What comes to mind when you hear the city of Nashville? That’s right, country music! Many famous musicians and top artists have been Tennessee born and jump-started their musical careers here, which is why the city is also aptly known as Music City.
But that is not all the city has to offer, mind you. In fact, there are plenty of fun things to do in Nashville. From visiting the Grand Ole Opry to eating authentic Southern food to going out for some honky-tonkin’ in downtown Nashville, we’ll be listing the best experiences you’ll be ticking off your bucket list on your journey around Music City.
Best Attractions & Fun Things to in Nashville (Downtown & Beyond)
1. Adventure Science Center of Nashville
If you love science or have kids with you, then definitely check out Adventure Science Center. It is a non-profit science museum aimed towards children and features over 175 hands-on interactive exhibits. They span different themes like biology, physics, visual perception, audio listening, and much more.
The building is jam-packed with many fascinating exhibits in a 44,000 square feet space, like the full-motion simulator, Physics of Flight, Galactic Gardens, and more.
There is also the Adventure Tower, where there are fun activities for people of all ages, such as the Televator and Walk-in Guitar/Piano. At the Observation Deck, you’ll have a breathtaking view of the city.
Last but not least, is the 63-foot dome theater Sudekum Planetarium, which features planetarium shows, laser shows, concerts, and Yoga Under The Stars.
2. Buy a Pair of Cowboy Boots
Nothing beats going about the streets of Nashville in style with a good pair of cowboy boots.
Whether it is for fashion or just something to remember your visit to Nashville by, there are plenty of shops selling authentic cowboy boots around, like Nashville Boot Co., Lucchese Bootmaker, and Goodbuy Girls.
3. Catch a Game at First Horizon Park
If you want to catch some live baseball or soccer games, look no further than First Horizon Park in downtown Nashville. It is also home to the local Nashville Sounds Baseball Club.
One of the highlights of the baseball park is the massive guitar-shaped scoreboard. Another highlight is an outdoor restaurant located at the right-field concourse known as The Band Box. Aside from food, they also have several fun entertainment options like ping pong, corn hole, foosball, shuffleboard, and more.
Of course, there are also concession stands and portable carts around that offer traditional ballpark foods like hot dogs, pizza, and nachos. You can also try their local Nashville hot chicken and pulled pork sandwich!
4. Crash the Bluebird Café
There is another place in Nashville where numerous talents like Taylor Swift, Kathy Mattea, Garth Brooks, and more had career-defining moments.
Enter the Bluebird Café, a music club in Nashville known as a songwriter’s venue, mainly because up-and-coming songwriters have a chance to showcase their original music in the club’s “Writer’s Night” show. There are also performances from special guests, who have made a name for themselves in the music industry.
Whether it be music from fresh new talents to seasoned veterans, a night at this iconic club will surely be an experience you will never forget!
5. Create a Poster Hatch Show Print
Hatch Show Print has been in the letterpress printing business since 1879, having produced posters for anyone who needs quality advertisements, from music shows to shops and the like.
Their traditional way of printing posters is always a fascinating sight to behold. And what better way to see this in action than by going on a tour of their workshop. What’s more, you also get to make your own poster as a souvenir!
6. Do a Tasting at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery
Nashville is not just home to country music, but it is also home to Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, one of the most successful distilleries in the United States.
Re-launched by the original owner’s great-great-great grandsons in 2011, they continue to produce Tennessee whiskeys and other spirits that put Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery on the map.
You can visit them at 1414 Clinton Street, where you can book a tour of their history, how they produce the spirits, and of course, tastings of four of their seasonally-selected bottles!
While in there, you can get yourself some of their best drinks like their award-winning original Tennessee whiskey, Belle Meade Bourbon, and Louisa’s Liqueur.
7. Enjoy the Masterpieces at Frist Art Museum
Are you interested in viewing some of the most stunning art you can find in Nashville? Frist Art Museum will surely keep your eyes glued to their exhibitions, with an ever-changing collection of art pieces!
One of its most famous destinations is the award-winning Martin ArtQuest or MAQ Gallery. It is an interactive gallery space with features like art-making stations where you can draw, paint, or make prints, a zoetrope, a shadow theater, stop-motion animation, and much more!
8. Experience Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
If visiting the residence of a former President is on your bucket list, head to the Hermitage. Andrew Jackson, former President of the United States owned the Hermitage plantation and lived there occasionally.
You can take a self-guided tour of the over 1000 acre estate to see the Greek revival style mansion, grounds, exhibits, log cabin, other historic structures, and more. Or choose from one of the guided tours to get a deeper understanding. You can also explore the grounds on a wagon tour from April to October weather permitting.
