From Bristol to Memphis, Tennessean music reporter Juli Thanki and photographer Shelley Mays document their journey and highlight a few musical treasures they found along Tennessee’s music highway.
Shelley Mays/The Tennessean

From east to west, Tennessee is littered with musical landmarks and historical sites worth a pilgrimage. Many of them are also the state’s most famous music venues, which you can find a list of here.

Beyond the live music rooms, here are the Tennessee spots every music lover should seek out.

Sun Studio, Memphis

The “birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll” — where Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash all made early, crucial recordings — is still standing today. It’s open for tours (and recording sessions).

Tours are $14.

More: 10 essential Tennessee music venues

More: Tennessee’s 10 best music festivals

More: The soundtrack of Tennessee: It’s the music that makes us


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Graceland, Memphis

Among Tennessee’s most famous tourist spots, period. Elvis Presley’s Memphis estate has ballooned into a complex including the mansion, several museums and themed restaurants.

Standard ticket packages range from $38.75 to $159.

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Nashville

Nashville’s most famous honky-tonk on Lower Broadway was the hang of choice for Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline and countless other country greats.

Admission is free.

Tina Turner Museum, Brownsville

Before becoming a rock ‘n’ roll icon, Turner attended Flagg Grove School in Nutbush. The one-room schoolhouse was recently moved to…