Top 25 Things To Do in Nashville

From honky-tonk havens to hidden culinary gems, Music City strikes a chord with history buffs, foodies, and melody makers alike.

West Parker
West Parker
July 18, 2024

As the neon lights of Broadway flicker to life and the first chords of a country ballad drift from a nearby honky-tonk, Nashville reveals itself as more than just the home of country music. This vibrant capital of Tennessee, known affectionately as Music City, harmoniously blends its rich musical heritage with a booming culinary scene, captivating history, and an undercurrent of creative energy that extends far beyond its famous stages.

Nashville's allure lies in its ability to offer something for everyone. Music lovers can trace the footsteps of legends at the Country Music Hall of Fame or catch a live performance at the Grand Ole Opry. Food enthusiasts will find themselves on a culinary adventure, from fiery hot chicken joints to innovative farm-to-table restaurants. History buffs can step back in time at antebellum mansions and Civil War sites, while art aficionados will discover a thriving scene in neighborhoods like East Nashville and The Gulch.

Whether you're tapping your feet to a live band on Lower Broadway, savoring a bourbon at a craft distillery, or taking in the view from Love Circle, Nashville invites you to become part of its ever-evolving story. So grab your cowboy boots (or don't – we won't judge) and get ready to explore the best of what Music City has to offer.

Rock Out at the Grand Ole Opry

Enthusiastic audience at Grand Ole Opry performance, showcasing the iconic country music venue's lively atmosphere
Caught an amazing show at the Grand Ole Opry tonight! The energy in this place is unreal - you can feel the history in every note.

Step into the hallowed halls of country music at the Grand Ole Opry, where legends are born and traditions are honored. This iconic venue has been showcasing the best in country, bluegrass, and Americana for nearly a century. As you take your seat in the legendary Opry House, you'll feel the electric anticipation in the air. Each show features a lineup of both established stars and up-and-coming artists, ensuring a perfect blend of nostalgia and discovery. The Opry's famous wooden circle on stage, transplanted from its original home at the Ryman Auditorium, has been graced by the likes of Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Garth Brooks.

  • Location: 2804 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN 37214
  • Hours: Show times vary; check schedule for details
  • Admission: Tickets start at $45

Why Visit: Experience the heart of country music in a venue that's shaped the genre for generations.

Insider Tip: Take the backstage tour before the show to see the artists' dressing rooms and learn about the Opry's rich history.

Explore the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Impressive guitar display at the Country Music Hall of Fame, highlighting the museum's extensive collection of musical instruments
Spent hours exploring the Country Music Hall of Fame today. The guitar collection is mind-blowing - so much history in one place!

Dive into the rich mix of American music at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. This treasure trove of musical history spans two floors and showcases everything from vintage guitars to rhinestone-studded stage costumes. You'll find yourself face-to-face with Elvis Presley's gold Cadillac and can even hear rare recordings in the museum's audio alcoves. The Hall of Fame Rotunda, with its bronze plaques honoring inducted artists, is a must-see for any music enthusiast. Interactive exhibits let you try your hand at recording or mixing a track, giving you a taste of the music-making process.

  • Location: 222 Rep. John Lewis Way S, Nashville, TN 37203
  • Hours: Daily 9 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Adult $27.95, Youth (6-12) $17.95

Why Visit: Gain a comprehensive understanding of country music's evolution and its cultural impact.

Insider Tip: Don't miss the Taylor Swift Education Center, which offers hands-on experiences for visitors of all ages.

Savor Nashville Hot Chicken at Hattie B's

Plate of Hattie B's famous hot chicken with traditional Southern sides, showcasing Nashville's signature spicy dish
Braved the "Shut the Cluck Up!!!" heat level at Hattie B's. My taste buds may never be the same, but it was so worth it!

Brace your taste buds for a fiery Nashville tradition at Hattie B's Hot Chicken. This local institution has perfected the art of crispy, spicy chicken that's become synonymous with Nashville's culinary scene. As you approach the restaurant, the aroma of spices and fried chicken will have your mouth watering. Choose your heat level – from "Southern" (no heat) to "Shut the Cluck Up!!!" (extra hot) – and prepare for a flavor explosion. The chicken comes served on white bread with pickle chips, a combination that's simple yet unforgettable. Pair it with classic Southern sides like pimento mac and cheese or black-eyed pea salad for the full experience.

  • Location: Multiple locations; original at 112 19th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 AM - 10 PM, Sunday 11 AM - 4 PM
  • Price Range: $10-$15 per plate

Why Visit: Experience Nashville's iconic hot chicken at one of the city's most beloved spots.

