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Top 10 U.S. Landmarks for Music Lovers

VO: Rebecca Brayton
The good old U.S. of A. is packed with significant landmarks that celebrate and commemorate the history of rock and roll – and music – in the country. From memorials like Strawberry Fields, to residences like Graceland, to entire cities that are filled with quirky culture like New Orleans, there is no shortage of rock attractions. If you’re interested in being part of history, there are also a number of famous hotels in the country – spanning New York to California – where the rich and famous have gone to play, for inspiration, or to take their final breaths. In this video, counts down our top 10 American tourist destinations for music lovers.

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Let’s rock and roll! Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 American tourist destinations for music lovers.

#10 – Cali Hotels: Beverly Hills Hotel, Chateau Marmont, Continental Hyatt House (Los Angeles, California)

Kicking off our list are a few infamous spots in LA where the rich and famous used to play. Stories of Led Zeppelin zipping up and down Chateau Marmont hallways on motorcycles are legendary, while the Continental Hyatt House earned the nickname “Riot House” thanks to the antics of bands like the Rolling Stones. And, well, you could check out of the Beverly Hills Hotel anytime you liked, but you could never leave.

#9 – Hotel Chelsea (New York City, New York)

This legendary rock landmark served as a home and a muse for many artists, especially during the 1970s. Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen and Iggy Pop are just a few of the musicians who called the Chelsea Home, while Sid Vicious’ girlfriend was infamously found dead there in room 100. The Big Apple is an important site in rock history for this and other attractions like the punk rock club CBGB.

#8 – Grand Ole Opry (Nashville, Tennessee)

Since 1925, the Grand Ole Opry has showcased the brightest stars and biggest names in country music. Steeped in history and tradition, the Opry is also one of the longest-running radio shows ever. Idols like Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks and Carrie Underwood have all dazzled on country’s most famous stage. Because of this and its many other notable music landmarks, Nashville will always be known as Music City.

#7 – Whisky A Go Go (West Hollywood, California)

Thanks to nightclubs and hole-in-the-wall venues where young acts could make a name for themselves, Los Angeles has always been a hotbed for up-and-coming talent. After opening on the Sunset Strip in 1964, the Whisky A Go Go became one of the country’s most significant landmarks, and not just ‘cause of the dancing. Bands like The Doors played residencies there, while everyone from Buffalo Springfield to Nirvana graced the stage as well.

#6 – Motown Records (Detroit, Michigan)

What do Madonna, Alice Cooper, Eminem and the White Stripes have in common? They’re all from Detroit. Rock City is proud to have produced a diverse blend of artists from every genre under the sun, but perhaps its most impressive accomplishment is Motown Records and the influential Motown Sound of the ‘60s and ‘70s. It may be the Motor City, but Detroit will always be the hometown of Motown.

#5 – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland, Ohio)

Cleveland claims to have held the first ever rock and roll concert, so it’s only fitting this city is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The museum opened in 1995, and year after year influential acts from every genre are inducted. Expand your rock education by browsing the multitude of music memorabilia at this must-see spot.

#4 – Buddy Holly/Ritchie Valens/Big Bopper Memorial (Clear Lake, Iowa)

Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were leaders in early rock and roll thanks to their style and unprecedented music. A freak plane crash one February night in 1959 took them, but their music and their legacies live on. Fans still travel to the Iowa farm where they crashed to commemorate the day the music died.

#3 – New Orleans, Louisiana

You can’t deny the Big Easy’s importance to music history as the birthplace of jazz. But Nawlins is much more than that: festivals like Mardi Gras are full of fun and music, while legendary clubs and other out-of-the-way spots cater to eclectic tastes. Influences from slave spirituals and Cuban beats flavored early New Orleans rhythm and blues. Rock and roll would not be the same if jazz had never come to Bourbon Street.

#2 – The Dakota/Strawberry Fields (New York City, New York)

John Lennon and Yoko Ono made their home in Manhattan’s Dakota apartment building from 1973, until Lennon’s murder there in 1980. Five years after his death, a memorial was set up across the street in Central Park. The beautiful landscape of Strawberry Fields draws Beatle fans year after year, and keeps Lennon’s message alive that we should “give peace a chance.”

#1 – Graceland (Memphis, Tennessee)

Taking the top spot on our list is the home of the King. Each year, hundreds of thousands of fans flock to Graceland to see where Elvis lived and died. Presley bought the place at the height of his popularity in 1957 to get away from crowds of crazed fans. And while Elvis was known for his extravagant and sometimes downright tacky costumes, his home was no different.

There are so many rock landmarks in the good old U.S. of A., we’re sure we missed a few: tell us which music attractions you would’ve added.

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