image 1 of 1
Find your perfect escape. View hotels.  

Find harmony on your next journey to these inspiring musical cities

The soundtrack to your city escape starts in these Southern cities, each with a proud musical legacy. | By Paul Oswell | February 1, 2023

Blues, jazz, country music and hip-hop are all thriving musical forms with long traditions in the South. By traveling to these euphonic destinations, you can experience some of the country’s best musicians playing in historically important venues. Make some musical memories with our suggestions for a harmonious vacation:

  • Nashville: Witness the legends of Music City with backstage tours and impressive musical museums

  • New Orleans: Just walking around the birthplace of jazz will inspire you, and you can even visit some timeless venues

  • Atlanta: The city is a cultural dynamo — enjoy a front row seat to everything from opera to pop music

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville’s nickname of Music City is well deserved. Many country music legends have shaped the character of the Tennessee capital, playing everywhere from dive bars to the Grand Ole Opry. Walking around downtown you’ll hear classic tunes emanating from almost every bar.

For a real insider’s experience, visit Third Man Records. Sign up for a private, behind-the-scenes tour to see the backstage lounges where celebrities have been known to hang out, as well as a recording studio and secret boutique concert venue. Sip a cocktail in the exclusive Blue Room Bar, surrounded by some of the most eclectic interior decoration in town.

Another must-see for music-lovers is the hi-tech National Museum of African American Music, which has a dazzling array of interactive exhibits that explore African American music from early spirituals through to modern day R&B and hip-hop.

If you can’t resist Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash, then head to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Private group tours can be booked for a truly bespoke experience. Stories Behind the Songs are presentations by local musicians, while the Inside Tracks session has you writing and recording your very own country song from scratch.

Top-class talent also plays live on Friday and Saturday nights at The Lounge at Blue Aster at Conrad Nashville. Enjoy the musical stylings as you sip a craft cocktail in the lounge’s sumptuous surroundings before a delicious dinner at the Blue Aster Restaurant, or a cutting-edge concoction with a nightcap at the hotel’s Thistle & Rye cocktail bar.

New Orleans

One thing you’ll notice in the Crescent City is that music is everywhere. There’s a near-constant soundtrack as you move around the city, and buskers are more likely to be full brass bands than one person with a guitar. You’ll probably want to find some jazz, though, and you can easily discover a showcase of local talent at any of the authentic clubs on Frenchmen Street.

Take in one of several daily shows at Preservation Hall, a charming and historical music venue. Book ahead for the front two rows to be treated to some of the city’s most revered musical talent playing Dixieland classics right in front of you.

The climate in New Orleans is usually quite amenable, and an al-fresco jazz brunch blends the city’s best elements: music and food. The Court of Two Sisters has an elegant courtyard, and their daily live jazz brunch buffet is a civilized way to start your day. You can savor Cajun and Creole delicacies such as turtle soup and shrimp etouffee while the house band strikes up a tune on the sun-dappled patio.

The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, has a storied musical history: All the jazz greats have played in the legendary Blue Room, now a sophisticated ballroom for private events. You can sip a Sazerac cocktail at The Sazerac Bar as you listen to modern-day greats, and there’s a live band in the hotel’s stylish Fountain Room most weekends. Best of all, you can walk from the hotel to some of New Orleans’ best jazz clubs, including Fritzel’s European Jazz Club on Bourbon Street and Palm Court Jazz Cafe on Decatur Street.


Atlanta is staking a serious claim to being the modern capital of the New South. The city has long been a hotbed of musical talent, with globally famous names regularly lighting up the charts. Atlanta is just as comfortable talking up its pop stars as it is its symphony orchestras, and there’s something here for all musical tastes.

For contemporary music, The Tabernacle is one of the most in-demand concert halls in town. Booking premium seats here allows you access to a private bar, a dedicated entrance and your own personal concierge while you relax and enjoy the show. If your musical tastes are a little more traditional, then you can catch everything from touring Broadway shows to world-class ballet and opera at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, a cutting-edge arts complex with true cross-cultural appeal.

If you’re a fan of jazz, then you’ll find some of the city’s smoothest performers at Brassica Bar at Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead. Every Thursday evening, this intimate cocktail bar has live music as elegant as its craft cocktail list. Brassica Restaurant also hits the right notes with its menu of elevated Southern classics and the ambiance of a high-end French brasserie.

Music can be an evocative part of your vacation, and these Southern cities are home to some of the country’s most thriving music scenes. Whatever your preferences, from jazz to country, or from hip-hop to opera, you can find truly exceptional experiences in these inspiring musical destinations. Create your own vacation soundtrack, and you’ll be humming along to those musical memories for years to come.

Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer, and has been reporting from all seven continents for over twenty years. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small.”

Find your stay