Insider Tip: Visit during off-peak hours to avoid long lines, or use their online ordering system for pickup.

Stroll Through the Parthenon at Centennial Park

Full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park, showcasing the city's unexpected Greek architectural gem
Felt like I time-traveled to ancient Greece right in the middle of Nashville! The Parthenon replica is surprisingly impressive.

Transport yourself to ancient Greece without leaving Tennessee at the Parthenon in Centennial Park. This full-scale replica of the Athenian original stands as a testament to Nashville's reputation as the "Athens of the South." As you ascend the steps, you'll be struck by the grandeur of the columned facade. Inside, a 42-foot-tall statue of Athena, covered in gold leaf, commands your attention. The building also houses an art museum featuring 19th and 20th-century American paintings. Outside, the surrounding Centennial Park offers a peaceful retreat with its lake, walking trails, and open green spaces.

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

Why Visit: Marvel at this unexpected piece of ancient Greek architecture in the heart of Tennessee.

Insider Tip: Time your visit for sunset to see the Parthenon bathed in golden light, perfect for photos.

Tour the Ryman Auditorium

View of the historic stage at Ryman Auditorium, capturing the venue's unique atmosphere and rich musical heritage
Standing on the same stage as countless music legends at the Ryman Auditorium. The history here is palpable!

Step into the "Mother Church of Country Music" at the Ryman Auditorium. This National Historic Landmark began its life as a tabernacle in 1892 and went on to host the Grand Ole Opry for over 30 years. As you walk through the auditorium, you'll feel the weight of musical history in every creaking floorboard. The venue's exceptional acoustics have attracted artists from all genres, from Johnny Cash to Jack White. Take a self-guided tour to explore the exhibits, or opt for the backstage tour to stand on the famous stage itself. Don't miss the opportunity to record your own song in the Ryman's recording studio – a unique souvenir of your visit.

  • Location: 116 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219
  • Hours: Daily 9 AM - 4 PM for tours
  • Admission: Self-guided tour $26, Backstage tour $38

Why Visit: Experience the hallowed halls where countless music legends have performed.

Insider Tip: Check the schedule for evening performances – experiencing a live show in this historic venue is unforgettable.

Wander Through the Johnny Cash Museum

Exhibit of Johnny Cash memorabilia at his namesake museum, showcasing the Man in Black's lasting legacy
Walked the line through Johnny Cash's life at his museum. The handwritten lyrics gave me chills - what a storyteller he was!

Immerse yourself in the life and legacy of the Man in Black at the Johnny Cash Museum. This intimate museum packs a wealth of artifacts and memorabilia into its compact space. From stage costumes and instruments to handwritten lyrics and personal letters, every item tells a part of Cash's story. The museum does an excellent job of contextualizing Cash's career within the broader landscape of American music and culture. Interactive exhibits allow you to explore his discography and even mix your own version of his songs. As you move through the chronologically arranged displays, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for Cash's impact on music and his enduring influence.

  • Location: 119 3rd Ave S, Nashville, TN 37201
  • Hours: Daily 9 AM - 7 PM
  • Admission: Adult $22.95, Youth (6-15) $18.95

Why Visit: Gain insight into the life of one of country music's most iconic figures.

Insider Tip: Combine your visit with the nearby Patsy Cline Museum for a comprehensive look at two country legends.

Enjoy Live Music on Lower Broadway

Lively scene inside a honky-tonk bar on Lower Broadway, capturing Nashville's vibrant live music atmosphere
Lost track of time hopping between honky-tonks on Broadway. The talent in this city is unreal - every bar is a new adventure!

Dive into the heart of Nashville's music scene on Lower Broadway, affectionately known as the Honky Tonk Highway. This vibrant stretch of road is lined with neon-lit bars and music venues, each pulsing with live music from morning till night. As you stroll down the street, you'll hear a mix of country, rock, and blues spilling out of open doors. Pop into legendary venues like Tootsie's Orchid Lounge or Robert's Western World, where you might catch a rising star or a surprise performance by an established artist. The energy is infectious, and you'll find yourself tapping your feet and swaying to the music in no time.

  • Location: Lower Broadway, Nashville, TN 37201
  • Hours: Most venues open daily from 10 AM until 3 AM
  • Price Range: Many venues have no cover charge; drink prices vary

Why Visit: Experience the raw energy and talent of Nashville's music scene in its most concentrated form.

Insider Tip: Bring cash for tipping the performers – it's customary and appreciated.

