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Mississippi River Country’s iconic music districts

See where the music of America was born, from blues clubs on Beale Street to buskers in the French Quarter to Nashville's honkytonks.

Beale Street
Credit: Tennessee Tourism

Take a voyage through music history as you travel through Mississippi River Country. Jazz, blues, country—it was all born here in the heart of America. Dive into the sounds of music legends and modern-day practitioners in these unforgettable music districts.

Beale Street, Memphis

Just a couple blocks east of the Mississippi River in Memphis, you’ll find one of America’s most iconic streets and Tennessee’s top tourism attraction. Most of the action on Beale Street takes place in a three-block stretch that’s home to some of the best music venues in the country. Congress officially called Beale Street “the Home of the Blues,” and clubs and restaurants like Rum Boogie Cafe, B.B. King’s Blues Club, Silky O’Sullivan’s and the Hard Rock Cafe offer live entertainment nightly. The historic Orpheum Theater welcomes Broadway productions, stand-up acts, and live music, and Beale Street is also home to several shops and restaurants that are popular among visitors.

Lower Broadway, Nashville

About three hours east of Memphis in the center of Tennessee is Nashville, the country music capital of the world. You can find live music just about anywhere here—including at the Ryman Auditorium, “the Mother Church of Country Music”—but the true spirit of Nashville can be found in the honkytonks and bars on Lower Broadway, a couple blocks south of the Ryman. At places like Robert’s Western World, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and The Stage on Broadway, you can find live music every night… and maybe even spot a country legend sitting in for a set.

French Quarter, New Orleans

The oldest section of the city, New Orleans’ famous French Quarter is filled with restaurants, shops, music clubs and much more. Stroll along world-famous Bourbon Street, where you’ll find live entertainment year-round. Sample beignets at Café du Monde and explore the shops of the French Market. There’s a good chance you’ll encounter some live performances—musical, artistic or otherwise—while you’re out walking.

Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis

The Orpheum, State and Pantages theaters on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis (also known as “Theater Row”) attract Broadway shows and other top-tier entertainment. These theaters were all built in the 1910s and 1920s and have been restored to their original style but still accommodate modern audiences. Hennepin’s theatres have welcomed Broadway shows, concerts and comedy headlines—don’t miss your opportunity to take in a performance when you’re in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

18th and Vine, Kansas City

This historic district just east of downtown Kansas City offers a great combination of jazz, baseball and barbeque. Appearing on the National Register of Historic Places, this legendary neighborhood is recognized as one of the birthplaces of jazz music (Charlie Parker got his start here) and venues like The Blue Room, The Kansas City Juke House and Mutual Musicians Foundation attract jazz fans young and old. The American Jazz Museum shares a building with the neighboring Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and both are must-visits in Kansas City. The district is also home to one of Missouri’s legendary barbeque joints: Arthur Bryant’s.