3 Days in Nashville: The Perfect Nashville Itinerary

From honky-tonks to hot chicken, Music City offers a harmony of history, tunes, and flavors. Follow this 3-day Nashville itinerary for best results!

West Parker
By
West Parker
July 18, 2024

We thought we were in for a quick jaunt through the country music scene. Boy, were we in for a surprise! As we started planning our Nashville itinerary, we realized this city had so much more to offer than just cowboy boots and guitars (though there's plenty of that too, don't worry).

Our friends kept telling us, "Three days in Nashville? That's not nearly enough time!" But let me tell you, with some careful planning and a willingness to hit the ground running, you can pack a whole lot of Nashville into 72 hours. So grab your comfiest walking shoes and maybe pack some stretchy pants (trust me, you'll thank me later), because we're about to embark on the perfect 3-day Nashville itinerary that'll have you singing the city's praises long after you've left.

Before we dive into the day-by-day breakdown, let's cover some basics to ensure your three days in Nashville are smooth sailing from start to finish.

When to Visit Nashville

Timing is everything, folks! Nashville shines brightest from April to October when the weather is warm and the city comes alive with outdoor events. May, June, and October are particularly pleasant, offering comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds. If you're looking to save a few bucks (and who isn't?), consider visiting from November to March, but steer clear of the holiday season unless you want to battle the crowds.

Getting Around Nashville

Nashville might be known for its music, but let me tell you, it's also got a pretty nifty public transit system. Here's the lowdown:

  • WeGo Public Transit: Operates 46 bus routes around Nashville, with single rides costing $2.00. Not too shabby!
  • Music City Star: A regional rail line connecting Davidson and Wilson counties. Perfect if you're staying a bit outside the city center.
  • Taxis and Rideshares: Uber and Lyft are readily available, as are traditional taxis. We found them to be reliable and reasonably priced.
  • Bike and Scooter Rentals: If you're feeling adventurous (and the weather's nice), renting a bike or scooter can be a fun way to explore the city.

Pro tip: If you're planning on using public transit a lot, consider grabbing a day pass. It'll save you some cash and the hassle of fumbling for change every time you board.

What to Pack for Nashville

Listen up, because this might be the most important part of your Nashville prep. Here's what you'll want to throw in your suitcase:

  1. Comfortable walking shoes: Trust me, your feet will thank you after a long day of exploring.
  2. Light, breathable clothing for summer; layers for spring and fall: Nashville's weather can be as unpredictable as a country song's storyline.
  3. Rain jacket or umbrella: Because nobody wants to be caught in a surprise shower without one.
  4. Sunscreen and sunglasses: The Nashville sun can be fierce, y'all.
  5. Dressy casual outfit: Many venues have dress codes, so pack something nice for nights out.
  6. Camera: You'll want to capture all those Instagram-worthy moments.
  7. Portable charger: Keep your phone juiced up for all those Broadway selfies.
  8. Reusable water bottle: Stay hydrated while you're out and about.
  9. Small backpack or day bag: Perfect for carrying souvenirs and snacks.
  10. Swimwear: If you're visiting in summer and plan on enjoying some outdoor activities.

And here's a little insider tip: pack some earplugs. Not because Nashville is noisy (well, it can be), but because if you're staying near Broadway, those honky-tonks can keep the tunes going late into the night!

Where to Stay in Nashville

Alright, let's talk about where to rest your head after a long day of exploring. Nashville's got a neighborhood for every taste, but for first-timers, I'd recommend focusing on these areas:

  1. Downtown Nashville: The beating heart of the city. You'll be steps away from Broadway's famous honky-tonks and major attractions. It's pricier, but the convenience might be worth it.
  2. East Nashville: This hip, artistic enclave is perfect if you want a more local vibe. It's got great restaurants, cool boutiques, and a slightly more relaxed atmosphere than downtown.
  3. The Gulch: A trendy, upscale area with high-end boutiques and chic restaurants. It's a bit quieter than downtown but still within easy reach of the main attractions.

We ended up staying at the Drury Plaza Hotel Nashville Downtown, and let me tell you, it was a great choice. The location was perfect for exploring, the rooms were comfortable, and the free breakfast was a lifesaver for our busy mornings.

Now that we've got the basics covered, let's dive into our 3-day Nashville itinerary. Get ready, because we're about to hit the ground running in Music City!

Day 1: Downtown Nashville and Broadway

Rise and shine, music lovers! It's time to kick off your three days in Nashville with a bang. Today, we're diving headfirst into the heart and soul of Music City. Get ready for a day filled with country music history, live performances, and enough neon to make Las Vegas jealous.

