Lockdown in old Missouri
Alcatraz has nothing on the old Missouri State Penitentiary, said Tom Uhlenbrock in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Located just outside Jefferson City, the historic prison was already 100 years old when the famous San Francisco institution started taking inmates. In fact, when the old state pen opened, in 1836, Andrew Jackson was still president and the Battle of the Alamo was being fought in Texas. Now, the “oldest prison west of the Mississippi,” which was still operating as a full-time detention center up until 2004, is finally getting the Alcatraz treatment. This month the “legendary lockup,” which has housed the likes of Pretty Boy Floyd and James Earl Ray, opens its doors to the public for the first time. Walk the halls and take in the “murder and mayhem” of the jail’s history. Sit in the execution chamber, where 39 men and one woman were killed with cyanide. “With its tiers of cells and wealth of stories,” a tour of the jail is an experience “as fascinating as it is foreboding.”
Contact: Visitjeffersoncity.com

Nashville’s brightest stars
Long known as the capital of country music, Nashville is now home to some of “pop culture’s most stylish folks,” said Kathy Baruffi in Elle Décor. Though the city’s “legendary twang is gloriously intact,” the glitterati, from Nicole Kidman to Sheryl Crow, have moved in and given the Tennessee town an “increasingly sophisticated vibe.” Visitors can still find a meat-and-three—“Southernese for a main dish with three sides”—at a longtime establishment like Arnold’s Country Kitchen. But chic new restaurants like Margot, with its “steamed mussels with pesto and Pernod,” have “raised the culinary bar.” Once lined with nail salons and dollar stores, Eighth Avenue has become a “destination” for antiques collectors, who search stores such as Fine Offerings Antiques for “carefully vetted 18th- and 19th-century European furniture.” In nearby Hillsboro Village, a “compact version of New York’s Soho,” pretty young things like Carrie Underwood take to the stores for the latest fashions.
Contact: Visitmusiccity.com