Nashville is known as Music City (but certainly not only country music city – though you will find a lot of that). The lively riverfront city of Nashville offers much more than the Southern twang of three chords and the truth (thank you, Harlan Howard, for that much-quoted homage to America’s music). These are some of our favorite things to do in Nashville.
You’ll find museums, attractions, outdoor activities, and live music venues dedicated to everything from rock, pop, and jazz to R&B, alternative, and African American. There’s even a venue that hosts Metal Mondays. For the record (pun intended), the likes of Bob Dylan, Beyonce, Bon Jovi, REM, and The Killers have recorded in Music City studios.
Located in north-central Tennessee, the state capital of Nashville sits along the Cumberland River, which snakes through town in an east-to-west fashion. If it were a few miles south, it would be in the literal center of the Volunteer State.
Many might view Nashville as the center of the state for its immense impact on American history, culture, and (of course) cuisine. You can’t go to Nashville without having Nashville fried chicken. Trust us – you can’t.
From the Gulch and SoBro (South of Broadway) to Midtown, Music Row, and all points in between), we’ve picked out a few of our favorite attractions in Nashville to get your party started.
|Most significant landmark||Parthenon|
|Best tourist attraction||Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum|
|Best outdoor activity||Cumberland River kayaking and paddleboarding|
|Best activity for kids||Nashville Zoo at Grassmere|
|Best food||Hattie B’s Fried Chicken|
|Best nightlife||Lower Broadway|
|Best accommodation||Hotel Fraye Nashville Midtown|
Things to Do in Nashville, Tennessee
Keep your eyes wide open. You don’t want to miss any of these fantastic adventures Nashville has for you!
1. Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
Address: 3777 Nolensville Pk., Nashville, TN 37211
Looking for things to do in Nashville with kids? Look no further than the cool creatures at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. Located about six miles southeast of downtown, the 188-acre zoo focuses on animals native to Tennessee, the southern United States, and other areas around the world. The zoo has more than 3,000 animals, including favorites like Andean bears, clouded leopards, red pandas, tigers, and two-toed sloths.
Treat the kids to a unique experience with the zoo’s Backstage Pass Tour. They’ll get to learn about animal care, behavior, and conservation from animal care experts. These tours allow a behind-the-scenes introduction to aardvarks, sloths, rhinos, and more.
The zoo also has a 4-D theater, a tree-top zip line, a carousel, a train, and the Jungle Gym, a 66,000-square-foot playground with slides, swings, and tunnels.
The Candlewood Suites – Nashville South makes a convenient anchorage for zoo trips and Nashville sightseeing. The hotel offers free private parking, a fitness center, a lounge, and a snack bar. All guest rooms have a mini fridge, a dishwasher, and a coffee maker.
See Related: Things to Do in Memphis, Tennessee
2. Adventure Science Center
Address: 800 Fort Negley Blvd., Nashville, TN 37203
Considered the premiere learning center in middle Tennessee, the 4,000-square-foot Adventure Science Center is a fun place to visit in Nashville. Designed for kids, it’s something the entire family can enjoy.
The nonprofit museum offers children over 175 hands-on interactive exhibits with various themes. You’ll find biology, physics, visual perception, thought, air and space, energy, and earth science exhibits. There’s a motion simulator, gardens, interactive media displays, DIY workshops, and more.
Your whole crew can experience the 63-foot domed theater at the Sudekum Planetarium. Take in night sky views, laser shows, and concert laser show presentations like Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon (see, not country music).
3. Embark On An Outdoor Adventure
If you’re looking for more adventure, consider a kayak tour. Enjoy a relaxing paddle tour along the Cumberland River while enjoying skyline views. It’s a terrific way to get a different perspective of Music City. Equipment, water, and even sunscreen are provided. All you have to do is show up and board the complimentary shuttle to the launch point.
If you’d rather stand up on your water tour, a paddleboard adventure is the way. Again, you’ll paddle along the Cumberland (but this time standing up) while enjoying views of Riverfront Park and the city skyline. Paddleboarding may look tough, but it’s actually quite easy once you get the hang of it. On a hot day, this is one of the best activities around. PS: You can also sit down if you want (no judgments here).
Now, if you like to get wild and crazy, consider a Pedal Pontoon Party Cruise. This rather unique contraption allows passengers to pedal their way around scenic Old Hickory Lake. This pontoon party boat has a row of cycling stations, and your legs and feet provide the power. There’s a mahogany bar to partake in BYOB fun.
A captain (you didn’t think they would let this out without a captain, did you?), a deckhand, restrooms, and BlueTooth speakers are all on board. Don’t forget to sing Little Big Town’s hit song Pontoon while on this tour. I’m sure they never get that.
4. Enjoy Delicious Nashville Hot Chicken
After all the paddling, peddling, and possibly swimming, it’s time to chow down on a city staple. Nashville hot chicken is a type of fried chicken (duh, it’s the South). It’s tender on the inside and fried to a crispy golden finish that’s covered in a spicy cayenne pepper-based sauce. You can request a less spicy concoction if you’re not into the melt-your-face-off brand of cuisine. As the name suggests, the sauce is native to Nashville.
Some of the best places to eat hot chicken include:
- Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
- Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
- Bolton’s Famous Hot Chicken and Fish
Hattie B’s and Prince’s have several locations around town, and Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack (home of Nashville’s original hot chicken) has been in business for nearly a hundred years. All three hot spots boast generations of family recipes, Southern sides, and serious love for serving spicy hot chicken.
Looking for a hotel near these Nashville restaurants? The Hotel Fraye Nashville Midtown is right around the corner from Hattie B’s. It offers private parking, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a restaurant, and a bar. The chic and trendy hotel, conveniently located on Broadway near Music Row, offers a rooftop lounge area for stunning views of the Nashville skyline.
