Boxing day found us wandering in 70-degree weather down Broadway towards Honky Tonk Row (the touristy section of Nashville). It was a spectacular day!
We had our list and were checking it twice: Johnny Cash Museum, Ryman Auditorium, Roger’s Western World, Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge, Acme Feed & Seed, and the Wildhorse Tavern. And we hit them all.
We started our tour at the Johnny Cash Museum which I half expected to be hokey. I was wrong. It was extremely well done. In chronological order, you really came to understand his life and career progression. The artifacts were complete, well presented, and overwhelming. It was great to see his connection to Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dylan (Nashville Skyline), and of course, Sun Records where we’d be visiting later in the week.
The museum moved us to tears. At one point we choked up, tears welling in our eyes while reading his letter/poem to June Carter Cash written on June’s funeral program complete with tear smears. Nearby was playing his award-winning video cover of Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt”. The museum is a must visit for any Johnny Cash fan, but bring your tissues.
After exiting through the gift store we found ourselves in one of the many touristy boot stores along Honky Tonk Row. “Buy 1 pair of boots and get two free!”. It sounded too good to be true and it probably was, but we ended up with three pairs of boots anyway.
In our new boots, we headed towards the Ryman Auditorium but found ourselves standing outside the famous honky tonk on our list: Roger’s Western World. They had live music playing during the lunch hour. We thought we’d cool our heels with a beer and a fried bologna sandwich (with Miracle Whip). It was delicious and I was loving Nashville.
Around the corner was the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry during the Golden Age of country music. We opted for the “Backstage Tour” which I don’t recommend. It was overpriced and historically not that relevant as it was added in later years after renovation. Being in the Ryman and standing on the stage after viewing the history video and some of the historical memorabilia gives you a sense of musical magic. A must visit for any classic country fan.
From the Ryman we crossed the alley to Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge. The story goes that the musicians playing the Grand Ole Opry would head out the back door and across the alley to have a drink at Tootsie’s before, sometimes during, and often after the shows.
With our shopping bags full and our feet hurting in our new boots we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon rest before headed back into The Gulch for dinner. We had our hearts set on real Tennesee BBQ. Using Yelp we found one with stellar reviews (4.5 stars with over 1K reviews) and headed to the Peg Leg Porker for dinner.
After dinner, we caught a local free shuttle bus from The Gulch back to Honky Tonk Row. We walked down the street admiring the neon lights as we headed to Acme Feed & Seed. Acme Feed & Seed is a great multi-level venue with music and food on many floors. We stepped in to watch a jam band which sounded pretty good before we realized it was Grateful Dead Mondays :(. But we stuck it out for the rest of their set.
Just up the street was a venue well known for line dancing -The Wildhorse Tavern. Somebody recommended we may want to dance or at least watch some dancing. The place was a huge flashy multi-level venue with lots of people line dancing. It was culturally eye opening for us.