Enjoying Nashville and Tennessee

Here is an overview of Nashville, Tennessee (“Music City, USA”) and some of the nearby towns.

The most important “must see” attraction in Nashville is the Grand Ole Opry. It’s the world’s oldest live radio program and the heart of country music, broadcast on Nashville’s WSM radio station weekly since 1925. It’s a real radio program, with commercials and an announcer. Each night 8-12 people or bands perform, depending on who is in Nashville that week. You often don’t know exactly who will perform until you get there. Larry Gatlin, who performed while we were there, was one of the most successful stars of the 1970s and 1980s.
The Grand Ole Opry house
The Grand Ole Opry stage
Larry Gatlin performing at the Grand Ole Opry
In addition to the professional stages, every third or fourth building in the main downtown area is a bar with an open door and music pouring out into the street. The music starts in the early afternoon and continues until late at night every day. Inside, a group hoping to be discovered performs on a small stage for free, just for tips. In many places you can walk in and listen with no obligation to buy anything.
Downtown Nashville free entertainment
Lynchburg is a charming small town with one traffic signal and a population of 6000 in rural southern Tennessee, 90 minutes from Nashville. Most people go to Lynchburg only to visit the Jack Daniels Distillery, which has been making Tennessee whiskey there since 1875. Everything in the town seems to be about “Jack,” which I thought was nice. It’s supposedly the world’s best-selling whiskey. The free distillery tour was extraordinary – the best tour of anything we’ve ever had.
Nearby Lynchburg Tennessee
The Jack Daniels Distillery
“Meat and Three” is the name used especially in the Nashville area to describe a meal where you choose one kind of meat and three kinds of side dishes. A corn muffin or biscuit is always included. Restaurants with “Meat and Three” signs are everywhere. The meat choices always include fried chicken, and often fried catfish and pork ribs. Macaroni & cheese, collard greens, and green beans are popular side dishes. You can also expect one or more kinds of corn, perhaps because Tennessee was the leading U.S. corn producer long ago. This “Meat and three” plate with fried chicken has mashed potatoes, corn bread salad, black-eyed peas (that look like brown beans), and a biscuit with homemade apple butter.
A typical “Meat and Three” plate with fried chicken
Perhaps the most unusual and unexpected sight in Nashville is the Parthenon, a full-size exact copy of the original Greek Parthenon in Athens. Nashville built its version in 1897 to celebrate Tennessee’s 100-year anniversary as a state. Long before 1897, Nashville was called the “Athens of the South” because of its focus on education. Even then Nashville had many universities, and was the first city in the South to create a public school system. The Nashville Parthenon is now an art museum.
 The Nashville Parthenon, now an art museum
Nashville’s “Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum” is a truly wonderful museum that uses great exhibits combined with audio and video materials to explain the entire history of country music. It’s another “must see.”
The Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The entire central Tennessee area is pleasant and charming, so just driving around is nice. Those of us who live in California enjoy looking at Nashville area architecture, such as this elegant old house with several porches and rocking chairs. And Leipers Fork is just one of many small towns within an hour of Nashville that is fun to visit.
Nashville area architecture
The nearby town of Leipers Fork