See Related: Things to Do in Pigeon Forge
5. Goo Goo Chocolate Co
Address: 116 3rd Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37201
If Music City has an official candy, it’s likely the Goo Goo Cluster. This sweet treat is as signature to Nashville as pralines are to New Orleans. Every cool destination should have a unique treat, don’t you think?
The Goo Goo Chocolate Co. store is conveniently located near the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. Goo Goo Clusters feature a delectable combination of caramel, marshmallow nougat, milk chocolate, and roasted peanuts.
Created in 1912 by the Standard Candy Company, it’s America’s first combination candy bar. Prior to this, candy bars mainly consisted of one ingredient (chocolate, caramel, or taffy). While delicious, it sounds a little boring. We approve of this confectionary experimentation.
Browse the store and purchase goodies to take home. Grab a Goo Goo for yourself and stroll along the nearby Riverfront Park. The five-acre park has an amphitheater, relaxing green space, boat docks, and terrific views.
If you’re searching for a way to get more in tune with the goodness of Goo Goo, the store offers classes in candy bar making and chocolate and libation pairing. It’s one of the sweetest things to do in Nashville for the kiddies and the adults.
Located near the Goo Goo Chocolate Co., the Moxy Nashville offers the essentials of Wi-Fi connection in public areas, a fitness room, a business center, a billiards table, and a bar. It’s a great option for convenience to lower Broadway and the Cumberland River.
6. Pinewood Social
Address: 33 Peabody Street, Nashville, TN 37210
Looking for a trendy restaurant? A coffee shop? A bowling alley? Sing a little karaoke or play board games? Pinewood Social, it is. There’s even space for working if you’re so inclined.
The industrial-chic space is perfect whether you’re looking for a fun family outing or a late-night social gathering. Pinewood is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks. It’s near Ascend Amphitheater and Riverfront Park.
Pinewood is located within the historic trolley barns at Rolling Mill Hill on the National Register of Historic Places. Constructed in the 1940s as part of the New Deal, the structures were home to municipal public works departments (not trolleys, as the name might suggest).
They feature decorative brick, vaulted ceilings, original metal, and other interesting architectural details. Offices and retail space fill up the rest of the complex.
See Related: Things to Do in Memphis, Tennessee
7. See a Broadway Play at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center
Address: 505 Deaderick St, Nashville, TN 37243
Who doesn’t love a good performance? While many Nashville shows are all about country music, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center is not only the largest performing arts center in the state, but the best place around to watch a play or musical.
This underrated Nashville attraction is one of the premier theaters in the Southern United States. TPAC has four venues holding performances, including plays, musicals, operas, and concerts. Some popular shows held at TPAC have included:
- The Lion King
- Jersey Boys
- The Phantom of the Opera
- Annie Get Your Gun
Check out its calendar to see what’s in store!
See Related: Things to Do in Johnson City
8. Get Outside at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens
Address: 1200 Forrest Park Drive, Nashville, TN 37205
Built in the 1930s, Cheekwood Estate and Gardens is a beautiful location to visit in Nashville. It was the home of Leslie and Mabel Cheek, a prominent family in the community. The mansion is a spectacular example of an American Country Place Era estate.
Along with the mansion, there are botanical gardens, a cafe, a gift shop, and an art museum with 7,000 works of art and exhibits. The gardens are spread over 55 acres, with 12 landscapes such as Japanese gardens, herb gardens, dogwood gardens, and children’s gardens. There are also wooded trails with sculptures for the nature lovers in your travel group to enjoy.
Enjoy jazz concerts, seasonal festivals, and events like the spring flower festival and the Cheekwood Light Festival. It’s located south of downtown near the Bluebird Cafe, one of the most iconic music venues in town.
While you’re in the area, it’s a good time to check out the Bluebird Cafe. The famous site has been the stage for singers, songwriters, and musicians for the past 40 years. Faith Hill, Taylor Swift, and Garth Brooks have all graced the stage.
Take a seat and listen to the stories behind the songs from the writers and singers. The menu is filled with items like Southern peach and brie salad, Bluebird BLTs, soft pretzels, and hot chicken. Reservations are highly recommended at this popular performance venue.
See Related: Where to Stay in Gatlinburg
9. Tour the City in a Big Green Tractor
Is there anything more country than a big ‘ol tractor? Probably not. Even Kenny Chesney sings about sexy tractors (we’ll forgive you for that one, Kenny). On the Biggest and Wildest Party Tractor Tour, a professional tractor driver pulls a decked-out trailer through downtown. There’s a light-up dance floor, a DJ, and an onboard bar for purchases.
These big wagons are famous! They’ve appeared in T.V. reality shows and numerous magazines across America, and this is consistently ranked as the No. 1 party experience in town, and it’s the perfect way to warm up before heading out to enjoy the best bars in Nashville. The Tractor Party has room for up to 40 people.
The best part is, this wagon party isn’t that expensive! This is a one-of-a-kind tour and one of the best things to do in Nashville for a bachelor or bachelorette party, so climb aboard.
10. Visit the Nashville Farmers’ Market
Address: 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN 37208
The 16-acre Nashville Farmers’ Market is a great place to visit if you want to explore a community staple in Nashville. It’s near the Tennessee State Museum and the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. You’ll find open-air sheds, a market house, and a garden center for shopping.
Founded in the early 1800s, the farmers’ market features nearly 100 local farmers, cheese-makers, bakers, and other vendors who set up stands with organic produce, artisan foods, crafts, jewelry, jams, soap, honey, and other wares. You can enjoy live music, coffee shops, cooking classes, and chef demos.
If you’re not into gathering the ingredients to make your meals (and we get that), you can find plenty of the already-prepared variety of food to satiate any snack attack you might have. Restaurants include Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Bella Nashville Pizzeria, Music City Crepes, Jamaicaway, and El Burrito Mexicano.
