Nashville touts itself as the "Athens of the South," and it's brimming with musical creativity.
GETTING THERE From LAX, American and Southwest fly nonstop to Nashville. Southwest offers direct service (stop, no change of plane). United, Continental, Northwest, US Airways, Delta, Midwest Express and Frontier offer connecting service (change of planes). Restricted round-trip fares begin at $374.
WHERE TO STAY Hampton Inn Vanderbilt, 1919 West End Ave.; (615) 329-1144, http://www.hamptoninnnashville.com . Doubles from $129.
Union Station, 1001 Broadway; (615) 726-1001, http://www.wyndham.com . Doubles from $179.
WHERE TO EAT Catfish House, 598 Sam Ridley Parkway, Smyrna; (615) 459-3473, http://www.catfishrestaurants.com . Catfish fillet dinner: $8.99; all you can eat: $12.99.
ACTIVITIES Bluebird Cafe, 4104 Hillsboro Pike; (615) 383-1461, http://www.bluebirdcafe.com . The customers have so much respect for the songwriters, there's not even a need for the license plate near the front door that reads "Shhh." Admission varies; reservations advised.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, 222 5th Ave. S.; (615) 416-2001, http://www.countrymusichalloffame.com . A Ray Charles salute runs through December. Adults: $17.95 for admission and tour; RCA Studio B, an additional $8.95 for adults.
Grand Ole Opry, 2804 Opryland Drive; (800) 733-6779, http://www.opry.com . One of the great traditions in pop culture. Adults: $32.50 to $47.50. Book ahead.
Ryman Auditorium, 116 5th Ave. N., (615) 889-3060, http://www.ryman.com . Adults: $12.50. Backstage tour: $3.75 extra.