Creative, diverse, friendly and welcoming are words often used to describe Nashville. It has long been a destination rich in culture, music and food and is quickly becoming one of the premier GLBT destinations in the country. As the largest city in Tennessee, Nashville is home to dozens of arts organizations, historical landmarks, restaurants and entertainment venues.
Nashville is also the headquarters of the state’s largest HIV/AIDS organization, Nashville CARES, numerous gay sports leagues, the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce and the Oasis Center, an organization designed to support and educate GLBT youth.
While in Nashville be sure to visit some of the city’s premier GLBT-friendly cultural attractions, most notably the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Frist Center for the Visual Arts and Tennessee State Museum.
History buffs should head straight to the Parthenon in Centennial Park. This exact replica of the Athens original also houses a 42-foot tall statue of goddess Athena, the tallest indoor statue in the Western Hemisphere.
Another GLBT–friendly highlight is the glorious Cheekwood Botanical Gardens & Museum, a 55-acre botanical garden and art museum located on the historic Cheek estate. Enjoy a brisk Nashville morning strolling with your partner through Cheekwood’s beautifully manicured gardens.
Those yearning for music history should head to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum located in the heart of downtown Nashville. The facility has almost completed a multi-million dollar expansion and features more than 40,000-square-feet of country music artifacts and archives in addition to a full service restaurant.
Just a short walk away is the famous Ryman Auditorium. Referred to as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman is a National Historic Landmark and has hosted musicians from Chris Isaak and James Brown to Patsy Cline and Bruce Springsteen.
A vacation to Nashville would not be complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry, country music’s longest-running show. It brings together an incredible mix of talent to a live audience three times per week. Superstars including Vince Gill, Keith Urban, and Reba McEntire as well as new acts such as The Band Perry and Luke Bryan have all graced the Opry stage.
Touring the city is sure to make you hungry and luckily there are new culinary hotspots popping up everywhere in Nashville. Favorites among gay locals include Virago, Kayne Prime, Watermark and City House, owned by James Beard award-winning chef Tandy Wilson. In addition, GQ Magazine recently voted The Catbird Seat, one of the best new restaurants in America. Don’t forget to visit Suzy Wong’s House of Yum located on Church Street, near one of hippest gay bars, Tribe.
In recent years, Church Street has become Nashville’s gay mecca. In addition to Tribe and Suzy Wong’s, the street is also home to Play Dance Bar, Canvas and Blue Gene’s as well as Out Central, Nashville’s GLBT community center. Venture south to enjoy two friendly neighborhood bars: Stirrup and Trax.
Take the bridge from downtown to the neighborhood of East Nashville which has been known as “the gayborhood” and offers tons of dining and nightlife venues to fit every taste. Two of the most popular GLBT destinations are Lipstick Lounge and Mad Donna’s, the best place in town to play a game of drag bingo while dining on wonderful cuisine, while Lipstick Lounge offers karaoke and live entertainment throughout the week and is a favorite among the ladies.
Nashville is truly a magical place that everyone needs to see for themselves. So put on your favorite pair of cowboy boots and head on down to Music City USA.
For more information, go to www.visitmusiccity.com
by Joey Amato