Book your ticket in advancer here: Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage Grounds Pass
9. Explore Radnor Lake State Park
If you are an outdoorsy person, you will surely enjoy a trip to Radnor Lake State Park! From boating to camping to hiking to rock climbing and so much more, you’ll never run out of fun activities in its 1,368-acre space.
There are various sections of trails through the woods around the lake. On a hike, you can experience the area’s serenity and see lovely flora and fauna. The lake is also home to several birds, especially duck species like the ring-necked duck and American wigeon.
You can stop at the visitor center for information relating to the park, open from Thursday to Monday. Alternatively, you can also check out their official website.
10. Find Your Favorite Mural
Wandering the streets of Nashville is both a surprising and fulfilling experience thanks to the many murals you can find around. Not only are they fascinating to look at, but they are also perfect for posing for your Instagram photos!
One of the most popular ones is the I Believe in Nashville, a series of painted murals around the city by Adrien Saporiti which started in 2012. Another one is the WhatLifts YouWings, a pair of white lace wings on a black wall by Kelsey Montague.
With more than 100 murals in the city, which one of these will be your favorite, and how many will you find?
11. Get Lost in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Discover the history of country music, and see unique exhibits including sound recordings, musical instruments, archival videos, items used by famous artists, and more at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
The museum aims to preserve and interpret American vernacular music and honors both legends and contemporary artists. Temporary exhibits too are on display.
I enjoyed looking at the clothing/costumes worn by country music performers, including Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and others. And, oh, don’t miss Elvis’ shiny 1960 “Solid Gold” Cadillac, one of the many iconic vehicles in the museum!
Book your ticket in advance here: RCA Studio B & Country Music Hall of Fame Combo
12. Get Some Princes Hot Chicken
Home of the original hot chicken! Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack has been serving its signature dish since 1945 and has become a favorite among Nashvillians. It is also credited for popularizing hot chicken, which inspired restaurants with similar cuisine.
Known for Nashville’s unique deep-fried poultry specialty, this chicken comes in 8 different flavors, ranging from plain to XXX Hot! Served with your choice of sides and drinks (they also have beer), it will leave you and your mouth burning hot inside!
13. Get Treats at Goo Goos
Are you tired of the usual plain treats that can’t seem to satisfy your sweet tooth? Then get your hands on some Goo Goo Clusters!
But what makes a Goo Goo Cluster a Goo Goo Cluster? As you may have probably guessed from the name, it is a cluster of several types of candy into one: marshmallow nougat, caramel, and roasted peanuts covered in milk chocolate. Together, they make up the Goo Goo Cluster that everyone loves and enjoys!
Goo Goos also offer candy-making classes, where you get to learn about its history and how they make them, as well as getting a taste of your very own Goo Goo Cluster!
For more great treats to eat, see our American Candy List that has over 90 great ones (including the Goo Goo Clusters!).
14. Go to the Historic RCA Studio B
Take a visit to the oldest recording studio in Nashville. RCA Studio B became known in the 1960s as the birthplace of the “Nashville Sound,” a music style known by its background vocals and strings. The Country Music Hall of Fame owns the studio and offers scheduled tours of the facilities. You can find the studio in Nashville’s historic Music Row district.
Many legendary musicians have recorded more than 47,000 songs at RCA Studio B. Elvis Presley is also said to have recorded more than 200 songs at this place.
15. Hike at Long Hunter State Park
Long Hunter State Park is another extraordinary place to enjoy the outdoors of Nashville. It is located in Hermitage, a suburb of Nashville. The park is a haven for outdoor activities, including camping, fishing, kayaking, hiking, and much more.
The state park comprises three lake sections; Baker’s Grove in the north, Couchville at the center, and Bryant Grove to the south, all connected by narrow strips of land. Sellars Farm, a state archaeological site near Lebanon to the east, is also under the park’s management.
Speaking of hiking, they have over twelve trails around the park, with varying difficulties. Some of their famous hikes are the Day Loop Trail, Volunteer Trail, and Couchville Lake Loop Trail.
16. Indulge in Southern Comfort Food at Loveless Café
If you want to get a taste of what Nashville is really like, look no further than Loveless Cafe! Contrary to its namesake, there is nothing you wouldn’t love about its menu (and the cafe itself).
From the buttery biscuits to the country ham to the red-eye gravy and many more, you will see (or rather taste) why they are the go-to place when it comes to Southern cooking.
You will have to be a bit patient about the wait times, but I guarantee that it is well worth it!
17. Johnny Cash Museum and Café
Artifacts, costumes, lyrics written by hand, and musical instruments are just some of the amazing exhibits at the Johnny Cash Museum. It covers the entire graph of his life from his music and tours to his personal life.
18. Learn Tennessee History at the State Museum
Take a look back in time at Tennessee State Museum, located at the corner of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Jefferson Street. The building has a lot of galleries inside, such as the Tennessee Time Tunnel, which shows the state’s history that leads to its permanent collection of artifacts.
