Nashville, Grand Ole Opry, Memphis, Chattanooga, & Franklin, Tennessee USA

Nashville, Grand Ole Opry, Memphis, Chattanooga, & Franklin, Tennessee (October 8-16, 2022)

Friendly State of Tennessee
Please read about our wonderful trip through Tennessee greatly enjoying Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry, Elvis’ Graceland, Fall leaves foliage in the Smoky Mountains, Dollywood, Memphis, Chatagoona, Gatlinburg, and Franklin. The people of Tennessee are very friendly making our trip delightful.

Nashville Tennessee

Nashville Tennessee
Nashville
deserves the title “Music City” taking Country Music very seriously and it is FUN! October is a wonderful time to visit Nashville after the summer heat and humidity and before winter cold sets in. In late October the Fall leaves are magical.

Grand Ole Opry Nashville
Grand Ole Opry - Nashville
Attending a show at the Grand Old Opry was the highlight of our visit to Nashville - a must do! Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry featuring Country Music’s finest performers has been a Nashville 97-year-old institution bringing Country Music into homes starting just after radio became available. Book a show ahead of your arrival - it sells out. They also offer backstage tours.

Performance at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry
Performance at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry
The center stage of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry is a circle cut out of the Ryman Auditorium stage (see below for commentary about the Ryman). Hundreds of Country Music legends have performed on this circle of wood since 1943. 

Revered Circle - Grand Ole Opry
The circle is revered by all those who perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Parking is $15 or free if you park next door at the Opryland Mills shopping mall - arrive early for the best selection. Arriving early also allows you to enjoy, at your seat, flatbreads, sandwiches, and drinks sold there while viewing the interesting pre-show video. The dress is causal. Other preshow dinning options are described next. See below for more interesting things about Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.

Gaylord Opryland Resort Nashville
Gaylord Opryland Resort - Nashville
There are several other unique attractions near Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry you might enjoy. Next door is Gaylord Opryland Resort, a beautiful hotel with a river running through it. Boat rides are available. Also next door is the Opry Mills shopping mall that has the Madame Tussaud’s Nashville wax museum as well as dining surrounded by sharks and beautiful tropical fish at the Aquarium (reservations required). 

Aquarium Restaurant
Located across from the Opryland Mills shopping mall, we enjoyed Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen restaurant for family-style southern cooking - the fried chicken and ribs are amazing. Go hungry, but do save room for the wonderful deserts. The General Jackson Showboat offers lunch and dinner river boat rides with entertainment.

Downtown Nashville 

Nashville Honky Tonk Highway
Nashville's Honky Tonk Highway
We liked Nashville's Honky Tonk Highway that is ‘Music City’ honky tonk fun zone, along Lower Broadway from 5th to 1st Avenue. It is lively every day starting at 10am going into the night when the neon lights light up the street until 2am. You can walk along the sidewalk and listen to the music spilling out of the many places. When you hear a band you like drop in with no cover charge and causal dress. Check out the multiple levels and bars with some having rooftop areas.

Enjoying Country Music Honky Tonk Highway
Enjoying Country Music - Honky Tonk Highway
We dropped into the ‘Honky Tonk Central’ and had a good time. Other famous Nashville honky tonk places along the Honky Tonk Highway include ‘Merchants’ (also known for good food) and ‘Tootie’s’. The bands play for tips alone - please support them with some cash so they can make a living.

Printer's Alley - Nashville
Located next to Nashville’s Honky Tonk Highway is Printer’s Alley where during Prohibition print shops fronted Speakeasies serving alcohol. Now locals enjoy Printer’s Alley for being a less raucous version of the Honky Tonk Highway featuring jazz, country music, and good restaurants. Former 1948 Speakeasy Skull’s Rainbow Room is now one of America’s finest restaurants.

Country Music Hall of Fame

The very nicely done Country Music Hall of Fame is a Nashville must visit featuring fun and interesting tributes to Country Music and its stars with comprehensive galleries, videos of country music stars, rhinestone-studded costumes, hand-written lyrics, guitars (pronounced “get-tar” in Nashville), and other priceless mementos. We highly recommend a visit to Nashville’s Country Hall of Fame.

Ryman Auditorium - Nashville
The historic Ryman Auditorium is known as the “The Mother Church of Country Music” and was the previous home of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1974. The Ryman is hallowed ground for Country Music where for decades Country Music found an audience and countless top stars’ careers took off. Good music concerts and tours are available.

Assembly Food Hall
Other downtown Nashville attractions include the Assembly Food Hall at Fifth & Broadway across from the Ryman Auditorium featuring 20 different types of food vendors, bars, and tables - all local, no franchises. We like the Assembly Food Hall because it is good and has something for everyone. 