Looking for a hotel near the Farmers’ Market and the Tennessee State Capitol? The Hampton Inn & Suites Nashville Downtown Capitol View is an excellent option. It has a fitness center, a rooftop pool and lounge area, free Wi-Fi, and private parking.
For more shopping fun, check out the Nashville Flea Market, just a short drive away south of downtown. It’s open on the fourth weekend of every month.
11. Walk the Many Greenway Trails and John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge
One of the best things about Nashville is the wonderful weather that’s almost year-round. While it does get pretty hot in the dead of summer, and the middle of winter can be icy, for the most part, you’ll enjoy a long fall and spring season with pleasant temperatures.
The Greenway line of trails is one of the best outdoor activities in Nashville, and everyone should experience it. Sights include the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, Cumberland Park, and stretches of the Cumberland River.
This green space meanders along the Cumberland River and throughout the city, allowing you to enjoy gardens, murals, street art, the Farmers’ Market, and even a theater with live music! This is a great way to get some fresh air and take in the natural scenery of Music City.
See Related: Top Tips to Avoid a Boring Vacation
Nashville Landmarks to Visit
Nashville is known as the Music City, so if you enjoy music, there are plenty of things to do. You can take and book tours to the landmarks and attractions related to music, including the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville, the world-famous Grand Ole Opry Show, and the Hermitage Hotel, or tour the rich history left in the city from the Civil War.
12. Johnny Cash Museum
Address: 119 3rd. Avenue S, Nashville, TN 37201
The Johnny Cash Museum is dedicated to the life and music of the Man in Black himself. It chronicles his life and career from his early days on the family farm to his rise to fame as an influential and genre-spanning musician. The museum has been named the Number 1 Music Museum in America by USA Today, Forbes, Condé Nast, and National Geographic Traveler.
Memorabilia such as costumes, awards, instruments, and photographs are on display. You can watch videos of Cash performing his greatest hits and listen to some of his most recognizable songs in the museum’s music room.
Next door to the museum is Johnny Cash’s Bar & BBQ. Enjoy authentic BBQ, Southern selections, great drinks, and live entertainment. On the other side of the museum is a Sun Records-themed eatery, the Sun Diner, which serves all-day breakfast, chicken and waffles, and more of that hot chicken.
The Johnny Cash Museum is located along the Lower Broadway section of downtown, affectionately known as Honky Tonk Highway. You’ll find iconic spots such as Robert’s Western World, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge (where the likes of Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and others got their start), and the Ryman Auditorium nearby.
Lower Broadway is also where all the celebrity bars hang out. Pull up a stool at these bars and feel like a country star. Most of them feature at least three or four floors, multiple music stages, and rooftop bars.
- AJ’s Good Time Bar (Alan Jackson)
- Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa
- Blake Shelton’s Ole Red (conveniently located next to Miranda’s – this could get awkward)
- Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar
- Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse
- Luke’s 32 Bridge (Luke Bryan)
- Margaritaville Nashville (yes, we consider Jimmy a star in any genre)
13. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Address: 222 Rep. John Lewis Way S., Nashville, TN 37203
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the best things to do in Nashville. The museum is dedicated to preserving country music’s rich legacy and the Nashville sound through photographs, costumes, instruments, films, recordings, and interactive exhibits.
This Hall of Fame experience starts with a timeline that shows the history of country music, from its origins in folk ballads to modern-day pop. It then moves on to components such as Homegrown Heroes (artists who were born in the state), The Road to Fame (how some of the great country music stars got started), and Tributes (a dedication to giants of country music).
- Interactive Hall of Fame, where you can learn about different inductees
- A music listening room that features samples from the museum’s collection of 6,000 recordings (and includes things like original 78 rpm records)
- Sound-effects booths where you can produce your own radio show
- An interactive recording studio
You don’t need to be a country music fan to enjoy this top attraction. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has more than 2.5 million relics spread over two floors, including folk roots, rhythm and blues music, and Los Angeles country-rock.
When you’re done exploring the museum, wander across the street to the Walk of Fame Park and the Music Garden. Located on the lawn of the Hilton Nashville Downtown, you’ll find in-laid granite stones embellished with a star and the names of legendary musicians from all genres of the music industry. Find your favorites among Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap, Roy Orbison, Jack White, Loretta Lynn, Les Paul, and Alabama.
The adjacent Music Garden features flowers (most are roses) named for popular songs and singers. Stop and enjoy the Coal Miner’s Daughter, the I Will Always Love You, the Amy Grant, the Mandrell Family Rose, and the Ring of Fire (among many others). Snap a few pics while you’re at it.
The garden was originally built in 2007 next to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The project was a collaboration between country superstar Barbara Mandrell, Louis Mishu of the Nashville Rose Society, and Pat and George Bullard of the LifeWorks Foundation.
The expert skills of professional landscaper Troy B. Marden helped bring the garden to life. It moved to its current location in 2014.
14. The Parthenon
Address: 2500 West End Ave., Nashville, TN 37203
No, we haven’t lost our minds and added Athens to our Nashville itinerary. There is an actual Parthenon in Music City. Inspired by Athens, Greece’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, the good folks of Nashville decided to recreate the structure (expanding on the nickname of Athens of the South, which is probably due to the city’s emphasis on higher education). We just think it’s one of the coolest things to do in Nashville.
Stately standing as the focal point of Centennial Park, the Nashville Parthenon is the world’s only full-scale replica of the original Greek temple dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Originally built in 1897, it was part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition (along with other buildings, all of which were designed to be temporary). It was then rebuilt in the 1920s to the exact dimensions of the Parthenon in Greece.
