Must-Visit Music Destinations

  • 430 King's Road, once the location of former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren's Sex boutique
    Photo: Jamie Wayt
  • Inside Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tenn.
    Photo: Jamie Wayt
  • At the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Jan. 26
    Photo: Jamie Wayt
  • The Integratron
    Photo: Jamie Wayt
  • Scenes from the Gram Parsons memorial in Joshua Tree National Park
    Photo: Jamie Wayt
  • Neseblod Records in Oslo, Norway
    Photo: Jamie Wayt
  • The words "black metal" written on the wall of Ex-Helvete in Oslo, Norway
    Photo: Jamie Wayt
  • The Stax Museum in Memphis, Tenn.
    Photo: Jamie Wayt
  • Stonehenge
    Photo: Jamie Wayt
  • Inside Sun Records
    Photo: Jamie Wayt
  • 484 King's Road, the former location of Led Zeppelin's now-defunct label, Swan Song Records
    Photo: Jamie Wayt

By Jamie Wayt

(Looking for more music-related travel ideas? Read the Summer Travel Issue of GRAMMY magazine.)

There are two things I really love: music and travel. So much so that when I travel I try to find must-visit destinations for the wanderlust-stricken music fan. Here are seven cities that feature fun music-themed attractions.

Los Angeles

L.A. Live
Located in the heart of downtown, L.A. Live is home to the GRAMMY Museum, Staples Center, Nokia Theatre, and Club Nokia. For the past five years, I've attended many GRAMMY-related events in these spaces, including the GRAMMY Awards, where I had a unique vantage point watching from the mosh pit, and the GRAMMY Premiere Ceremony. The Museum offers an interactive experience that allows visitors to dive deeper into myriad music genres. At a 2013 heavy metal exhibit, I learned how to scream in a vocal booth, stood under Iron Maiden's mascot, Eddie, and laid eyes on walls of guitars and band T-shirts.

The Baked Potato
Tucked away in Studio City, The Baked Potato carries a longstanding tradition of showcasing some of the top jazz and session musicians in an intimate setting any night of the week. The venue is known for helping launch the careers of musicians such as Al Jarreau, Kenny G, Larry Carlton, and Lee Ritenour, among others.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery
A somewhat macabre visit, this picturesque cemetery is the final resting place and memorial spot for several noteworthy rock musicians, including Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone (the Ramones), Gidget Gein (Marilyn Manson) and Rozz Williams (Christian Death).

Joshua Tree, Calif.

Joshua Tree National Park
Legend has it that after Gram Parsons died from a drug overdose in 1973 at the Joshua Tree Inn (where a guitar memorial in his honor still stands), his body was stolen and cremated by his road manager, Phil Kaufman. To fulfill Parsons' wishes, Kaufman spread his ashes over Cap Rock, deep within the park. A evolving memorial can be found on the side of the rock opposite the parking lot.

Pappy & Harriet's
Located just outside Joshua Tree in Pioneertown, this roadhouse-style restaurant features live music ranging from bluegrass and country to rock. Past performers have included Eagles Of Death Metal, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals and Rufus Wainwright, among others. 

Integratron
Also located outside Joshua Tree in Landers is the Integratron rejuvenation machine. Participate in its weekly sound baths and leave feeling happy, healthy and recharged. Artists who have recorded at the Integratron, which boasts an acoustically perfect structure, include Jason Mraz, Robert Plant and Smashing Pumpkins.

San Francisco

Haight-Ashbury
Once a hub for the counterculture youth of the '60s, the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco still maintains an inkling of the era that changed the world, or at least music, forever. You can see the Grateful Dead house, shop at Amoeba Music and begin your trek into beautiful Golden Gate Park, which houses Kezar Stadium, a site that hosted many iconic concerts by artists such as Led Zeppelin, Neil Young and Carlos Santana.

Cow Palace
A short drive to Daly City brings you to the iconic Cow Palace. This structure played home to many legendary shows, including the opening date for the Beatles' first proper U.S. tour in 1964, and the Who's 1973 concert during which drummer Keith Moon collapsed and 19-year-old fan Scott Halpin took over.

Audium
In a non-descript building in Hayes Valley is a theater of "sound sculptured space." Upon entering the building, visitors lie down in a dark room while 176 speakers disburse sound all around (even from below). It will perk your ears and your mind, and ultimately give you an extremely unusual sound experience.

Austin, Texas

Daniel Johnston Mural
Once upon a time in 1993, the former Sound Exchange record shop, which sat across from the University of Texas at Austin, commissioned singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston to paint a mural. Titled Jeremiah The Innocent, or "Hi, How Are You?," the mural still adorns the side of the building. The frog image, which is featured on Johnston's 1983 album Hi, How Are You?, was made famous by Kurt Cobain, who frequently wore a "Hi, How Are You?" T-shirt. 

Willie Nelson Boulevard And Statue
In front of the Moody Theater on Willie Nelson Boulevard (formerly Second Street) where "Austin City Limits" is now shot, stands a statue of Nelson. Across the river from this statue is one of guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Memphis, Tenn.

Sun Studio
On an unassuming block in Memphis sits a small studio with a big story to tell. Take a tour and learn about the birth of rock and roll, the rise of Elvis and the legendary room in which many hits were recorded.

Stax Museum
This intricately designed museum tells the story of American soul music. Visitors will walk through a mock church, along recording consoles, walls lined with records, and flashy cars. Be sure to check out The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter's 40th anniversary exhibit, And The GRAMMY Goes To Memphis.

Graceland
A trip to Memphis isn't complete without touring the home to the King of Rock and Roll. The landmark includes opulently decorated rooms full of rich history and a garden featuring Elvis' grave. Enjoy a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich in his honor on the way out.

Norway

Ex-Helvete (Oslo)
Adventurous fans of Norway's prime export, black metal, can stop into this cute neighborhood coffee shop tucked away near the bay and politely ask whoever is working behind the counter for a trip down to the cellar. The basement used to serve as a hub for black metal bands, namely Mayhem, whose guitarist used the space as a record store. To this day the words "black metal" are scrawled along the wall.

Neseblod Records (Oslo)
A museum as much as it is a record store, fans of extreme metal will delight in the hard-to-find items and relics packed into this space, from paintings in blood to demo tapes and obscure 'zines.

London

King's Road
Take a stroll down this historic road and stop at 430 King's Road, once the location of former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren's Sex boutique. Also, 484 King's Road marks the former location of Led Zeppelin's now-defunct label, Swan Song Records.

Stonehenge
A few hours away from London by bus is the picturesque, mysterious gathering of rocks known as Stonehenge, a replica of which can be seen in the 1984 comedy This Is Spinal Tap. Visitors will find the structure is much larger than it appears in the film.

The Crobar
Having been a regular at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood at one time in my life, I was curious to see London's equivalent rock and roll watering hole. It's tiny, but the vibe, tunes, clientele, and spirits make it a guaranteed good time.

(Jamie Wayt lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 700 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)

 

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