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The Best Ways to Enjoy Nashville

Music City. The Country Music Capital. Home to prestigious Vanderbilt University and the Predators NHL team, Nashville, Tennessee, is a diverse metropolis that retains the Southern charm of a small town. From spicy chicken to playoff hockey, it's more than just the birthplace of Country Music. It's a thriving city, full of family-friendly fun and hidden surprises. So come on, y'all. Book your tickets or gas up the car. Your best vacation is waiting for you.

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01Grand Ole Opry

Performers on stage at a music & arts festival

The Grand Ole Opry is famous even for those who aren't country music fans. It's an iconic venue that has a long tradition of hosting some of the most famous country music performers. The acoustics are unique, allowing every seat to have an immersive, unforgettable experience. Performers are invited into the Opry - it's a huge honor for musicians to be a part of the membership. Shows don't happen every night, but it's definitely worth the trip, even if it's just to take a self-guided tour.

Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

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02Cumberland River Steamboat Cruise

 Old Paddle steamer, Isle of Capri, moored as a hotel and casino on Mississippi River by Natchez Bridge, USA

Discover the scenic Cumberland River as you take a cruise on a historic paddlewheel boat. Your three-hour tour takes you on one of the largest paddle-wheel boats in the US, with views from both the expansive outdoor deck and luxuriously appointed seats inside. It's not just scenery - there is also a show with live comedy and music in the boat’s Victorian theater. You'll enjoy delicious homestyle cooking with a 3-course Southern-style lunch or dinner.

Tim Graham / Getty Images

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03Belle Meade Plantation

1830 slave cabin, Belle Meade Plantation Barry Winiker / Getty Images

Experience Southern hospitality and discover a history dating back to 1807 at Belle Meade. Interpretive tours are offered of the Greek Revival mansion and grounds providing insight into the lives of the powerful and the powerless who lived and worked on the plantation from enslavement through emancipation. Oh, and there's a winery on-site. Tours end with a complimentary tasting.

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04Adventure Science Theatre

Reporters gathering together on the street

Tennessee's first planetarium and Nashville's first Children's Museum opened its doors in 1945. Since then, it's expanded beyond just making immersive science fun for kids - it's also an educational experience for adults. The Adventure Tower is a one-of-a-kind, 75-foot tower that demonstrates the most progressive example of hands-on instruction for the Museum, filled with exhibits that range from astronomy to geology and chemistry. Visitors especially enjoy the BodyQuest gallery- it's 9000 square feet devoted to every system of the body, complete with interactive displays.

Billy H.C. Kwok / Getty Images

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05Country Music Hall of Fame

Three music awards

The Country Music Hall of Fame houses over two million pieces of memorabilia, including both permanent exhibits and rotating exhibits. It sprawls over two large floors and is home to the iconic RCA Studio B as well as Hatch Show Print. There are several dining and shopping options, for a taste of country and souvenirs to take home.

Rick Diamond / Getty Images

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06Johnny Cash Museum

Inside the Johnny Cash museum

Located downtown in historic 3rd Broadway, this must-see destination houses the most extensive collection of Johnny Cash memorabilia. If you enjoyed Walk the Line, then you'll thrill at seeing a lifetime's tribute to the Man in Black. Family-friendly, the museum features a collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia. Follow the journey of a legend through decades of instruments, stage costumes, letters to and from the artist, as well as family photographs and interactive displays.

Stephen Chernin / Getty Images

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07Broadway

People dancing in a nightclub

For the 21 and over, there's plenty of fun along Broadway. Visit one of the many bars that line Broadway, downtown Nashville's main thoroughfare. The Honky Tonk Highway features many bars that host live acts regularly. You'll be able to walk from club to bar to venue, enjoying line dancing, live music, and a great time with friends. Each bar is unique - many visitors spend several evenings here, getting to know the flavor of each establishment.

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

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08Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway

Minutes from downtown, Shelby Bottoms is named after the bottomland hardwood forest it's a part of on the Cumberland River banks. The nearly 1,000-acre site offers 10 miles of trails, half of which are paved for biking, skating, and ADA accessible, the rest primitive trails for walkers and joggers only. Adjacent Shelby Park contains a large fenced-in, off-leash dog area where your favorite fuzzy companion can romp and make new friends before or after a leashed greenway excursion.

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09The Hermitage

The Hermitage building in Nashville

The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson, is one of the largest and most visited presidential homes in the United States. Today, this 1,120-acre National Historic Landmark with over 30 outbuildings has been refurbished to give a taste of 18th-century life. The Hermitage welcomes 200,000 visitors annually, both from across the US and abroad. A new exhibit, called "The Duel: The Art of the Southern Gentleman," is a 30-minute interactive experience that answers viewer questions about the practice of dueling, followed by a live demonstration. This show is free with paid admission to The Hermitage.

8. Radnor Lake State Park

Head into the wilderness without leaving Nashville city limits. This 1,368-acre natural area south of downtown is lined with 7.75 miles of hiking trails with plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. Trails around the lake are easy to navigate with overlooks for birding and scenic water views. Other more-difficult trails ascend some of the highest hills in the Music City region.

Radnor Lake from the Trail at Sunrise
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10Nelson's Green Briar Distillery

Wooden bucket used for whiskey fermentation in Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee whiskey is famous - or infamous - around the world. The tour takes you through the past, present, and future of this historic distillery. Begin by exploring the history of the distillery, followed by a tour of the production floor, including explanations of the selection of grains and the process of making the hand-crafted whiskey. The tour ends in the Tasting Room, with complimentary samples as well as products for purchase. Tours are $11, but limited to those 21 and over.

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11Frist Center For the Visual Arts

Facade of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, USA

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is an art-deco building that is a former US Post Office. It now houses works of art from around the world - both permanent fixtures and rotating exhibits that typically last six to eight weeks. The Martin ArtQuest gallery inside the museum promotes learning through creation - with 30 different interactive stations, as well as experimental art spaces, Visitors are welcomed to create their own unique expressions. There's plenty of kid-friendly experiences, including the free wifi and a guided, online tour with audio narrative.

9. The Parthenon

A full-size replica of the ancient Greek Parthenon stands as the jaw-dropping centerpiece of 132-acre Centennial Park. Unlike the original Parthenon, this one isn't in ruins. Like the original, it houses a giant statue of the goddess Athena. There's also an art museum featuring the Cowan Collection of American Art.

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12Ryman Auditorium

The ACM Honors show in Nashville

One of the most famous venues in the music world is the historic Ryman Auditorium. Exhibits are created by some of country music's biggest stars - many of whom got their start right here in the stage. Performances are limited, but the self-guided tour is open daily. It begins with a unique host - the Soul of Nashville, a state-of-the-art hologram and special effects experience to provide an immersive trip through the roots of country music and Ryman Auditorium's 125-year history.

Jason Davis / Getty Images

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13John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

Connecting downtown to East Nashville across the Cumberland River, the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge is one of the world's longest pedestrian bridges. Built during the first decade of the 20th century, it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a traffic-free stroll across the bridge to get an Instagram-worthy view of the downtown skyline and the river.

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