Nashville, is a city of wonderful contradictions. In my opinion it is one of themost sophisticated, cosmopolitan cities in the United States, yet, Nashville retains its southern charm. It is old and new. It is old south and modern progressive. It is old school country mixed with new school urban.
Nashville is truly worthy of its title of Music City . When I moved here I knewI was moving to a city famous for country music. What I did not realize was that Nashville s music roots are so diverse. Yes, country music is king, but the other music genres are certainly present. Jazz, blues, contemporary, alternative, you name the genre and you can find multiple venues to enjoy. To me, the music culture of Nashville is unmatched anywhere.
Also, it just seems to me that Nashville revels in its entertainment diversity. It s a little hard to explain, but, like no other city I ve been in, Nashville seems to place its culture as a top priority. Included are all the arts, not just the music industry. Nashville has what I would describe as an arts district on 5th avenue in which a full day can be easily spent going from one art studio to the next. The Schermerhorn Symphony Center just has to be experienced. It is a simply gorgeous facility that must be seen. I can only say from first-hand experience, that being in the hall during a symphony is to feel as if you have been transported to one of the great opera houses of Europe.
Nashville has professional sports, such as the Tennessee Titans, the Nashville Predators and the Nashville Sounds. College sports are available via Vanderbilt, Belmont, Lipscomb, Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee State University.
Nashville has its hip areas such as the Gulch and Germantown, but, also the quaint such as downtown Franklin and Leipers Fork.
Here are a few more spots to mention, The Country Music Hall of Fame, The Grand Old Opry and The Ryman. The list goes on and on.
You can hang out on the West End, vibrant with the influence of Vanderbilt University and Centennial Park. Or you can find the best and most diverse shopping in Cool Springs. I love the prevalence and beauty of the wonderful parks. There are communities that thrive on their character, such as Germantownand East Nashville. Or, you can drive outside of Nashville and discover beautiful countryside or meander along the Natchez Trace.
The Grand Old Opry is very much alive and vibrant. If you want to see the greatest stars of country music, the Grand Old Opry is the place to visit. It has a new face, but is still the Grand Old Opry. And, here is the pleasant contradiction: the Grand Old Opry now lives in a very modern, wonderful venue including the Marriott s huge Grand Old Opry resort. My wife and I recently celebrated an anniversary at the resort. It is incredible. It is a must see. I could go on and on about the resort, but let me just say, we decided it shouldbe one of our regular visits, not to just stay overnight, but to spend a day enjoying the many restaurants and pleasant hangouts.
The West End of Nashville is full of the modern / new contradiction. To me Vanderbilt University is the true star of the West End. Vanderbilt University is incredible. There are so very, very many activities available with Vanderbilt and you don t have to be a student to participate. The Blair School of Music has a large number of concerts happening all year long. The majority are of the concerts are free and open to the public.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) has many opportunities to continue learning. The public is encouraged to join the OLLI as a member or you can register on a class by class basis. There are just so many wonderful, interesting opportunities to grow with this group that I cannot begin to list them.
Vanderbilt is steeped in tradition, yet conducts some of the most important scientific research in the world and is on the cutting edge of the reinvention of the US healthcare industry.
West End life is vibrant. Centennial Park is one of my favorite destinations. From early Spring until late fall, it is unlikely that you can t find some type of outdoor event or entertainment; Shakespeare in the Park, big band concerts, arts and crafts festivals, the Musicians Corner and on and on. If you just want to enjoy the outdoors in the midst of a city environment, I think you would be hard pressed to find a more pleasant, beautiful setting than Centennial Park. TheWest End population is incredibly diverse, undergraduate students, grad students, working professionals, foreign nationals, old, young and anything in between. One of my favorite activities is to find a good spot at Starbucks, Panera Bread or Vanderbilt s owned Barnes and Noble, get a cup of coffee, fire up my laptop or reader and just enjoy the atmosphere. People watching in the West End of Nashville is a real treat.
I lived in a downtown loft only two blocks from Broadway, a little further to the Ryman and Bridgestone arena. It was a real treat living that close to so much activity. If you re a country music fan, I don t see how you could not enjoy Broadway downtown. There are many venues for live country music. One of my favorite activities was to go to Broadway on Saturday between 11 and 3 and gofrom one honky tonk to the next. During this time, most of the live music is performed by bands comprised of Nashville s legion of studio musicians. The quality and talent is incredible. No cover charge and it is difficult to stump these bands with a special request, I know, I ve tried.
If Broadway Avenue is the old, then the Gulch is the new. This area has really taken off and now has a very vibrant life with the latest and greatest shops, mixed with local restaurants and is a favorite of the young professionals.
The Ryman, known as the mother church of country music is an old tradition. But, it is not just limited to country music. Though some of the greatest and most legendary country musicians still perform at the Ryman, it is also a great place to find the new and modern.
At the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) you can see the latest Broadway plays, ballet, musicals and on and on. It is a truly wonderful venue, with three different theaters ranging in size. My wife and I have enjoyed multiple events there ranging from the most popular musicals to a children’s ballet and have never been disappointed.
Nashville s triple-A minor league team, the Nashville Sounds is a personal favorite. I am a minor league baseball fan, having gone to many games all over the country. The Sounds new baseball facility is one of the very best. There not a bad seat in the house. The events are family friendly and a true financial bargain (tickets from $8 – $32).
Nashville s Farmers Market is a great hangout. Of course, there is the Farmers Market, but there are also numerous local eateries. On many Friday and Saturday nights there is live, free music. It truly feels community .
Leipers Fork, southwest of Nashville, is a quaint little village of art studios and antique stores. It is home of the original Puckets Grocery Store, which is really a great home style restaurant in disguise. Leipers Fork will provide an extremely enjoyable Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
Downtown Franklin is a great place to spend a day. It is full of easy walking, local stores, restaurants and the best antique shopping anywhere.
Because of Nashville s music industry, live, up-close musical entertainment can be found almost anywhere. One thing that is unique about Nashville is a tradition called writers in the round, where three or four songwriters will share their stories, play their songs and interact with each other and the audience. Writers in the round is a unique way to feel as if you are a part of the music industry. Bluebird Café in Green Hills is probably the most famous venue for writers in the round, but on any given night there are four to five venues that can be enjoyed.
I could go on and on about Nashville. I have enjoyed many areas of the country,but the southeast is my favorite. And, though I miss my family and friends in Alabama, I don t think I could find a better place to live than Nashville.