Rather than just driving straight back from the Carolinas to Texas, which would take just under a day of full driving, I wanted to take a couple of days and stop a couple of places, Nashville and Memphis. Our first stop after Durham was Nashville or Music City.
This city is not just the home of country music but the state capitol of Tennessee and full of rich history. In fact, one of their most famous citizens is not a country singer but was the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson. We made his Nashville home, the Hermitage, our first stop.
This beautiful estate is a special treasure of American history and museums. It is extremely well maintained and interpreted telling the story not just of the president but also his family, slaves and the industry of his farm and plantation. The main reason for its exceptional preservation is that it has been a museum since the family gave it up in the late 1800s, so it’s just as it was when they lived there with original furnishings and finishes.
The property includes all of the original acreage of his home and farm. On site are many original buildings and his gardens with his family cemetery and his and his wife’s tomb. Because of the torrential rains while we were there, we didn’t visit the whole property. We did take a tour if his home, gardens and the on-site museum.
The only thing I didn’t like was in their effort to preserve the home and antiques. They have converted the rooms of his home into glass enclosed spaces for humidity and temperature control. This means you can’t go into the rooms but just look through the door. I understand the desire to preserve the treasures of our past, but I’ve been in many historic homes around the country and this is the only one that feels like you’re looking into an aquarium or diorama instead of walking through a historic home.
Even if you don’t agree with President Jackson’s policies and actions, his home in Nashville is well worth a visit. There is an admission that isn’t necessarily cheap, but if you’re into American history, historic homes or museums, it is well worth the price.
Grand Ole Opry
Of course Nashville is home to country music, and with that comes the grand daddy of all country music concert venues the Grand Ole Opry. What a cool building and grounds. For a country music fan, a stop at the opry is a must even if you have limited time. We didn’t take a backstage tour but they are available. It is a bit tricky to find behind the Gaylord Opryland Resort and by a big mall that’s closed down because of the big Nashville flood in 2010. On a fun note, while we were walking around this country music icon, Brad Paisley’s song This is Country Music came on over their speakers.
Little did I know, Nashville really likes its classic Greek and Roman architecture. The state capitol building is reminiscent of ancient temples in Greece and Rome as is the state war memorial and state office building plaza across the street.
Perhaps the grandest throwback to the classics is a life-size replica of the ancient Temple of Athena that stands atop the Acropolis. That’s right Nashville is home to the only full-size replica of the Parthenon. It was built for the centennial celebration of Tennessee in the 1890s. Inside is the city of Nashville’s art museum with a 42-foot statue of Athena. We didn’t have time to go inside but a visit to the outside makes for some fun pictures. It is a grand sight.
In a suburb south of Nashville is the Nashville Tennessee Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On this road trip we planned to stop at all of the LDS temples in our path and this was number five. It is a beautiful building with a special spirit that surrounds it.
Before we headed out of town to Memphis, we went downtown to visit the capitol building and drive past the Country Music Hall of Fame. One of the coolest things I noticed downtown was country music being piped through public utilities like a light control box. It really sets the mood for Music City.
Nashville is a fun city full of adventures. If you want to check out any of these adventures, visit my Adventure Patches map on Google Maps to get directions. I would love to go back and see more with more time and funds. If you’ve had any adventures in the Music City or at these sites, feel free to share in the comments.