Best Places to Live

Nashville, TN

Population: 634,512
Jeffrey S. Otto

Billed as the "ultimate country music fan experience," the Country Music Association (CMA) Music Festival celebrates dynamic downtown Nashville, TN, almost as much as country music.

"Downtown Nashville is changing rapidly, and CMA Music Festival is a great way to explore the city while enjoying great music and activities, most of which are free and open to the public," says Steve Moore, CEO of the Country Music Association.

Over four days each June, thousands of people visit Music City to meet some of country music's biggest stars, watch live shows at venues of all sizes and get a taste of what Nashville has to offer. City pride swells along with the crowds at many of Nashville's most iconic restaurants, honky tonks and museums.

Well-known country music artists perform nightly shows, which are filmed and then aired during a three-hour ABC television show.

"This TV special is a postcard for Music City, showcasing not only the amazing talent we have in Nashville, but also our beautiful city and the great citizens of this town," Moore says.

Besides music, the festival includes a parade, games, giveaways and many food vendors throughout downtown. Many downtown Nashville bars and honky tonks offer food and drink specials along with their steady stream of live music.

The first Fan Fair in 1972 drew more than 5,000 fans to downtown's Municipal Auditorium to meet legends like Roy Acuff, Tom T. Hall, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. The festival relies on local volunteers, many of which come back year after year to provide crowd control, physical labor and organizational assistance.

When: June

What: Live music, autograph sessions, celebrity softball game, parade, fan parties, honky-tonking, tours

Cost: $10 to get into Fan Fair X; Tickets to major shows at LP Field range from $135 to $350.

Average Attendance: 71,000

See where Nashville ranked on our list of Top 10 College Towns, 2010.