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The Solo Traveler’s Guide to US Music Cities

The Solo Travelers Guide to US Music Cities featured

If you’re a fan of country music, Nashville is the place to be. Home to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the famous honky-tonks of Lower Broadway, Music City has a vibrant music scene perfect for solo travelers. Nashville is an interesting combination of old and new, traditional and modern. It is the heart of country music, with numerous live music venues and street performances that are sure to delight your musical senses. Country music enthusiasts should definitely check out the Ryman Auditorium, known as the Mother Church of Country Music. Here, you can attend live shows regularly and take a backstage tour to gain insights into the venue’s rich musical history. For the adventurous traveler, Nashville offers plenty of outdoor activities including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and hiking. In between sightseeing and music exploring, don’t forget to try some hot chicken, a local Nashville delicacy.

The Solo Traveler’s Guide to US Music Cities: New Orleans, Louisiana

Nashville honky-tonks

The Big Easy is an exciting destination that knows how to party and the music scene is one of its major attractions. From jazz and blues to zydeco and brass bands, you’ll find something for every musical taste in the city. A delightful way to explore New Orleans’ rich musical scene is by visiting the historic French Quarter. It has a lively atmosphere with street performers, local musicians and cafes. It is said that Frenchmen Street is the place to be for live music, with bands showcasing their talents in famous venues such as the Spotted Cat, Snug Harbor, and d.b.a. If you are in the mood for some unique musical experiences, you can catch a jazz funeral procession or a second-line parade. These parades are a blend of music and dance that reflect the dual cultural heritage of New Orleans.

The Solo Traveler’s Guide to US Music Cities: Memphis, Tennessee

Ryman Auditorium

Memphis is the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and a must-visit destination for music enthusiasts. The city provides ample opportunities to witness its rich musical heritage firsthand. Memphis is a true music lover’s paradise, with its numerous live music venues and street performances. The city is home to legendary Sun Studio, where artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded some of their most famous hits. You can take a guided tour of the studio and even record your own song. Beale Street is another destination you can’t miss. With live music venues like B.B. King’s Blues Club and the historic Club Handy, Beale Street is well-known for serving up a mix of Memphis-style blues and soul. If you want to delve into the city’s culinary culture, you can also explore the city’s barbecue scene, which is one of the best in the country.

The Solo Traveler’s Guide to US Music Cities: Austin, Texas

New Orleans French Quarter

Austin’s music scene is a perfect blend of diverse genres, ranging from traditional country to indie rock and blues to jazz. The city is often referred to as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” boasting over 250 live music venues. If you are a music lover, the iconic Continental Club is a must-visit destination. The venue has been hosting live music since 1955, showcasing some of the best artists in Texas. For the adventurous solos, the Broken Spoke is the perfect spot, especially if you love two-stepping. The city also hosts the famous South by Southwest festival, giving visitors the opportunity to catch some of the hottest up-and-coming artists. Outside the music scene, Austin has many outdoor activities and landmarks that will keep you busy. For instance, you can go kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking, or visit the beautiful Lady Bird Lake.

The Solo Traveler’s Guide to US Music Cities: Seattle, Washington

Second-line parade New Orleans

If you want to explore Seattle’s music scene, you are in for a treat. Seattle’s music scene is more diverse than you might expect, extending far beyond its famous grunge music culture. The city has an active indie music scene, with venues like the Crocodile and Neumos hosting up-and-coming artists. The Pike Place Market is home to street performers that will delight you with their music, adding up to the authentic Seattle music experience. If you want to immerse yourself further into the city’s music culture, a visit to the Experience Music Project Museum is a must. This museum features everything from Jimi Hendrix memorabilia to interactive music exhibits, making it a perfect place to spend an afternoon.

The Solo Traveler’s Guide to US Music Cities: New York City, New York

Sun Studio Memphis

New York City is often regarded as the cultural center of the United States, making it a perfect destination to explore the music scene. New York has an endless list of iconic music venues that cater to a variety of musical tastes. From Carnegie Hall and the Apollo Theater to Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, the options are vast. For jazz enthusiasts, Greenwich Village has a rich history in the folk music world, making places like the Blue Note and the Village Vanguard a must-visit. Since the city has diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, you can also explore music genres such as salsa and hip hop. The city has an endless list of activities outside of its music scene, making it a perfect destination for the solo traveler.

The Solo Traveler’s Guide to US Music Cities: Chicago, Illinois

Beale Street Memphis

Chicago’s music culture is dominated by blues and jazz, and the city’s music venues reflect that heritage. Known for legendary blues clubs like Buddy Guy’s Legends and Kingston Mines, Blues music is very popular in the city. For jazz enthusiasts, the Jazz Showcase has been hosting live jazz since 1947. The city also has some of the best rock music venues in the country, like the Metro and the Empty Bottle. If you are in the mood for something unique, do not miss the opportunity to visit the Chicago Music Exchange, a mecca for musicians, and music lovers alike. Beyond music, the city has a vibrant cultural scene, including fascinating architectural gems like the Willis Tower, also known as the Sears Tower, and the John Hancock Observatory.

The Solo Traveler’s Guide to US Music Cities: San Francisco, California

Austin music venues

San Francisco’s music scene has made a significant contribution to the history of rock and roll with bands like Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin gaining their fame here. Venues like the Fillmore and the Great American Music Hall have been hosting live music for decades, showcasing bands from various music genres. The city has a thriving indie music scene, with bands like Girls and Ty Segall calling San Francisco home. The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood played a pivotal role in the counterculture movement of the ’60s, making it a great place for those interested in exploring the music and the history behind the neighborhood. In addition, San Francisco is home to many major landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and Fisherman’s Wharf, making it a perfect destination for the solo traveler.

The Solo Traveler’s Guide to US Music Cities: Detroit, Michigan

Seattle Pike Place Market

Detroit is the birthplace of Motown, making it one of the most coveted destinations for music lovers. The city has a vibrant techno scene, with the Movement Electronic Music Festival attracting thousands of visitors each year. Venues like the Magic Stick and the Fillmore host a variety of musical acts and events, making them well-known among musical circles. No music enthusiasts will want to leave the city without visiting the Motown Museum, which provides insights into the Motown sound that changed the course of music history. The museum includes a guided tour of the record label’s original studio and legendary artists’ memorabilia. You can also explore the city’s iconic landmarks such as the Renaissance Center, Walkerville Brewery, or even visit Canada on a day trip.

The Solo Traveler’s Guide to US Music Cities: Portland, Oregon

Chicago Blues club

Portland is often known for its craft beer and hipster culture, but the city’s music scene is worth exploring too. The city has a diverse range of musical genres with indie rock at the Crystal Ballroom, jazz in the famous Jimmy Mak’s, and even a symphony at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The city also has an active street music culture, from buskers to street performers, showcasing the city’s unique energy. If you are a music enthusiast, be sure to stop by Powell’s City of Books, where you can browse through an impressive collection of records. Outside the music scene, the city has lots to offer with its iconic landmarks such as the Japanese Gardens, Washington Park, or even taking a river cruise to explore the city.

Author: Caroline Hunter

Author: Caroline Hunter

Caroline Hunter is the ultimate travel chameleon - she can switch from a rugged backpacker to a glamorous hotel-goer in the blink of an eye. With a decade of solo traveling experience, she's collected tips and tricks from every corner of the globe. And now, she's generously sharing her secrets with us mere mortals who still struggle to pack a suitcase without forgetting something crucial. So, whether you're a fan of roughing it or prefer to indulge in luxury, Caroline's got you covered.

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