Every Swiftie should visit Nashville at least once — Photo courtesy of georgeclerk / Getty Images
When you think of bucket-list travel, is it some far-off land? A beach, perhaps, or a trek through the wilds of another country? For us, it’s discovering the gems of our musical icons, or checking out places inspired by our favorite movies and television shows. Walking where Elvis walked, sipping coffee where Taylor does in Nashville, or seeing how families from the Gilded Age lived in New York and Rhode Island — it doesn’t get much better.
Whether it’s a music-influenced road trip or quick visit to a favorite film locale, here are top cities for music and movie lovers we explored around the U.S. this year.
Elvis Presley’s Las Vegas
Elvis makes his way backstage at the former International Hotel — Photo courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino
No matter how much Sin City morphs and changes (hello, Sphere!), it’s still home of the King. Not his actual home, of course — every Elvis Presley fan should see Graceland at least once. But you’ll find echoes of Elvis everywhere around the glittery, electric, always-on Las Vegas.
Many of the locations Elvis visited, performed at, and lived in are still there, hidden in plain sight, such as the International Hotel (now Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino), where Elvis performed 636 sold-out shows. From iconic wedding venues to legendary restaurants and hotels, Las Vegas is brimming with places that pay homage to the King of Rock and Roll.
Read more: 4 places every Elvis Presley fan must visit while in Las Vegas
Jimmy Buffett’s Florida
Key West is the epitome of the Jimmy Buffet lifestyle — Photo courtesy of vwalakte / iStock Via Getty Images
It’s almost as though Jimmy Buffett spent his life writing the soundtrack to Florida. Before he succumbed to a rare skin cancer on September 1, 2023, the American singer-songwriter spent a lot of time in the Sunshine State.
Buffett’s lyrics often bring to mind Florida locales deeply loved by Parrot Heads and beachcombers alike, places like the Florida Keys and Cayo Costa Island State Park. When it’s time to “go where it’s warm,” here’s a way to live out his songs and keep the memory of this legendary musician alive.
Read more: Live out a Jimmy Buffett song at these 10 spots in Florida
Historic sites ‘Gilded Age’ fans will love
Well-dressed ‘Gilded Age’ families lived in mansions all over New York and Newport, Rhode Island — Photo courtesy of Alison Cohen Rosa / HBO
Seeing how the industry titans and early moguls lived right before the turn of the 20th century became show fodder for Julian Fellowes’ “The Gilded Age.” The HBO drama brings to life the gorgeous homes and places of those living between 1880 and 1900, and it’s sparked a renewed interest in the mansions and architecture from that time period.
While the majority of these buildings have long been demolished or replaced by more contemporary buildings, some remain immaculately preserved and open to the public. Here are our top picks for guided or self-paced tours to feel what it was like to live a gilded life.
Read more: ‘Gilded Age’ fans will swoon over these 7 historic sites
Taylor Swift’s Nashville
Taylor Swift looking fabulous on the red carpet at the Nashville Songwriters Association International Awards at Ryman Auditorium — Photo courtesy of Nicole Hester / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK
Although Taylor Swift was born outside of Philadelphia, most Swifites know her family moved to Tennessee so the teenage Swift could pursue a singing career. While the pop star now owns multimillion-dollar residences on both coasts, she still calls Nashville home.
Even if she’s not there, she’s everywhere in Nashville, like at the legendary Bluebird Cafe, where she was discovered, or Fido, her favorite coffee shop. Here is the Swifties’ guide to Nashville (Taylor’s version), everything you need to plan the best vacation you’ve ever had, like ever. Are you ready for it?
Read more: 10 best things to do in Nashville for Taylor Swift fans
1980s nostalgia filming locations
Major scenes from “Dirty Dancing” were filmed on Lake Lure in North Carolina — Photo courtesy of Lake Lure Inn and Spa
When you think of iconic 1980s pop-culture films, “The Terminator,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Dirty Dancing” are at the top of the list. They’re classics for a reason, movies with a cultural impact that’s still noticed today. And it’s super fun to visit them through the lens of travel.
These real-life locations of 1980s’ feature films double as fantastic vacation destinations. However, be prepared for the unexpected. A lot may have changed since these movies were made, but in some locales, you might be surprised by how much has stayed the same.
Read more: ’80s nostalgia comes alive: 10 movie filming locations you can visit