Visit the Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery

Exterior view of the historic Belle Meade mansion, showcasing the antebellum architecture and lush grounds
Stepped back in time at Belle Meade today. The mansion is stunning, but learning about its complex history was eye-opening.

Step back in time at the Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery, a beautifully preserved antebellum mansion that offers a glimpse into the Old South. Once the centerpiece of a 5,400-acre plantation, Belle Meade was renowned for its thoroughbred horses. As you tour the Greek Revival mansion, you'll learn about the family who lived there and the enslaved individuals who worked the land. The site now includes a winery where you can sample local wines, a nod to the property's history of hospitality. Don't miss the on-site restaurant, which serves up delicious Southern cuisine using locally sourced ingredients.

  • Location: 5025 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205
  • Hours: Daily 9 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Adult $28, Youth (6-18) $15

Why Visit: Explore a beautifully preserved piece of antebellum history while enjoying modern amenities.

Insider Tip: Take the Journey to Jubilee tour for a more comprehensive look at the lives of the enslaved people who lived and worked at Belle Meade.

Catch a Show at the Bluebird Cafe

Intimate performance at the Bluebird Cafe, highlighting the venue's significance in Nashville's songwriting scene
Snagged a seat at the Bluebird Cafe tonight. Hearing songs straight from the songwriters in such an intimate setting was unforgettable.

Experience the magic of songwriting at its purest at the Bluebird Cafe. This unassuming venue, tucked away in a strip mall, has launched the careers of countless songwriters and artists. The intimate 90-seat room offers a listening-room format where you can hear songwriters perform their own works in the round. It's not uncommon to see big-name artists drop in for surprise performances or to test out new material. The respectful silence during performances allows you to appreciate every lyric and melody. You might just hear the next big hit before it makes it to the radio.

  • Location: 4104 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215
  • Hours: Show times vary; check schedule for details
  • Admission: Prices vary by show, typically $15-$25

Why Visit: Witness the art of songwriting up close in an iconic Nashville venue.

Insider Tip: Reservations are essential, especially for weekend shows. Book well in advance or try for walk-up seats, which are released 10 minutes before showtime.

Explore the National Museum of African American Music

Visitor engaging with an interactive exhibit at the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville
Spent the day at NMAAM and was blown away. The interactive exhibits really bring the evolution of African American music to life.

Celebrate the profound impact of African American music at this groundbreaking museum. The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) takes you on a journey through the evolution of American music, from spirituals and gospel to jazz, R&B, and hip-hop. Interactive exhibits allow you to explore different genres and even try your hand at various instruments. The Rivers of Rhythm corridor serves as the museum's central spine, connecting different galleries and time periods. As you move through the space, you'll gain a deeper understanding of how African American music has shaped American culture as a whole.

  • Location: 510 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
  • Hours: Wednesday-Monday 11 AM - 6 PM, Closed Tuesday
  • Admission: Adult $24.95, Youth (7-17) $13.95

Why Visit: Gain a comprehensive understanding of African American contributions to American music.

Insider Tip: Don't miss the "One Nation Under A Groove" gallery, where you can dance along to popular songs from different eras.

Picnic at Centennial Park

Visitors enjoying a sunny day by the lake in Nashville's Centennial Park, showcasing the urban oasis
Perfect picnic spot found in Centennial Park! It's hard to believe this peaceful oasis is right in the heart of the city.

Take a break from the urban hustle and relax in the green oasis of Centennial Park. This 132-acre park offers a perfect blend of nature and culture in the heart of Nashville. Spread out a blanket near the park's centerpiece, a serene lake complete with paddling ducks and swans. The park is home to the Parthenon replica, sunken gardens, and walking trails. On weekends, you might catch a free concert at the bandshell or stumble upon a local art fair. The park's wide-open spaces are perfect for frisbee, outdoor yoga, or simply lounging with a good book.

  • Location: 2500 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203
  • Hours: Open daily 6 AM - 11 PM
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Enjoy a peaceful retreat in the midst of the city, surrounded by both natural beauty and cultural landmarks.

Insider Tip: Check the park's event calendar for free movie screenings in the summer months.

Shop and Dine in 12 South

Vibrant street art murals in Nashville's trendy 12 South neighborhood, highlighting the area's artistic vibe
Explored the 12 South neighborhood today. The street art is incredible, and I may have done a little too much shopping!

