So you’ve hopped off the plane at LAX with your dreams, your cardigans and probably your jet lag. But no doubt your excitement is reaching a crescendo. There is so much for families to see in America, but also plenty to listen to. Jump on the bandwagon and tour America’s best music cities for a harmonic history of the nation’s heart, soul and rock n’ roll.
Seattle – Grunge
Here we are now – entertain us! This Washington seaside city is sure to do just that. Seattle launched the 1990s punk-metal fusion known as grunge, with a line-up including Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. The Kurt Cobain memorial will strike a chord for die-hard fans. MoPOP, or the Museum of Pop Culture, will be a huge hit with kids and teens. It houses some of the coolest Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana and Pearl Jam memorabilia you can find. Click here to read a story on Seattle’s best family attractions.
Nashville – Country Music
From Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash to early Taylor Swift, Nashville really is the ‘city of music’ for boot-scooting, toe-tapping troupes. Join a tour to go backstage at Grand Ole Opry, the radio show that has launched countless country music careers. Check out the amazing memorabilia collections and interactive exhibits at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Or change your tune and explore Nashville’s non-musical offerings, including the Adventure Science Center.
Memphis – Rock n’ roll/Soul
This Tennessee city on the Mississippi River has many a star-studded story to tell. Does the name Elvis Presley ring a bell? The King himself lived in Memphis – his former mansion ‘Graceland’ has become something of a rock n’ roll mecca. Even if you don’t pop into any bars or clubs with kids in tow, it is worth going for a stroll down the famous Beale Street. There is certainly a lot to look at, including BB King’s Blues Club. For more music madness, visit the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum and Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Otherwise, check out Children’s Museum of Memphis, Memphis Zoo, a Mississippi River Cruise and the Civil Rights Museum.
New Orleans – Jazz
Developing from African-American influence, few people contend the fact that jazz was born in New Orleans or ‘the Big Easy.’ Sadly not all jazz venues are family-friendly. Preservation Hall in the French Quarter hosts great all-ages nightly sets starting as early as 5 or 6pm. Be prepared to queue. Depending on the season, you can also enjoy daytime performances in outdoor venues throughout the city. While there, enjoy the New Orleans Museum of Art, Louis Armstrong Park, Canal Street ferry, historic carousel in City Park and Historic Train Garden.
New York City – Hip-hop
If your teens are fans of the Netflix series ‘The Get Down,’ or fancy themselves Rap Gods, chances are you’ll be heading to Harlem or The Bronx. From 1970s block parties in these New York City boroughs came the rap, graffiti culture and b-boying (breakdancing) of hip-hop. Check out the Harlem Record Shack and the Bronx Wall of Fame on 161st Street. Then head to Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Natural History Museum, Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park and all the other New York icons.
Detroit – Mowtown
Detroit, also known as Motown and home to the music movement of the same name, made popular by Diana Ross and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5.
Chicago – The blues
The Blues runs strong in Illinois. The music followed the Great Migration of African Americans from the southern US to the industrial cities of the north.
The open-air market on Maxwell Street was a hive of Blues music in the 30’s and 40s.
If you can get a night off from the kids, or you’re travelling with older family (over 21), try Blue Chicago in the city’s North River district. This blues bar is a local favourite.
Miami – Latin
Salsa onto the set of Step Up 4 on the beaches of Miami. A hub of Latin Music and hip-hop genre of Miami Bass, this popular vacation spot in Florida also has a great zoo and Children’s Museum.