Map - The Gulch
Nearby The Gulch is considered Nashville’s premier urban neighborhood. Good places for breakfast in The Gulch include ‘Milk and Honey’ and ‘Biscuit Love’ - they are popular so go early. Other nice restaurants and boutique shops are shattered around this small area of Nashville.

Map - Nashville Old Town Trolley Tour
We liked the Nashville Old Town Trolley Tours that offers a Hop on Hop off trolly bus tour of Nashville’s downtown and surrounding areas with informative commentary. Learn about Nashville’s and Country Music’s history while getting on and off at places of interest to you. After purchasing tickets, you can join the tour at any of the 15 stops that include the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium, Broadway Honky Tonk Highway, The Gulch, and Belmont Manson (Italianate villa built in 1853 by the said wealthiest woman in America - interesting for those loving history).
 

Marathon Motor Works Nashville
Marathon Motor Works
We enjoyed visiting the Marathon Motor Works factory showing these vintage cars and is now converted into shops. The free moonshine tasting at the ‘Tennessee Legend Distillery’ was fun.Also included is Nashville’s Parthenon - the only full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon in the world built in 1897. For Country Music lovers, the Musicians Hall of Fame will provide a unique experience.

Nude Statues Nashville
Nude Statues - Nashville
In addition, the Nashville Old Town Trolley Tours takes you through Nashville’s Music Row where thousands of Country Music’s top hits were recorded. Music Row is considered to be the heart of Nashville's music and entertainment industry. You will find yourself immersed in the city's musical heritage. Here you will also learn about the controversial nude statues.

Meat & Three Meal
Meat & Three Meal
Interesting attractions are also located outside of Nashville’s downtown area. We enjoyed Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery that offers a tour of one of Tennessee’s finest mid-1800’s estates followed by some wine tasting. The shops have interesting merchandise and you can walk around the grounds and see how a southern estate was run almost 200 years ago. If you haven’t tried a Southern Meat & Three meal, you can do it here for lunch (choice of meat and 3 sides - pretty nice).

Southern Mansion Belle Meade Neighborhood
Southern Mansion Belle Meade Neighborhood
While visiting Belle Meade, it is also enjoyable to view some stately Southern mansions in the Belle Meade neighborhood by driving down Belle Meade Blvd. Located nearby, botanical garden lovers will enjoy 55 acres of gardens at Cheekwood Estates & Gardens. The 1930’s historic home at Cheekwood is considered one of America’s finest examples of a Country Place Era Estate.

Map - Downtown Nashville
Important Travel Tip:
Many of Nashville’s attractions have become very popular and if you plan to enjoy them (and you should), it is very advisable to book ahead. ‘Viator’ is a good company to do so.

Here are some interesting things about Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry Located about a 20-minute drive from Nashville’s downtown the current location is the 5th location of the Grand Ole Opry having out grown its previous homes due to Country Music’s increasing popularity. It is the first location built specifically for it.

Seating Chart

The Grand Ole Opry is still a radio show with 4,400 people in the audience. The sound is wonderful with its 23.1 surround-sound system with speakers in the ceilings and walls. A show consists of 10 top performers, young and older, doing 3 songs each so you get a great variety of country music. Book ahead and don’t miss this wonderful Nashville opportunity!



Cambria Hotel
We enjoyed staying at the Cambria Hotel in downtown Nashville. The central location is a nice walking distance to Nashville’s downtown attractions easy to come back for a rest and go out again without a car or taxi.


Smoky Mountains

 

Travel Idea: The incredible Fall leaves foliage peaking around the third week of October makes combining a visit to Nashville with the Smoky Mountains a wonderful option. Click here to see our visit to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

Franklin Tennessee

Downtown Franklin Tennessee
Downtown Franklin Tennessee
The picturesque town of Franklin (located just 30 minutes from Nashville) is a charming preserved historic Southern old town listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is delightful to stroll along Franklin’s 16-block Main Street’s historic Victorian buildings filled with unique boutique shops. Check out the wonderful interior design of women’s clothing store ‘Philanthropy’.

Puckett's Franklin
Puckett's - Franklin
‘Puckett’s’ is a good place for lunch and dinner offering country music shows at dinner. When visiting Nashville, you should consider a day trip to Franklin or a stay enjoying many other things Franklin has to offer.

Memphis Tennessee

Elvis Presley’s Graceland made our stay in Memphis memorable.

Wayne Dunlap Graceland Memphis
Wayne at Graceland
Graceland
is a must do while in Memphis. Elvis purchased Graceland and the grounds in 1957 when he was just 22 after his fame began the year before. The splendid property welcomed Elvis’ friends and family members over the 20 years he lived there. Graceland now holds deep meaning for people visiting from all over the world. 

Living Room Graceland Mansion Memphis
Living Room - Graceland Mansion
The Mansion tour takes you on an engaging journey through time guided by a professionally done iPad tour complete with headphones. There is also a separate tour guide for kids. We did the Elvis Entourage VIP Tour and recommend it if your budget allows.

