Nashville

Alt-country singer Robbie Fulks, who semifamously excoriated Nashville in one of his songs, the title of which is unprintable, has described the Music City as having a "prevailing ideology of fatuous feelgoodism." But don't let that stop you from visiting. With a vibrant downtown, a funky college district, old-money neighborhoods, and music, music, music, Nashville makes for a great long-weekend getaway. And really, when you're a tourist, "feelgoodism" isn't such a bad thing.

STAY

The Loews Vanderbilt

The Loews Vanderbilt

The Loews Vanderbilt  (loewshotels.com) has a music theme and is a short cab ride away from downtown and walking distance from a great park and the Vanderbilt campus. Rooms are nice with lots of amenities, but keep extras like parking in mind when considering the rates (from $199). Hutton Hotel (huttonhotel.com) is a brand-new boutique spot located downtown and loaded with style and perks, such as rooms with either a treadmill or elliptical (from $194).

EAT/DRINK

For one of the best cheeseburgers you've ever put in your mouth, head to local dive Rotier's (rotiers.com). The bun is French bread, which is a minor stroke of genius. It's popular with Vandy students, hipsters, blue-collar types, and tourists. For excellent live jazz, fine contemporary American cuisine, and a slice of old Nashville money, make a reservation at F. Scott's (fscotts.com)

EXPLORE

Must-stops on Broadway Street are Robert's Western World (this former boot-and-hat shop still displays some wares on the walls) and Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Sometimes the lesser-known spots, like Second Fiddle, are less crowded. During the day head to the Country Music Hall of Fame (countrymusichalloffame.com). Don't miss the compelling Family Tradition: The Williams Family Legacy, which tells the story of Hank Williams and all his kin (through the end of this year).

SEE

Music permeates Nashville. Soak it up. Try to see a concert at the gorgeously restored Ryman Auditorium (ryman.com), which was home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. The pristine sound makes up for the church-pew seating. Fans of contemporary visual art should check out the Frist Center (fristcenter.org), which is housed in a giant former post office.

Getting There

It's an easy, pretty, but longish drive. Take I-85 S to I-26 N to I-40 W. It takes a little less than seven hours and you'll cross the Great Smoky Mountains. US Airways also flies nonstop.

COURTESY NASHVILLE CVB; COURTESY COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME; ROTIER'S: KYLE DRIER