Even though the ghosts of greats like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash mingle with present-day headliners like Taylor Swift and Keith Urban (not to mention his glamorous wife, Nicole Kidman), Nashville exudes a modest, down-to-earth vibe. It's been characterized as a big back porch, teeming with storytellers and old timers picking on six strings. But one look at Hillsboro Village's trendy boutiques and hipster bars proves that Nashville is not only for graying country crooners. Music City affords visitors a mix of grandstand glitz, down-home Southern hospitality and an energetic collegiate populace.
You should visit for the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, but you should also come for the smaller live music venues. You should tour Belle Meade Plantation, but you should also just hang out in the growing number of boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants downtown. You might even catch a glimpse of someone famous …
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Like other destinations below the Mason-Dixon Line, Nashville exudes a strong sense of Southern hospitality. Nashville residents are very approachable: You can expect a hearty greeting in a soothing Tennessee drawl and you shouldn't be afraid to ask for help.
Much of Nashville's culture centers on music. "Music City" features plenty of live music venues, and you'll be missing out on an essential part of Nashville's charm if you don't loosen up and get your honky-tonk on. But it's not all about crooning country tunes; Nashville has also played a role in the birth of rock and roll, jazz and blues.
Recent travelers also say that one of the main reasons to visit Nashville is to indulge in a bit of down-home cuisine. Forget the five-star restaurants and head out for some saucy barbecue or delectable chicken-fried steak.
Only a few years ago, Nashville's dining scene was dominated by deep-fried, saucy entrees that were enough to make even the healthiest heart palpitate. Diners flocked to this southern city for chicken-fried steaks or juicy barbecue pork with hearty portions of mac 'n' cheese and spicy baked beans. However, over the past decade or so, Nashville has welcomed less cholesterol and more international cuisine to its dining scene; you can now find restaurants serving Indian, Mediterranean, Italian and Cajun favorites scattered throughout East Nashville.
For a casual dining experience, head over to the West End for its ribs and barbecued pork. Check out the District for more upscale dining establishments like the traveler-recommended Mad Platter Restaurant, or a wide array of homey Southern food joints.
The best way to get around Nashville is by car. The city has no effective public transportation system, and neighborhoods and attractions are too spread out to walk. To get from Nashville International Airport (BNA) to your hotel, we suggest taking a rental car since you'll need one anyway. But you can also take an airport shuttle, a public bus or a taxi.See details for Getting Around
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