We're starting our Nashville itinerary in the downtown area for a couple of reasons. First, it's where many of the city's iconic attractions are concentrated, so you'll get to tick off a lot of must-sees right off the bat. Second, it'll give you a crash course in Nashville's musical heritage, setting the stage (pun intended) for the rest of your trip. Plus, ending the day on Broadway means you can easily stumble back to your hotel after enjoying Nashville's legendary nightlife.

Morning: Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Exterior view of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, featuring its distinctive guitar-shaped windows
The guitar-shaped windows at the Country Music Hall of Fame are like a beacon for music lovers. Can't wait to explore inside!

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Let's start our Nashville adventure at the mecca of country music. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is like the Louvre of twang, y'all. It's a massive treasure trove of country music artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that'll make you feel like you've stepped into a Kenny Rogers song (in a good way, I promise).

As soon as you walk in, you're greeted by the towering Rotunda, where the plaques of Hall of Fame inductees line the walls. It's like a who's who of country music royalty. We spent a good hour just in this room, playing "I spy" with the names we recognized (and pretending to know the ones we didn't).

The museum's exhibits take you on a journey through the evolution of country music, from its roots in folk and blues to the pop-country crossovers of today. You'll see everything from Elvis Presley's solid gold Cadillac (talk about bling!) to Taylor Swift's handwritten lyrics. There's even a section dedicated to country fashion, where you can ogle at rhinestone-studded suits that would make Elton John jealous.

One of the coolest parts? The interactive exhibits. You can step into a recording booth and try your hand at mixing a song, or listen to different versions of classic country hits to understand how production techniques have evolved over the years. Sarah and I spent way too much time trying to make our own country hit (spoiler alert: we won't be quitting our day jobs anytime soon).

  • Location: 222 Rep. John Lewis Way S, Nashville, TN 37203
  • Hours: Daily, 9 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Adult tickets start at $27.95

Why Visit: This isn't just a museum; it's a journey through the heart and soul of country music. Even if you're not a die-hard country fan, the stories and artifacts here offer a fascinating glimpse into American cultural history.

Insider Tip: Book your tickets online in advance to skip the lines, and try to arrive early in the day when it's less crowded. Oh, and don't miss the "Sing Me Back Home" exhibit – it's a real tear-jerker (in the best way possible).

Afternoon: Explore Broadway and its Honky-Tonks

Bustling nighttime scene on Broadway in Nashville, with neon signs and crowds outside popular honky-tonks
Broadway is absolutely electric at night! The energy here is contagious - no wonder they call Nashville Music City.

Broadway

After lunch, it's time to hit the famous Honky Tonk Highway. Broadway is the pulsing heart of Nashville, a neon-lit street lined with bars, live music venues, and more cowboy boots than you can shake a stick at. This is where Nashville earns its "Music City" nickname, with live tunes pouring out of every doorway from 10 AM to 3 AM.

Now, I know what you're thinking – bar hopping in the afternoon? Trust me, in Nashville, it's not just acceptable, it's practically mandatory. These honky-tonks are as much a part of Nashville's culture as the Grand Ole Opry, and they're just as lively during the day as they are at night.

Start your Broadway adventure at the iconic Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. This purple-hued bar has been a Nashville staple since the 1960s and has hosted everyone from Patsy Cline to Kris Kristofferson. The walls are covered in photos of country music legends, and there's live music on all three floors. We grabbed a couple of cold beers and settled in for a set, marveling at the raw talent on display. These aren't your average bar bands – many of these musicians are future stars just waiting for their big break.

Next, mosey on down to Robert's Western World. This place is old-school Nashville at its finest, with a house band that plays classic country and Western swing. It's also famous for its "Recession Special" – a fried bologna sandwich, bag of chips, and a PBR for under $10. It's not fancy, but it's delicious and authentic as heck.

End your honky-tonk crawl at The Stage on Broadway. This three-story venue has a more modern vibe, with a mix of country, rock, and pop cover bands. The rooftop bar offers a great view of the bustling street below – perfect for people-watching and soaking in the energy of Broadway.

  • Location: Lower Broadway, Nashville, TN
  • Hours: Most venues open from 10 AM to 3 AM
  • Admission: Free entry to most honky-tonks, but be prepared to buy a drink or two

Why Visit: Broadway is the beating heart of Nashville's music scene. It's where aspiring musicians come to make it big, and where music lovers come to discover the next big thing. Plus, the energy here is infectious – you can't help but have a good time.

Insider Tip: Don't be afraid to bar hop! Most honky-tonks don't have a cover charge, so you can pop in and out to sample different vibes and music styles. And remember, it's customary to tip the bands if you enjoy the music – they're often playing for tips only.

