A downtown renaissance, a booming culinary scene, and a month-long arts celebration make “Music City” the must-see town this fall. And the recent return of ABC’s “Nashville” for its sophomore season puts the spotlight on the city’s famed live-music venues—historic Ryman Auditorium (aka “The Mother Church of Country Music” and the first permanent home of the Grand Ole Opry), the Bluebird Cafe, and Tootsies Orchid Lounge. Though every other burger joint or bar seems to have a stage for established or aspiring musicians, Nashville also is building its reputation for the fine arts. The ArtOber festival will celebrate theater, music, art, and dance with more than 900 events in and around the city.
Manuel, designer of the richly embellished wardrobes for Mick Jagger, Elvis, and the stars of “Nashville,” has a new Lower Broadway store where the “Rhinestone Rembrandt” makes and sells couture men’s and women’s clothing. See his early designs at the Johnny Cash Museum (free to $14), a new, interactive downtown exhibition dedicated to the late man in black. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum ($17 to $35) offers tours of historic RCA Studio B, and a display of costumes and props from the ABC drama. For rare country, bluegrass, and folk recordings, visit the Ernest Tubb Record Shop.
Chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson at The Catbird Seat are getting raves for the seven-course meals ($100) they prepare for 32 patrons whose seats surround their U-shaped kitchen. A constantly evolving menu means no two meals are alike. James Beard semifinalist Lockeland Table has foodies swooning for the chicken liver pate in a jar ($9) and its regional menu of pizza, pork, and Southern specialties ($8 to $26). Housed in a former 1800s hotel, Merchants Restaurant offers smoked brisket in the downstairs bistro ($5 to $24), and Wagyu steaks in the upstairs fine-dining room ($7 to $47).
A Travel + Leisure poll rated Nashville as the nation’s best city for affordable lodging, but it also has many elegant accommodations. Full of dark wood, thick draperies, high ceilings, and acres of marble, Hermitage Hotel ($279 to $3,000) is considered the state’s finest. Cozy, contemporary, and luxurious, the
Hutton Hotel ($269 to $2,500) caters to every kind of traveler—business, leisure, and four-footed. Some rooms include an elliptical machine; suites are big enough
for the whole family. Housed in a restored 1900 depot, the Union Station Hotel ($239 to $549) is a stylish trip through time.
From John Wayne Airport, American, Delta, Frontier, and United airlines make one-stop flights to Nashville International Airport via cities such as Dallas, Denver, Houston, and Salt Lake City.
1. Ernest Tubb Record Shop.
2. Lockeland Table
3. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
4. Hutton Hotel
1. Photograph by Thomas Hawk.