Music Lovers, Listen Up—These Are the Greatest American Landmarks to Visit
At first listen, a great song can be transformative. But have you ever wondered where they originated? Travel across the country to museums, recording studios, artists collectives, and celebrity estates where these songs were first written, played, and recorded by the most famed musicians of our generation—not to mention, see their collected instruments and iconography on display. No matter what your chosen genre is—jazz, blues, rock 'n' roll, or soul—these music meccas offer a bit of history on the sound of our country.
FAME Recording Studios
Grace the very rooms where Etta James, Aretha Franklin, the Allman Brothers, and others pioneered a warm, soulful style of southern rock called the Muscle Shoals Sound, named for the Alabama town where this creative hub still operates. At the Florence Alabama Music Enterprises, otherwise known as FAME studios, you can tour where some of the greatest recordings of all time were first heard.
The infectious chart-toppers recorded in this building in the '60s and '70s put Detroit on the national stage. At the Motown Museum, get up close to the instruments and equipment that the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and the Temptations used in the carefully preserved Studio A, aka "Hitsville USA."
Go crazy in Prince's former estate and creative headquarters Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota. A new exhibition includes more than 300 pairs of his shoes, including the sequined stiletto boots he wore when accepting the Oscar for Best Original Song Score in 1985, for "Purple Rain."
Before there was a Prince, there was the King—and Elvis Presley's stately mansion known as Graceland has long been a pilgrimage site for rock and roll fans. On the interactive tour of his estate-turned-museum, you'll have the chance to hear commentary and stories by Elvis and his daughter, Lisa Marie, and peek into the famous Jungle Room, walk among his automobiles including the iconic Pink Cadillac, and see his collection of gold and platinum records on display.
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
The site of Woodstock is considerably less muddy and debaucherous than it was in 1969 when a crowd of 400,000 showed up to listen to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who, and Janis Joplin. Still, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts immortalizes the 800-acre park in upstate New York with continual programming; there, you can still check out live music and visit a museum with its award-winning main exhibit on "Woodstock and the Sixties."