Evening: Dinner and Show at the Grand Ole Opry

Exterior view of the iconic Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville at dusk, with its name lit up on the building
Made it to the Grand Ole Opry! Did you know it's been broadcasting live since 1925? Talk about musical history!

Grand Ole Opry

As the sun sets on your first day in Nashville, it's time for the main event – a night at the Grand Ole Opry. This isn't just a concert venue; it's a Nashville institution, a radio show that's been broadcasting live since 1925. It's where country music legends were made, and where today's stars still come to pay homage to the genre's roots.

We arrived early to take the backstage tour, and let me tell you, it's worth every penny. You get to peek into the dressing rooms (each themed after a country music legend), stand on the famous circle of wood taken from the Ryman Auditorium stage, and even step into "Studio A" where "Hee Haw" was filmed. Our tour guide regaled us with stories of nervous debut performances and hilarious backstage antics. By the time the tour was over, we felt like we were part of the Opry family.

The show itself is a unique experience. Unlike a typical concert, the Opry features a lineup of multiple artists, each performing a few songs. You might see a country legend, an up-and-coming star, and a bluegrass band all in one night. The night we went, we saw Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill, and a fantastic new artist named Carly Pearce. The variety keeps things exciting, and there's truly something for everyone.

One of the coolest parts? The Opry is still a live radio show. Between acts, you'll hear the announcer doing live ads and introducing segments, just like they've been doing for nearly a century. It's like stepping back in time while simultaneously experiencing the cutting edge of country music.

  • Location: 2804 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214
  • Hours: Show times vary, typically Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights
  • Admission: Tickets start at $45

Why Visit: The Grand Ole Opry is to country music what Broadway is to theater. It's a bucket list experience for music lovers, offering a unique blend of history and contemporary performance.

Insider Tip: If you can, splurge for the backstage tour package. It adds so much context to the show and gives you a real behind-the-scenes look at country music history. Oh, and don't rush out after the show – sometimes the artists hang around to chat with fans!

As you head back to your hotel, your ears ringing with the sound of steel guitars and fiddles, take a moment to reflect on your first day in Nashville. You've journeyed through the history of country music, experienced the raw energy of Broadway's honky-tonks, and witnessed a slice of Americana at the Grand Ole Opry. And the best part? This is just the beginning of your Nashville adventure. Rest up, because tomorrow we're diving even deeper into Music City's melodious heart!

Day 2: Music History and Local Flavors

Good morning, y'all! Hope you're ready for another exciting day in Nashville. Yesterday was all about the big, flashy side of country music. Today, we're going to peel back the layers and explore some of the places where the magic really happens. We're also going to treat our taste buds to some of Nashville's famous cuisine. Trust me, by the end of today, your ears will be buzzing with music history, and your belly will be full of some of the best food the South has to offer.

We've structured today's Nashville itinerary to give you a deeper dive into the city's musical roots, while also introducing you to some of its culinary delights. We're starting with two iconic music venues that have played crucial roles in shaping Nashville's sound. Then, we're heading to some of the city's trendier neighborhoods to experience the evolving food scene and local culture. This mix of old and new, music and food, will give you a well-rounded taste of what makes Nashville so special.

Morning: Tour RCA Studio B and the Ryman Auditorium

RCA Studio B

Interior of RCA Studio B in Nashville, showcasing vintage recording equipment used by music legends
Stepping into RCA Studio B feels like traveling back in time. Elvis recorded over 200 songs right here!

Rise and shine, music lovers! We're starting our day with a trip to RCA Studio B, often called the "Home of 1,000 Hits." This unassuming building on Music Row is where some of the biggest names in music history laid down tracks that would change the face of popular music forever.

As soon as you step inside, you can feel the history oozing from the walls. This is where Elvis Presley recorded over 200 songs, including classics like "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" and "It's Now or Never." But it's not just about The King – Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, and the Everly Brothers all recorded here too.

The tour is fascinating, filled with stories of marathon recording sessions and quirky superstitions. Did you know that Elvis liked to record in near-darkness to get in the mood? They'll even let you sit at the piano where he played. I may or may not have hummed a few bars of "Jailhouse Rock" while sitting there (much to Sarah's embarrassment).

One of the coolest parts of the tour is when they play a clip of an unreleased Elvis recording. Hearing The King's voice filling the same room where he once stood is enough to give you goosebumps. It's moments like these that make you realize just how much musical history Nashville holds.

