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Featured Photo by Nashville Music City

5 Excellent Nashville Music Attractions In The Cumberland River Valley

Some United States cities have been responsible for shaping the world of music as we know it over the past two centuries. New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Austin, and Memphis are just a few of these important cities where genres placed their roots in history and culture and bloomed as time went on. Another, of course, is Nashville, Tennessee; a music lover’s dream. Located in the Cumberland River Valley, Music City is full of famous music sites and attractions, wild honky tonks, recording studios, and endless live music performances. With the endless possibilities for music attractions, here are some of the best places to visit on your next trip to Nashville.

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Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of country music, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is still a music attraction to enjoy. With a mission to tell the story of the country genre, its core exhibition, Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music, provides artifacts, photographs, recorded sound, vintage video, and interactive displays to take you through the origins, traditions, and honored stars of country music. At the museum, you can explore the exhibits and displays and learn all about the origins of an influential genre of music with deep ties to many other genres of music, as well as the state of the genre over the years and today. The Country Music Hall of Fame is also featured within the museum and you can explore the hall to see the important individuals who made significant contributions to the industry. If you plan it right, you can also catch a show, as the performance spaces regularly host nationally recognized musicians and events.

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A trip to Nashville often means a vacation full of fun times downtown at entertainment bars and clubs. Luckily, if you want to catch all the music and good times you can check out Nashville’s Honky Tonk Highway. Located on Lower Broadway, Honky Tonk Highway is a row of bars, clubs, and restaurants containing at least one stage, cold drinks, and parties that last all day and into the night, better known by some as honky tonks. The ones on Honky Tonk Highway are open from 10 am to 3 am and are some of the few establishments without a cover charge. If you like country music, you may be able to visit your favorite artist’s bar on Honky Tonk Highway including Alan Jackson’s AJ’s Good Time Bar, Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa, and Luke Bryan’s Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink. Many places feature multiple stories of fun like Honky Tonk Central and Redneck Riviera or popular unique favorites like Robert’s Western World and Nashville Underground.

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If you know anything about the history of music in Nashville, you’ll understand why the Ryman Auditorium is one of the top must see music attractions in Music City. Starting off as a religious gathering space in 1885, the Ryman Auditorium soon became a place for all sorts of gatherings before becoming the home of the Grand Ole Opry in 1943. The live radio and TV drew in stars like Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Patsy Cline to the Ryman Auditorium for over 30 years of shows and performances. Today, the Ryman is considered hallowed ground by many people and is known as one of the best performance halls in the world. Today, you can visit this landmark to see artists from all entertainment genres perform, not just country and bluegrass stars. The Ryman also offers epic tours, either self-guided or with a guide, including a look at the current exhibits and an intensive history of the famous Nashville landmark, as well as the opportunity to get up on the stage where so many stars have performed.

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Photo by Mercy Lounge

If you love live music, the Mercy Lounge is one place in Nashville you might not want to miss. Since its opening in 2003, the club has become both locally-favored and nationally-renowned largely due to its reputation for consistently offering a reliable atmosphere and showcasing a balanced mix between the best up and coming bands as well as renowned national talents. Tucked away on the second story of a building outside of the downtown area, the club draws all types of people for epic live performances including household names like The White Stripes, Katy Perry, and John Fogerty. Mercy Lounge is in affiliation with the Cannery Ballroom and the High Watt, so you can check out live performances at those Nashville clubs as well. The Cannery Ballroom accommodates for much larger national acts holding 1000 people in the standing room, whereas the High Watt is great for an intimate feel with emerging artists at a capacity of 250.

Iron Range

Since 1879, Hatch Show Print has been letterpress printing vintage type and hand-carved image posters by hand, expressing and commemorating America’s evolving cultural identity. Ranging from historical reprints of classic films, advertisements, and state fairs to the custom orders printed today, you will be astonished by what you find at the shop. Hatch Show Print has also long held working relationships with historic Nashville landmarks like the Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry stars, giving them the opportunity to print posters and prints for many music-related shows and venues. Now a historic property of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the print shop is also a working museum where you can go to learn about the history and production process. Stop in for the museum and leave with some amazing prints to commemorate your Nashville trip.

I am a student, aspiring writer, and avid reader of books. My favorite things in the world are my two German Shepherds. 

Maeve Miller

Writer , River Travel Magazine