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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

The Road to Nashville

5-Day Tour

Depart: Sunday, March 22, 2020 - 8:00 a.m.
Return: Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 6:00 p.m.
Code: 1NNNAS

A live performance at the Grand Ole Opry House (Photo: Chris Hollo/Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp)

PLEASE NOTE: The fringe pick up stop for this tour has changed to the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, 2621 Prince William Parkway, Woodbridge, VA. The pick up time is still approx. 8:30 am.

The capital of Tennessee—and of country music—Nashville is a 21st-century boom town, a cultural melting pot that attracts residents from across the nation and around the world. If the new Ken Burns documentary Country Music has sparked your appetite to learn more about the form’s roots and influences, this tour led by arts journalist Richard Selden offers the perfect way to do it: Several key locations featured in the film are part of the itinerary.

The 5-day tour follows the road to Nashville through the twin cities of Bristol, Virginia, and Bristol, Tennessee, home of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, with a stop at the Patsy Cline Historic House in Winchester, Virginia, on the return trip.

In Nashville, explore the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and enjoy a performance at the Grand Ole Opry from the best seats in the house. The visit coincides with the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival, offering the chance to learn about new talent showcased at Nashville’s legendary small venues.

Explore Nashville beyond the music scene with a visit to the Frist Art Museum, hosting a major J.M.W. Turner exhibition from the Tate Britain, Quest for the Sublime. A driving tour of the city’s architectural landmarks includes the Tennessee State Capitol and Downtown Presbyterian Church, both by 19th-century architect William Strickland, and the Parthenon replica in Centennial Park. And it wouldn’t be a trip to Nashville without sampling both the traditional Southern food and contemporary cuisine for which Nashville is noted.


  • Backstage tour of the Ryman Auditorium, dubbed the “Mother Church of Country Music.”
  • Access to the Opry’s exclusive Circle Room lounge before and during the show, where you can sample bites from some of Nashville’s favorite restaurants, enjoy complimentary drinks, meet one of the evening’s performers, and receive a commemorative photo to take home.
  • Driving tour along Lower Broadway, home of landmarks including the Ernest Tubb Record Shop and Tootsies Orchid Lounge, the legendary honky-tonk that’s a country music institution.
  • Visit to the Johnny Cash Museum, displaying a comprehensive collection of Man in Black memorabilia.
  • Special exhibition Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum celebrating that decade’s Nashville–Austin musical axis.
  • Group experience at Hatch Show Print, a working letterpress print shop founded in 1879 that has produced iconic posters for the Grand Old Opry, fairs, circuses, and musical acts.
  • Visit to the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, the 1928 movie palace that helped launch the career of fiddler Roy Acuff.


  • Cost includes bus transportation, lodging, all activities, admissions and fees, gratuities, and meals (4 breakfast, 3 lunches, 3 dinners).
  • Overnight accommodations are varied with the group stays two nights in Nashville and one each in Bristol and Roanoke.
  • Tour departs by bus from the Mayflower Hotel, Connecticut Ave. and DeSales St., NW, with a pick up stop at the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, 2621 Prince William Parkway, Woodbridge, VA at about 8:30 a.m.
  • Single-room supplement $460 (factored into the Single Room Member and Single Room Non-Member pricing).
  • Singles registering at the double-room rate are paired (on a nonsmoking basis) if possible, but must pay the single-room supplement otherwise.
  • Detailed information is mailed to registrants about four weeks prior to departure.
  • Registrants may want to consider purchasing trip insurance.