Nashville: One of the South’s Most Affordable Vacation Destinations
By Burt Carey
Nashville has been turning out sweet tea and country music stars for generations and is still home to the iconic Grand Ole Opry.
What you might find surprising is that it’s one of the most affordable summer vacation spots in the United States, according to US News & World Report Travel. In fact, Nashville was named the third most affordable destination behind Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks for 2015. Not bad company at all!
The central Tennessee city is accessible to vacationers from virtually every corner of the country, and it offers some of the lowest hotel prices in the South.
If you’re still looking for where to spend that 4th of July weekend this year, Nashville is calling your number.
Everything about Nashville has its roots in music, dating all the way back to the 1700s when it was first settled as Fort Nashborough along the Cumberland River. It was dubbed the Music City in the 1800s when it became a major music publishing center.
Most country music fans associate the Ryman Auditorium as the first home of the Grand Ole Opry in the 1920s, but that was after the Ryman had established a national reputation for hosting Confederate Army veterans and featuring such musicians as John Phillip Sousa and the Vienna Orchestra. Its outstanding acoustics earned the Ryman the nickname “Carnegie Hall of the South.”
And long before names like Johnny Cash, Patsy Kline and Little Jimmy Dickens came to town, Nashville’s past was loaded with celebrity, such as frontiersman Davy Crockett, who became a congressman, and Andrew Jackson, who became president.
Today it’s known as the Songwriting Capital of the World, and for good reason. Not only do songwriters and aspiring songwriters collect here, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, which works to protect the rights of artists and songwriters while promoting songwriting as an art, is headquartered in Nashville.
Stop by the Bluebird Café while you’re in town. This is where songwriters perform their original music. It’s intimate. It’s enlightening. It’s fun! Here’s where you will hear writers talk about their music and what inspires it.
Another must: Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in downtown on Broadway. This is where you’ll hear country music by up-and-coming performers.
And things to do? Su-wee!
Well, that’s pig talk, as in barbecue. It goes down good in Nashville, and you really can’t go wrong. Just try it. It’ll be good.
When you’ve finished eating, you’ll be in the mood for some music, of course. And Nashville’s Summer in Music City series has 13 summer music festivals.
There’s not a better word than free. That’s what country music fans get at the Music City July 4th celebration. Right in downtown Nashville, with a tremendous fireworks show to cap off the night. Bring the whole family down to hear Martina McBride, Mikky Ekko and the Grammy-winning Nashville Symphony. Did I mention it’s free?
There are plenty of other things to do around Nashville. Museums abound (among them: Johnny Cash Museum, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art, President Jackson’s Hermitage estate, the Parthenon, and Belmont Mansion) but no trip to Nashville would be complete without stops at the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. And a visit to the Belle Meade Plantation will provide you with a striking look back at Nashville life in the mid-19th century, when the “Queen of Tennessee Plantations” was built in Greek Revival style.
For those with children, you’ll want to see the Adventure Science Center for some hands-on educational entertainment and interactive displays.
When it’s time to lay your head down for the night, Nashville is home to a host of 4- and 5-star hotels, including the 5-star Hermitage Hotel. It’s luxurious. It’s historic. It’s well worth the price.
The Hutten Hotel rates 4.5 stars, all well-earned, and several 4-star hotels round out the list: Omni Nashville, Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel Nashville, Union Station Hotel, Hilton Nashville Downtown, Renaissance Nashville Hotel, Nashville Airport Marriott, and Marriott Nashville at Vanderbilt University.
The sweet tea is on ice. The fiddle player is warmed up. And Nashville is ready to celebrate Independence Day in special style this year. Come on over, y’all. You’ll be glad you did.