The Nashville Parthenon’s mission is to educate visitors about the legacy of the Parthenon and the civilizations that built it (as well as to share local history from 1897 to the present). In addition to the very Instragamable factor of distinguished Doric columns, gilded accents, and ornate architecture, the building hosts a collection of exhibits and art galleries.
Serving as a premier art museum, the Parthenon is home to the James M. Cowan Collection, which includes 63 paintings by American artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. Additional gallery areas offer a variety of temporary exhibits and presentations. There is also a full-scale replica of the 42-foot statue of Athena in all her gilded glory.
Get a unique birds-eye perspective of the Parthenon from the comfort of leather seats and a climate-controlled cabin. A Nashville helicopter voyage at sunset gives you a view of the city skyline like no other.
Soar above the Ryman Auditorium, the Parthenon, the state capitol building, the 50-yard line at Nissan Stadium, and more. Your pilot provides commentary for this fun experience via noise-canceling headsets.
15. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
Address: 4580 Rachels Lane, Hermitage, TN 37076
Home to Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, the Hermitage opened as a museum in 1889. It’s about 10 miles from downtown in East Nashville. If you’re wondering what is there to do in Nashville, Tennessee, for history, art, and nature fans, we recommend a visit to this historic site.
Originally built around 1819 as a Greek Federal-style home, The Hermitage was redesigned as the current Greek-style structure after a fire in 1834. When complete, it was considered one of the most fashionable homes in Nashville with its Philadelphia Classical style furnishings, cantilevered elliptical staircases, and Greek Revival-style woodwork and mantels.
The Hermitage holds one of the country’s largest permanent collections of art by one person: U.S. President Andrew Jackson. The museum’s exhibits include portraits, sculptures, busts, and personal mementos that belonged to the former president.
Guests can tour the mansion, walk the 1,120-acre grounds, admire the gardens and arboretum, and visit Jackson’s tomb.
16. Dance Your Way Down Music Row
Address: 16th and 17th Streets South, Nashville, TN 37203
Music Row is an area of town on 16th and 17 Streets South (known as Music Square East and West), located southwest of downtown. It’s the heart of the city’s music industry and the site of music publishers, record labels, video production houses, radio stations, and more than 180 recording studios, including Omnisound Studios, Columbia Studio A/Quonset Hut (the first on the block), the Parlor Studio, and the historic RCA Studio B (and Studio A).
Legends like Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Elvis Presley recorded at RCA Studio B, which was built in 1957 and is considered the birthplace of the Nashville sound.
Don’t miss Owen Bradley Park (a songwriter, performer, and publisher) and its unique bronze statue of the record producer sitting at a grand piano.
To be near the historic vibes of Music Row, check out Virgin Hotels Nashville. The modern and upbeat boutique hotel offers a restaurant, free private parking, a fitness center, a rooftop pool, a coffee shop, and a restaurant.
There’s also a pool table and ping-pong for the competitive traveler. Guest rooms feature functional details and convenient amenities like yoga mats, lots of outlets, stand-alone vanities, and plenty of storage space.
17. Frist Art Museum
Address: 919 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
Another selection for the art lovers in the crowd, the Frist Art Museum is a world-class art museum. Known for its impressive collection of American art, it features paintings, photography, sculptures, and more from local and international artists.
Exhibits include Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature, Guitar Town (music and performance photography), student art, Asian textiles, Art and Imagination in Spanish America, Monsters and Myths: Surrealism, and work by local artists such as Elise Kendrick’s Salon Noir series of paintings celebrating African American women.
Originally known as the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, the Frist Art Museum is located in a U.S. Post Office Building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places (yay for repurposing, Nashville).
If you need somewhere to stay nearby, check into the Holiday Inn Express Nashville Downtown. The hotel offers an outdoor pool, a stylish lobby, a fitness center, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi.
Guest rooms have a mini fridge and a microwave. These are two things I always look for in a hotel. You just never know when you’re going to want that leftover hot chicken sandwich (and having a fridge makes it possible for a 2 a.m. snack fest).
18. Tennessee State Museum
Address: Bill Haslam Center, 1000 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN 37208
The Tennessee State Museum is one of the best Nashville tourist attractions for those interested in the history and culture of both Tennessee and the United States. The 137,000-square-foot museum includes exhibits, collections, and galleries representing decades of history.
Permanent exhibits include natural history, Forging a National (the period between 1760 and 1860), the Civil War and Reconstruction, and Change and Challenge (a time frame from 1870 to 1945). Past traveling exhibits have included topics such as Tennessee food, music heritage, art, and women’s suffrage.
The museum is conveniently located near the State Capitol, the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Nashville Farmers’ Market.
Searching for a fun and unique way to see other sites around town? A Nashville Segway tour, it is! Roll around town while taking in historic landmarks, street art, and other Music City attractions on a 2.5-hour tour (the first 30 minutes are a learning session).
Tours cover about five miles of Nashville roadway. Sites along the way include the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Fort Nashborough, the Tennessee State Capitol, Bridgestone Arena, and much more.
19. Tennessee State Capitol
Address: 600 Drive, M.L.K. Jr. Blvd., Nashville, TN 37243
Sitting high on Cedar Knob, the highest point in Downtown Nashville, the Tennessee State Capitol is a beautiful Greek Revival-style building. Completed in 1859, the building is made of local limestone and marble. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.
When visiting the Tennessee State Capitol, check out the Senate Chamber, the House of Representatives Chamber, the Supreme Court Chamber, and the Governor’s Office. Guided tours are available. You can also take a self-guided tour if you prefer to go at your own pace.
Several beautiful gardens are located on the Capitol grounds and are worth a leisurely walk-through. Enjoy the shade of magnolia, maple, and hickory trees while admiring sculptures, fountains, formal lawns, memorials, and geometric pathways.
