Nashville, a.k.a Music City USA, is the home to the Grand Ole Opry (and its museum), the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Willie Nelson and Friends Showcase Museum, and the Texas Troubadour Theatre. It's the city where many of country music's hopefuls come to cut their teeth, get noticed, and make it big. While you're here, the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg (www.jackdaniels.com/tour.asp) is less than an hour away, and you're about 200 miles to Memphis. (Elvis lovers need no explanation about why you'd want to go there.)
For a general overview of the state as a whole, the Tennessee Tourism Department (tel. 800/GO-2-TENN; www.tnvacation.com) is a great place to start. You can search by interests -- music and arts, history and heritage, nature and outdoors, and sports and recreations, across the whole state. Nashville, because of all that music, is known for its nightlife. The state's site even offers a "Top Tenn" driving with music list, a breakdown of various radio stations across the state, and suggested tours/itineraries based on who's going -- couples, kids, and families, etc.
The most logical place to start is Nashville's Convention & Visitors Bureau web site (tel. 800/657-6910; www.visitmusiccity.com) Its "See More and Save" offer is running through January 3, 2006 and gives you the opportunity to choose a pass to two or three (called "take two" or "pick three") of the city's top attractions, such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and many non-music offerings, such as Adventure Science Center, Cheekwood Botantical Garden & Museum of Art, and the Hermitage: Home of President Andrew Jackson. The package price includes an overnight hotel stay of your choosing, based on availability. The Best Western Music row, with rooms priced from $59, is a AAA-three diamond property and is located in the downtown riverfront district; the Millennium Maxwell House is priced from $65, and the priciest available, the Sheraton Music City Hotel, just went through a huge renovation (they have excellent beds) and is priced from $109.
The Visitors Bureau is also offering some other packages. The "Titans Exclusive Upper Level Packages" are available for three days, two-nights and include upper level ticket, and December 18 games. If you choose the Gaylord Opryland Resort, for example, from $169 per night for Thanksgiving weekend (with a Friday, November 25 arrival date), the price for a standard room for two adults, plus the game tickets, is $518. Of course, less expensive hotels are available, too.
After the holidays, speed demons with a love for country music will be lured to Nashville for the "Sound and Speed" January 13-14. Meet NASCAR drivers and bid on racing and music memorabilia in a fundraiser for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Victory Junction Gang Camp. Drivers include Jeff Green, Richard and Kyle Petty, Michael Waltrip, Tony Stewart and Sterling Marlin; performers include Jo Dee Messina, Trisha Yearwood, Kenny Rogers and Vince Gill, among others. Tickets are $20 for Saturday's festival; the concert is priced at $30 for reserved seats. Details about hotel packages that include festival tickets will be posted in early December; prices will be based on the choice of hotel. Other packages involving antiques (Feb 2-5) and romance (all February weekends) will be posted in the coming weeks, by early December, according to a visitors' center representative.
The Nashville International Airport (tel. 615/275-1600; www.flynashville.com) is serviced by at least a half dozen airlines, including Southwest Airlines (tel. 800/435-9792; www.southwest.com), which is running a few fare sales. The "systemwide sale" puts flights from $39 to $149 one-way, with a 21-day advance purchase. The fare sale is only available until November 21, midnight Pacific Time. The great thing about the Southwest search engine is that it gives you a gamut of fare options. For example, using Chicago-Midway to Nashville BNA as the route, and departing December 8, you can purchase a $39 Internet one-way fare, or $123 refundable anytime fare. For the same date, with Philadelphia as the departure city, the Internet, one-way fare is priced at $88 and the refundable anytime fare is $137. Other sample fares include Los Angeles to Nashville, which is significantly higher; the Internet one-way is priced $114-$145 and the special anytime fares are priced at $299. The offer is good for travel between December 2 and March 31, 2006.
If you are the type of traveler who seeks out luxurious, restored historic hotels, then check out The Hermitage Hotel (tel. 888-888-9414; www.thehermitagehotel.com), a nine-story Beau Arts beauty built in 1909 that went through significant renovations just a few years ago. The American Automobile Association recently granted the property a five-diamond rating for the third year in a row -- as it's the only property in the state to receive that coveted status. They're currently offering a few packages, including Weekend Bed and Breakfast, with a full breakfast at the onsite Capitol Grille, named one of America's best new restaurants by Esquire magazine. The deal is good for Friday and Saturday arrivals, and priced from $239. Or opt for the Sunday brunch package, from $249, or the romance package, which includes a breakfast, champagne, truffles and valet parking, from $259. These packages are ongoing and have no expiration.
Another exclusive property, the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center (tel. 888/777-6779; www.gaylordhotels.com), is famed for its hospitality and has a spa, restaurants, and other amenities. For the winter, choose from "A Country Christmas" two-night weekday or weekend package that includes tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (yes, this is not New York), the Pam Tillis Christmas Dinner Party, a VIP coupon book and other incentives. The deal is good from November 17 through December 25 and is priced at $321. The Gaylord Opryland lists at least a dozen other packages, mostly geared toward music (Ricky Skaggs, Brian Setzer), the holidays (Moscow Ballet's The Nutcracker), or couples. Note: The hotel only accepts reservations for packages by phone.
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