  • Location: 1611 Roy Acuff Pl, Nashville, TN 37203
  • Hours: Daily tours from 10:30 AM - 2:30 PM
  • Admission: $49.95 for adults (includes Country Music Hall of Fame admission)

Why Visit: RCA Studio B is a pilgrimage site for music lovers. It's where the "Nashville Sound" was born, and standing in the same spot as legends like Elvis and Dolly Parton is an unforgettable experience.

Insider Tip: Book your tour in advance, as they often sell out. And don't be shy about asking questions - the guides are incredibly knowledgeable and love sharing lesser-known stories about the studio's history.

Ryman Auditorium

View of the historic Ryman Auditorium stage in Nashville from the audience perspective, showcasing its iconic design
The acoustics in the Ryman Auditorium are incredible. No wonder they call it the Mother Church of Country Music!

Next up on our musical history tour is the Ryman Auditorium, affectionately known as the "Mother Church of Country Music." Don't let the nickname fool you, though - while it did start as a church, the Ryman has hosted everyone from Johnny Cash to Jack White.

As you walk into the auditorium, you're immediately struck by the beautiful stained glass windows and wooden pews. It's not hard to imagine why performers consider it an honor to play here. The acoustics are incredible - during our tour, a guide sang a cappella, and you could hear a pin drop.

The self-guided tour takes you through the history of the Ryman, from its days as a gospel tabernacle to its time as the home of the Grand Ole Opry. You'll see exhibits dedicated to some of the biggest names in country music, as well as more surprising performers who've graced the stage, like James Brown and Bruce Springsteen.

One of the highlights for us was the opportunity to step on stage and have our photo taken. Standing where so many legends have stood is a truly special moment. Just try not to break into song - trust me, the temptation is real!

  • Location: 116 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219
  • Hours: Tours available daily, 9 AM - 4 PM
  • Admission: Self-guided tours start at $26

Why Visit: The Ryman is to country music what Carnegie Hall is to classical. Its history, acoustics, and ongoing role in shaping American music make it a must-visit for any music lover.

Insider Tip: If you can, try to catch a show at the Ryman. The atmosphere during a live performance is electric, and there's something special about experiencing music in a venue with such rich history.

Afternoon: Lunch at Hattie B's Hot Chicken, Explore 12 South Neighborhood

Hattie B's Hot Chicken

Plate of spicy hot chicken with traditional sides at Hattie B's in Nashville, showcasing the city's famous dish
Brace yourselves for Hattie B's Hot Chicken! Opted for 'medium' heat and it's still making me sweat. So good though!

After all that musical history, it's time to treat your taste buds to some Nashville history - hot chicken! And there's no better place to do that than Hattie B's. Now, let me warn you: Nashville hot chicken is not for the faint of heart. It's spicy, it's messy, and it's absolutely delicious.

Hattie B's offers different heat levels, from "Southern" (no heat) to "Shut the Cluck Up!!!" (extra hot). I consider myself pretty good with spice, so I went for the "Hot." Let's just say I was grateful for the sweet tea and coleslaw to cool things down. Sarah played it safer with "Medium" and was much more comfortable. Whatever heat level you choose, make sure to get a side of pimento mac and cheese - it's the perfect creamy complement to the spicy chicken.

The atmosphere at Hattie B's is casual and lively. You'll likely have to wait in line, but trust me, it's worth it. Use the time to chat with your neighbors in line - hot chicken preferences are a great conversation starter in Nashville!

  • Location: 112 19th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203 (multiple locations)
  • Hours: Daily, 11 AM - 10 PM
  • Price: $10-15 per person

Why Visit: Hot chicken is a Nashville institution, and Hattie B's is one of the best places to try it. It's a culinary experience that's as much about the flavor as it is about the challenge.

Insider Tip: If the line at the 19th Ave location is too long, try one of their other locations. And if you're really pressed for time, you can order online for pickup.

12 South Neighborhood

Tourists posing in front of the famous 'I Believe in Nashville' mural in the trendy 12 South neighborhood
Found the famous 'I Believe in Nashville' mural in 12 South! This neighborhood is full of cool shops and great photo ops.

With our bellies full of spicy goodness, it's time to walk it off in one of Nashville's trendiest neighborhoods - 12 South. This area is a perfect example of Nashville's evolution, blending old-school charm with hip, modern attractions.

Start your exploration at Sevier Park, a lovely green space that's perfect for a post-lunch stroll. Then, make your way down 12th Avenue South, the main drag of the neighborhood. You'll find a mix of boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants.

One must-stop shop is Reese Witherspoon's Draper James. Even if you're not looking to buy, it's worth popping in to see the bright, cheerful decor that epitomizes Southern charm. Another fun stop is White's Mercantile, a modern-day general store owned by Holly Williams (yes, that's Hank Williams' granddaughter).

