If you’re a music lover, you’re probably thinking of visiting one of America’s best music museums. After all, the holidays have arrived and what can be better than visiting a musical shrine? Whether your interest is rock, jazz, hip hop or country, there is an American music museum for you to help celebrate the holiday season.
Please check with your favorite museum to learn of any health and safety policies that in place. Advance reservations are highly recommended.
America’s 10 Best Music Museums
Country Music Hall of Fame (CMHF)
222 Rep. John Lewis Way
Nashville, CA 37203
The Country Music Hall of Fame is the most important museum dedicated to the country music genre. Moreover, it’s one of the world’s largest museums to pay tribute to American vernacular music. The museum chronicles the development of country music, whose birthplace is Bristol, Tennessee. However, it also holds a large collection of memorabilia from the biggest names in country music. Don’t forget to visit the museum’s rotunda, honoring the inductees of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
RCA Studio B
1611 Roy Acuff Pl.
Nashville, TN 37203
One of the world’s most famous recording studios is a must-see in Nashville. Under ownership of the Country Music Hall of Fame, RCA Studio B is credited for creating the Nashville Sound. Many of the era’s most famous artists have recorded here. In particular, are Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Roy Orbison. Your visit will be part of a tour, with departures daily from the Country Music Hall of Fame. Please know that tickets are currently limited for tours of RCA Studio B. However, if you do go, you can get your picture taken at the famous Elvis Steinway piano.
Elvis Presley Blvd.
Memphis, TN 38116
Upon first impression, you think of Graceland as of the home of Elvis Presley. On the other hand, there is so much more at the 200,00 square foot entertainment complex. In fact, there is more than just one music museum and places to dine. First off is the Elvis the Entertainer Career Museum, with memorabilia like original clothing and gold records. Then there is the Presley Motors Automobile Museum, with several of his automobiles including the Pink Cadillac. In December, there will be Graceland Christmas Tours, with holiday decorations inside and outside his Mansion. If you just can’t get enough of Graceland, you can also stay a few nights at the Guesthouse at Graceland. The four-star hotel is on the property, just .4 miles from the mansion.
800 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
If you’re in LA for the holidays, then the Grammy Museum is the music place to be. This is especially true if LA Live is part of your holiday itinerary. There are four levels of music-related exhibits, including the popular “Mono to Immersive” permanent display. Of course, there is a Michal Jackson memorial exhibit and several GRAMMY Awards on display. Don’t forget to have your picture taken on the red carpet! In case you aren’t in LA, you can also visit other Grammy Museums across the country. These music museums are in Nashville, Cleveland, Mississippi and Newark New Jersey.
2648 W. Grand Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48208
The legendary museum that created the Motown Sound is closed until next summer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t see the exterior of the two famous structures. To put it another way, you can see the place where some of the most famous soul songs were recorded. For example, “My Girl”, “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Dancing in the Street” were all recorded here. Fortunately, you can visit the new Motown Museum retail store, near Greektown Casino-Hotel. On the other hand, the Motown Museum is expected to reopen in the summer of 2022. You can check with the official website for any updates to highly anticipated grand reopening.
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Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop)
325 Fifth Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98109
You’re very lucky if you happen to be in Seattle over the holidays. For one thing, you have the chance to visit the Museum of Pop Culture. Obviously MoPop doesn’t sound like a music museum. However, if you’ve never been there, you are in for a great surprise. To begin with, you can view an enormous collection of music memorabilia. To clarify, there’s an extensive collection of clothing and instruments from artists like Jimi Hendrix and Pearl Jam. Equally important to see is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)
4725 E Mayo Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85050
If you’re in the Phoenix area, then you will enjoy a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum. In fact, it’s the world’s largest museum of its kind. Indeed, the museum has a collection of 15,000 musical instruments from nearly 200 countries. You can view the instruments across multiple galleries on two floors. Among the highlights are instruments used by John Lennon, Taylor Swift and Elvis Presley. In fact, Lennon composed his famous song “Imagine” on the Steinway piano on display. The Musical Instrument Museum hosts ongoing special events all year. For instance, the legendary trumpet player Herb Alpert will appear for a live concert June 3-4, 2022.
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Musicians Hall of Fame Museum (MHOF)
401 Gay St.
Nashville, TN 37219
Often overlooked by visitors to Nashville, this music museum should be on your bucket list. Much like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this museum has an extensive collection of music memorabilia. However, it differs from the Rock Hall by honoring artists from any music genre. Nevertheless, there are some notable rock items to see. In fact, there is the piano used by John Lennon and one of Jimi Hendrix’s guitars. While there, you should additionally see the Grammy Museum Gallery, included with admission.
New Orleans Jazz Museum
400 Esplanade Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70116
Of all of America’s most notable jazz museums, you should visit the New Orleans Jazz Museum. After, the distinctly American music genre was developed here during the early 20th century. What’s more, it houses the world’s largest collection of jazz instruments owned by notable musicians. This includes instruments owned by Sidney Bechet, Dizzy Gillespie and Bix Beiderbecke. If that’s not enough, NOLA Jazz Museum is just a short walk from the French Quarter.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF)
1109 E Ninth St.
Cleveland, OH 44114
If you love rock and roll music, then the Rock Hall is for you. Set in the city that coined the phrase “rock and roll” it also holds the world’s largest collection of rock memorabilia. For example, you can see outfits worn by the Beatles and Elton John. Memorabilia from contemporary artists like Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish are also on display. You can expect a visit of at least 2.5 hours to see most everything. Still the Rock Hall has had its share of criticism in the way it inducts new honorees. On the other hand, many music artists consider induction as a pinnacle of success.
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Stax Museum of American Soul Music
926 E McLemore Ave.
Memphis, TN 38106
Part of Detroit’s musical fame is the legendary Hitsville U.S.A. However you can’t discount Memphis as the Birthplace of Rock and Roll. While Sun Studios is a bucket list attraction, Stax Museum is a must-see attraction. Like Mototown, Stax has its own share of some of the biggest names of its time. To detail, artists like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and Booker T. & the MGs all recorded at Stax. The studio is now part of the museum and also features collectibles like Isaac Hayes’ Cadillac El Dorado.
About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com.
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