Walking Tour of Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Because of its extensive musical heritage, the city of Nashville is known as “Music City, USA” and anyone with a desire to become a recording artist has probably spent some time here. In particular, it is the center of Country Music for the entire world.
The Grand Ole Opry is the nation’s longest-running radio program. The original venue, in downtown Nashville, has been abandoned in favor of a 4,400 seat auditorium on the grounds of Opryland (now the Gaylord Opryland), just outside the city. Tickets are available in advance.
Opryland was a major theme park for many years, with thrill rides and other activities focusing on music in general. It went out of business for a while but has morphed into a complex of entertainment venues and shopping and attracts many visitors each year.
My walk through downtown Nashville begins where the city itself began, at Fort Nashborough, located on the Cumberland River (170 1st Avenue, N), between Church Street and Broadway. The current buildings are reproductions, made to look as the area did in 1780.
From here, walk south on 1st Avenue, and turn right on Broadway. The Hatch Show Print Shop, the oldest in America, can be found at #316. Continue west to the corner of 5th Avenue, and enter the Nashville Arena, which houses the Nashville Visitor’s Center, where you can pick up maps and brochures describing the city’s attractions. Now, walk south on 5th Avenue to reach the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, a Mecca for music fans, and the most popular tourist sight in the downtown area.
After your visit, walk north to Demonbreun Street and turn left. This street is known for it numerous souvenir shops. Turn right on 9th Avenue, and then right again on Broadway. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located in an interesting Art Deco building, is ahead, on the right.
Now, turn left on 9th Avenue, N, which merges into the James Robertson Parkway, and leads to one of the city’s showpieces, Bicentennial Mall State Park. It was constructed in 1996 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Tennessee’s statehood. On the grounds is a 200 foot-long granite map of the state, with 31 fountains, representing the state’s many rivers. There is also a 1400 foot-long timeline, which chronicles the state’s rich history. In addition, you can stroll through a botanical garden and obtain a great view of the state capitol and the city below.
Next, continue eastward on the parkway, and turn right on 5th Avenue, then right again on Charlotte Avenue, to visit the Greek Revival-style Tennessee State House, on your right. On the grounds are several statues and memorials, as well as the tomb of President James K Polk.
After your visit, walk south on 6th Avenue, and turn left on Deaderick Street, to visit the Tennessee State Museum, housed inside the Polk Center. The museum displays exhibits and artifacts ranging from the pre-historic Native American culture of the region through the early 1900s.
At 5th Avenue, turn right, and look for the Downtown Presbyterian Church, done in Egyptian Revival architectural style. It served as a Union hospital during the Civil War. Further south on 5th Avenue is the famous Ryman Auditorium, original home of the Grand Ole Opry, from 1943 to 1974. It has featured a veritable who’s-who of Country Music and other performers, since its inception. After wandering through the historic venue, walk eastward on Broadway, back to the river, and turn left on 1st Avenue, to reach the walk’s starting point.