There’s an equestrian statue (the best kind of statue, if you ask me) of former President Andrew Jackson as well as the tomb of President James Polk and a statue of 17th President Andrew Johnson (the guy who took the helm after the Lincoln assassination – I had to look him up, too).
If you’re looking for a luxurious getaway near all the top things to do in Nashville, look no further than the Hermitage Hotel. It’s located in Downtown Nashville near the Tennessee State Capitol, so it’s in a great location.
The Hermitage Hotel offers a world-class spa, a restaurant led by a Michelin-star chef, a bar, afternoon tea on weekends, event space, and babysitting services. Elegant guest rooms feature designer furnishings, stylish art and decor, marble bathrooms, and stunning views of the State Capitol building.
20. Visit Ryman Auditorium
Address: 116 Rep. John Lewis Way North, Nashville, TN 37219
From the cultural significance and historic architecture of the past to the live music performances of today, the Ryman Auditorium is one of the most iconic sites in Music City. It’s the best answer to questions concerning what to do in Nashville for country music fans.
Designed with stunning acoustic technology, the music coming from the Ryman stage booms equally throughout the entire auditorium. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. It’s also a designated National Historic Landmark.
The historic music venue was initially built in 1892 as an African-American church known as the Union Gospel Tabernacle. It was home to the skit/vaudeville-type radio show The Grand Ole Opry from 1925 until 1974, when it moved to the Grand Ole Opry House (located about 12 miles from Downtown Nashville in what’s known as Music Valley). I always feel compelled to explain this as so many get confused.
The Ryman has been called the Mother Church of Country Music due to its essential role in developing the genre. The stage has seen the likes of everyone from Elvis, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and B.B. King to Joan Jett, the Foo Fighters, and Harry Styles.
Open to the public for self-guided tours, Ryman also offers a behind-the-scenes tour. The auditorium continues to host live performances and events by artists like Tom Jones, Crowded House, Rick Springfield with Tommy Tutone, Bluegrass Nights, Opry Country Classics at the Ryman, and Amy Grant and Vince Gill Christmas at the Ryman.
21. Radnor Lake State Park
Address: 1160 Otter Creek Road, Nashville, TN 37220
If you’re looking for a place to relax and take in the natural beauty of Tennessee, the 1,368-acre Radnor Lake State Park is worth a visit. This is one of the best things to do in Nashville for adventurous couples, groups, and families with kids. There are nearly 8 miles of trails for hiking, birdwatching, wildlife viewing, and checking out native trees, shrubs, ferns, and fungi.
The park is located south of downtown, near the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory, and offers an evolving schedule of ranger programs. Gather the kids and go canoeing or hiking to see wildflowers and wildlife. You can also learn about snakes and take astronomy night hikes, Candlewood Suites Nashville South is a terrific choice for visiting the park and Nashville attractions. The hotel offers free private parking, a fitness center, free Wi-Fi, and laundry facilities. Guest rooms have a fridge, a dishwasher, and a coffee machine.
22. National Museum of African American Music
Address: 510 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
The Smithsonian-affiliated National Museum of African American Music tells the story of the history and impact of African American music across different genres, including blues, gospel, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and soul. The museum opened in 2021 and is one of the best things to do in town.
Spend the day exploring the collection of exhibits on instruments, costumes, and interactive displays that allow visitors to explore the music-making process. Galleries include Rivers of Rhythm, Wade in the Water, Crossroads, and One Nation Under a Groove. The museum also offers a theater for film presentations and a performance hall for concerts and other events.
If you’re looking for accommodations near the museum, check out the JW Marriott Nashville. This luxury hotel features spacious guest rooms and suites, a fitness center, an indoor pool, and several restaurants and bars.
Things to Do in Nashville for Couples
23. Gaylord Opryland Resort
Address: 2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN 37214
Part of Marriott International, the Gaylord Opryland Resort is one of the top tourist destinations in Nashville. The massive resort features a gorgeous glass atrium lobby with nine acres of indoor tropical gardens, water features, and waterfalls. It’s the largest non-gaming hotel in the U.S. and visiting is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Nashville.
There are 15 restaurants, four bars, retail stores, a full-service spa, meeting space, seasonal events (like a wildly popular Christmas spectacular), a miniature golf course, two outdoor pools, an indoor pool, and a four-acre indoor/outdoor water park called SoundWaves. There’s even a riverboat ride that takes riders through a 4.5-acre garden in the Delta Atrium.
While you can absolutely visit and have fun without booking a room, the Gaylord Opryland is an amazing place to spend the night, and it’s clearly one of the best hotels in Nashville. Spacious suites feature stylish decor and 24-hour room service.
Atrium-view rooms have balconies that look out over the gardens and fish ponds The resort is next door to the famous Grand Ole Opry House (more on that below).
24. General Jackson Showboat Dinner Cruise
Address: 2812 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN 37214
One of the top Nashville tourist attractions, the General Jackson Showboat offers dinner cruises along Nashville’s Cumberland River. This upscale experience makes a wonderful way to celebrate an anniversary or romantic occasion.
Enjoy dinner, sunsets, dancing, and a show. Live entertainment shows range from comedy to singing, dancing, and classic entertainment. Seasonal cruises combine the festivities of the holidays with the scenery of the downtown skyline.
Elegant and Victorian in appearance, the 274-foot General Jackson is one of the largest showboats ever built. It’s named after the first steamboat to operate on the Cumberland in 1817. It traveled to the Cumberland River from the Ohio River in 1985. The showboat departs from Tom Miller Dock near the foot of Broadway.
Looking for more nightlife? The Nashville Night Tour of Music City offers the best way to see the city without having to plug addresses into a GPS or Google search (while worrying about getting lost and arguing with your spouse).
