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Tennessee’s musical heritage is hard to beat and even harder to forget. You can visit Elvis’ curious estate in Memphis and explore the vibrant history of the rock-a-billy music scene in Jackson. Our final destination on Tennessee’s Music Highway certainly earns Nashville’s “Music City” moniker, thanks to the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame, and renowned Ryman Auditorium.
Is there a more appropriate spot to begin our Tennessee tour than at Elvis Presley’s rambling Graceland estate in Memphis? It’s in the southwest corner of Tennessee. Take a self-guided audio tour of the “King’s” legendary mansion and see his gold and platinum record awards in the remarkable Hall of Gold. Might we suggest picking up a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich in town beforehand to get into the mood? For Memphis magic after sundown, visit Beale Street’s Historic District, which delivers three city blocks of lively nightclubs, musical venues, eateries, and shops.
From Memphis, pick up The Music Highway, I-40, east all the way to Nashville. Naturally, we’ve found a few gems to admire along the way. Bargains, anyone? Shop till you drop at the Factory Outlet Mall in the town of Lakeland, then push on to Jackson to do a little browsing at the Old Hickory Mall. While you’re here, the Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum honors the widely celebrated locomotive king. On another track, the International Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame & Museum, also in Jackson, focuses its exhibits on the country/blues/rock-and-roll music style begun by legendary stars like Bill Haley and the Comets, and Carl Perkins.
In Burns, at the Old Spencer Mill, take a step back in time to a historic site where two stone gristmills and a 20’-wide waterwheel still stand. Next, take a step forward onto the green at the 18-hole Tennessee Golf Trail at Montgomery Bell State Park Golf Course.
Those in need of an aquatic fun are in luck. The place to go for paddling a canoe and savoring the views on the picturesque Harpeth River is none other than nearby Kingston Springs.
Ah, finally, Nashville. The “Music City” rocks, rolls, and welcomes you with open arms. Begin your visit at the Grand Ole Opry, where the cream of the country music crop performs onstage. For behind-the-scenes action, a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is in order, to gaze upon authentic stage costumes, instruments, honest-to-goodness music videos, and interactive exhibits featuring the brightest country talents on the planet. A tour of the Ryman Auditorium is also full of pleasant surprises. You can stand on stage like one of the big stars, step backstage to the dressing rooms, and make your own one-in-a-million CD in a real Ryman recording studio. For a culinary change of pace, board Nashville’s General Jackson Showboat for a lunch or dinner cruise with a musical theme. Evening cruises include memorable shows by fine entertainers. Attention, golfers! Gaylord Springs Golf Links on the Cumberland River is a Larry Nelson-designed course with 18 superb holes to impress your senses and challenge your game.