Legendary American music venues to add to your musical bucket list


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If you’re a music lover, you’ve probably heard of places like the Fillmore and Apollo Theater. But how many of these iconic venues have you actually gone to? If the answer is few or none, you need to start planning a music vacation now.

Music is about so much more than high notes and guitar riffs. Music is culture and history as well. That’s what makes a trip to any of these venues so special. You won’t simply hear a good set; you’ll get a whole cultural experience. Whether you want to hear modern hits, bask in the nostalgia of the classics, or get something totally new, you can find it at these ten iconic music venues that should be on your “must-see” list.

We pulled together the ten most incredible music venues in the U.S. through sources like travel websites so that you can start plotting your journey today. Check out these 10 venues and make sure you put them on your to-do list.

1. The Ryman Auditorium, Nashville

Ryman Auditorium, Nashville Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Open since 1892, the Ryman Auditorium is the product of divine intervention. No, seriously.

Thomas Ryman was a party boy before turning religious and opening the Union Gospel Tabernacle. The building officially became the Ryman Auditorium in 1904.

Since then, it has hosted some huge names in music, including Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, the Wu-Tang Clan, Lizzo, and Harry Styles. The Ryman is even credited with being the birthplace of bluegrass, thanks to a visit from Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys.

2. The Fillmore, San Francisco

4 Photo Credit: Wikipedia

When the Majestic Hall and Majestic Academy of Dancing opened in 1912, it was meant to be a dance hall. Then Charles Sullivan started booking the biggest names in Black music there in 1952. This included performers like James Brown and Tina Turner.

That musical excellence continued, with acts like the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and The Who all performing at the Fillmore. The Fillmore is still going strong, and you can see some of today’s biggest musical acts there now.

3. The Troubadour, Los Angeles

Troubadour Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The Troubadour opened in 1957. It quickly booked some of the biggest names in music. Folks like Bob Dylan and Nina Simone breezed through, as well as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. It even had legends like Miles Davis recording their albums here.

It wasn’t just music, though. Many comedians and other performers have also done shows here, so you can get a little something extra from a visit to the Troubadour. Plan your trip right to get the best of all the Troubadour has to offer.

4. The Apollo Theater, New York City

Apollo Theater Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The Soul of American Culture” opened in 1913. Its amateur night quickly attracted top talent like Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey. The first “Showtime at the Apollo” was filmed in 1955 with performers like Herb Jeffries, Sarah Vaughan and “Big” Joe Turner.

More recently, the Apollo Theater kept audiences entertained even during shutdowns with its “digital stage.” It remains an icon not just in New York, but among music lovers throughout the country.

5. Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, Colorado

Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, Colorado

An audience takes in a rock concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, a naturally formed, world-famous outdoor venue fifteen miles west of Denver in the town of Morrison. Photo Creidt Library of Congress

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is much more than a music venue. It’s also a National Historic Landmark. The 738-acre park is a geological wonder as well as a stunning music venue.

This has attracted some of the greatest acts in the world, such as U2, Sting and The Beatles. The mayor of Denver built the amphitheater in 1936, but it didn’t open until 1941. You’ll rock out at an elevation of 6,450 feet while watching acts as classic as Diana Ross or as modern as Skrillex.

6. The Grand Ole Opry, Nashville

The Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee Photo Credit: Ron Cogswell/Flickr

Many of the venues on this list are a bit eclectic, but the Grand Ole Opry has a distinct point of view as “the home of country music.” A trip here is a must for fans of bands like Carrie Underwood, Corey Kent and Coffey Anderson.

Since taking shape in 1925, the Opry has spent nearly 100 years being an icon of country music showcasing performers like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Beginning as a radio show, the Opry House eventually let the program expand and become what we know today.

7. The Beacon Theatre, New York City

The Beacon Theatre, New York City, New York

The Beacon Theatre, New York City, New York. Photo Credit: Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr

Built in the 1920s, the Beacon Theatre brings in everything from folk music legends to major movie screenings. It has seen acts like Duran Duran and The Allman Brothers. It also hosts the Tony Awards frequently.

If you’re a music lover, this theater should be on your list of places to see. It was specifically designed for incredible acoustics during live music. It’s also a landmark in its own right, thanks to its stunning architecture, including marble floors and bronze doors.

8. The Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles

The Hollywood Bowl Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The Hollywood Bowl Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The Hollywood Bowl is another gem of the 1920s, opening in 1922. It’s enjoyed a storied history since then, hosting Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett, among many, many others.

Over the years, it has seen more than just musical acts. The Bowl has also provided a stage for plays, orchestras and more. They’re still going strong today, with modern acts like Billie Eilish alongside Hall of Famers like Donna Summer. What’s always set this venue apart was its iconic arched band shell.

9. The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville

The Bluebird Cafe has been hosting great music for the past 40 years. It’s earned a reputation as the place where future legends before they really hit it big. This has been the case for performers like Kathy Mattea, Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and Taylor Swift.

In fact, this venue is so legendary there’s even a documentary about it. You can head there for a show, soak up the history of the venue, and potentially catch a musical masterpiece in the making.

10. The House of Blues, New Orleans

The House of Blues, New Orleans, Louisiana

The House of Blues, New Orleans, Louisiana Photo Credit: H.O.B/TripAdvisor

The House of Blues isn’t a single venue but a network throughout the country of related venues. However, we still recommend the New Orleans location for a true blues experience.

The House of Blues takes its mission as a beacon of American blues music extremely seriously. It doesn’t just host artists like Santana and Duki, it also prominently displays art and historical relics that represent the cultural experiences of Black Americans. This creates an almost spiritual and reverent atmosphere.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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