A road trip is the ideal way to experience the sights and sounds of America’s most important musical destinations. From Nashville, Tennessee, to New Orleans, Louisiana, music lovers of all tastes will delight their senses in the following cities.
Nashville, Tennessee: Country Music Heartland
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Start your musical journey in Nashville, the nation’s country capital. The genre’s fans shouldn’t miss the Johnny Cash Museum, featuring memorabilia celebrating the life and career of the Man in Black. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum features exhibitions detailing the history of country music from the 19th century to the present day.
But Nashville doesn’t dwell on nostalgia. You’ll find rising stars at local bars and honky-tonks along Second Avenue and Broadway. Stay downtown to put yourself within walking distance of these lively establishments. The Grand Ole Opry is a roughly 20-minute drive from city hotels, but its Friday and Saturday night shows are must-see experiences for music lovers.
Memphis, Tennessee: Home of Soul and Blues
Drive for about three hours on I-40 to Memphis, arguably America’s soul music capital. The folks behind Motown might say differently, but Memphis gave us Stax Records; the home of pioneering artists including Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers; and modern musicians Ben Harper and Angie Stone.
The Stax Museum of American Soul Music features an impressive array of artifacts and a recreation of the famed Studio A. Memphis is also famous for Graceland, the lavish home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll.
For convenience, check out one of the Memphis hotels located near the iconic Beale Street. This downtown Memphis strip is famous for blues clubs such as Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall, B.B. King’s Blues Club, and the Rum Boogie Cafe. Arrive early to sample the barbecue meals Memphis is famous for.
New Orleans, Louisiana: Jazz and More
New Orleans is a six-hour drive from Memphis, so devote a day to leisurely travel between these two cities.
Don’t waste your first night though. New Orleans has many great live music venues you’ll want to visit. Many visitors head to Bourbon Street. While great bands play here, you’ll escape the crowds if you bypass it for a local secret, Frenchmen Street. New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz, and you’ll find jazz music in several key venues such as Preservation Hall. Today, however, the city is a melting pot of musical influences with rhythm and blues, rock, hip-hop, and heavy metal adding to its rich cultural fabric.
You can enjoy more music over brunch. Jazz bands serenade morning diners at eateries including The Court of Two Sisters and Commander’s Palace. You’ll also find brass bands at Jackson Square and concerts at Armstrong Park, where you can also snap a selfie with statues of Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, and other musical luminaries.
Hotels in the French Quarter put you within walking distance of the best music venues and tourist attractions.
Pack your bags and grab your essential road trip tunes for this musical journey to remember. You won’t find a better time than now to get your groove on in these American musical meccas.