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TAP’s Got Your Tickets

Music and art: The two go hand in hand when it comes to evoking a reaction, conjuring a memory or inspiring a feeling. Maybe people grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio or poring over a book of French impressionist works. Maybe they fell in love with Elvis Presley on the record player or studied modern art in college.

Travel Alliance Partners (TAP) offers groups dozens of opportunities to encounter favorite arts attractions and discover new ones. The following TAP itineraries immerse travelers in culture, from contemporary art to country music.

Adventures in Art and History

New York has the Met, Los Angeles has the Getty, and Columbus, Ohio, has a surprising number of art museums, collections, galleries and hands-on experiences to offer visitors.

During the Adventures in Art and History itinerary offered by Joy Tour and Travel, groups will tour the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA), which recently renovated about 38,000 square feet in the original 1974 wing and expanded with a new 50,000-square-foot two-story building. The project allowed CMA to display more of it permanent collection, including some larger pieces and contemporary installations.

Topiary Park is an outdoor park near the museum and is the only known topiary rendering of a painting, specifically Georges Seurat’s postimpressionist work “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” There’s even a point where visitors can stand to get the right perspective and can reference a picture of the painting on a nearby plaque.

In the Short North district, groups can explore 16 or so galleries, take in murals throughout the district and visit shops, restaurants, boutiques and bars. The district is also home to the Pizzuti Collection, the private collection of Ron and Ann Pizzuti, which is housed in a historic building.

During a Coffee and Canvas session at Brandt-Roberts Galleries, people break into groups of four and each paint a quadrant of a canvas that hooks together in the back so that each person can take home a piece.

Music and More in Tennessee

Tennessee is home to two music meccas: Nashville, known for its country roots, and Memphis, home of the blues. That makes OregonWest Excursions’ Music and More in Tennessee itinerary a must for music lovers.

In Nashville, guests take a backstage tour of the “new” Grand Ole Opry and its previous venue, the historic Ryman Auditorium.

“They love all the history of the Grand Ole Opry because they may have seen that on TV or listened to it growing up,” said Tony Minden, owner of OregonWest Excursions.

The group tours the Gibson guitar factory and visits the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where “people don’t realize what’s there until they get inside of it,” Minden said. “Sometimes, they go back on their free time to see more.”

While touring the Historic RCA Studio B, the group gets into the booth to record its own song, usually one of Elvis’ gospel hits. “We all get a CD at the end, which are pretty bad,” he said with a laugh.

Memphis, of course, calls for a tour of Elvis’ iconic home Graceland, which “is on their bucket list.” The mansion and grounds also serve as a museum, preserving not only how the King lived, but also costumes and keepsakes from his career, and his gravesite.

During a city tour of Memphis, a step-on guide from Backbeat Tours will play songs on a guitar as he tells stories about Elvis and the city.

Rachel Carter

Rachel Carter worked as a newspaper reporter for eight years and spent two years as an online news editor before launching her freelance career. She now writes for national meetings magazines and travel trade publications.