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In 1779, a little town was founded on the banks of the Cumberland River in Middle Tennessee. What started as a village on what was then the western frontier has become one of America's most famous cities: Nashville, Tennessee.
Nashville has a metro-style government, so its population of 569,000 covers the entire county. Nashville's population is a diverse one, making for great sights and sounds.
As the Music City and indeed, the home of the country music industry in America, Nashville's atmosphere fairly crackles with creative energy. Tourist attractions in Nashville are everywhere as a result. Some are more for the grown-ups, but there are also many family tourist attractions in Nashville, as well.
A good place to start is with the most famous country music tourist attractions in Nashville. Undoubtedly, the preeminent among these is the Grand Ole Opry. Located in east Nashville, the Opry presents shows several times a week, and the radio shows are still broadcast on Friday and Saturday nights on WSM 650 AM. The overpriced, overhyped Opryland Hotel is nearby. As far as tourist attractions in Nashville go, however, it's worth a visit to the atrium, but there are many more interesting things to do and see.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium, are both downtown. Broadway downtown is one of the prime tourist attractions in Nashville and is home to Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, famed Opry watering hole. The Ryman Auditorium on Fifth Avenue still hosts concerts and is open for tours. It was once the home of the Grand Ole Opry and is still one of the most popular tourist attractions in Nashville. The Country Music Hall of Fame is also on Fifth Avenue and features numerous exhibits on the history and impact of country music. Right up the road from Broadway is Music Row, home of the studios, publishing companies and record labels that have made Nashville famous.
Lower Broadway is lined with clubs, bars and shops, as is Second Avenue. Both are nearly impassable on Friday and Saturday nights, unless the temperature is well below freezing. Downtown is also host to the Skimerhorne Music Center and the Frist Museum, both notable for the music and exhibits featured in their halls.
For families, one of the best tourist attractions in Nashville is the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. The zoo is still growing and expanding, but the animals are featured in roomy, natural habitats and the docents are knowledgeable and friendly. The large hyacinth macaws are not to be missed and the zoo also has a petting zoo for children of any age. Buy a cup of nectar in the lorikeets' aviary and they'll land on your arm to sip it from the cup.
Even the history buff can find interesting tourist attractions in Nashville. The city was the site of a large Civil War battle, and there is a National Cemetery in nearby Madison, just north of the city. U.S. President Andrew Jackson made his home near the city and The Hermitage and grounds are open for tours. Guests can tour the home, many buildings, and learn about the interesting results of recent archaeological digs on the site.
Built in 1897 for Nashville's Centennial Exhibition (and remodeled in the 1920s), the Parthenon is a jaw-dropping replica of the Greek Parthenon in Athens. It serves as the city's art museum and a 42-foot (12.5 meters) tall statue of Athena Parthenos greets visitors inside the perfectly balanced 7.5 ton (6.8 metric tons)bronze doors. Located in Centennial Park, the Parthenon is as wonderful to see at night as in the day. Nearby is the Belcourt Theatre in Hillsboro Village, near the Vanderbilt University campus. The theater features independent films and film festivals.
Along with the many tourist attractions in Nashville are numerous great restaurants. The ethnically diverse population ensures a large variety of dining options in the city.
The Nashville Convention and Visitors Web site also has numerous suggestions for things to do in the city, along with trip-planning information. The Music City is well worth a weekend or a week's visit.