There's no shortage of historic country music sites across the U.S. Everyone knows about The Ryman Auditorium (the Mother Church of Country Music), The Grand Ole Opry House and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum - all beloved venues that should be honored. But what about the lesser known sites? After the recent loss of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, we should make a point to visit country's historic landmarks and buildings to show their importance in shaping the music we love. Here are 12 historic country music landmarks for music lovers to add to their travel bucket list.
12. Patsy Cline House
Patsy Cline's home in Winchester, Va. is a must-see for fans of the country legend. Patsy spent the majority of her life outside of Nashville in the idyllic house, which is open to visitors seven days a week.
Cline's grave is located nearby in Shenandoah Memorial Park, where a giant bell tower was erected in her honor.
Patsy Cline House: 608 S Kent S
11. Shreveport Municipal Auditorium
The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, La. was the home of the Louisiana Hayride, which would host a slew of country superstars, including Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Faron Young. Perhaps most notably, the Hayride helped launch the career of Elvis Presley. Following a riotous set by the King in 1956, the program director and emcee Horace Logan had no choice but to inform the audience of screaming young fans that Elvis had "left the building," which would become a oft-repeated closing statement at Presley's live shows.
Today, a statue of Presley stands outside the auditorium.
Shreveport Municipal Auditorium: 705 Grand Ave, Shreveport, LA 71101
10. Carter Family Fold
The Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Va. carries on the legacy of The Carter Family (Sara, A.P. and Maybelle Carter), the "first family of country music." The Carter Family Memorial Music Center was founded by Janette Carter, the daughter of A.P. and Sara Carter, and hosts regular live music performances.
Carter Family Fold: 3449 A P Carter Hwy, Hiltons, VA 24258
9. Jimmie Rodgers Birthplace
Jimmie Rodgers was one of country music's first superstars. The "Blue Yodeler" grew up in Meridian, Miss. and the town is incredibly proud of their hometown hero. Meridian has a Jimmie Rodgers memorial, monument and museum to celebrate the legend's contribution to country music.
Jimmy Rodgers Museum: 1200 22nd Ave Meridian, MS 39301
8. Johnny Cash's Boyhood Home
Any country music fan knows that an artist's upbringing can shape their music. Johnny Cash was no exception. The Man in Black grew up in the Dyess Colony in Dyess, Ark., which was created as part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to help ease hardships created by the Great Depression. The Cash family home is furnished as it was when Johnny was a boy.
Can't get enough Cash? Be sure to visit the Johnny Cash Museum in downtown Nashville.
110 Center Dr, Dyess, AR 72330
7. Grinder's Switch, Tenn. (Home of Minnie Pearl)
There may not be much to Minnie Pearl's hometown of Grinder's Switch, but that's kinda the point. The beloved country comedian and Grand Ole Opry star frequently made references to Grinder's Switch, a town filled with lovable country characters. Grinder's Switch is actually a small spot in the road in Centerville, Tenn., where a young Minnie Pearl (Sarah Ophelia Cannon) would go with her father. Today, you can stop by the Grinder's Switch Winery in Centerville and raise a glass to Minnie.
6. Cheatham Street Warehouse
The unassuming Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas holds an important piece of country music history. The Cheatham Street stage is where George Strait played his first shows back when he was a student at Texas State. Cheatham Street founder Kent Finlay was an early champion of Strait's music and even drove the Texas singer to record his first demos in Nashville.
Finlay also created a weekly Songwriters Circle that spawned Texas artists like James McMurtry, Bruce Robison and Randy Rogers.
119 Cheatham St, San Marcos, TX 78666
5. The Bluebird Cafe
Perhaps no place is more important to Nashville songwriters than the Bluebird Cafe. The venue opened in 1982. Since then, singer-songwriters have clamored to play in the esteemed listening room. In 1987, Garth Brooks was signed to Capitol Records after a record executive caught his showcase at the Bluebird. Years later, a 14-year-old Taylor Swift would play there.
4104 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215
Read More: 8 Things You Didn't Know About Elvis Presley's Graceland in Memphis
4. The Broken Spoke Dance Hall
The Broken Spoke is one of the last true Texas dance halls. Founded in 1964 by James White, the Spoke is a giant helping of old school Texas honky tonk in the middle of Austin. Country legends from Willie Nelson to Strait have played the on the iconic stage.
3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
3. Butcher Holler
Butcher Holler is the heart of Loretta Lynn. It's the Kentucky homeplace where the Coal Miner's Daughter gained inspiration to write so many of her classic country hits. Visiting the Queen of Country's homeplace may be the closest we get to meeting the country legend herself.
2. Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Ala.
No country music history road trip is complete without a visit to the final resting place of Hank Williams. Thousands visit the Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Ala. to pay their respects to one of country music's greatest singer-songwriters.
829 Columbus St, Montgomery, AL 36104
1. Bristol, Tenn. and Bristol, Va.
Nashville may be Music City, but Bristol, a town that straddles the Tennessee-Virginia state line, is the birthplace of country music. The 1927 Bristol Sessions featured the first recordings of The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. The songs recorded during those sessions created a nationwide interest in country music and are still considered to be some of the most important recordings in the history of the genre. Bristol's Birthplace of Country Music Museum showcases recordings and artifacts from the Bristol Sessions as well as a variety of exhibits on the history of country music in the region.
Birthplace of Country Music Museum: 101 Country Music Way, Bristol, VA 24201
This story originally ran on Aug. 15, 2017. It was updated on July 1, 2022.
READ MORE: Ernest Tubb Record Shop: Artists Respond to the Imminent Loss of a Traditional Country Music Haven
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