Not just country music, you’ll learn about the R&B scene and other genres on this tour. Explore and pass iconic sites, landmarks, and areas such as Music Row, the Ryman, historic Jefferson Street, the Ole Smoky Distillery and Entertainment Complex at 6th & Peabody, and many more.
25. Sample Spirits at a Local Distillery
From whiskey, bourbon, and moonshine to vodka, rum, and craft beer, there are lots of things to do in Nashville if you like to imbibe. Gather the over-21s in your crew and head to a local distillery or brewery.
If there’s anything more synonymous with Tennessee than Jack Daniels, we don’t know what it might be. Located in Lynchburg, about 1.5 hours from Nashville, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery Tour is a must-visit for whiskey lovers. You’ll learn how whiskey is made, see the distillation process, and taste some available varieties. Enjoy shopping, sightseeing, and lunch in downtown Lynchburg while you’re there.
Corsair Distillery is an excellent option if you’re looking for something different. Try varieties like pumpkin spice moonshine, vanilla bean vodka, and absinthe. Ole Smoky Distillery makes more than 40 types of moonshine and whiskey.
When looking for attractions with a boozy point of view, check out Southern Grist Brewing, which has more than 600 unique beers and rotating seasonal brews, and Fat Bottom Brewing, which offers a variety of hoppy and flavorful combinations.
26. Take a Brewery Tour
While spirits may be what Music City is most known for, there are a lot of fantastic breweries in the area, too. In fact, a few Nashville breweries have a reputation for producing some of the best beer in the country. Southern Grist Brewing and Fat Bottom Brewery are two of our favorite breweries in Nashville, and you should check them both out when looking for things to do in Music City.
With multiple locations throughout Nashville, Southern Grist Brewing is a must for beer connoisseurs. It has over 600 unique beers and rotating seasonal brews, so every time you visit, you can try something new.
Fat Bottom Brewing is the star of East Nashville. This hoppin‘ brewery has a lot of flavorful beers to try, along with a full menu in its taproom. Established in 2012, this brewery has put its stamp on Nashville with some great signature beers and a rotating seasonal selection.
27. Loveless Cafe
Address: 8400 TN-100, Nashville, TN 37221
A landmark and favorite eatery since 1951, Loveless Cafe is known for its hot biscuits, country ham, fruit preserves, and red-eye gravy. The down-home country-cooking institution also serves pulled pork sandwiches, fresh salads, meatloaf platters, fried chicken, and smoked beef brisket. The restaurant is located along Highway 100 near the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway.
One of Nashville’s most iconic restaurants, the Loveless Café has been featured on TV shows from the Today Show to Ellen and Martha Stewart. Famously known as the “biscuit lady,” Loveless Café’s Carol Fay Ellison has even done a “biscuit and jam throwdown” with Bobby Flay. PS: Bobby won, but it was really, really close.
The Loveless Biscuit Kitchen, which is next door inside the Natchez Trace Market (the Shell Station at Highway 100 and McCrory), is a quick and convenient way to enjoy the sweet and savory goodness of Loveless Cafe biscuits.
There’s a quick-service counter and a drive-thru for those who just can’t wait to sink their teeth into fluffy buttermilk biscuits. Just one bite and you’ll understand why this is one of the most popular attractions in Nashville.
28. Wine Tasting at the Belle Mead Plantation
Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery is an 1853 Greek Revival mansion and one of the most historic properties in the area. It was founded by one of Tennessee’s leading families. Tour the mansion, which features elegant parlors, chandeliers, antique furniture, fireplaces, and an art gallery. There’s a thoroughbred horse farm, a winery, walking trails, a gift shop, and a restaurant.
Take a Belle Meade Guided Mansion Tour to learn all about the history and architecture of the historic property. You can also enjoy wine tastings and a self-guided tour of the grounds and outbuildings. The property is about 10 minutes from downtown.
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Best Things to Do in Downtown Nashville
In Nashville, Tennessee, things to do downtown include checking out the city’s historic sites, such as Union Station, the Hermitage Hotel, and the Nashville Flea Market.
Foodies shouldn’t miss C.B. Jackson’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant. For family entertainment, visit the Opryland Amusement Park, and sports fans may enjoy catching a game with the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena across from Lower Broadway.
29. Bridgestone Arena
Address: 501 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
Bridgestone Arena is a multipurpose live music venue and home to the NHL’s Nashville Predators. The arena also hosts concerts, conventions, and other sporting events. It’s the largest indoor arena in Nashville and the second-largest in Tennessee. If you’re in town during the NHL season, getting tickets to a game is an excellent option for a social outing and one of the best things to do in Nashville.
The arena opened in 1996 and was initially intended to be part of a much larger downtown sports and entertainment complex, but that was never built. It has a capacity of approximately 19,000 people for hockey games and up to 21,000 for concerts.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is located within the arena. This unique Nashville attraction pays tribute to the coaches, athletes, sports writers, and teams that have contributed to sports in the state of Tennessee.
The Cambria Hotel Nashville Downtown is within walking distance of Nashville’s main attractions, including Bridgestone Arena. The hotel features free Wi-Fi, a meeting space, a restaurant with live music, a gym, and a rooftop pool to check out Nashville’s skyline.
30. Go to a Tennessee Titans Game
A game at Nissan Stadium is one of the best things to do in Nashville if you’re a football fan. It’s located just across the pedestrian bridge from Downtown Nashville and is the home field of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, as well as the Tigers of Tennessee State University.
Opened in 1999, it’s Nashville’s premier sports and entertainment complex. In addition to the fun of football, the stadium hosts festivals and concerts such as the CMA Music Festival, Monster Jam, Beyonce, George Strait, Chris Stapleton, Taylor Swift, Billy Joel, and Stevie Nicks.
