Nashville and General Jackson Showboat
My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Nashville. I was pleasantly surprised that the city is even more lovely and offered so much more than we had expected. The downtown Nashville area borders on the Cumberland River, which winds through town. We stood on a high ridge above the river and had a wonderful views of a paddle wheeler traveling up the river.
One of the most popular paddle wheeler’s is the General Jackson Showboat that offers guest a fantastic country variety show and a wonderful Southern lunch on their midday cruise.
Nashville Live! is their great show that includes a world-class cast with two rising country artists, country comedy and features fiddle and guitar soloists, along with a live country band. The show’s repertoire spans classic hits by Patsy Cline, George Jones and Tammy Wynette through chart-topping hits by today’s hottest artists!
Downtown & Country Music Hall of Fame
Our next stop was downtown Nashville. Downtown is clean and charming area with modern office buildings and businesses and of course the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is a wonderful museum, with exhibits, recordings, film, costumes and more that take visitors back to the earliest roots of country music onto present day featuring today’s top recording super artists.
A visitor to this museum can easily spend hours at this great history museum. We especially loved seeing Elvis’s gold piano, the Everly Brothers costumes and guitars.We had an opportunity to find out more about Trisha Yearwood at their exhibit: The Song Remembers When. The exhibit chronicles Yearwood’s life, career, and critically acclaimed musical achievements. So many exhibits and activities too.
There are Songwriter Sessions, Songwriters perform in an intimate setting and invite questions from the audience. Instrument demonstrations we you can learn about the instruments that make country music sound country. Musicians perform and share information about technique and instrument history. Film screenings where you can see documentaries, feature films, and television specials highlighting country music, its performers, and its place in American culture are screened in the museum’s Ford Theater.
But if that wasn’t enough we also visited their beautiful new state-of-the-art, 800-seat CMA Theater is a peerless Music City venue for live concert performances. This theater was completed in 2014 and showcases some of the best events and concerts in the south. So much to see and do, schedule enough time to take it all in.
Historic RCA Studio B
“Historic RCA Studio B-once the recording home of popular music titans such as Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, and the Everly Brothers is both a classroom for Nashville area students and a popular cultural attraction.”
Built in 1957, Studio B was known as the birthplace of the Nashville sound. The Nashville Sound revived the popularity of country music and also helped establish Nashville as an international recording center.
Today studio B is a historic attraction for visitors and offers visitors a look into the evolution of Nashville as the Music City.
Johnny Cash Museum
Only a few blocks from the Country Music Hall of Fame, is the Johnny Cash Museum. the museum has many of his costumes, his gold and platinum records and so much more…
One of the most personal and beautiful things there that moved me was a love letter Johnny wrote to his wife June Carter Cash on her 65th Birthday. June died in 2003. Cash died only 4 months after her birthday and this was indeed one of the great love stories.
The museum is open Monday through Sunday from 9 AM – 7 PM and the cost for adults is $17 and for children $13.
Grand Ole Opry
The Ryman Auditorium or original Grand Ole’ Opry is also a must see for it’s place in the the Nashville Music Scene.
Built in 1892 as a church it then changed to a music hall because of it’s excellent acoustics. Early on it housed the symphony and opera productions. Then in 1943 a radio show called the Grand Ol’ Opry was broadcast from this hall with the biggest names in country music and entertainment.
In 1945 it also became know as the birthplace of Bluegrass Music. It has gone through renovations and restoration to bring it back to it’s original beauty. It is a historic treasure time honored theatre that is still used today. To quote Bonnie Raitt “What an honor to play in this hallowed hall.”
Today the Grand Ole’ Opry is housed in it’s new home next to the Opryland Resort. The Grand Ole’ Opry shows are still broadcast on 650AM WSM with todays greatest names in country music. The Opryland Resort is fabulous with so much to do and 17 different restaurants to please you taste and all the needed amenities to fill your needs.
The music scene has made Nashville be known as Music City and indeed it is. In the evening we went to Broadway where the Honky Tonks and Cafes run up and down the streets. The streets are jumping with music coming out of every door.
Nashville Convention Center
The Nashville Convention Center features 118,000+ square feet of exhibit floor space and 25 meeting rooms. Many trade and consumer shows and events take place in this beautiful, modern structure.
Nashville Symphony – Schermerhorn Symphony Center
Schermerhorn Symphony Hall is a classic structure.
The Nashville Symphony is dedicated to achieving the highest standard for excellence in musical performance and educational programs, while engaging the community, enriching audiences and shaping cultural life.
