Music lover’s guide to the USA

17 September 2018

Create your perfect trip to the USA based on your favourite tunes with our guide to the best music cities in the USA. The birthplace of jazz, Motown, the blues and many other genres, the USA is a dream destination for any music lover.


Nashville, Tennessee

The cornerstone of country music has plenty to offer. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Ryman Auditorium to learn about the Grand Ole Opry, an American icon. Book tickets and head to the star attraction itself to watch a country legend on stage before taking a backstage tour.

If intimate events are more your thing, visit The Bluebird Café, a 90-seat venue that has seen some of the most significant songwriters and artists on its stage. In the heart of downtown Nashville is the top music museum in the world according to Forbes, Condé Nast and National Geographic Traveler – the Johnny Cash Museum. Of if you’re more of a Dolly Parton fan, travel to her famous theme park Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, with rides, an interactive Dolly Parton Museum and a replica of her childhood home.

[…] We headed to RCA Studio B for a great tour of this famous studio where Elvis and others recorded many tracks. After a great concert and tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame, it was off to Martins Bar-B-Que Joint for lunch. Then it was the Ryman Auditorium, and then the Johnny Cash Museum. What a day.”

Andy, Travel Counsellor


Cleveland & Clarksdale, Mississippi

Take a trip to where the blues began. Dockery Plantation, a 25,600-acre cotton plantation and sawmill on the Sunflower River between Ruleville and Cleveland, is widely regarded as the place where Delta blues was invented by cotton picker Charley Patton in the early 1900s. Famous bluesmen Robert Johnson, Henry Sloan, Son House and Howlin' Wolf all played at the legendary plantation.

Then head to the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale. Next door at Blues Alley, you’ll find Ground Zero Blues Club, where you can enjoy a drink as you listen to the best of today's Delta Blues musicians.



New Orleans, Louisiana

The birthplace of jazz and to the jazz great Louis Armstrong oozes world-class jazz from every pore. Listen to some top-notch jazz in one of Bourbon Street's oldest live Jazz clubs, the legendary Jazz Parlour, where many iconic jazz musicians served their apprenticeships. Trace Armstrong’s steps with a New Orleans Jazz History Tour by John McCusker, then take a Steamboat Natchez dinner jazz cruise to get a feel of where his success began on a riverboat.

Head to the New Orleans Jazz Museum in the Old US Mint to check out a world-famous collection that includes Louis Armstrong’s first cornet, his iconic handkerchief and hundreds of letters and recordings. You might even get a chance to catch the venue’s live jazz, hosted twice a week in its state-of-the-art performance hall.


Memphis, Tennessee

Must-sees here are the legendary Sun Studio, where music legends including Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash recorded, and Graceland, Elvis's beloved home and the world's most famous rock 'n' roll residence. Listen to some blues at Will Bill's, a delta blues museum and juke joint five minutes behind iconic Beale Street in the historic district. Or on a Sunday listen to the Reverend Al Green lead the choir in Full Gospel Tabernacle Church on Hale Road.

Detroit, Michigan

Discover the birthplace of Motown by Berry Gordy with a visit to the Motown museum. See where music icons such as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye and The Jackson 5 recorded hits in their heydays. Then head to the famous Cliff Bells, a legendary restored Art Deco nightclub with live jazz.

Cleveland, Ohio

The phrase ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ was coined here by a radio disc jockey. Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with seven floors, four movie theatres and both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Enjoy 30+ years of performance highlights through the museum’s Power of Rock Experience. Alternatively, head to Severance Hall to watch the Cleveland orchestra in the most beautiful setting.


New York City, New York

Credited as the birthplace of genres including punk, hip-hop and disco, and with musical luminaries including Aaron Copland, JAY-Z, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, Lady Gaga, the Talking Heads and Burt Bacharach on its roll call, New York City attracts music-lovers from around the world for its blues, jazz, salsa, rap and electronica.

See singer-songwriters getting their start in neighbourhood cafés, watch rising stars command the stages in standing-room-only clubs, and admire legends headlining sold-out concerts. Pay homage to John Lennon at Strawberry Fields near the Dakota Apartments where he died in 1980, and visit the Apollo Theatre, the world-famous venue in Harlem that opened in 1914 for African-American patrons and continues to draw fans eager to hear the next big star.


Discover the incredible musical history of the USA on your next holiday – contact your local Travel Counsellor for more information.

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