If you’re staying in Downtown Nashville, the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge is a handy way to get to the stadium. The bridge crosses the Cumberland River from Riverfront Park to Cumberland Park. Cumberland Park offers a climbing wall, water splash areas, an amphitheater, and a walking trail.
For a hotel near the stadium, check out La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Nashville Downtown Stadium. There’s an indoor pool, a fitness center, free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, a bar, and a lounge. You’ll probably want to request a stadium view if you’re a true sports fan.
31. Take a Helicopter Tour at Sunset
You’re about to board the flight of your life! The Nashville: Downtown Helicopter Tour gives you a view of the city. You’ll see downtown, the Batman building, Nissan Stadium, and the historic Sylvan Park, among other spectacular sights.
Expert pilots from Helistar Aviation double as tour guides for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. You get unique sightseeing opportunities as you fly over all the eye-catching areas of downtown Nashville, including the rooftop bars! Look to the skies – you can easily see this is one of the best things to do in Nashville, Tennessee. Hope you’re not afraid of heights!
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32. Sightseeing Bus Tour of the Music City
Get ready to visit more than 100 places in Nashville with these unique bus tours. These buses take you to the best areas in Nashville, such as Centennial Park, Ryman Auditorium, and the Musicians Hall of Fame. But guess what? They’ll take you to 100 more places!
Also, if you’re on the upper level, you’ll have a chance to listen to Nashville’s history and culture while you travel to the city’s most famous places. This tour is one of the best options for visiting Nashville for the first time. Learn more about this Nashville bus tour and book your ticket in advance.
33. Country Music Hall of Fame Tour
If you go to Nashville and don’t visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, what’s the point of visiting Nashville? It’s one of the top things to do in the Southern States!
You needn’t be a country music fan to enjoy this top Nashville attraction. The museum has over 2.5 million relics spread throughout the entire Hall. Plus, the museum has two floors for huge exhibitions.
You’ll learn the story of country music and its cultural influence in America. You’ll witness original and unique recordings, films, instruments, and memorabilia that helped shape country music.
Of course, it’s an obligatory stop when you come to the city. Book a guided tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame to secure a behind-the-scenes look.
34. The Backstage Tour of the Grand Ole Opry
Address: 600 Opry Mills Drive, Nashville, TN 37214
Located over the river and through the valley (Music Valley, that is), the Grand Ole Opry House is one of the best things to do in Nashville for music lovers. It’s home to the historic Grand Ole Opry show.
Originally a radio show, it began as the WSM Barn Dance with Uncle Jimmy Thompson. It was first launched in 1925 by announcer George D. Hay (he was known for his similar program in Chicago). Today, the Opry House hosts live shows by top performers, Opry members, and up-and-coming artists such as Vince Gill, Carrie Underwood, Priscilla Block, Crystal Gayle, Sawyer Brown, and more.
The Opry House still holds a weekly live radio broadcast (listen on 650AM WSM). Live stage performances (which can be viewed on GAC TV) are also held throughout the week. Radio and stage announcers include Bobby Bones, Larry Gatlin, Charlie Mattos, and Kelly Sutton.
Get an immersive look at music history by going backstage at the Grand Ole Opry House (not to be confused with the Ryman Auditorium, which was home to the original Grand Ole Opry radio show – the show moved to the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974). Enjoy exclusive access to this popular site while discovering how the sounds of the South became a major music genre in America.
Your local guide will share stories about the musicians while guiding you around behind-the-scenes areas like the dressing rooms and a working television studio (Studio A) home to the popular Hee Haw television show. Admire historic artifacts and photos from all eras of country music history.
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35. Nashville Old Town Tour
Discover Nashville’s history with a fascinating tour on beautiful, colorful buses. Nashville’s Old Town Tour is the perfect way to explore the city’s rich history and culture. This guided tour takes you through some of Nashville’s most iconic landmarks, including the Parthenon, the Nashville Zoo, and Vanderbilt University.
You’ll also see some of the city’s hidden gems, such as the Nashville Catacombs and Bicentennial Mall. The tour is a great way to learn about Nashville’s past and present, and it’s sure to be a memorable experience for all.
This tour is a great family-friendly option if you’re looking for a day outing. The Old Town Tour is famous for being one of the best tourist attractions in Nashville.
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36. Night Tour of Downtown Nashville
Nashville is somewhat like Las Vegas, with neon signs lighting up the night. Want to see the prettiest evening views and learn about the music history of the city? A guided Night Tour of Nashville is a unique way to experience Music City.
You will get the best views of the city and at the same time visit the most storied places in town. Your guide will teach you all you could want to know about the city’s music history.
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37. Enjoy History And Cuisine on the Downtown Nashville Walking Food Tour
The best way to get an inside look at Nashville’s cuisine scene is with a guided walking tour. Try the Downtown Nashville Walking Food Tour for a peek (and taste) at the culinary side of Music City.
Along the way, you’ll learn fun facts, interesting trivia, and stories about the city’s history and culture, as well as sections of town like Printers Alley and Broadway. Lunch and two alcoholic beverages are included. This is an excellent way to get recommendations and find all the best places to return to later.
As I’ve mentioned above, there are lots of food tour options in Nashville. While I’m partial to the Downtown walking tour, I also really love the sound of the Nashville: 3-Hour Secret Food Tour.
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38. Go Bar-Hopping On The All-Inclusive Pub Crawl
Do you need more boozy fun? Okay, here ya go. The All-Inclusive Pub Crawl features moonshine, cocktails, and craft beer. You’ll discover the Broadway honky tonks, the speakeasy-style Gin Mill in Printers Alley, and more Music City nightlife. As if that’s not enough, you’ll also receive a souvenir fanny pack!