There is also a hands-on children’s gallery for the kiddies, six rotating galleries, a digital learning center, and last but not least, a two-story Grand Hall. Best of all, admission is free!
19. Listen to Music on Honky Tonk Highway (Lower Broadway)
Nashville is not known as the Music City for nothing. Those looking to enjoy live music acts at bars can head to Lower Broadway or, as people like to call it, the Honky-Tonk Highway.
A visit here is one of the best fun things to do in Nashville. This four-block stretch has many bars to choose from to enjoy live performances day or night, down a few drinks, and grab a bite.
I would recommend Robert’s Western World for live music and beer. If you like music and a good dance floor, try The Stage as well as Legend’s Corner. If you don’t mind boisterous nighttime crowds, you can stop at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. As for drinks, you can head to Bootleggers Inn, known for their moonshine bar.
20. Ogle the Parthenon
Nashville’s Parthenon can not really compare to the original in Greece, but the full-size replica at the Centennial Park is a good copy. I would definitely recommend it, especially to those who have not visited Greece. It is the prime attraction at the park and houses an art gallery and museum.
A major highlight is the 42-foot indoor statue of Athena Parthenos by Alan LeQuire. There are replicas of other sculptures too from the original structure.
The art gallery has more than 60 paintings by American artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. On an evening visit, you can see the Parthenon in all its illuminated glory.
21. Party on a Pedal Bar Tour
One of the most unique and fun ways to go around Nashville is through a pedal bar tour. Yup, you and your friends will ride a large pedal-powered bar while enjoying a drink and the sights.
While you and your buddies drink away, you might be wondering who will be taking the wheel. Don’t sweat it! Drinking while driving is always a big no-no, so there is a tour guide who controls the steering and braking :) All you guys have to do is pedal and drink!
22. Ride a Mechanical Bull
Ever wanted to try riding a mechanical bull even just once? Good thing you will have the chance to try it in Nashville! There are two bars here that are not just a great place to have karaoke and drinks, they also have mechanical bulls to test out the mettle of would-be riders.
First is the Wild Beaver Saloon—a fun, rowdy bar with a mountain lodge theme, scantily clad waitresses & weekly karaoke.
The other one is Tequila Cowboy, a multi-roomed nightspot with a live music stage, dance club, and game area. They are on Broadway, just a 3-min walk from the Ryman Auditorium.
23. See the Animals at the Nashville Zoo
Nashville Zoo is an excellent spot to visit, especially if you have kids with you. With over 3,000 different species of animals, you’ll have plenty of attractions to enjoy going to, like Critter Encounters, Kangaroo Kickabout, Lorikeet Landing, the Wilderness Express, and more.
You can also visit the Grassmere Historic Home, which is the centerpiece of the place. Here you will learn about the property’s history, see pieces of artifacts, an extensive book collection, and several family portraits.
24. Shop Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James
Draper James is a clothing label started in 2015 by actress Reese Witherspoon that pays homage to her grandparents and her Southern upbringing.
They have a wide selection of clothing, accessories, and home decorations that are also perfect as gifts! You can also get some of their totes, which often feature some slang common to the Southeast United States.
25. Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort
Indulge yourself and add more to the Nashville experience by staying at the Gaylord Opryland, one of the 30 largest hotels in the world.
It has everything you would look for at a luxurious hotel; spa, restaurants, bars and shops, water parks, and so much more. Some things you should not miss are the hotel’s Soundwaves water attraction and the indoor Delta River boat tour.
What’s even better is that the Grand Ole Opry is just a stone’s throw away! You can also visit the Madame Tussauds wax museum, just a couple of minutes away from Gaylord Opryland.
26. Take a Tour of Belmont Mansion
Nashville’s Belmont Mansion has a lot of fascinating stories to tell since its completion in 1853. Located at the heart of Belmont University, the mansion has stood the test of time and is standing in all of its glory today.
The mansion also houses a collection of original furniture, paintings, and other art pieces throughout its walls. You will also learn about the history of the place, from the family who inhabited the mansion to the African American slaves and European immigrants who built it to the many historical events that took place there.
Tip: the Nashville Hop-on Hop-off Trolley will make a stop there!
27. Tour The Belle Meade Plantation
Steeped in history, the mansion at the Belle Meade Plantation is now a museum. The property includes a visitor’s center, other structures including a dairy, carriage house, stables, restored slave quarters, and gardens. You can actually see the bullet marks from the Civil War on the columns of the house.
On a guided tour with costumed guides, you can learn all about the history of this Greek revival style mansion as well as the Harding and Jackson family. The tour ends with wine tasting. Try the Segway guided tour of the 30 acre grounds.
