Nashville, TN has so much to offer. You don’t have to be a huge country music fan to have an incredible time in this vibrant, entertaining city. There’s something to do for all walks of life, whether you’re into history, music, partying, or just like to stuff your face with delicious food. To help you decide what to do and where to go, here’s my list of 10 Things to do in (or near) Nashville!
1. Grand Ole Opry & Gaylord Opryland Resort
If you’re a huge a fan of country music, you must visit the Grand Ole Opry. The Opry House, where the most famous country artists like Dolly Parton and Brad Paisley have all performed, is a Nashville music landmark. Grand Old Opry started as a radio show dedicated to honoring country music and grew into the infamous country stage it is today. If you’re interested in seeing a show at the Opry or taking a backstage tour, make sure to book in advance, not day-of. You can walk around the exterior of the Opry and visit the gift shop, but you cannot wander inside the Opry without a ticket.
Gaylord Opryland Hotel is a sight of it’s own. Just a 5-minute walk from Grand Ole Opry, the luxury hotel looks like an extravagant Vegas hotel with three stunning indoor atriums sprawling over 9 acres, tons of bars and restaurants, spas, pools, waterfalls, theatrics… the works. Spending a night here will cost you a pretty penny, but exploring the hotel and the grounds is completely free!
2. Broadway + Printer’s Alley
Broadway is easily Nashville’s most popular avenue; it’s the reason people call it “Nash-Vegas.” Lower Broadway between 1st and 5th is considered Honky Tonk Row, lined with wild restaurants and country bars teeming with all-ages of party animals. Live music at most bars begins daily at 10am and there’s no cover charge! You really can’t visit Nashville and not experience Broadway at least once. Pro Tip: go on a weeknight if you want the experience but don’t love rowdy crowds.
Want to avoid the craziness of Broadway but still have an authentic nightlife experience? Check out Printer’s Alley, just two blocks north of Broadway off Church Street. Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar and Skull’s Rainbow Room both offer live music in a more subdued, intimate bar environment. And if you’re looking to go clubbing, look no further than Dirty Little Secret, located under the Dream Hotel.
3. Spend a day in The Gulch
Want a leisure, inner-city day of brunch, shopping, maybe get your nails done before happy hour? Then you’ll definitely want to spend some time in The Gulch. This is where you’ll find two of Nashville’s most popular brunch spots, Milk & Honey and Biscuit Love, along with one of the most instagrammed street murals, the What Lifts You wings. Pro Tip: arrive EARLY if you want to avoid waiting in line for at least an hour at either brunch spot. Same with the Wings mural; if you go mid-day on a weekend, you’re guaranteed to wait in a long line for your turn to snap a pic. The Gulch has tons of shopping as well. Are you a fashion guru? Be sure to check out Blush Boutique and Parish. Both offer fabulous, affordable pieces for the trendy fashionista. And when you’re ready for happy hour, head up to the rooftop of Thompson Nashville hotel to LA Jackson for cocktail and tunes.
4. Wander the 12 South Neighborhood
12 South is a trendy, walkable neighborhood with boutique shops, bustling coffee hotspots, yoga studios and more street murals. Start your day off with coffee & breakfast at Frothy Monkey then hop next door to MODA Boutique for some shopping. Make sure to explore the unique shops like White’s Mercantile, where you’ll find great Nashville souvenirs, and Savant Vintage, if you’re into second-hand steals. You also can’t miss the iconic I Believe in Nashville mural, situated on the wall outside of Draper James.
5. Nashville Mural Tour
Nashville is well-known for it’s Instagram-famous murals and street art. Each neighborhood has it’s own unique murals, the most famous being the What Lifts You wings in The Gulch and I Believe in Nashville murals in 12 South and East Nashville. Because of their popularity, I dedicated an entire post to the Best Murals in Nashville, including a map of where to find each one. I definitely didn’t locate all of them, so I challenge you to find more!
6. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
If you’re a history buff, you’ll certainly want to spend some time at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. Located about 15 minutes outside of Nashville, the Hermitage offers daily tours of Jackson’s mansion, gardens and the surrounding cotton plantation grounds. General admission costs $22 for adults and includes audio tapes for the museum and grounds, while the mansion tour is led by in-character guides. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, as most of the tour is on foot. An extra $12 will get you a guided tour through the cotton plantation on horse-drawn carriage. Learn about Jackson’s childhood, his presidential legacy and see where the Jackson family is buried. More info here.
7. Take a Day Trip to Gatlinburg
The touristy mountain resort town of Gatlinburg, TN is situated right on the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The town is about 3.5 hours away from Nashville, so a day trip means many hours spent in the car – you may want to stay the night if long car rides aren’t your thing. Gatlinburg has attractions for all ages, as the main street is lined with touristy shops, galleries, distilleries, bars and restaurants as well as amusement parks, candy shops, arcades, mini golf courses, and more. There really is something for the entire family. Possibly the most notable attraction is the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park – ride a chairlift up to the Skybridge which overlooks the town and provides spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains. Pro tip: purchase tickets in advance for a discounted price, as they’re $25 at the lift.
8. Visit the College Campuses – Vanderbilt, Fisk & Belmont University
Nashville is home to several well-known colleges with beautiful, historic campuses you can explore. Vanderbilt University‘s bustling campus is between Midtown & Music Row. Whether you’re a prospective student or want to relive your college days, you will definitely enjoy walking among the students and foliage around campus. Belmont University, in the Acklen Westgrove neighborhood, and Fisk University, in the Fang neighborhood, are both smaller colleges with stunning buildings and architecture.
9. Check out Historic Hotels & Museums in Downtown
Downtown Nashville has several notable museums, like the Country Music Hall of Fame, The Johnny Cash Museum, Ryman Auditorium and Frist Art Museum. You should also check out two historic, 5-star hotels, Hermitage Hotel and Union Station Hotel. The Hermitage Hotel is Nashville’s oldest and longest standing hotel. The interior decor is spectacular, and you must check out the lavish men’s bathroom off the lobby. Yes, the MEN’S bathroom (women can go in too!) Just ask the concierge and they’ll let you in.
10. Walk down Music Row
If you’re really into the music scene, especially country music, you’ll be thrilled to take a walk down Music Row. In the heart of the city, Music Row is home to many famous record labels and recording studios. You can take a tour of RCA Studio B, where stars like Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson came to record hit songs, but all other studios are not really open to the public for tours. However, if you’re walking around Music Row you never know who you may see wandering out of studio!
BONUS: Eat, Drink & Socialize!
There are an abundance of eateries, brunch spots, coffee shops, happy hour bars, restaurants, etc. in every neighborhood of Nashville. Here’s a list of a few of the favorites + where they’re located:
Husk – in Rutledge Hill, it’s upscale southern comfort food. The shrimp & grits were so delicious and also soooo filling.
Americano Lounge – a cozy, well-designed coffee shop in Wedgewood-Houston
Opry Backstage Grill – near Grand Ole Opry
Winners & Losers – great next-door spots for live music too, but they have these margarita slushies that were STRONG and scrumptious
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – if you’re craving late-night ice cream, this is the place to go. It’s a chain so search for one nearest you.
Barcelona Wine Bar – incredible tapas restaurant in Edgehill.
Milk & Honey – in the Gulch, a must for brunch
Smokehouse on Sixth – get the bacon mac & cheese and you’ll be forever grateful
Tavern – in Midtown, excellent brunch spot plus 2 for 1 drinks!
Five Points Pizza – If you venture over to East Nashville, stop for a slice or two here. Really incredible pizza plus they have cheesy garlic knots.
LA Jackson – a fabulous rooftop cocktail bar in the Gulch with amazing city views and even better shrimp ceviche.
There is so much to do in Nashville, and I honestly can’t wait to go back and do even more exploring. We didn’t have enough time to explore each neighborhood and visit some major attractions, but that means there are things to look forward to on Nashville Round 2!
What are your favorite things to see / places to go in Nashville? Give me some pointers for the next trip.
As always, thank you for reading! XOXO