Experience Nashville's trendiest neighborhood in 12 South, a walkable stretch filled with boutique shops, creative restaurants, and colorful murals. Start your visit with a cup of coffee from Frothy Monkey, then browse unique shops like Imogene + Willie for handcrafted denim or White's Mercantile for curated home goods. When hunger strikes, grab a gourmet burger at Burger Up or indulge in some barbecue at Edley's. Don't forget to snap a photo at the famous "I Believe in Nashville" mural. As evening falls, join the locals for craft cocktails at Embers Ski Lodge or Urban Grub.

  • Location: 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37204
  • Hours: Most shops and restaurants open daily, hours vary
  • Price Range: Varies by establishment

Why Visit: Experience a concentrated dose of Nashville's hip, creative side in one walkable neighborhood.

Insider Tip: Visit on the first Saturday of the month for the 12 South Farmers Market, featuring local produce and artisanal goods.

Tour Nelson's Green Brier Distillery

Whiskey tasting experience at Nelson's Green Brier Distillery, showcasing Nashville's craft spirits scene
Learned the art of bourbon tasting at Nelson's Green Brier Distillery. The family history behind this place adds so much to the experience.

Dive into Nashville's spirited history at Nelson's Green Brier Distillery. This family-owned distillery has roots dating back to the 1800s and has been revived by the founder's great-great-great-grandsons. Take a guided tour to learn about the distilling process and the family's fascinating history, which includes Prohibition-era drama and a 21st-century revival. The tour concludes with a tasting of their small-batch bourbons and Tennessee whiskeys. Don't miss their signature Belle Meade Bourbon, which pays homage to Nashville's equestrian history. The distillery's rustic-chic tasting room is the perfect place to relax and savor your newfound whiskey knowledge.

  • Location: 1414 Clinton St, Nashville, TN 37203
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 AM - 6 PM, Sunday 11 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Tour and tasting $15

Why Visit: Experience Nashville's bourbon heritage and sample high-quality craft spirits.

Insider Tip: Book your tour online in advance, especially on weekends, to ensure availability.

Attend a Performance at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Elegant interior of Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center, highlighting the venue's stunning architecture
Attended a concert at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The music was incredible, and the building itself is a work of art!

Indulge in an evening of cultural refinement at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home to the Grammy Award-winning Nashville Symphony. This neoclassical building is a work of art in itself, with stunning acoustics that make every performance unforgettable. The symphony's repertoire spans classical masterpieces, contemporary compositions, and even collaborations with popular artists. The Laura Turner Concert Hall, with its elaborate interior and custom-built organ, provides a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. Even if you're not a classical music aficionado, the skill and passion of the musicians will leave you spellbound.

  • Location: 1 Symphony Place, Nashville, TN 37201
  • Hours: Performance times vary; check schedule for details
  • Admission: Prices vary by performance, typically $25-$150

Why Visit: Experience world-class musical performances in a breathtaking architectural setting.

Insider Tip: Arrive early to enjoy a pre-concert talk, offering insights into the evening's program.

Explore the Frist Art Museum

Contemporary art installation at the Frist Art Museum, showcasing Nashville's diverse cultural offerings
The Frist Art Museum never disappoints! Today's exhibition was mind-bending - love how they always bring in fresh, thought-provoking art.

Housed in Nashville's stunning Art Deco former post office, the Frist Art Museum offers a constantly rotating selection of world-class exhibitions. Unlike traditional museums with permanent collections, the Frist's changing exhibits ensure there's always something new to see. From classical paintings to contemporary installations, the museum covers a broad spectrum of artistic styles and periods. The ArtQuest Gallery provides hands-on activities for visitors of all ages, making art accessible and engaging. As you explore the exhibits, take time to admire the building itself, with its marble floors and aluminum details that epitomize the glamour of the 1930s.

  • Location: 919 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
  • Hours: Thursday-Saturday 10 AM - 5:30 PM, Sunday 1 PM - 5:30 PM
  • Admission: Adult $15, Youth (18 and under) free

Why Visit: Experience diverse, world-class art exhibitions in a stunning Art Deco setting.

Insider Tip: Visit on Thursday or Friday evenings when the museum hosts live music in the Grand Lobby.

Hike at Percy Warner Park

Hikers enjoying a scenic trail in Percy Warner Park, highlighting Nashville's outdoor recreation opportunities
Escaped the city bustle for a hike in Percy Warner Park. The views of Nashville from the top are worth every step!

Escape the urban landscape and immerse yourself in nature at Percy Warner Park. Part of the larger Warner Parks system, this 3,100-acre oasis offers miles of hiking and equestrian trails, scenic overlooks, and picnic areas. The park's varying terrain provides options for both casual strollers and serious hikers. The 2.5-mile Mossy Ridge Trail is a local favorite, winding through mature forests and offering glimpses of local wildlife. For a shorter but rewarding hike, take the steps up to Luke Lea Heights for panoramic views of Nashville's skyline. The park's natural beauty changes with the seasons, from spring wildflowers to vibrant fall foliage.

