Nashville: Holiday Inn Express is in the perfect location on Broadway. Short walk to Lower Broadway to ‘Tootsies’, ‘Legends’, ‘Laylas’ Honky Tonks and more, bars, shopping for cowboy hats and boots, The Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Hall of Fame and down to the Cumberland River.
The hotel has a shuttle which will pick up and drop off in a two mile radius which is very useful at the end of the day / evening when the shopping and bars have taken their toll on weary legs! Hotel is a little ‘tired’ but staff are excellent and it has all the basics but NO BAR! There is however a lively bar over the road from the hotel by the Union Station Hotel where we had our nightcap before rolling back over the road. Hotel provides a substantial hot / cold self service breakfast which saved us time and $’s and set us up for the day. The refreshments and nibbles in the lounge with live music in the late afternoon, early evening was a nice idea.
· The Ryman Auditorium is a MUST SEE! The history is fascinating and you don’t have to take the guided tour the self guided one is very well documented. Music there daily and do have your photo taken on the stage at the Ryman. (we did and looked like a couple of old country singers auditioning for X Factor – with our guitars! ho hum)
– Over the road is the Nashville Convention and Visitors Centre which is excellent. A gentleman called Bill takes time to advise on all the attractions, buses, sites to see etc. Well worth spending half an hour in there and he does have discount vouchers for some attractions too!
– Country Music Hall of Fame – just over from the Visitors Centre – also excellent – take a couple of hours at least to soak up all the history of Country Music through to today. We didn’t go this time as we had visited previously and were a little short of time – but really would recommend it.
– Shopping – take a trip out to Green Hills Mall, very nice shops and a relaxing mall. We took a taxi but there are trips or take the bus out there (talk to Bill!)
– Grand Ole Opry – went again and enjoyed it but the acts were not as good as when you booked us to see Dolly on our first trip there. Still worth going though and we had a great coach driver who made the journey fun.
Greyhound to Memphis was a ‘blast’ as I said in my email it was such a good idea Charmaine, much more relaxing (and cheaper) than flying.
Memphis: The Hampton Inn on Beale Street was FAB-U-LOUS. We cannot praise it enough. Perfect location, our room was on the Peabody Place side which faced away from Beale and was quieter but we would have been fine on the other side – after all the music is a big part of the trip. The hotel staff were so helpful and again a self service breakfast was included. Excellent hot and cold dishes and all very leisurely and relaxing. The room was lovely and we would highly recommend the hotel.
· Peabody Hotel Ducks, go early to get a seat and have a coffee / cocktail while watching the ducks being marched down in the lift from their ‘mansion’ on the roof. They are sooo cute and the ceremony is performed with such style! They come down at 11:00 and the ceremony is performed in reverse at 17:00 (times may change). A ‘Kodak moment’.
– Shopping (yes again!) There are two Malls fairly close and if there are sufficient numbers local companies will run a bus out to Wolfchase Galleria which is the larger one. As it was just the two of us we took a taxi to Oak Court Mall which is smaller but still had everything we needed. The taxi driver said we would have finished in a couple of hours but he didn’t know us – did he? We managed to spend most of the day there – and then worried about the extra weight in the cases.
– Graceland and Sun Studios: We picked the shuttle up near the Fed Ex building and went to Graceland first. It was as wonderful as when I went 9 years ago BUT the queues were much longer this time. The change of management / ownership has implemented some nice touches e.g. the audio / visual tour with everyone having their own IPad. It sadly poured with rain this time but that added to the emotion in the memorial garden. Graceland is worth the price of the admission, it is very special.
– The shuttle picks up regularly from Graceland and then drops off at Sun Studios. If you love music and the history of Blues, Rock & Roll etc this is the place! Our tour guide was amazing and I enjoyed it more this time than previously because he was sooo enthusiastic.
· Jerry Lee Lewis’ bar on Beale is a must to visit, live music and we found the best ‘Elvis’ there. Also BB Kings although this time we only had time for a quick visit and didn’t manage to get in for the live music.
– STAX Museum of American Soul Music: We took a taxi there (supposedly 5 mins from Beale but it seemed longer) and we had complementary tickets from the hotel so that was a bonus. Very interesting, you watch the video and then stroll through the museum at around at leisure.
– National Civil Rights Museum: Don’t leave Memphis without a visit to the Lorraine Motel. This is a must visit and well worth investing a few hours here.