You’ll find fresh food every day in downtown Nashville. Truckloads of homegrown melons, pattypan squash, and enough peppers to make you whistle are hauled in early seven days a week in the shadow of the capitol. The sprawling market is home to dozens of sun-wizened growers, such as tomato guru Johnny Howell. Shopping and storytelling intertwine here.
Located on Hillsboro Pike, in an unassuming strip mall between a Shell gas station and a McDonald’s, the Bluebird Café is one of the top venues in America for hearing up-and-coming (and already famous) singers and songwriters. The small, 100-seat room isn’t fancy, but an evening there sure is fun. Country, rock, and contemporary Christian songwriters gather nightly for the 6 p.m. shows (6:30 on Friday through Sunday), sometimes joined by Bluebird alumni, such as Kathy Mattea and Garth Brooks.
The centerpiece of Nashville’s Centennial Park, this full-scale re-creation of the ancient Greek Parthenon was built in 1897 as part of the city’s Centennial Exposition. The recently renovated building now serves as Nashville’s city art museum and features two galleries exhibiting American art from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as temporary shows and exhibits. In addition to the artwork, the building also houses a 41-foot-tall statue of the Greek goddess Athena, sculpted by Tennessee artist Alan LeQuire in 1990.
After taking in the sights at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, take a tour of RCA Studio B. Located on downtown’s famed “Music Row,” the recording studio (Nashville’s oldest) was built in 1957 and reopened as part of the museum in 1977. In between, some of country’s biggest stars, including Elvis Presley (who cut 150 tracks there), Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Lee Ann Rimes, recorded more than 1,000 top 10 hits in the studio. Today, Belmont University uses the facility to teach future recording engineers, musicians, and singing stars the fine art of making music.
RCA Studio B, 1611 Roy Acuff Place. Tours of the studio leave from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, 222 Fifth Avenue South, daily between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.,countrymusichalloffame.org
For more than 50 years, Vanderbilt University students, downtown office workers, and thousands of other Nashville residents and visitors have made the trek south down Highway 100 to the Loveless for some of the best scratch biscuits and crispiest fried chicken in Tennessee. Located at the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace, the cozy eatery serves hearty, country-ham-adorned breakfasts, as well as classic meat ’n’ three lunches and dinners daily.