Welcome to Music City: Home of APCO 2023

The growing metropolis of Nashville offers visitors its culture, cuisine and friendly atmosphere.

By Patrice Coleman and Jennifer Schwendimann

Nashville, Tennessee, welcomes attendees to the APCO Annual Conference & Expo August 6-9. Known as “Music City,” Nashville is the capital and the largest city in Tennessee. It is in Davidson County, which has approximately 700,000 residents, while the metropolitan Nashville statistical area (composed of several counties) is home to over 2 million.

People may associate Music City solely with country music. However, the name may date from the 1870s before country music was a thing. That’s when Britain’s Queen Victoria saw the city’s Fisk Jubilee Singers on tour and she declared, according to a February 19, 2019, Tennessean newspaper article, that the singers must come from a “city of music.”

Upholding the queen’s judgment 150 years later, Nashville was ranked number one in 2022 by the real estate website Clever as “Best Music Cities in the U.S.” Nashville is also home to professional sports teams NFL Tennessee Titans, MLS Nashville Soccer Club, NHL Nashville Predators and Minor League Baseball Nashville Sounds. It was named among the “Top 10 Friendliest Cities in the U.S.” by Condé Nast Traveler (February 2022), number 5 for “Best Destinations for City Lovers in the United States” by Trip Advisor (March 2022) and in the top 5 for the “South’s Best Cities” by Southern Living in 2022 and 2023. In 2022, 14.4 million tourists visited the city.

This will be the second time Tennessee has hosted the APCO Conference. Tennessee hosted the 68th Annual APCO International Conference and Exposition in 2002 when the conference was held at the historic Opryland Hotel and Convention Center. While the Opryland Hotel is still going strong, several other hotels and convention centers have joined it. For those who attended in 2002, you may notice a significant difference in the Nashville skyline. The city has experienced substantial growth over the past 21 years.

For those wanting to participate in the Nashville experience, there are several things to do within walking distance of the conference venue and hotels. August 6 will culminate Music City Grand Prix weekend (INDYCAR Series). This event’s starting point is Nissan Stadium, and the path will travel on downtown roads near the conference hotels. The Swell Season is scheduled to perform at the Ryman Auditorium on August 8, while the “Happy Together”’ tour takes place on August 9. Around the block from the Ryman, you will find the 5th & Broad Plaza. The plaza houses the African American Museum of Music, retail shops, eateries (including the originator of Nashville hot chicken) and features live music. Located on Broadway Avenue, the Frist Art Museum will feature art from English author Beatrice Potter during August. You may choose to take a tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Broadway scene (Nashville’s popular hotspot) provides an array of live music establishments and exposure to party buses and pedal taverns.

Less than 10 miles away from the conference venue, you will find the popular Grand Ole Opry, with scheduled shows. Trendy areas such as 12th South and the Gulch have beautiful murals where there is usually a line for photo opportunities. The Minor League Nashville Sounds will be hosting games. For the car enthusiast, there is the Lane Motor Museum. The Nashville Zoo and Cheekwood Botanical Garden are also on Nashville’s list of summer spots. If you’re interested in ancient history, the Nashville Parthenon is impressive and worth a visit.

Nashville’s food staple is hot chicken, and multiple restaurants offer the dish on their menu (including Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, owned by the original hot chicken family). While you may find hot chicken on menus across the country, locals will tell you that Nashville’s hot chicken is hard to duplicate. The city also offers well-known barbeque restaurants and other cuisines that will please the palate.

If you will be traveling through Nashville International Airport (BNA), rideshare options and private transportation are available. Plan accordingly for your wait time when scheduling your airport pickup if you decide to enjoy the live music scene inside the airport terminal. Rental car counters are on the ground-level of BNA.

The average August high temperature in Nashville is 89 degrees, while the average low temperature is 68 degrees. In August, humidity is high, and it will feel much hotter than the actual temperature.

If you want to explore the Volunteer State, the Smoky Mountains, country music, moon pies and Jack Daniels all come to mind. As do the cities — Memphis lies approximately three hours west of Nashville and is home to Graceland, blues-inflected Beale Street and the Lorraine Hotel. Chattanooga is home to Ruby Falls and is two hours from Nashville. In east Tennessee, Knoxville is a three-hour drive. These destinations represent just a few places that exemplify the rich history of a state
known for its beauty and southern charm.

Tennessee encompasses stark geographical differences in each of the three grand divisions. Flat low-lying agricultural landscapes dominate west Tennessee. Central Tennessee (the home of Nashville) includes rolling hills and mountains. It is separated from the even more mountainous east Tennessee by the Cumberland plateau.

Nashville and the state of Tennessee have a lot to offer and too much to include on a single list. Plan and pack to enjoy! See you in August ready to learn, network and give back.

Patrice Coleman, MBA, RPL, ENP, serves as the Training & Quality Assurance Manager for Metro Nashville and has been in public safety communications for 21 years. She serves on the Tennessee APCO Board. Jennifer Schwendimann is Tennessee Emergency Communications Board Training Coordinator. She is Tennessee APCO immediate past president and Executive Council representative.