As you explore, keep an eye out for the neighborhood's famous murals. The "I Believe in Nashville" mural is practically required for Instagram lovers visiting the city. We waited in line for about 10 minutes to get our photo, but it was worth it for the likes!

If you need a pick-me-up after all that walking, stop by the Frothy Monkey for some excellent coffee. Or, if you're somehow still hungry, Five Daughters Bakery offers some of the best doughnuts in town. Their 100 Layer Doughnut is basically a croissant-doughnut hybrid, and it's as decadent as it sounds.

  • Location: 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN
  • Hours: Most shops open 10 AM - 6 PM, restaurants open later
  • Price: Free to explore, but bring your wallet for shopping and snacks

Why Visit: 12 South offers a perfect blend of local culture, shopping, and photo ops. It's a great place to experience Nashville beyond the country music scene.

Insider Tip: Visit on a Tuesday to check out the 12 South Farmers Market (3:30 PM - 6:30 PM, May through October). It's a great place to sample local produce and artisanal goods.

Evening: Dinner in Germantown, Cocktails at Patterson House

Germantown

Tree-lined street in Nashville's historic Germantown neighborhood, showcasing well-preserved 19th-century architecture
Strolling through Germantown feels like stepping back in time. The mix of historic charm and trendy restaurants is perfect!

As the sun starts to set, we're heading to Germantown for dinner. This historic neighborhood is one of Nashville's oldest, but it's also home to some of the city's most innovative restaurants. With its tree-lined streets and beautiful Victorian architecture, it's a charming area to explore as dusk falls.

For dinner, we highly recommend Rolf and Daughters. This rustic-chic spot serves up incredible pasta dishes and creative small plates with a focus on local ingredients. The menu changes seasonally, but if they have the squid ink pasta, order it - you won't regret it. The atmosphere is cozy yet vibrant, perfect for a nice dinner out without feeling stuffy.

If Rolf and Daughters is booked up (make reservations well in advance!), City House is another excellent option. Known for its wood-fired pizzas and Italian-Southern fusion dishes, it's a local favorite for good reason.

  • Location: Germantown neighborhood, north of downtown Nashville
  • Hours: Most restaurants open for dinner from 5 PM - 10 PM
  • Price: Expect to spend $50-70 per person for dinner and drinks

Why Visit: Germantown offers a more relaxed, local vibe compared to the tourist-heavy areas downtown, and the food scene here is top-notch.

Insider Tip: If you're visiting on a weekend, come to Germantown earlier in the day to check out the Nashville Farmers' Market. It's a great place to sample local products and get a feel for the city's food culture.

The Patterson House

Bartender crafting a cocktail at The Patterson House in Nashville, showcasing the bar's speakeasy atmosphere
The Patterson House takes cocktails seriously! Watching the bartenders work is like seeing artists in action.

To cap off the night, we're heading to The Patterson House for cocktails. This speakeasy-style bar is a bit of a hidden gem, and it's the perfect place to unwind after a busy day of exploring.

From the outside, The Patterson House doesn't look like much - just a simple brick building with a small sign. But step inside, and you're transported to another era. The decor is all dark wood and dim lighting, with bartenders in vests and ties crafting cocktails with scientific precision.

The drink menu is extensive and can be a bit overwhelming, but don't worry - the knowledgeable staff is more than happy to help you find the perfect cocktail. I went for their take on an Old Fashioned, which was smoky and complex, while Sarah loved their gin-based Juliet & Romeo.

  • Location: 1711 Division St, Nashville, TN 37203
  • Hours: Daily, 5 PM - 3 AM
  • Price: Cocktails range from $12-$16

Why Visit: The Patterson House offers a sophisticated alternative to Nashville's honky-tonk scene, with some of the best cocktails in the city.

Insider Tip: The Patterson House doesn't take reservations and can get busy, especially on weekends. Try to arrive early or be prepared for a bit of a wait - but trust us, it's worth it.

As you sip your expertly crafted cocktail, take a moment to reflect on your second day in Nashville. You've delved into the city's musical past, tasted its fiery culinary present, and experienced its trendy, evolving neighborhoods. From the hallowed halls of RCA Studio B to the hip streets of 12 South, you've seen how Nashville honors its history while constantly reinventing itself. And the best part? We've still got one more day to go! Rest up, because tomorrow we're venturing beyond the music scene to discover some of Nashville's hidden gems.