  • Location: 7311 Highway 100, Nashville, TN 37221
  • Hours: Open daily from dawn to 11 PM
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Experience Nashville's natural beauty and outdoor recreation just minutes from downtown.

Insider Tip: Visit early in the morning to catch the sunrise from Luke Lea Heights and spot local wildlife.

Visit the Tennessee State Museum

Civil War exhibit at the Tennessee State Museum, showcasing the state's rich historical collections
Spent a rainy day exploring the Tennessee State Museum. The Civil War exhibit was particularly moving - so much I didn't know about local history.

Dive deep into Tennessee's rich history at the Tennessee State Museum. This expansive, modern museum offers a comprehensive look at the state's past, from prehistoric times to the present day. Engaging exhibits cover topics like Native American history, the Civil War, and the state's musical legacy. The museum's Children's Gallery provides interactive experiences for younger visitors, making history accessible and fun for all ages. Don't miss the rotating temporary exhibitions that often focus on specific aspects of Tennessee's culture or history. The museum's central location in the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park makes it easy to combine with other downtown attractions.

  • Location: 1000 Rosa L Parks Blvd, Nashville, TN 37208
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM, Sunday 1 PM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Gain a comprehensive understanding of Tennessee's history and culture in a state-of-the-art museum.

Insider Tip: Take a guided tour (offered daily at 2 PM) for deeper insights into the exhibits and Tennessee history.

Catch a Show at the Grand Ole Opry House

Close-up of the iconic wooden circle on the Grand Ole Opry House stage, symbolizing country music's hallowed ground
Took the backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry House and got to stand in the famous circle! Feeling the weight of country music history beneath my feet.

While the Grand Ole Opry radio show is a must-see, the Grand Ole Opry House itself deserves a separate mention. This 4,400-seat venue has been home to the Opry since 1974 and hosts a variety of concerts and events beyond the famous radio show. Take a backstage tour to see the themed dressing rooms, learn about the venue's history, and stand in the famous wooden circle on stage. If you're lucky, you might even catch a soundcheck or meet an artist preparing for their performance. The tour provides a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of this iconic music venue.

  • Location: 2804 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN 37214
  • Hours: Tours daily 9:30 AM - 4 PM, show times vary
  • Admission: Backstage tour $35, show tickets vary

Why Visit: Get an insider's look at the most famous stage in country music.

Insider Tip: Combine your backstage tour with tickets to an evening show for the full Opry experience.

Explore the Nashville Farmers' Market

Vibrant display of fresh produce at the Nashville Farmers' Market, showcasing local agriculture and food culture
Started my day at the Nashville Farmers' Market. The colors, smells, and flavors are incredible - picked up some amazing local peaches!

Immerse yourself in Nashville's local food scene at the Nashville Farmers' Market. This year-round market houses a diverse array of vendors selling fresh produce, artisanal goods, and prepared foods. In the Farm Sheds, you'll find local farmers offering seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as meats, cheeses, and flowers. The Market House features an international food hall where you can sample cuisines from around the world. On weekends, the market expands to include crafts and flea market vendors. It's a great place to grab lunch, pick up picnic supplies, or find unique local souvenirs.

  • Location: 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd, Nashville, TN 37208
  • Hours: Daily 8 AM - 6 PM (individual vendor hours may vary)
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Experience Nashville's local food culture and support small businesses and farmers.

Insider Tip: Visit on a Friday for the Night Market event (May-October), featuring live music and extended hours.

Tour Andrew Jackson's Hermitage

Exterior view of Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, capturing the historic presidential home's stately architecture
Visited The Hermitage today. It's a beautiful property, but also a sobering reminder of the complexities of American history.

Step back into the early 19th century at The Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States. This beautifully preserved Greek Revival mansion offers a glimpse into the life of one of America's most controversial presidents. As you tour the mansion, you'll see original furnishings and personal items belonging to Jackson and his family. The extensive grounds include beautiful gardens, slave quarters, and Jackson's tomb. Interactive exhibits in the visitor center provide context about Jackson's presidency and the broader historical period. Whether you're a history buff or just curious about early American life, The Hermitage offers a fascinating journey into the past.

  • Location: 4580 Rachels Ln, Hermitage, TN 37076
  • Hours: Daily 9 AM - 5 PM (March-October), 9 AM - 4 PM (November-February)
  • Admission: Adult $25, Youth (13-18) $20, Child (6-12) $15

Why Visit: Explore the beautifully preserved home of a U.S. President and gain insights into early 19th-century American life.