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39. Step Back in Time With a Civil War Tour (Self-Guided or Group Tour)
Address: 1140 Columbia Avenue, Franklin, TN 37064
If you’re looking for a day trip from Nashville, consider the Carter House State Historic Site and Lotz House. This National Historic Landmark is located about 30 minutes away in Franklin. Visitors can take a Civil War guided tour or a self-guided tour. Because of its history and proximity to the city, a visit here is. one of the best things to do in Tennesee for anyone who likes to learn while they travel.
Part of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign, the Second Battle of Franklin took place in 1864. It was one of the bloodiest battles and worst disasters for the Confederate Army. This defeat allowed the Union Army to advance to Nashville, which became another major victory for the Union.
Carter House was used as federal headquarters during the war. Lotz House served as a field hospital. They both still have bullet and cannonball holes.
40. Take A Look Back In Time At Carter Vintage Exchange
Address: 625 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203
Carter Vintage Exchange (formerly known as Carter Vintage Guitars) is an iconic music shop in the Gulch, one of Nashville’s most artsy neighborhoods. If you’ve ever picked up a strat or strummed a Taylor, you’ll feel like a kid in a candy shop as you browse row after row of incredible instruments.
Christie and Walter Carter founded the shop over a decade ago, and ever since, it’s been one of the top attractions in Nashville for musicians. Christie is. reputable vintage guitar dealer, and Walter was once the Gibson in-house historian. If you’re a music nerd like me, you’ll never want to leave.
I was most mesmerized by the Pre-War Martin collection. My grandfather plays a 1930s Martin, and I was able to learn a bit more about the history of the brand while looking at beautiful and storied guitars. I almost bought myself a vintage ukulele, and I regret not following through. Oh well, now I have another reason to go back!Kim Magaraci, Managing Editor
Free Things To Do In Nashville
It’s easy to visit Music City on a budget, too. Of the above options, our favorite free things. todo in Nashville include:
- Visiting The Parthenon at Centennial Park
- Browsing Carter Vintage Exchange
- Tracking Down Murals in the Gluch
- Walking John Seigenthaler’s pedestrian bridge
- Basking in Sunshine at Radnor Lake State Park
- Taking in the Beauty of the Garden Conservatory at Gaylord Opryland
Best Places to Stay in Nashville
If you need to build your Nashville itinerary out further, check out these best places to stay in Nashville, broken down by budget.
Best Luxury Hotel in Nashville, TN: J.W. Marriot
The JW Marriott Nashville is also home to the Opryland Ballroom, the largest ballroom in Nashville, and can accommodate up to 3,000 guests. The hotel is a popular venue for weddings and other special events.
Plus, the JW Marriott offers an excellent rooftop bar and restaurant called Bourbon Steakhouse, which is high up on the 34th floor of the hotel. This eye-catching restaurant provides spectacular five-star service. Furthermore, this restaurant is home to Nashville’s freshest seafood; you wouldn’t want to miss this. Also, you can enjoy a great meal with good company while you drink world-class wine. What can beat that?
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Nashville, TN: Cambria Hotel in Downtown
If you decide to stay at the Cambria Hotel, prepare yourself to enjoy the best days of your life in Nashville. You’ll be within walking distance of Nashville’s main attractions, streets, and avenues.
The hotel features various amenities, including free Wi-Fi, meeting space, a restaurant with live music, a gym, and a rooftop pool to see Nashville’s skyline.
And guess what? Your room has a refrigerator, T.V., basic amenities, and more. You can see that we’re talking about one of the best hotels in Nashville. Cambria Hotel is near the Bridgestone Arena, in case you’re a hockey junkie or interested in attending an event there. The hotel is also a few blocks from the Country Music Hall of Fame. You can enjoy all of these for about $100 per night.
Best Budget Hotel in Nashville, TN: Moxy Nashville
To boost your experience in Nashville, select the best places to stay. If you’re on a budget, that can be tough, but the Moxy Nashville makes that process easier. You’ll have all the essentials, including a Wi-Fi connection in public areas.
Moreover, you’ll have free entry to the hotel’s gym and other activities. The Moxy Nashville is centrally located downtown, so you can visit many top tourist attractions, such as the Frist Art Museum, the Johnny Cash Museum, and so much more. Have a bigger group traveling through? You can visit VRBO to find vacation rentals and other places to stay in Nashville.
Now that you’ve seen all the fantastic things you can do in Nashville, Tennessee, will you waste more time? Music City and all its marvels await you. Ready to book your flight to Nashville? Don’t let us keep you!
Is Nashville Worth Visiting?
Nashville is a lively city that is worth visiting. It is known as the “Music City” and is home to a vibrant music scene, with many live music venues, honky tonks, and music festivals. It is also home to the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and many other music-related attractions.
In addition to its music scene, Nashville is home to various other attractions and activities. It has a thriving food scene, with delicious Southern-style restaurants and food trucks.
The city has several museums and cultural attractions, including the Adventure Science Center, the Nashville Zoo, and the Nashville Parthenon. Overall, Nashville is a great destination for music lovers, foodies, and anyone looking for a fun and exciting city to visit.
What are the best tours in Nashville?
What are the most popular things to do in Nashville with kids?
There are many things to do in Nashville with kids, and some of the most popular options include the Nashville Zoo, the Nashville Children’s Theatre, and the Nashville Adventure Center.
How can I experience the live music scene in Nashville?
The best way to experience live music in Nashville is to check out venues like Bridgestone Arena, Nissan Stadium, Lower Broadway bars, and the Grand Ole Opry House near the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, about 12 miles from downtown Nashville.
What are the must-see historic sites in Nashville?
For historical sightseeing in Nashville, pay a visit to the 1840s-era Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery, the Ryman Auditorium, the Tennessee State Capitol, and Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, the former home and final resting place of the seventh president.