John McMillin , Apr 01, 2005; 11:10 a.m.
I grew up there and left almost three decades ago, but I've visited a few times since. For the classic cityscape, walk over the Shelby Street bridge SE of downtown. Downtown is a nice subject in itself. You should find interesting streetlife near the Ryman Auditorium, outnumbered by tourists. Must-sees here are Tootsie's, Hatch Show Print and Gruhn Guitars, but they're no secrets. For animals, there's a great zoo. It's very spacious, so bring a long lens. For nature photography, I'd drive an hour or two (or more) east to higher terrain. The Middle Tennessee forests near Nashville are very green, dark and dense, but they lack the cliff exposures, flowers and more diverse flora of the Cumberland Plateau. This is a less-famous region than the Smokies, about half the altitude and half the drive. We Westerners would call it a mesa, but it's covered with trees and bordered with waterfalls. Fall Creek Falls State Park has some of the highest waterfalls in the eastern US. It's one of the most biologically diverse areas in the US, too. Tennessee is still full of rustic architecture, just drive out of town in any direction. There are caves in East Tennesse. An excellent recreational railroad ride is the Tennessee Central RR, running a fine streamliner out of Nashville on many weekends. And if you just gotta go Greek, Nashville's Parthenon looks in much better shape than Athens' original. Enjoy yourself, and pay attention to the friendliness of the people and the excellence of the food. That beats the scenery, in my book.
Let me know if you need m ore details or ideas.