Insider Tip: Take the self-guided audio tour of the grounds for in-depth information about the estate's history and former inhabitants.

Visit the Lane Motor Museum

Quirky collection of vintage and unusual cars at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville
The Lane Motor Museum is a hidden gem! Never seen so many weird and wonderful cars in one place - definitely not your average car museum.

Car enthusiasts and casual visitors alike will find plenty to marvel at in the Lane Motor Museum. This unique museum houses the largest collection of European cars and motorcycles in the United States. From tiny microcars to massive military vehicles, the collection spans a wide range of automotive history. Many of the cars are in working condition, and the museum often brings them out for special events. The museum's collection includes quirky vehicles you won't see anywhere else, like propeller-driven cars and a vehicle designed to drive upside-down. Interactive displays and informative placards provide context for each vehicle, making the visit educational as well as entertaining.

  • Location: 702 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37210
  • Hours: Thursday-Monday 10 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Adult $15, Senior $12, Youth (6-17) $5

Why Visit: Explore a unique collection of rare and unusual vehicles from around the world.

Insider Tip: Check the museum's event calendar for "Demo Days" when they bring out vehicles for drives around the parking lot.

Enjoy Nature at Radnor Lake State Park

Peaceful lake scenery at Radnor Lake State Park, showcasing Nashville's natural beauty
Found a moment of zen at Radnor Lake State Park. Spotted deer, turtles, and so many birds - hard to believe this is just minutes from downtown!

Escape the city buzz at Radnor Lake State Park, a pristine natural area just minutes from downtown Nashville. This 1,368-acre park offers a peaceful retreat with its placid lake, abundant wildlife, and miles of scenic hiking trails. The park is a protected Class II Natural Area, which means it's managed to preserve its natural state. As you hike the trails, keep an eye out for deer, turtles, and a variety of bird species. The Visitor Center offers educational exhibits about the park's ecosystem and history. For a more immersive experience, join one of the ranger-led programs, which might include canoe floats, night hikes, or wildlife observation sessions.

  • Location: 1160 Otter Creek Rd, Nashville, TN 37220
  • Hours: Park open daily 6 AM - sunset
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Experience Tennessee's natural beauty and diverse wildlife just minutes from the city.

Insider Tip: Visit early in the morning for the best chance of spotting wildlife and to enjoy the peaceful lake views.

Experience Nashville's Honky Tonk Scene on Broadway

Bright neon signs illuminating Nashville's famous Broadway, capturing the lively honky-tonk atmosphere
Broadway at night is a sensory overload in the best way possible. The neon, the music, the energy - pure Nashville magic!

No visit to Nashville is complete without experiencing the legendary honky tonk scene on Lower Broadway. This vibrant strip is lined with neon-lit bars and music venues, each pulsing with live music from morning till night. Start at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, a Nashville institution known for launching many country music careers. Then make your way down the street, popping into venues like Robert's Western World, The Stage, and Legends Corner. Each bar has its own character and musical flavor, from traditional country to rock and blues. The best part? Most venues don't charge a cover, so you can bar-hop to your heart's content.

  • Location: Lower Broadway, Nashville, TN 37201
  • Hours: Most venues open daily from 10 AM until 3 AM
  • Price Range: No cover charge at most venues; drink prices vary

Why Visit: Immerse yourself in Nashville's iconic music scene and experience the energy that gives Music City its name.

Insider Tip: Bring cash for tipping the musicians – it's customary and appreciated.

Shop at Marathon Village

Eclectic artisan shops and galleries in Nashville's Marathon Village, highlighting the city's creative community
Discovered Marathon Village today - what a cool repurposed space! Loved browsing the unique shops and chatting with local artisans.

Explore Nashville's creative side at Marathon Village, a revitalized industrial complex that now houses a variety of artisan shops, galleries, and food venues. Originally built in 1881 as an automobile factory, the complex has been transformed into a hip, artistic community. Browse unique boutiques like Antique Archaeology (of American Pickers fame) or sample spirits at Corsair Distillery. The village is also home to several working artist studios, where you might catch craftspeople in action. Don't miss the chance to grab a coffee at Bongo Java or indulge in some gourmet chocolate at Colts Chocolates.

  • Location: 1305 Clinton St, Nashville, TN 37203
  • Hours: Most shops open Monday-Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM, Sunday 12 PM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Free (individual shop purchases vary)

Why Visit: Experience Nashville's creative community and shop for unique, locally-made goods.