Day 3: Beyond the Music

Good morning, Nashville explorers! Can you believe it's already your last day in Music City? Don't worry, though - we've saved some of Nashville's most unique experiences for last. Today, we're going to show you that there's more to this city than just country music and hot chicken (although those are pretty great too).

We've structured today's Nashville itinerary to give you a taste of the city's cultural and natural offerings. We'll start with a trip to a surprising piece of ancient Greece in the heart of Tennessee, then explore some local history. In the afternoon, we'll venture just outside the city for a taste of the South's antebellum past (and some excellent wine). Finally, we'll cap off your three days in Nashville with a sunset view and a dinner cruise you won't forget.

This day is designed to show you the diversity of experiences Nashville has to offer. It's a chance to see the city from different perspectives and understand why so many people fall in love with Nashville, even if they're not big country music fans.

Morning: Visit The Parthenon in Centennial Park

Full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park, showcasing the city's unexpected Greek architecture
Did a double-take when I saw the Parthenon in Nashville! It's a full-scale replica of the one in Athens - who knew?

The Parthenon

I know what you're thinking - "The Parthenon? Aren't we in Nashville?" Yes, you read that right. Nashville is home to a full-scale replica of the Parthenon, and it's our first stop this morning.

Located in Centennial Park, Nashville's Parthenon was originally built in 1897 for Tennessee's Centennial Exposition. It was meant to be temporary, but the people of Nashville loved it so much that they decided to keep it. Today, it stands as a testament to Nashville's reputation as the "Athens of the South" due to its many universities and commitment to the arts.

As you approach the Parthenon, you can't help but be impressed by its size and detail. It's an exact replica of the original in Athens, right down to the 42-foot statue of Athena inside. The statue is covered in gold leaf and is truly a sight to behold.

The Parthenon also serves as an art museum, with a permanent collection of 19th and 20th century American art, as well as rotating exhibitions. We spent a good hour just admiring the building and the artwork inside.

After you've explored the Parthenon, take some time to enjoy Centennial Park itself. It's a beautiful green space in the heart of the city, perfect for a morning stroll or a picnic if you want to grab some breakfast to go.

  • Location: 2500 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9 AM - 4:30 PM, Sunday 12:30 PM - 4:30 PM
  • Admission: Adults $10, Children (4-17) $8

Why Visit: It's not every day you get to see a full-scale replica of an ancient Greek temple in the middle of Tennessee. The Parthenon is a unique attraction that sets Nashville apart from other Southern cities.

Insider Tip: For a great photo op, come early in the morning when the light is good and there are fewer people around. The reflecting pool in front of the Parthenon makes for some beautiful shots.

Afternoon: Tour Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery

Exterior view of the Belle Meade mansion in Nashville with visitors exploring the grounds, showcasing antebellum architecture
Explored Belle Meade today - it's a beautiful glimpse into the Old South. The wine tasting afterwards was a nice bonus!

Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery

After lunch, we're heading just outside the city to Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery. This beautiful Greek Revival mansion offers a glimpse into Nashville's antebellum past and the chance to sample some excellent local wines.

Belle Meade, which means "beautiful meadow" in old English and French, was once a sprawling 5,400-acre plantation. Today, it's a 30-acre historic site that tells the story of the Harding and Jackson families, as well as the enslaved individuals who lived and worked here.

The tour of the mansion is fascinating, offering insights into 19th-century Southern life. Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable, sharing stories about the family's rise to prominence in the horse breeding industry and their eventual financial downfall. The mansion is beautifully preserved, with many original furnishings and decor.

But the history lesson isn't the only reason to visit Belle Meade. The site is also home to a winery, continuing a tradition of winemaking that dates back to the 1820s. After your tour, you can enjoy a complimentary wine tasting. We particularly enjoyed their Carriage House White, a crisp, refreshing blend perfect for a warm Nashville day.

  • Location: 5025 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205
  • Hours: Daily, 9 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Adult tickets $28, includes wine tasting

Why Visit: Belle Meade offers a unique combination of history and wine tasting, providing a different perspective on Nashville's past and present.

Insider Tip: If you're a history buff, consider upgrading to the Journey to Jubilee tour. It provides a more in-depth look at the lives of the enslaved individuals who lived and worked at Belle Meade.

Evening: Sunset at John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, Dinner Cruise on the General Jackson Showboat

John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

View of Nashville skyline at sunset from the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, highlighting the city's riverside beauty
The view from John Seigenthaler Bridge at sunset is unbeatable. Perfect spot to end a day of exploring Nashville!

As the day winds down, make your way to the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge for one of the best views in Nashville. This former railroad bridge spans the Cumberland River and offers panoramic views of the city skyline.

