Nashville tours and excursions
For a good – and not too strenuous - overview of the city, the City Walk is a marked trail of 3km (2 miles), which begins at Fort Nashborough and ends at the Hatch Show Print Shop on Broadway. Visitors should either follow the blue line or obtain a leaflet from the Visitor Information Centre, Gaylord Entertainment Centre, 501 Broadway, corner of Fifth Avenue.Tel: (615) 259 4747.
Numerous companies offer tours, invariably focusing on the country music scene and often including a drive past the homes of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash. Grand Ole Opry Tours offers a variety, one including a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry. Other companies include the very irreverent NashTrash Tours.Tel: (615) 889 9490 ; (615) 226 7300 or 1 800 342 2132.
General Jackson Showboat takes you back to a bygone era aboard the 91m (300ft), four-deck paddlewheel showboat. Named after the first steamboat to operate on the Cumberland River, and namesake of the Tennessean-born US President, the General Jackson offers a variety of cruise packages, which navigate the Cumberland River from Opry Mills to Riverfront Park in Downtown Nashville.
Wanderin' Star Yacht Charters offers three-hour sailing cruises on Old Hickory Lake on a Catalina 25. Gourmet cocktail cruises or evening sunset cruises are the most romantic. Sailing lessons also available. Cruises and lessons run between April and October.Tel: (615) 458 3900 ; (615) 851 4274.
Over 1,350 animals from 255 different species are on display in this innovative zoo, 3777 Nolensville Road, Grassmere, which covers 81 hectares (200 acres) not far from the centre of the city. There are Bengal tigers, cheetahs, an 'African Elephant Savannah', the USA's largest community-built playground for the children, the aptly named Gibbon Islands exhibit, an 'Unseen New World' exhibit (with over 200 reptiles, insects, amphibians and fish) and the old Croft House. This was built in 1810 and now houses a working farm exhibit and a young children's petting zoo. Newest exhibits feature ocelots, giraffes and alligators.Tel: (615) 833 1534.
One of Nashville's major attractions, located about 10km (6 miles) from downtown Nashville. Allow at least half a day to see everything. Opryland is a collective term for the whole area, also known as Music Valley, which contains the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, Opry Mills and the Grand Ole Opry (temporarily closed due to floods at the time of writing, and rehoused in the Ryman). Other attractions include the Music Valley Wax Museum, the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree, and the Willie Nelson and Friends Showcase Museum. From Downtown, the area is easily accessed by the Opry Mills Express (bus 34).Website: http://www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-opryland
Natchez Trace Parkway
No one should visit Nashville without sampling at least a short stretch of this unique drive, which begins about 24km (15 miles) southwest of the city centre. The whole parkway, one of the country's first interstate highways, runs for 715km (444 miles) to Natchez, Mississippi and was an ancient trading route for early European settlers and American Indians. Today, with a leisurely 80kph (50mph) speed limit and only recreational traffic, it makes a wonderfully peaceful drive through unspoilt scenery.Tel: 1 800 305 7417.