One of the most active recording orchestras in the country, the Nashville Symphony has released more than 20 recordings since 2000. These recordings have received a total of 14 GRAMMY® nominations and seven GRAMMY® wins, including two for Best Orchestral Performance
Other Places of Interest
There are a number of beautiful and historic plantations to visit in Nashville. Here is a list of some of them with links to their websites.
Belle Meade Plantation
From Wikipeadia…Belle Meade Plantation, located in Belle Meade, Tennessee, is a historic plantation mansion whose grounds now function as a museum. It also serves as a wedding and event venue. Belle Meade Plantation consists of 30 remaining acres and includes a winery, visitor’s center, original outbuildings including the Harding cabin, dairy, carriage house, stable, mausoleum and a reconstructed slave quarters.
South of Nashville is the very upscale Brentwood and Franklin area. Where many of the music industry people live the homes are nothing short of gorgeous.
Carnton Plantation in Franklin about 1/2 hours out of downtown Nashville. Carnton was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Franklin Nov. 30,1864 caused 9,500 casualties and 2,000 dead.
At the time The Carnton House became a hospital as well as at least 44 other homes in Franklin. The floors still have the blood stains from this horrendous event. The McGavock family owners of Carnton Plantation created a final resting place for these dead Confederate soldiers on their property.
The Blue Ridge Mountains
After 3 days in Nashville we made our way east through the Blue Ridge Mountains, which in autumn are lush with beautiful colors along our route to Asheville, North Carolina. If time allows the Blue Ridge Mountains are around you with many streams and waterfalls to hike.
Biltmore Estate – Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is famous for the Biltmore Estate, which was built in 1895 by the George W. Biltmore and was the home of his wife Edith and daughter Cornelia Vanderbilt. The house has 255 rooms 65 fireplaces and has four levels. The original estate was on 125,000 acres. Today is sits on 8,000 acres . It took 6 years and over 1000 workmen to complete this project.
Architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the French Chateauesques Style. When the house was completed at least 40 men and women staffed the house. The house contained an indoor lighted Swimming Pool, America’s first Bowling Alley, and a Fitness Center. Also in the basement was a Laundry and Drying Room, Walk-in-Refrigerators, Servants Dining Room, Servants Bedrooms, Vegetable Pantry, Pastry Kitchen, Rotisserie Kitchen and the Main Kitchen.
The Biltmore Estate also has beautiful Gardens, a Conservatory, a Lake and Boathouse, a Winery, Antler Village, which has shops and restaurants and the Biltmore House hotel. The landscaping was designed by the renowned Frederick Law Olmstead who also designed New York’s Central Park and the Capital Grounds in Washington DC.
The Vanderbilt family’s fortune was founded by George’s grandfather Cornelius who built the railroads and also made his fortune in the shipping business. They became one of the wealthiest families in America but the Depression of 1929 caused a great reversal of their fortune.
In 1930 Biltmore Estate was open to the public to help generate funds to help maintain and preserve this magnificent estate. In 1914 George W. Vanderbilt died from complication of appendicitis. Edith Vanderbilt continued to run the estate. In 1924 their daughter Cornelia married John Francis Amherst Cecil. Their descendants William A.V. Cecil Jr. and his sister Diana Cecil Pickering continue to run the estate as well as live on the property.
George Washington Vanderbilt II Cornelia and Edith Vanderbilt
The Grove Park Inn
In Asheville another lovely historic place to visit is the Grove Park Inn. It is a beautiful hotel open in 1913 a built out of local granite stones and boulders. The main lobby’s ceiling is 24ft high with 2 massive fireplaces. It is comfortably furnished in the Arts and Crafts style. On the 3rd floor original wicker furniture that has been restored is still in use in a large central sitting area.
The Grove Park Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places. A long list of presidents and first ladies as well as many other notables have stayed at the hotel. It is located in the Sunset Mountains area in town with beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the town of Asheville, the hotel is nestled among these giant old pine trees .
The doors of many of the rooms have plaques with the names of famous guests who stayed there. It has 5 restaurants and 3 lounges and has an expansive porch where you can dine, with great views of the city. We ate at one of these fine restaurants, everything served was excellent.
Downtown Asheville is a lively area at night. We enjoyed watching the street life while sitting at the Jerusalem Garden Cafe. They serve some of the best Middle Eastern Food I’ve had and also have delightful Middle Eastern Music playing and a belly dancer.
The city park down the street has local drummers playing together where the locals and their little children dance to the beat of the drums. Asheville boasts lots of talented crafts people. There are many galleries in town and the surrounding areas showing the local craft works.
In reviewing Asheville and Nashville, these are two very enjoyable areas to discover. We just wished we had more time.