Insider Tip: Check out the Wilder restaurant for farm-to-table Southern cuisine in a beautiful, rustic setting.

Visit the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum

Impressive instrument display at the Musicians Hall of Fame, showcasing the tools of legendary session musicians
The Musicians Hall of Fame gives credit where it's due. Amazing to see the instruments used on so many classic recordings!

Celebrate the unsung heroes of music at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. This unique museum honors the session musicians who played on some of the greatest recordings of all time, across all genres. As you explore the exhibits, you'll see instruments played on famous recordings and learn about the musicians behind the scenes. The museum covers a wide range of music history, from the early days of rock and roll to modern hits. Don't miss the Grammy Museum Gallery, an interactive experience that lets you try your hand at recording, mixing, and performing.

  • Location: 401 Gay St, Nashville, TN 37201
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM
  • Admission: Adult $25, Youth (6-17) $15

Why Visit: Gain a deeper appreciation for the talented musicians behind your favorite songs.

Insider Tip: Take advantage of the museum's audio guide for in-depth information about the exhibits and recordings.

Explore East Nashville

Colorful street art mural in East Nashville, reflecting the neighborhood's hip and artistic vibe
Spent the day exploring East Nashville. The street art, quirky shops, and amazing food scene make this neighborhood feel like its own little world!

Dive into Nashville's hip, artistic side in East Nashville. This eclectic neighborhood across the Cumberland River from downtown is known for its vibrant art scene, innovative restaurants, and unique shops. Start your exploration at Five Points, the neighborhood's bustling center, and browse vintage shops like Hip Zipper or local boutiques like Apple & Oak. Fuel up with a gourmet pizza at Five Points Pizza or indulge in some hot chicken at Bolton's Spicy Chicken & Fish. As evening falls, catch a show at The 5 Spot or enjoy craft cocktails at No. 308. Don't forget to check out the colorful murals scattered throughout the neighborhood – they make for great photo ops.

  • Location: East Nashville, across the Cumberland River from downtown
  • Hours: Vary by individual businesses
  • Price Range: Varies by establishment

Why Visit: Experience Nashville's creative, offbeat side and discover local favorites off the typical tourist path.

Insider Tip: Visit on a Saturday to experience the East Nashville Farmers Market, featuring local produce, artisanal goods, and live music.

Structuring Your Nashville Adventure: A 7-Day Itinerary

Nashville offers a wealth of experiences that can easily fill a week-long visit. Here's a suggested itinerary to help you make the most of your time in Music City. Remember, this is just a starting point – feel free to adjust based on your interests and energy levels.

Days 1-2: Downtown and Music Row

  • Start your Nashville adventure in the heart of downtown. Begin with a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to get grounded in the city's musical heritage.
  • Take a stroll down Lower Broadway, popping into famous honky tonks like Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and Robert's Western World.
  • Visit the Ryman Auditorium for a tour of this historic venue.
  • Spend your evening enjoying a performance at the Grand Ole Opry.
  • On day two, explore Music Row, taking a tour of historic RCA Studio B.
  • Visit the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum to learn about the session musicians behind the hits.
  • End your day with dinner and live music in The Gulch neighborhood.

Days 3-4: History and Culture

  • Start your day at The Parthenon in Centennial Park, then explore the park's natural beauty.
  • Visit the Tennessee State Museum for a deep dive into the state's history.
  • Spend the afternoon at the National Museum of African American Music.
  • The next day, take a trip to Andrew Jackson's Hermitage for a glimpse into early 19th-century life.
  • Return to the city and explore the Frist Art Museum.
  • End your day with a performance at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Days 5-6: Local Flavor and Outdoor Adventures

  • Begin your day at the Nashville Farmers' Market, then take a stroll through Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park.
  • Spend the afternoon exploring the hip East Nashville neighborhood, checking out local shops and eateries.
  • The next day, get out into nature with a morning hike at Percy Warner Park.
  • In the afternoon, tour Nelson's Green Brier Distillery to learn about Nashville's spirited history.
  • End your day with dinner and shopping in the 12 South neighborhood.

Day 7: Choose Your Own Adventure

  • For music lovers: Take a tour of the Bluebird Cafe, then spend the afternoon at the Johnny Cash Museum.
  • For history buffs: Visit Fort Negley Park, then tour the Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery.
  • For nature enthusiasts: Spend the day at Radnor Lake State Park, enjoying hiking trails and wildlife viewing.
  • For families: Visit the Lane Motor Museum, then spend the afternoon at the Adventure Science Center.

