville’s hidden gems.
Ok. I know what you are thinking. ‘These places are gorgeous and look so interesting. But I have little kids! I would love to see them but the munchkins would be bored to tears! Hubby would too.’
Not to worry. I’ve got you covered!
Say hello to the Adventure Science Center! This is another one of Nashville’s little well-kept secrets. With over 175 hands on exhibits for kids of all ages, this little museum does a fantastic job at teaching and entertaining at the same time. On August 21, 2017, they are holding a special viewing party for the solar eclipse due that day. Tickets are going fast. Drop the hubby off with kids for the day, then you could head for a girls day all on your own!
And for the hubby (and little kids too):
Want to ride a train? The Tennessee Central Railway Museum is an operating passenger railway museum in Nashville on the old Tennessee Central Railway. They run excursions between Nashville and points east during the Spring and Fall. Check their website for schedules and buy your tickets early! I have worked these trains as a volunteer and can vouch that they fill up quickly!
Send hubby to the ballgame! Okay….you can go to if you like. Take in a game at our brand new First Tennessee Park. The Sounds just moved to this gorgeous new stadium last year. I wouldn’t recommend August or September (it gets really hot here) but if you are here in Spring or early Summer, I’ll see you at the ballpark!
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