Timing is key here - try to arrive about 30 minutes before sunset. As the sun dips below the horizon, you'll see the city light up, with the neon signs of Broadway glowing in the distance. It's a photographer's dream and a perfect way to say goodbye to Nashville.

The bridge is also a great spot for people-watching. You'll see joggers, cyclists, couples on romantic walks, and plenty of other tourists snapping photos. Take your time, soak in the atmosphere, and reflect on your three days in Nashville.

  • Location: Downtown Nashville, connecting Riverfront Park to East Nashville
  • Hours: Open 24/7
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: The pedestrian bridge offers unparalleled views of the Nashville skyline and is a peaceful spot to watch the sunset over the city.

Insider Tip: Bring a light jacket or sweater, even in summer. The breeze off the river can be cool, and you'll want to linger to watch the city light up as darkness falls.

General Jackson Showboat

General Jackson Showboat illuminated at night on the Cumberland River in Nashville, showcasing its classic paddlewheel design
Dinner cruise on the General Jackson Showboat was a blast! Great food, live music, and beautiful views of Nashville at night.

For our grand finale, we're setting sail on the General Jackson Showboat for a dinner cruise down the Cumberland River. This massive paddlewheel riverboat is a Nashville icon, offering a unique perspective on the city and a hefty dose of Southern charm.

As you board the boat, you'll be transported back to the era of Mark Twain, when riverboats were the pinnacle of elegance and entertainment. The General Jackson is a sight to behold, with its four decks and ornate Victorian decor.

The dinner is a buffet-style affair, featuring Southern classics like fried chicken, catfish, and barbecue. While the food is good, the real star of the show is the entertainment. The live music performance showcases some of Nashville's best talent, with a mix of country, rock, and blues that'll have you tapping your feet and singing along.

As you cruise down the river, you'll get a different view of Nashville's skyline, all lit up against the night sky. It's a magical way to end your three days in Nashville, combining music, food, and scenery in true Music City style.

  • Location: 2812 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214
  • Hours: Evening cruises typically depart at 7:00 PM
  • Price: Tickets start at $89 for adults, including dinner and show

Why Visit: A dinner cruise on the General Jackson offers a unique vantage point of Nashville and combines dining, entertainment, and sightseeing all in one experience.

Insider Tip: Book your tickets in advance, especially during peak season. And don't be shy about getting up to dance during the show – it's encouraged!

Alternative Options for Day 3

Now, I know not everyone's travel style is the same. Maybe you're more of an outdoor enthusiast, or perhaps you're traveling with kids. So, let's explore some alternative options for your third day in Nashville:

For Nature Lovers

Scenic hiking trail winding through trees at Radnor Lake State Park near Nashville, showcasing the area's natural beauty
Escaped the city for a hike at Radnor Lake State Park. It's hard to believe this tranquil spot is just minutes from downtown!

If you're craving some time in nature, consider spending your morning at Radnor Lake State Park. Just a short drive from downtown, this park offers serene hiking trails and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. You might spot deer, turtles, and even the occasional otter.

Vibrant flower gardens at Cheekwood Estate in Nashville, showcasing the property's beautifully landscaped grounds
Cheekwood Estate is a feast for the eyes! The gardens are stunning and the art exhibitions are top-notch.

In the afternoon, you could explore the Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. This 55-acre botanical garden and art museum offers beautiful walks, stunning architecture, and rotating art exhibitions.

For Families

Giraffe reaching over a fence towards visitors at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, highlighting the interactive animal experiences
Had a close encounter with this friendly giraffe at Nashville Zoo! It's a great place for animal lovers of all ages.

Families might enjoy starting their day at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. It's home to over 2,700 animals and has some great interactive exhibits for kids.

Children engaging with an interactive science exhibit at Adventure Science Center in Nashville
The Adventure Science Center is a hit with kids and adults alike! Hands-on exhibits make learning fun for everyone.

In the afternoon, the Adventure Science Center is a hit with kids and adults alike. With over 175 hands-on exhibits, it's a fun and educational way to spend a few hours.

For History Buffs

Stone fortifications at Fort Negley Park in Nashville, showcasing the city's Civil War history
Explored Fort Negley today - it's a fascinating piece of Civil War history right in the heart of Nashville.

History enthusiasts might prefer to spend more time exploring Nashville's past. Start your day at Fort Negley, a Civil War-era fort with a fascinating visitor center.

Follow that up with a visit to Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. This beautiful estate was home to the seventh U.S. President and offers a deep dive into early 19th-century American history.

Exterior view of Andrew Jackson's Hermitage mansion in Nashville with visitors on a guided tour
Stepped back in time at The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson. The preservation of this historic site is impressive!