End your trip with a farewell dinner at one of Nashville's acclaimed restaurants like Husk or The Catbird Seat.

Remember, Nashville is a city that rewards exploration. Don't be afraid to wander off the beaten path or ask locals for their favorite spots. Each neighborhood has its own unique character waiting to be discovered.

Additional Tips:

  • Nashville's weather can be unpredictable. Pack layers and be prepared for sudden changes.
  • The city's public transportation is improving, but a car can be helpful for exploring areas outside the downtown core.
  • Many music venues are all-ages until a certain time in the evening, so check if you're traveling with family.
  • Don't limit yourself to just country music – Nashville's scene is diverse and includes everything from blues to indie rock.

As your Nashville adventure comes to a close, you'll likely find yourself already planning a return trip. The city's blend of music, history, culture, and Southern hospitality creates an experience that's both enriching and endlessly entertaining. Whether you've tapped your feet to live music on Broadway, savored hot chicken in East Nashville, or contemplated art at the Frist, you've gotten a taste of what makes Nashville truly special.

But remember, we've only scratched the surface. Nashville is a city that's constantly evolving, with new restaurants, music venues, and attractions popping up all the time. It's a place that rewards repeat visits, each time offering something new to discover.

So as you bid farewell to Music City, know that it's not goodbye, but "see you soon." Nashville's rhythm will keep playing, its flavors will keep simmering, and its stories will keep unfolding. And when you return, you'll find a city ready to welcome you back with open arms and a new tune to share.

Until then, keep a little bit of that Nashville spirit with you – tap your feet to a country song, savor some Southern comfort food, and remember that in Nashville, every day is a chance to write your own lyric in the city's ever-evolving melody.

Safe travels, and don't forget your cowboy boots for your next visit!

Take a Day Trip to Franklin

While Nashville offers a wealth of attractions, consider venturing just 20 miles south to the charming town of Franklin. This picturesque locale offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and small-town charm. Start your visit in downtown Franklin, where you can stroll along Main Street, lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants housed in beautifully preserved Victorian buildings. History buffs will appreciate the town's Civil War sites, including the Carnton Plantation and the Carter House, both of which played significant roles in the Battle of Franklin. For a taste of local flavor, stop by the Franklin Farmers Market (open year-round) or enjoy a meal at Gray's on Main, housed in a restored 19th-century pharmacy.

  • Location: Franklin, TN (20 miles south of Nashville)
  • Hours: Vary by attraction
  • Price Range: Varies by activity

Why Visit: Experience small-town Southern charm and significant historical sites just a short drive from Nashville.

Insider Tip: Time your visit for the first Friday of the month to enjoy Franklin's "First Friday Art Scene," when galleries stay open late and offer special exhibits.

Catch a Show at the Historic Franklin Theatre

Cap off your day trip to Franklin with a visit to the Historic Franklin Theatre. This beautifully restored 1937 art deco cinema is now a state-of-the-art venue hosting movies, live music, and theatrical performances. The theater's intimate setting provides excellent acoustics and sightlines, making it a favorite among performers and audiences alike. Whether you're catching a classic film, a rising country star, or a touring theatrical production, the Franklin Theatre offers a uniquely charming entertainment experience.

  • Location: 419 Main St, Franklin, TN 37064
  • Hours: Vary by performance; box office open Tuesday-Saturday 11 AM - 6 PM
  • Admission: Varies by event

Why Visit: Experience top-notch entertainment in a beautifully restored historic venue.

Insider Tip: Check the theater's calendar well in advance, as popular shows often sell out quickly.

Why Visit Nashville?

Remember, Nashville is a city that's constantly evolving and growing. While these 25 attractions offer a comprehensive Nashville experience, don't be afraid to explore beyond this list. Ask locals for their favorite spots, wander into that intriguing shop or cafe, or take a chance on an unknown band at a small venue. Some of the best Nashville experiences are the ones you stumble upon unexpectedly.

Whether you're a music lover, a history buff, a foodie, or simply someone in search of a good time, Nashville has something to offer. From the neon lights of Broadway to the peaceful trails of Percy Warner Park, from the hallowed halls of the Ryman to the innovative kitchens of East Nashville, the city is a mix of experiences waiting to be explored.

So pack your bags, bring your sense of adventure, and get ready to fall in love with Nashville. Who knows? You might just find yourself planning your next visit before you've even left. After all, in the words of the great Johnny Cash, "What is there to say about Nashville? Everything."

West Parker
West Parker
Article updated:
July 18, 2024 8:37 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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