28. Tour the Ryman Auditorium
This auditorium is legendary in country music history, and a tour makes it all clear. Get a glimpse of its roots by watching the story at the ‘Soul of Nashville’. I realized why Ryman Auditorium is such a revered institution. Performers including Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams and others performed live here, in association with the Grand Ole Opry.
Did you know that the Ryman is the birthplace of bluegrass music? It has also witnessed legends in the making. The auditorium continues to host live performances by contemporary artistes including Luke Combs, Blake Shelton and others. And guess what, you can even record your own song at the Ryman Studio!
29. Visit Cheekwood Estate & Gardens
Cheekwood is a 55-acre botanical garden and art museum located on the historic Cheek estate, just 8 miles southwest of downtown Nashville at 1200 Forrest Park Drive. It was originally built for Leslie and Mabel Cheek in 1929 and now serves as a garden and art museum.
The Cheek family has a vast collection of artwork they have collected since the opening of Cheekwood in 1960, which you can find at the Historic Mansion & Museum. Outdoors, one you should not miss is the Ann & Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail, a collection of contemporary sculptures coming from different artists and countries.
There are also lots (and I mean lots) of gardens inside Cheekwood, each with its own story to tell. Kids will love playing around in the Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden, between the Frist Learning Center and Howe Garden. Another one is the Trains! exhibit, which is in the Turner Seasons Garden.
30. Visit the Patsy Cline Museum
The Patsy Cline Museum is a tribute to the talented country singer whose life was cut short in a plane crash. It has an excellent collection of top artifacts and memorabilia including personal belongings, as well as a gift shop with souvenirs.
31. Visit the Tennessee State Capitol
The Tennessee State Capitol serves as the home of the Tennessee General Assembly and the Governor’s Office. It sits on the highest hill at the heart of Nashville and is one of the city’s six National Historic Landmarks. They also offer guided and self-guided tours.
You’ll find monuments around the capitol grounds, most notably the two statues of the Presidents of the United States: Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson. The tomb of James K. Polk (another President) can also be found here, where he is buried along with his wife.
Inside, there are portraits of the three Presidents (who are all from Tennessee, by the way) and past governors. Some of the highlights of the building include the Capitol Library with its original iron-cast round spiral staircase and the Capitol balcony, which offers one of the best views in Nashville, overlooking the Bicentennial Mall State Park.
32. Walk Across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge is one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world, spanning 3,150 feet across the Cumberland River. Because of its truss design, it was admitted to the National Register of Historic Places and is quite an attraction in the city.
Aside from the exercise that you’ll get by walking the length of the bridge, there are also lots of great views to see, like the Cumberland River, the Ryman Stadium, and the surrounding area.
33. And—Yes, Go to the Grand Ole Opry
When it comes to music, Nashville is always synonymous with country music. A trip to this city is never complete without experiencing a live country music show, which is why going to the Grand Ole Opry is a must.
The Grand Ole Opry is where country music took the US by storm. It continues to be America’s longest-running radio show since it began in 1925.
Back then, its immense popularity led to regular live shows by country music’s best performers at the Ryman Auditorium, such as Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, and many others. Contemporary artists including Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks, and Keith Urban continue to perform here.
Which of these are you ready to experience on your visit to Nashville? Though the city can be lively, most especially from the music and nightlife, you’ll find at times a laid-back and relaxing atmosphere, especially from the locals.
Yes, there are lots of fun things to do in Nashville, but that doesn’t mean that you have to rush through every attraction! What’s important is to take your time and enjoy every moment.
Essential Tips for Visiting Nashville
Getting There: Nashville International Airport is a major hub and most airlines will fly into it. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. From the airport to downtown, you can take Bus 18, taxi, car rental, limo, hotel shuttle and ride share.
Where to Stay in Nashville: It’s best to stay near the city center, public transportation or the area that you will be spending the most time in. Nashville Riverfront Lofts is a great choice in the Downtown, Nashville. For something on the less expensive side, try Nashville TN Vacation Rentals located in Nashville. For a hotel with a little more extravagance, book a room at the W Nashville. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to Airbnb that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Getting Around: Driving in a new destination can be a bit of a challenge, but if you choose to rent a car, RentalCars.com has great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of other options. Taxis, Lyft and Uber are available all over the city, plus most of the major attractions can be accessed with the Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Bus. For a more budget friendly option, you can take the city buses or light rail system. You can also rent a bike or a scooter. If you’re out on Broadway and need a quick ride to a nearby pub, hailing a golf cart might be the most efficient alternative. Pedicabs are another downtown option that can be flagged down in the same way as a regular cab.
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Insurance: It’s always a good idea to travel fully insured so you are protected in case of trip cancellations or medical emergencies. You can check out pricing at Travelex Insurance.
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