19 Places Every Music Fan Should Visit Before They Die
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Strawberry Fields, Central Park, New York City
Covering 2.5 acres in New York City’s Central Park, Strawberry Fields was built as a memorial to John Lennon, who was killed outside the Dakota apartment building on 72nd Street and Central Park West, the place he lived for the latter part of his life. The centerpiece of Strawberry Fields is the “Imagine” mosaic, where fans often leave mementos or gather for remembrance and sharing music.
Paisley Park, Chanhassen, Minnesota
Whether Prince’s famed home and recording studio will eventually open as a museum à la Graceland is still a matter of controversy while Prince’s family sorts out his estate. In the meantime, fans can pay their respects to the Purple One at the makeshift memorial around the perimeter of the fenced-in property located in a Minneapolis suburb.
Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
Before there was a Prince, there was the King, and Elvis Presley’s stately mansion has long been a pilgrimage site for rock and roll fans. Visitors may tour the home and grounds year-round.
Kool Herc's Block, The Bronx, N.Y.
Designated “the official birthplace of hip hop,” the former home of DJ Kool Herc, also known as Clive Campbell, at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx is where Kool Herc threw a block party in 1973 that most regard as the inception point of hip hop. There’s not much to see at the housing complex, but that doesn’t stop fans from coming by to pay tribute to the genre’s origins.
Carter Family Fold, Hiltons, Virginia
Dedicated to preserving bluegrass and country music, the Carter Family Fold, named for A.P., Sara and Maybelle Carter (mother of June Carter Cash and mother-in-law to Johnny Cash), continues to put on weekly Saturday night shows, complete with down home music and clogging. You can also watch the weekly show online for $10.
Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas, Nevada
The biggest electronic music festival in the U.S. and among the biggest in the world, EDC’s flagship festival in Las Vegas hosted more than 400,000 fans in 2015. With offshoots now in Colorado, New York, Florida, Texas and elsewhere, electronic music festivals have their choice of locale.
Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee
With many sights for country music fans to visit, any trip to Nashville should include a tour of the Grand Ole Opry, home of the program that introduced most of America to country music. Tickets and backstage tours are available year-round.
Carnegie Hall, New York City
Practice, practice, practice is the punchline to the old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” But you can also get there by purchasing a concert ticket and taking a taxi or a subway to the world-renowned concert hall on 57th Street in New York City. Tours of the hall are available October through June, as the concert schedule permits.
Apollo Theater, New York City
Harlem’s Apollo Theater has earned its reputation, launching the careers of greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill and Ne-Yo. Amateur Nights continue at the Harlem venue most Monday evenings.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio
Situated on the shores of Lake Erie and designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, Cleveland’s Rock and Roll of Hall of Fame is home to some of the most iconic rock memorabilia in the world – including instruments played by your favorite guitar heroes and original handwritten lyrics to your favorite songs.
Coachella, Indio, California
Covering 600 acres in California’s Colorado desert, the Coachella Music and Arts festival hosts nearly 200,000 music fans over two three-day weekends each April, many of whom campout on the festival grounds. Emerging and popular musicians play seven stages. Billboard magazine has described Coachella as the festival that takes artists from “cool to A-list.”
The Museum at Bethel Woods, Bethel, N.Y.
Located on the site of the granddaddy of modern music festivals, the Museum at Bethel Woods hosts exhibits and artifacts related to 1969’s Woodstock festival as well as exhibits that explore issues and history of culture in Cold War America. Bethel Woods also includes performance space for music, movies and talks.
Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
The biggest ticketed tourist attraction in the state of Tennessee, Dollywood is a theme park near where music legend Dolly Parton grew up. The theme park hosts concerts that pay tribute to Southern gospel and bluegrass music and sometimes even features Dolly Parton herself as a performer.
Jim Morrison's Grave, Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
The Doors front man Jim Morrison died in Paris in 1971, and ever since, fans have made the pilgrimage to his gravesite in the City of Lights’ biggest cemetery. Graffiti on neighboring headstones points the way to the site itself, which has been vandalized multiple times over the years. While you’re visiting, you can stop by the graves of other musical luminaries, including George Bizet, Édith Piaf and Gioachino Rossini.
Abbey Road, London
Billed as the most famous recording studio in the world, Abbey Road Studios, located at 3 Abbey Road in London is most notable for the Beatles album by the same name recorded there in 1969. Pink Floyd, Badfinger, the Hollies and Paul Robeson also recorded in Abbey Road, now an English Heritage site. Still a working studio, it’s hard for fans to get a peek inside. But no one’s going to stop you snapping a photo on the street outside to match the iconic album cover.
The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, N.J.
Perhaps the best-known music venue in New Jersey, the Stone Pony launched the careers of many New Jersey musicians, most notably Bruce Springsteen. The club also houses a collection of rock and roll and local memorabilia.
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana
There are plenty of good reasons for music lovers to visit New Orleans, but Jazz Fest draws a crowd that rivals Mardi Gras for two weekends of festivities across a range of musical styles that reflect the region’s cultural heritage – jazz, bluegrass, zydeco, rap, rock, Cajun, folk and country. Though the festivals official dates are the last weekend of April and first weekend of May each year, the two weeks surrounding offer lots of unaffiliated events and concerts, as well.
Motown Museum, Hitsville U.S.A., Detroit, Michighan
The original site of Motown Records carries on the legacy of Motown on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit. Fans can visit fabled Studio A, where acts like the Supremes, the Four Tops and Smokey Robinson recorded their hits. The museum includes numerous Motown artifacts and visitors can also tour the upstairs apartment where Motown founder Berry Gordy lived with his young family in the label’s early days.
Bonnaroo Music Festival, Manchester, Tennessee
Some 80,000 music fans gather in Manchester, Tennessee each June for four days of music, crafts, comedy and togetherness at the annual Bonnaroo Festival. Launched in 2002 as a tribute to the art and pop music festivals of the 1960s and 1970s, Bonnaroo’s lineup crosses genres – pop, alternative, EDM, metal, funk, jazz, gospel, reggae and more.