Final Thoughts on 3 Days in Nashville

As you wake up on your fourth day in Nashville, ready to head home (or onto your next adventure), take a moment to reflect on all you've experienced. In just three days, you've journeyed through the heart of country music, from the hallowed halls of the Ryman to the neon-lit honky-tonks of Broadway. You've tasted Nashville's fiery culinary scene and sipped cocktails in trendy neighborhoods. You've explored antebellum mansions and ancient Greek architecture (well, sort of), and seen the city from land, river, and bridge.

But here's the thing about Nashville – no matter how much you see and do, there's always more waiting to be discovered. Maybe you'll want to come back to catch a show at the Bluebird Cafe, where songwriters showcase their latest work. Or perhaps you'll want to dive deeper into the food scene, trying more hot chicken joints or exploring the city's burgeoning farm-to-table restaurants.

The beauty of this 3-day Nashville itinerary is that it gives you a taste of everything the city has to offer. It's designed to hit the highlights while also giving you a sense of Nashville's unique character. But it's also flexible – feel free to mix and match activities based on your interests, or use it as a starting point to create your own perfect Nashville experience.

Remember, Nashville is a city that marches to the beat of its own drum (or guitar, as the case may be). It's a place where music is more than just entertainment – it's a way of life. It's a city that honors its past while constantly reinventing itself, where cowboy boots and haute cuisine coexist in perfect harmony.

So whether you're a music lover, a foodie, a history buff, or just someone in search of a good time, Nashville has something for you. These three days in Nashville are just the beginning. Who knows? You might find yourself planning your next visit before you even leave the city limits.

As for Sarah and me, we're already talking about when we can come back. There's a plate of hot chicken calling my name, and I think I left a little piece of my heart on that Ryman Auditorium stage. Nashville, we'll be back soon. Until then, keep the music playing and the chicken frying. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Quick Summary: 3 Days in Nashville

Day 1: Downtown Nashville and Broadway

  • Morning: Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Afternoon: Explore Broadway and its honky-tonks
  • Evening: Dinner and show at the Grand Ole Opry

Day 2: Music History and Local Flavors

  • Morning: Tour RCA Studio B and the Ryman Auditorium
  • Afternoon: Lunch at Hattie B's Hot Chicken, explore 12 South neighborhood
  • Evening: Dinner in Germantown, cocktails at The Patterson House

Day 3: Beyond the Music

  • Morning: Visit The Parthenon in Centennial Park
  • Afternoon: Tour Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery
  • Evening: Sunset at John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, dinner cruise on the General Jackson Showboat

Remember, this itinerary is flexible. Feel free to swap activities or add alternatives based on your interests and travel style. Nashville has something for everyone, from nature lovers and families to history buffs and foodies.

Link Index

Here's a comprehensive list of all the hyperlinks used in the article:

  1. WeGo Public Transit
  2. Drury Plaza Hotel Nashville Downtown
  3. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
  4. Broadway
  5. Grand Ole Opry
  6. RCA Studio B
  7. Ryman Auditorium
  8. Hattie B's Hot Chicken
  9. 12 South Neighborhood
  10. Germantown
  11. Rolf and Daughters
  12. City House
  13. The Patterson House
  14. The Parthenon
  15. Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery
  16. John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
  17. General Jackson Showboat
  18. Radnor Lake State Park
  19. Cheekwood Estate & Gardens
  20. Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
  21. Adventure Science Center
  22. Fort Negley
  23. Andrew Jackson's Hermitage
  24. Downtown Nashville
  25. Visit Music City

These links provide additional information and resources for planning your perfect 3-day trip to Nashville. Remember to check the official websites for the most up-to-date information on hours, prices, and potential closures or restrictions.

We hope this 3-day Nashville itinerary helps you make the most of your time in Music City. From the twang of country music to the heat of hot chicken, from historic landmarks to trendy neighborhoods, Nashville offers a unique blend of experiences that will leave you wanting to come back for more. So pack your bags, bring your appetite (for both food and music), and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Nashville!

West Parker
West Parker
Article updated:
July 18, 2024 8:11 AM

West Parker, a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduate, has spent two decades as the secret weapon of the jet-set elite, crafting bespoke adventures that redefine luxury travel. Now a resident writer for Town & Tourist, this 45-year-old "Architect of Extraordinary Journeys" combines razor-sharp insights with unparalleled industry connections to deliver experiences that even the most discerning globetrotters can't help but rave about. West's expertise spans from exclusive real estate to fine dining, making him the go-to strategist for those who demand nothing but the extraordinary in their travels.

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