Nashville is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and car lovers are flocking there by the tens of thousands. British Airways started offering non-stop flights from London last year and the number of English tourists has gone way up! So if you happen to find yourself in the Music City, then be sure to check out the following auto related locations.
As a point of reference I will be using the Ryman Auditorium, one time home of The Grand Ole Opry, as the starting point for all trips. No real reason, other than it is a fairly iconic building that is important to the culture of the city of Nashville. You'll be using your Hotel, but this gives us a point of reference for our trips. If you've ever been to the U.S. or have watched a single YouTube video on traveling inside the States, then you'll know that you will need to rent a car while here. Nashville does have a Metro bus system and you can use Uber for some of these trips, but I suggest renting a car. It will make your visit here enjoyable.
Trip Number 1: Broadway, The Johnny Cash Museum and Hatch Show Print
One-Way Distance: 0.6 miles Estimated Travel Time: 7 minutes (Please keep in mind, travel times will vary according to traffic congestion!)
You will be in the heart of Honky Tonk heaven with trip number 1! Find one of the many pay parking lots near to the area and drop off the rent a wreck. Take the time to walk the same streets countless others have trod in an attempt to make it in the country music world. You'll hear twangy tunes coming from more bars than you can count!
The first two destinations include the best businesses in downtown. The Johnny Cash museum is full of Cash related objects and memorabilia. Including a stone wall that once stood in the home of Johnny Cash and June Carter in Hendersonville that was destroyed in a fire in 2007. Next stop off at Hatch Show Print. This print shop was responsible for most of the show flyers that were stuck up all over the city during the early years of country music. Now operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum it is open for a look around and you can even pick up a flyer for a show you would have liked to have attended.
Trip Number 2: The Grand Ole Opry, Opry Mills and Cooter's Place
One-Way Distance: 10.3 miles Estimated Travel Time: 21 minutes
Hop into that rental and head northeast of Nashville for our next trip. If you would like to attend a show at the Grand Ole Opry, be sure and check the schedule out and attend a show you'll like. Just a reminder that not only country music is played at the Opry! Head over to Opry Mills Mall next door and do a little shopping. Once you've had your fill of that be sure and check out Cooter's Place. Cooter, in case you don't know or remember was the mechanic from the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard. Take a peek at their website to find out when actors from the show will be making an appearance and you could be talking to Daisy, Bo or Luke Duke!
Trip Number 3: Lane Motor Museum
One-Way Distance: 3.1 miles Estimated Travel Time: 15 minutes
You'll want to set aside as much time as you can to spend at the next event on the list. The Lane Motor Museum houses a large collection of Micro cars. From aircraft propeller driven French made cars to amphibious cars this location has a wonderful collection of odd ball and one of a kind classic autos. They are also well known for their temporary exhibits. This summer they have displayed 20 different significant Subaru's in recognition of the auto manufacturers 50th anniversary selling cars in the US. I'm not sure if they'll let you smoke your e-cig indoors while you look, but I'm almost certain you'll have to have a baseball cap on backwards!
Trip Number 4: Classic Car Dealerships and the Best BBQ in Tennessee
One-Way Distance: 29.2 miles Estimated Travel Time: 50 minutes
Heading Southeast out of Nashville will bring you to the next stops on our trip. Visit two of the largest Classic Car dealerships in the southeastern United States. Gateway Classic Cars and Streetside Classics of Nashville are both full of Muscle cars, big tail fins and HORSEPOWER! Once you've worked out how to ship that '65 442 Oldsmobile back to the UK, head over to Nolensville and grab a bite to eat. Martin's Bar-B-Que joint is simply the best Tennessee style BBQ you will ever have the pleasure to eat. (try the pulled pork sandwich with french fries and sweet tea... you're welcome!)
Trip Number 5: Get behind the Wheel! Rock Island State Park & Chattanooga.
One-Way Distance: 186 miles Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours and 46 minutes.
Above: (first picture) Great Falls at Rock Island, TN (second) Google Map view of the Rock Island area (last) Google Map of the trip.
For a break from the action in Nashville, jump in that rental and head to the country for a breath of fresh air and a little sightseeing.
Rock Island State Park and the Great Falls Dam
Southeast of Nashville sets one of the prettiest parks in the whole state. The unincorporated community of Rock Island sets at the point where 3 rivers meet. The Rocky and the Collins River both flow into the Caney Fork river. Rock Island State Park was founded in 1968 when a large parcel of land around The Great Falls Dam was given to the state by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The TVA still operates Great Falls Dam and it provides power to the surrounding area. The Dam was constructed in 1915 and has a rather odd feature. I'll let the TVA explain:
"What’s really interesting is the way the Great Falls works. Though the dam and its powerhouse are built on the Caney Fork, the water that drives the turbines is drawn from the Collins River, which travels by means of dual 650-foot long steel penstocks drilled through the mountain between the two bodies of water. So strong is the pull when the generators are running that the water on the Collins can temporarily flow backwards. The dam itself is merely for flood control, and—as Floyd notes—spills a lot of water during rain events to keep balance in the two-river system."
The above quote is from the TVA website. Take a canoe or kayak ride around the rivers or spend some time hiking the numerous trails in the park. Spend the night in one of the many cabins in the park or one right outside the park. Whatever you do, you'll need your rest for the trip over the Cumberland Plateau from Rock Island to Pikeville. I should have told you to trade that cheap rental in for something with a little more power and handling because the curvy mountain roads almost scream to be thrashed in something with some horsepower!
Above: (first) the bend in the Tennessee River next to Chattanooga as seen from Lookout Mountain. (second) The interior of The Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. (third) A sleeper car room at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. (fourth) the Incline Railway up Lookout Mountain (fifth) Ruby Falls inside Lookout Mountain. (sixth) The W Road up Signal Mountain. (seventh) The Coker Tire Museum. (last) Honest Charley's Speed Shop.
Chattanooga and a bunch of things to do!
After you arrive in Chattanooga check into a room at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. There was a time when all train traffic headed to places south or north passed through this mid sized town. The tracks are all but gone but the station remains. Maybe even stay in a sleeper car? Next, ride the incline railway up to the top of Lookout Mountain. Before you leave Lookout Mountain, be sure and check out Ruby Falls. On the way back to your hotel take a trip up and down the W road on Signal Mountain. The last thing to do before heading out of town is to stop at the Coker Tire Museum and see all of the beautiful cars, trucks and motorcycles on display. Maybe even buy a new set of red line tires for that 442 while you are there. Be sure to stop in at Honest Charley's Speed Shop right next door to Coker and see a real live Hot Rod Shop in action!
Pick the Right Time of the Year!
Be sure and check out what types of things will be going on in the Nashville area when planning your trip. Take a look at Ticketmaster to find out what concerts will be going on and when. Remember, Nashville is known as Music City, not just because of country music anymore, but because everyone comes to town while on tour! Car related events happen year round also from The GoodGuys Nashville Nationals and the Nashville Boogie Vintage Weekender both in May, to the Fall Redneck Rumble in near by Lebanon, TN in September. Be sure and check out the Custom & Hot Rod Life tribe for the latest information on what auto related happenings are going on in the area!