Johnny Cash's music, unique baritone voice, and songwriting is the stuff of legend. For fans of the Man in Black, listening to Cash's music is not enough. True-blue fans take it one step further with expeditions to the most iconic and memorable places in Cash's history. Cash may have been "everywhere, man," but if you want to visit the places that played a significant role in his life, you'll want to hit up these top Johnny Cash vacation destinations:
Johnny Cash's Home and Memory Gardens, Hendersonville, TN
Tennessee tops the list of Johnny Cash destinations, and no visit to Tennessee would be complete (for a Cash fan, at least) without a stop by Hendersonville. Hendersonville, where Johnny and June Carter lived for 35 years, is about 30 minutes NE of Nashville. Johnny and June built their 14,000-square-foot home on Old Hickory Lake in Hendersonville and lived there until their deaths in 2003.
Country music legend Kris Kristofferson reportedly landed a helicopter on the Hendersonville property to present Cash with his demo for "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down."
While the house itself burned down in 2007, you can see glimpses of it in the music video for Cash's 2002 cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt," which was filmed inside the home.
Even though you can't visit the property itself, you can view historic markers placed along the exterior of the property that share stories of the Cash home and its neighboring orchard that was once owned by Cash's friend, Roy Orbison.
Once you've stopped by the former property of Johnny Cash in Hendersonville, you can pay your respects at the Hendersonville Memory Gardens, where Johnny, June, and other members of the Cash and Carter families were laid to rest. You can also stop by the memorial for Luther Perkins, one of Cash's original band members. This cemetery map will help you locate all of the notable burials.
Johnny Cash Museum, Nashville, TN
The Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, TN, featuring the largest collection of Johnny Cash memorabilia, has been ranked the #1 music museum in the world. Take a tour through records, awards, musical instruments, costumes, and iconic photographs from Cash's life and career at 119 3rd Ave S, Nashville, TN.
Johnny Cash Trail and Folsom Prison, Folsom, CA
As the only West Coast destination for Cash fans, the City of Folsom pays homage to the legacy of Cash and his hit song, Folsom Prison Blues, at the Johnny Cash Trail in Northern California.
While serving in the United States Air Force and stationed in West Germany in 1953, Cash was inspired to write "Folsom Prison Blues" after seeing the movie Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison. In 1968, Cash pushed Columbia Records to let him record a live prison performance. On January 13, 1968, Cash opened up his show with a performance of "Folsom Prison Blues" in front of an audience of inmates and guards at Folsom Prison.
As the popularity of Cash's live prison album soared, Cash fans started to make the trek to the City of Folsom to see the prison. Prison guards, who once only worried about keeping inmates inside the grounds, were faced with the unusual task of keeping Cash fans out.
The City has helped keep the prison safe and secure by providing Cash fans and local residents a new way to pay tribute: the Johnny Cash Trail. This 2.5-mile-long trail winds past Folsom Prison, over the Johnny Cash Overpass, and the wooden Robbers Ravine bridge.
A public art installation is in the works, and eventually, the trail will feature public parks and larger-than-life public works of art inspired by, and in the likeness of, Johnny Cash. Learn more about the art selection process headed up by Cash's daughter, Cindy Cash, for the Folsom Cash Art Trail project and visit the trail in Folsom, CA.
Sun Studio Memphis, TN
In the summer of 1954, after hearing newcomer Elvis Presley's "That's All Right" heat up the charts in Memphis, Johnny Cash contacted Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Cash received not one but repeated brush-offs by the up-and-coming record exec, who reportedly told Cash to "go home and sin, then come back with a song I can sell."
Cash's bulldogged tenacity paid off, and finally, he was invited to the studio to record "Hey Porter '' and "Cry, Cry, Cry" in 1955. His second single recorded at Sun Records was "Folsom Prison Blues," which made the Country Top 5. Cash also recorded his No. 1 hit, "I Walk the Line," with Sam Phillips at Sun Records.
Sun artists frequented the Memphis recording studio, and one day Cash, Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins kicked up an impromptu jam session. The local press caught it and dubbed the group the Million Dollar Quartet.
Sun Studio, "where rock n roll was born," is located at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, TN. Ticketed, guided tours are available.
Uncover the story of Johnny Cash and Sam Phillips' Sun Records.
Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, TN
Visit the home of country music, the Grand Ole Opry, and immerse yourself in the history of country music. The Grand Ole Opry played a pivotal role in some of Johnny Cash's most memorable moments.
Cash first performed on the Grand Ole Opry in 1956. A debut performance on the Grand Ole Opry is a hallmark event for any country music artist. For Cash, that moment was even more life-changing. The rebellious Man in Black met fellow performer and future wife June Carter backstage that night. The pair married ten years later and regularly performed together on the Opry.
Cash broke all of the footlights at the front of the stage inside Ryman Auditorium during one infamous show and later chose to film The Johnny Cash Show at the Ryman. No visit to Memphis would be complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry, whether you're a Cash fan or simply a country music lover.
Rediscover the love story of Johnny and June.
Johnny Cash's Boyhood Home, Dyess, AK
Johnny Cash lived in his boyhood home in Dyess, Arkansas, from 1935 to 1950. The small farmhouse was built as part of a small colony of rural farms stretching out from a central town center. J.R. Cash lived here with his parents, Ray and Carrie Cash, and siblings Roy, Louise, Jack, Reba, Joanne, and Tommy.
In 2011, Arkansas State University acquired and restored the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home. A building in the Colony Circle and the gravel road leading to the Cash home were settings for the movie, Walk the Line.
The Dyess Colony Visitors Center includes a gift shop, orientation video, and exhibits. The Dyess Colony Administration Building next door houses exhibits related to the establishment of the colony, lifestyles of typical colonists, and the impact that growing up in Dyess had on Johnny Cash and his music. Visitors are shuttled to the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home, less than two miles from the Colony Center, which is furnished as it appeared when the Cash family lived there, based on the memories of Johnny's two youngest siblings who assisted in the restoration.
Storytellers Museum and Hideaway Farm, Bon Aqua, TN
Johnny Cash used to escape from public life at Hideaway Farm, which he took ownership of in the 1970s. Cash immediately fell in love with the 107-acre farm west of Nashville and spent more than 30 years in the house and on the land he called "the center of my universe."
In 1973, Cash's Song Catalog Manager, songwriter Loney Hutchins, and several other young musicians were looking for spaces to play and gain experience performing. Hutchins asked for Cash's backing in renovating the abandoned, tumble-down building, which would soon become The Little Stage. Cash gave his support and some financing to help the young musicians, and that little stage is now the Storyteller's Museum.
Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville, TN
Johnny Cash was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980. Cash fans can see exhibits and memorabilia celebrating the career of the Man in Black, including an online exhibit dedicated to Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats. While very different, singer-songwriters Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash were friends from the 1960s until the end of Cash's life.
Johnny Cash wrote in his book, Cash: The Autobiography, that he had a portable record player he'd take on the road, listening to Bob Dylan backstage before he performed and then again when he got off stage. Cash reached out to Dylan. "After a while at that, I wrote Bob a letter telling him how much of a fan I was," he said. "He wrote back almost immediately, saying he'd been following my music since ‘I Walk the Line,' and so we began a correspondence."
When Cash passed in 2003, Dylan wrote, "In plain terms, Johnny was and is the North Star; you could guide your ship by him — the greatest of the greats then and now."
Pay a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, or see the Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats exhibit online.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, OH
Johnny Cash was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH, in 1992. Cash may have made a name for himself as a country singer-songwriter and married into the First Family of Country Music when he wed June Carter, but his broad musical appeal earned him an undisputed spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
When Cash was first recording at Sun Studios at the same time as Elvis Presley, "rock and roll" was just beginning to get defined, and the genre shared many of the same influences (folk and blues) as Cash's music. His style in the early days has been defined as rockabilly, Country with a rock edge, and later in his career, Cash would cover alternative rock songs like Sound Garden's "Rusty Cage" and Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt."
You can pay homage to the Man in Black's influence on rock music at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio.
How Many of These Cash-Themed Destinations Have You Visited?
Well, true-blue Cash Fan… how many of these destinations can you cross off your list? While most Johnny Cash vacation destinations are centered in Tennessee, you can also pay a visit to the Johnny Cash Trail near Folsom Prison in California or the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio to round out your pilgrimage to the places that made up the colorful history of the Man in Black.