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Things to do in Nashville

Brave Tennessee’s quantum leap

Whoosh your way through Tennessee with Adventureworks (tel: +1 615 297 2250; www.adventureworks.com), a zip-wiring company providing airy thrills for the brave at heart. Zoom over through stunning forest, feet dangling over treetops, or try aerial trekking, an obstacle course in the sky, whilst only the courageous will take the quantum leap, a 9m (30ft) jump.

Discover lost underground caves by boat

Float your way through a grand natural entrance and into an awe-inspiring cave system at Lost River Cave (tel: +1 270 393 0077; www.lostrivercave.com), just an hour from Nashville. Boat tours glide the peaceful green waters as centuries of natural history arches overhead, including impressive red limestone domes. Visitors can paddle themselves on a kayak tour.

Go caving in the Cumberland Caverns

Tennessee's largest show cave, the Cumberland Caverns (tel: +1 931 668 4396; www.cumberlandcaverns.com), features some 43km (27 miles) of mapped underground passages and several routes to choose from. Daily walking tours can only reveal so much. Instead, if you're brave enough, wait for nightfall and pump up the adrenaline gauge by camping in the caves overnight.

Hike the trails around Fontanel Mansion

For hikers itching to stretch their legs, the trails at Fontanel Mansion (tel: +1 615 876 4618; www.fontanelmansion.com) wind for 4km (2.5 miles) under gorgeous canopies of native trees. Local creatures, including raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and deer, will offer company. Dogs on leashes are warmly welcomed too and the paths are well maintained but unpaved.

Try some wild swimming

Escape your hotel swimming pool and splash around in some wonderful wild swimming holes instead. Percy Priest Lake (www.percypriestlake.org) is a lovely spot - a man-made reservoir not far from the city with safe, designated swimming areas. There's an information centre on shore with maps showing the best areas for a plunge.

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Featured Hotels


The Hermitage Hotel

Built in 1910 in the beaux-arts style, this city institution is the grande dame of local hotels. Smiling after an $18million refurbishment, the lobby is gilded plaster and stained glass windows, and the all-suite guest rooms boast Florentine marble bathrooms. Dining at the hotel’s Capitol Grille evokes an elegant wine cellar, and the Oak Bar has ornate woods and plasterwork.

Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel

Boasting one of the most modern looks on the Nashville hotel scene, Loews Vanderbilt Plaza has bedded many celebrities and country music stars. Artwork is a heavy motif, from the tapestries of the lobby to the in-house branch of the Kraus art gallery. The angular guest rooms are softened by plush curtains, and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is well regarded among local carnivores.

Days Inn Vanderbilt/Music Row

The rooms here are at least refurbished every few years to keep this good value motel at least comfortable. The property dates back to the 1960s, giving it kind of a retro cool, and the free local calls and internet don’t hurt the budget. The location is convenient, with Music Row and Vanderbilt University both within easy walking distance.

The Hutton Hotel

Opened in 2009, this property blends traditional southern touched with Manhattan-esque chic, the lobby a mix of luxuriant woods, abstract sculptures and oversized lampshades. It’s a bold attempt to steer away from the more laboured aspects of the city, and you won’t find country music being piped on repeat. The rooms are trendy but not pretentious, and the 1808 Grille brings a modern twist to down-home cooking.

Union Station

A former railway terminal is the home for this hotel, which dates back to 1900. The architecture is Romanesque-Gothic, and the property enjoyed a $10million facelift in 2007. The station’s main hall becomes a striking lobby, with vaulted stained glass ceilings. While the exterior is a National Historic Landmark, the rooms are contemporary, though light sleepers may want to avoid those that overlook the tracks.

Hilton Downtown Nashville

Another all-suite offering, this new Downtown hotel has plenty of room, with 330 units. The palm-lined atrium lobby lends a touch of sophistication to the hotel, but its main appeal is the location, within walking distance of LP Field and the Country Music Hall of Fame. The suites lend themselves to self-catered living, though there are also 3 restaurants on site.