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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Grab your hat and boots, we’re going to Nashville!

From left to right: Dana Hungerford ’23, Juliana Hackett ’23, Natalie Brislin ’23, Claudia Fithian ’23 and Arianna Markatos ’23 in Nashville during fall break. PHOTO COURTESY OF NATALIE BRISLIN ’23/THE HAWK

A new destination has risen to the top of “must-visit” lists among college students looking to travel with friends: the capital of country music, Nashville, Tennessee.  

Nashville has seen a continually climbing growth in tourism over the last several years. It was dubbed the “it city” by the New York Times in 2013, and in 2019, over 14 million people visited. In 2021, Nashville’s tourism industry generated $24.2 billion dollars from domestic and international travel. Visitors are expected to spend $286 per day while in the city.

“Nashville has quickly emerged as one of the most vibrant, genuine and sought-after cities to visit in recent years and for good reason,” said Rachel Finnerty, public relations manager from the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “Nashville boasts a friendly and innovative spirit with a rich history and deep appreciation for all genres of music and a creative culture that pervades the city.” 

Nino Aquino ’23 visited Nashville during Fall Break last year. He said he and his friends decided to go after hearing about the city from students who went the previous year.

“We were like, ‘Okay, why don’t we go and see it,’” Aquino said. “I’d never been to Nashville. I’d heard it’s a nice place, a nice city, a really big country town, and a lot of my friends are big country [music] fans.” 

Country music is engraved into the very foundation of Nashville. Settlers from the 1700s were known for playing the fiddle after journeys on the Cumberland River, which runs through the city. In the 1800s, people came to Nashville to publish their music, and a group from the local Fisk University, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, embarked on the first-ever world tour in 1873. After performing in front of Queen Victoria, she said they must have come from a “city of music.”

Nashville continued to live up to this title in the 1930s as speakeasies and dance halls on Jefferson Street in downtown Nashville grew. During the 1960s, Nashville’s night clubs hosted stars such as Otis Redding, Little Richard and Etta James. To this day, Nashville draws musicians from around the world, surrounding them with opportunities to perform. In the span of any five days, over 300 musicians will perform in the over 180 live music venues all over Nashville. 

Jorie Fawcett, life editor of The Vanderbilt Hustler, the student newspaper at Vanderbilt University located in Nashville’s Midtown neighborhood, said students often take advantage of the many events all over town. 

“There’s so many artists coming all the time because they’re trying to get their feet wet,” Fawcett said. “I’ve been exposed to a lot of musical artists that I wouldn’t have been exposed to if I had gone to school in Ohio or literally anywhere else.” 

For students 21 and up, Nashville’s Lower Broadway district is particularly famous for its “honky tonks,” bars dubbed for the style of music played by live bands throughout the day. A few of the most well-known honky tonks include Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and Nudie’s Honky Tonk. However, Broadway doesn’t just host honky tonks; the street features over 32 bars, all right next to each other. A few of the more modern favorites include Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row and Jason Aldean’s Kitchen and Rooftop Bar.

 For Aquino, while the bars were fun to visit, it was the music that was the best part of his trip. 

“My favorite part of Nashville was just to see the city at night and seeing the whole ambiance of every bar having live music,” Aquino said. 

Broadway lit up on a Friday Night. PHOTO: NATALIE BRISLIN ’23/THE HAWK

Bonus: none of the bars have cover charges. 

Katelyn Messina ’23 worked remotely for a company in Nashville last summer, visiting the company’s offices twice in June and August, and she loved both the attitude of the people and the experiences available. 

“I definitely like a high energy, fun vibe, and I feel like that’s how Nashville was. Everybody was just having fun,” Messina said. “I got to go to an axe throwing place, do different things, so that was cool.” 

Aquino said he definitely enjoyed his trip and, given the opportunity, he would go back “in a heartbeat.” 

“I feel like every college student has to experience some sort of trip before they graduate, like if it’s down the shore, if it’s tropical islands, but Nashville is a truly unique place,” Aquino said. “I thought with the city being so urban and so hip, and with the live music and overall atmosphere, it’s something that cannot be compared to any other destination that you want to go to to spend time with your friends.” 

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