The whinnies of quarter horses ring out across Barnfly Stables, where a trainer with more than 15 years of experience coaches steeds to take their riders' lead. The teacher breaks animals through groundwork and exercises in accordance with a training curriculum molded around ranch-riding and ranch-trail techniques, as well as reversing horses' rebellious behavior or sarcastic retorts. In addition to priming horses for riding or shows, staffers also breed affection for four-legged friends during lessons. Pupils of all ages master safety, grooming, and proper trotting techniques during sessions built on effective communication between the rider the ridden. They also season competitors for battle by honing techniques, such as barrel jumps, atop horses gussied up with stylish tack from Barnfly Stables' online shop.
With classic replica airsoft guns aimed, teams navigate a 25,000-square-foot indoor battlefield. Within the battlefield's three playing areas, gun-toters conceal themselves behind stacks of tires, stationary vehicles, and small wooden buildings. As combatants slink behind crates and boxes in the shadows, opposing players ferret them out using the light affixed to their weapons and a streaming fire of plastic BBs zipping at speeds up to 375 feet per second. Game play in the radioactive room commences under the glow of black lights that turn the graffiti-laden grounds phosphorescent and opponents' teeth bluer than their songs about battles lost. Adjacent to the battleground, airsoft enthusiasts mingle in the lounge space equipped with a retail shop, party area, and arcade for parties and group events.
A log cabin sits huddled in the woods as breezes sway rolling grasses and flowerbeds across the 1,120 acres that surround it. A Federal-style mansion stands tall against the sky, its columns flanking a towering front door and presidential balcony. Carrying on a 200-year tradition, The Hermitage tells the story of the presidential family, its plantation's slave population, and the atmosphere of the time through 32 historic buildings and more than a dozen archaeological sites.
The mansion and visitor center boast 3,000 original objects and 800,000 archaeological artifacts on display, as well as 1,200 printed items, 3,000 photographs, and 800 manuscripts bearing the president's original handwriting and cappuccino stains. The mansion's Greek-revival woodwork and mantels frame original wallpaper, and glass cases hold Andrew Jackson's authentic glasses, slippers, top hats, swords, and canes. Inside the visitor center, the Jacksons' actual private carriage guards a hallway leading to collections of artifacts from the plantation's slave families and communities. Most items in the collections were purchased directly from the Jackson family, though many artifacts were uncovered in the late 1800s by the historic Ladies' Hermitage Association when they broke ground for a new Olympic-sized swimming pool.
On the outdoor grounds, trained guides usher visitors to the first Hermitage, a log cabin where the Jackson family lived while the mansion was being built, and Alfred's Cabin, the preserved 1840s quarters of the former groundskeeper. In the garden, winding trails take visitors past period plants and the Grecian-style tombs of Andrew and Rachel Jackson. The rest of The Hermitage's grounds contain a network of winding walking trails, as well as grassy areas and cabins where museum staffers host events, weddings, and birthday parties. Across the grounds, interpreters in authentic period dress direct visitors to the sites of historic events and often train grade-school students to do the same through the center's special school programs.
When visitors walk between the 1853 Greek-revival mansion’s six solid-cut stone pillars, onto the portico, and through the heavy wood door, they might tour the rooms or learn to cook in its original kitchen. Originally founded by John Harding in 1807 for thoroughbred-horse breeding, the rolling grounds of Belle Meade Plantation now welcome seasonal tours and events ranging from book signings to art shows. Knowledgeable guides in period costumes lead tour groups through the building’s parlors and bedrooms and down a long central hallway to ascend the three floors via a circular cherry-wood staircase.
As groups wander the mansion and cross the grounds, guides divulge facts about famous visitors, such as President Cleveland and General Ulysses S. Grant, including the fact that they probably got scared of the dark just like normal people. During special tours, the staff demonstrates Southern cooking techniques and walks visitors through an herb garden or serves them lemonade or hot wassail with desserts. In an on-grounds winery, winemakers hold tastings of red and white varietals made from Tennessee grapes. Visitors can also clink wineglasses over Southern-style cuisine at the Harding House restaurant, located on the plantation grounds.
Operated by the nonprofit Country Music Foundation, this monument to the genre’s local and international history honors inductees—including the inaugural trio of Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and Fred Rose—with bronze plaques in a vast rotunda. The core permanent exhibit, Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music, traces country from its pre-commercial roots in the 19th century to its current place in the entertainment industry with hallmarks such as photos, original recordings, and 10-gallon hats still filled with whiskey. On the packed event calendar, a quarterly Poets and Prophets series honors legendary songwriters, and weekly instrument demonstrations reveal artists' deft finger work. At the onsite Frist Library and Archive, patrons can explore more than four decades of historical media, from fan-club newsletters to Johnny Cash's amateur photographs of dogs dressed in striped prison jumpsuits.