The hottest music scenes in the U.S.
Music lovers will find these destinations worth the trip.
For music lovers across the country, there’s no shortage of destinations to get your fill of music. While many people have relatively easy access to concert venues hosting national acts, experiencing an authentic view of a genre or the electrifying atmosphere of a popular music festival requires a visit to a renowned music scene. Here are four U.S. cities that will have your toes tapping and your head bobbing.
This city lives up to its “Live Music Capital of the World” nickname. With many festivals like South by Southwest, Fun Fun Fun Fest and Austin City Limits, Austin offers a wide range of music for everyone to enjoy. Not only can you experience music at one of the nationally recognized festivals, you’ll also find live music in grocery stores and at city council meetings. The city is home to more than 250 live music venues, and no matter what day you visit, chances are you’ll find a show and take in the Austin music experience. If you’re already planning your travel itinerary, make sure it includes The Continental Club, The Mohawk and ACL Live at the Moody Theater (home to the longest-running music series in television history).
The home of Beale Street and Graceland, Memphis is a dream for music lovers. The King’s 14-acre Graceland estate includes his mansion and special touring exhibits. Once you finish up there, head across the street to Elvis Presley’s Memphis, an entertainment complex where you can see his collection of cars and planes; visit his career museum; and have lunch at one of two restaurants, named after his parents Gladys and Vernon. Sun Studio, where B.B. King recorded in the early 1950s, is another great destination. The studio attracted other big names like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr and Tom Petty. Today, Sun Studio is still an active recording studio and is a National Historic Landmark.
Finally, no trip to Memphis is complete without taking in the blues music along Beale Street. With plenty of bars and restaurants with live music throughout the day and night, it’s a rite of passage for any serious music fan. A few clubs to check out include B.B. King’s Blues Club, Rum Boogie Café and Blues City Café.
Devoted country music fans make the pilgrimage to Nashville in early June for the CMA Music Fest where all the big name (and up-and-comers) play for four straight days on multiple stages across the city. The event kicks off with the CMT Awards and caps off each night with headliners at Nissan Stadium. And while Music City is known for country music, there are hints of other genres woven into the city with historical sites like the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium. Many musicians, no matter the genre, often visit, play and record in Nashville.
A stop in Nashville wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which includes many exhibits about the history of country music and its biggest names. A walk down famed Lower Broadway offers even more live music ranging from country to rock with cover bands, new artists and, if you’re lucky, a big name will take the stage at Tootsie’s.
The Apollo theater, which launched the careers of a few familiar names like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, should be on your music bucket list. Catch shows at the theater including comedy, jazz, theater productions and other live entertainment. And, if you attend Amateur Night, you just might discover the country’s next big star! A trip to New York should also include a trip to Carnegie Hall to experience its historical musical excellence.
Now, if music history and paying tribute to legendary artists is of more interest to you, a trip to London’s Abbey Road is in order. While it’s well known that the Beatles recorded at the famed studio – and named their final album after the road – other legendary musicians, such as Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga, have recorded hits at the landmark. Another famous tourist attraction across the pond is the Paris grave site of Jim Morrison. On any given day, hordes of people surround the tombstone of the American rock legend even though it’s been nearly 50 years since his passing.