Best Attractions in NashvilleIn a city with dozens of attractions and fun places to go, you may have trouble deciding where to spend your time. Here are the highlights for this destination, as chosen by AAA editors. GEMs are “Great Experiences for Members.”
To kick-start your adventure into the world of country music, make your first vacation stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum , a AAA GEM attraction. Here you can brush up on your knowledge of country and western music—from its history to its current heartbreakers and all the nitty gritty in between. This way, when you visit the historic Ryman Auditorium , another AAA GEM attraction, you'll know that it began its life as a church and served as the home to the Grand Ole Opry 1943-74. Its stage has seen the likes of performers from Enrico Caruso to Minnie Pearl.
Now that you're well-versed in the country and western genre, it's time to visit your next destination, the mother of all live music venues, the Grand Ole Opry , a AAA GEM attraction. The live, foot-stompin' radio broadcast bills itself as country music's longest continuously running radio show. At any given performance you might hear a top-name recording artist or catch a sneak peek of a soon-to-be-diva. Another live variety show, the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree, takes the stage at the Texas Troubadour Theatre on Saturdays, and folks pack the pews for Nashville Cowboy Church, the theater's inspiring Sunday gospel brunch.
Courtesy of Gaylord Opryland Attractions
The sprawling Gaylord Opryland , a AAA GEM attraction, is hard to miss. Wander the gardens and pathways and check out the waterfalls under the atriums of the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center , or dine at local restaurants or shop. If you're up for a boat ride, set sail on a flatboat tour without even leaving the glass enclosure; boats meander along the resort's indoor winding rivers. For an excursion outside the complex, the General Jackson Showboat takes passengers on a paddlewheel cruise along the Cumberland River. Gaze out at nature from four large decks, while listening to country music playing sweetly in the background.
Being the state capital, Nashville offers plenty of interest for history buffs on a trip. Stop at the 1859 Greek Revival-style Tennessee State Capitol to view statues of Sam Davis and Andrew Johnson, as well as the tombs of James K. Polk and his wife, which are on the grounds. Then stroll through history at the Tennessee State Museum . Exhibits explore prehistory and educate about the Civil War, Reconstruction and antebellum Tennessee, accompanied by a whole slew of original artifacts.
If the antebellum era interests you, include The Hermitage , a AAA GEM attraction, on your itinerary. Bedecked with fat Corinthian columns, the mansion was the home of the seventh president; Andrew Jackson lived here before and after his presidency, and the estate preserves many family belongings. Formal gardens surround the house. A typical Southern plantation home, the Greek Revival Belle Meade Plantation was the lord over more than 5,000 acres in its day. Check out the architectural details inside, and explore the now 30-acre grounds: A carriage house, log cabin, smokehouse, mausoleum and a creamery remain. Said to be one of the most elaborate antebellum homes in the South, Belmont Mansion sports 36 rooms in its 19,000 square feet of extravagant living space. No detail was overlooked in creating this over-the-top summer home, and it has been beautifully restored.
Nashville is no stranger to fine art, and Fisk University Galleries boasts an impressive collection, with paintings by Cézanne, O'Keeffe, Picasso and Renoir as well as an exhibit with works by African-American artists. At the Georgian-style Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art , find American and contemporary paintings and English decorative arts. Changing exhibits at the more modern, Art Deco Frist Art Museum spotlight international art. For sculpture, head to The Parthenon , where a gigantic, gilded likeness of Athena looms.
Adventure Science Center
At the expansive Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park , a giant map of Tennessee is a great place for kids to play. Giggles peal amid 31 spurting fountains representing the state's rivers. Also popular with kids is the seven-story Adventure Tower climbing structure at Adventure Science Center , a AAA GEM attraction. If you master the maze of chutes and ladders to reach the globe at the top, a view of the city awaits. The museum has engaging, interactive exhibits about science and nature. Then visit the real thing at the 85-acre Nashville Zoo at Grassmere . Andean bears, cougars, red kangaroos and giraffes live alongside amphibians, Sumatran tigers and macaws.
See all the AAA recommended attractions for this destination.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Tennessee's statewide sales tax is 7 percent; Nashville's sales tax can be up to an additional 2.25 percent, and the city has a 6 percent lodging tax, plus $2 city tax per night.
Nashville General Hospital at Meharry, (615) 341-4000; Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital, (615) 284-5555; Saint Thomas West Hospital, (615) 222-2111; TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center, (615) 781-4000; TriStar Summit Medical Center, (615) 316-3000; Vanderbilt University Medical Center, (615) 322-5000.
501 Broadway Nashville, TN 37203. Phone:(615)259-4747 or (866)830-4440
For tourists with airline flights,
Hertz, (615) 275-2600 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.
The Greyhound bus terminal is at 709 Rep. John Lewis Way S.; phone (615) 255-3556 or (800) 231-2222.
Cab fare is $3 to start and $2 per mile; a $25 flat fee is charged for transportation between the airport and downtown. Cabs are not easy to hail outside downtown, but they can be ordered by phone. The major cab company is Yellow, (615) 256-0101.
Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has more than 50 city routes, including an airport connection. Exact change is required. The fare is $1.70; $1.00 (ages 5-19); 85c (ages 65+ and riders with disabilities). Buses generally run daily 6:15 a.m.-11:15 p.m., depending upon the route. For information phone (615) 862-5950.