Elvis' Pink Cadillac Graceland Memphis
Elvis' Pink Cadillac - Graceland
After the in depth tour around the Graceland Mansion you can visit large exhibit halls of Elvis’ numerous cars as well as aspects of his life including his music and the 31 movies he did. You can also create sharable photos and videos with Elvis. Lunch was good at ‘Vernon’s Smokehouse’. You can take home Elvis memorabilia from several gift shops. We greatly enjoyed and were entertained learning why Elvis is considered ’The King’.

Duck Walk Memphis Peabody Hotel
Duck Walk - Memphis' Peabody Hotel
Here is a Memphis attraction that sounds silly but is lots of fun… That is, the famous Duck March at the beautiful historic Peabody Hotel is enjoyable. This has been a tradition at the Peabody since 1933. This spectacle happens twice a day at 11am when the ducks march down the red carpet to the beautiful fountain in the hotel’s lobby and again at 5pm when they return to their home, the Duck Palace on the roof. The Duckmaster gives some interesting history before each show which lasts about half an hour. Kids love this. Get there early for a good place because hundreds of people show up for this entertaining performance. A tour of the Peabody Hotel offered at 11:30am is interesting - reservations are required for the tour.

Lansky Bros. Store Memphis
Lansky Bros. Store - Memphis
While at Memphis’ Peabody Hotel be sure to check out the Lansky Bros. store located in the lobby. The fame of this men’s clothing store was elevated when owner Bernard Lansky met young and broke Elvis Presley. He dressed Elvis with his unique clothing starting a long time relationship with Elvis’ TV appearances on the Ed Sullivan and other shows. When Elvis’s fame quickly rose other music stars came to the Memphis store to buy clothing. Now the landmark Lansky store has guitars signed by scores of famous musicians lining its walls - well worth a visit while in Memphis.

Beale Street at Night Memphis
Beale Street at Night - Memphis
Beale Street
is Memphis’ music bar and restaurant area made famous where the blues was born and greats like BB King performed. During our visit, we found Beale Street somewhat run down and many bands played loud rock and roll cover songs. Memphis locals told us Beale Street has become “touristy” and you can find better restaurants elsewhere in Memphis. We were hoping for more when visiting Beale Street.

Memphis Riverboat Paddlewheeler
An authentic way to view Memphis and learn about the history of the Mississippi is to take a relaxing ride on a Memphis Riverboat Paddlewheeler. This sightseeing cruise lasts about 90 minutes with an amusing and informative historical commentary.

National Civil Rights Museum - Nashville
Other Memphis attractions that you may consider include the famous Sun Studio where Elvis and many other music legends got their start, National Civil Rights Museum where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated featuring multimedia presentations of the civil rights movement, Stax Museum of American Soul Music showcasing the great music artists that recorded here, as well as many other attractions.

Chattanooga Tennessee

Tucked between the mountains of Southeast Tennessee, along the beautiful Tennessee River, Chattanooga is a beautiful city. Chattanooga’s downtown area is clean and full of attractions and restaurants.

Tennessee Aquarium Chattanooga
Tennessee Aquarium - Chattanooga
A featured downtown Chattanooga attraction is the well-done Tennessee Aquarium that showcases both river and ocean fish and animals. You can combine visiting the Aquarium with an IMAX 3D Theater show. The Chattanooga Trolley Tour highlights attractions and shares history. Chattanooga’s Southern Belle Riverboat at Pier 2 offers a unique way to experience the Tennessee River. The Pinball Museum might be of interest. 

Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge
We enjoyed walking across Chattanooga's half-mile Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge viewing the river and eating at ‘Frazier Five and Dime’ on Frazier Street. We also enjoyed dinner at ‘Hennen’s’ located next to the IMAX. There is much more to do in downtown Chattanooga.

Lookout Mountain
Located 6 miles outside of Chattanooga’s downtown area is one of the most recommended attractions - Lookout Mountain offering amazing panoramic views of the Tennessee Valley and Cumberland Plateau. You can ride the Incline Railway to the top of Lookout Mountain. While here be sure to visit Ruby Falls, the tallest and deepest underground falls open to the pubic in the United States.

Battles for Chattanooga
Nearby is The Battles for Chattanooga Civil War state-of-the-art digital war battles show. History buffs will like this 3D diorama depiction of this pivotal Civil War confrontation that led to General Sherman’s march to the sea sealing the fate of the South. Raccoon Mountain Caverns offers an exciting cave tour. There is something for everyone in Chattanooga.

We liked our visit to Tennessee! It is a wonderful State to visit with friendly people who love their Faith, Family, Freedom, and America. Tennessee’s interesting history and unique attractions makes it a place to be remembered.

 

Click here to see other great places we visited in Tennessee & North Carolina:

Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, and Dollywood, Tenneessee

Asheville & Biltmore Estate, North Carolina


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