Nashville, Tennessee has become a popular travel destination thanks to praise in travel publications and praised restaurants. But much of American music has ties to the “Music City,” which is home to the Grand Ole Opry, one of the nation’s oldest live radio shows. Music Row has honky tonks and live music every day of the week, while the Gulch is a trendy restaurant where many chefs are setting up shop. 12 South and Hillsboro Village have independent boutiques and are popular with the student crowd. Don’t forget to explore nearby Franklin and Belle Meade, both known for Civil War history.
What to Do
Country Music Hall of Fame– Start your visit to the Music City at this sprawling museum, which documents the music genre’s rise from gospel to its current incarnation as well as the artists in the industry. Even non-country fans will find something of interest. While you’re there, you can also tour Hatch Show Print and tour Historic RCA Studio B. 222 5th Avenue South
Ryman Auditorium– Called the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman Auditorium was built for traveling evangelists to preach their messages. But it’s best known for being the home of the Grand Ole Opry radio show for decades before its move to a new building. Tour the space to learn about the notable names who have performed on the historic stage. You can also go on a self-guided tour if you’re short on time. And see a show there if you get the chance! 116 5th Avenue North
Grand Ole Opry– Located in northeast Nashville, the current home of the longest running radio show is connected to a hotel, restaurant, and shopping district. Visit for a live taping or performance and take the backstage tour to see the dressing rooms. Combination tickets allow you to visit nearby attractions as well as the Opry. 2804 Opryland Drive
Parthenon– Built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, this replica of the Greek original contains is set in Centennial Park. Inside, you’ll find a small museum devoted to the exposition and how the structure was built. Don’t miss the stunning Athena statue, the original of which hasn’t been seen in thousands of years. 2500 West End Avenue
Tennessee State Museum– Learn about the capital city and the rest of the state at the large museum. Exhibits focus on prehistoric, frontier, Civil War, antebellum, and Reconstruction periods of the state as well as notable Tennesseans. 505 Deaderick Street
Frist Center for The Visual Arts– This incredible 24,000 square foot museum hosts exhibits ranging from pieces from ancient Rome on loan from the British Museum to modern works by Nick Cave. Other works include visual art from around the state, region, and country. 919 Broadway
Music museums– There are a number of smaller music-centric museums worth a visit. The Johnny Cash Museum is a powerful look into the troubled artist’s life and career. Upstairs, you can visit the Patsy Cline Museum, a pioneer for women in country music whose life was tragically cut short. Nearby, The George Jones has a large museum space as well as a restaurant and rooftop bar. 119 3rd Avenue South and 128 2nd Avenue North
Plantations and historic homes– Nashville has dozens of preserved historic homes and plantations open to visitors. The Hermitage-Home of President Andrew Jackson is outside of Nashville and documents the politician’s rise to power. Belle Meade Plantation offers tours of the grounds and wine tastings. Fontanel Mansion was the home of Barbara Mandrell and is now an attraction in its own right, with campgrounds and a hotel, live music venue, restaurant, and countless activities.
Live music– You can’t come to Nashville without seeing live music, but there are plenty of places to see it. Music Row is the most popular area, home to Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Layla’s Bluegrass Inn, and Robert’s Western World. The Gulch has The Station Inn and Exit/In is closer to Vanderbilt. The Bluebird Cafe is further out in the suburbs, but has hosted legendary acts.
Where to Eat
Loveless Cafe– One of Nashville’s classic restaurants is Loveless, located near the Natchez Trace Parkway. Their biscuits are made fresh daily, best with their homemade jams. It was originally a roadside hotel. They also serve a rotating selection of Southern favorites. 8400 TN-100, (615) 646-9700
Mas Tacos Por Favor– Head to East Nashville for affordable tacos and Mexican favorites. Bring cash for fish tacos and margaritas before you grab a seat on the patio. Tortilla soup and street corn are also favorites. 732 Mcferrin Avenue, (615) 543-6271
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack– There are plenty of hot chicken places in Nashville, but this is the original. Started by a woman trying to punish her cheating man, the recipe is now replicated around the country. There are two locations in town. 123 Ewing Drive, # 3, (615) 226-9442
Arnold’s Country Kitchen– For classic Southern food, visit this well-known “meat and three” establishment. Recognized by the James Beard Foundation and Southern Foodways Alliance, you can’t miss the fried chicken, catfish, and vegetables. 605 8th Avenue South, (615) 256-4455
Adele’s– While there are many restaurants with big name chefs names attached, Adele’s is affordable. The Gulch eatery is owned by Jonathan Waxman and has a menu of internationally inspired dishes that use seasonal ingredients. 1210 McGavock Street, (615) 988-9700
proper bagel– It’s not a New York style deli, but a more modern interpretation with freshly made bagels topped with traditional items like lox and cream cheese or avocado and hummus. Come by for breakfast or lunch, enjoying your meal with Barista Parlor coffee. 2011 Belmont Boulevard, (615) 928-7276
Where to Stay
Nashville has an abundance of hotel properties, especially in the last few years, but they tend to be expensive, around $200 per night at the low end. The Gaylord Opryland Resort is further out but is a popular conference hotel with two onsite properties and inclusion in the Marriott Rewards program. Union Station Hotel, Autograph Collection® is an icon in the historic train station, right next to the Frist, and is another Marriott property. Each of the 125 rooms is inspired by the city of Nashville, with curated artwork and luxury ROAM bath products. One of the newer hotels is Noelle, Nashville, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, built in a 1930s department store. It features a minimalist decor and four onsite restaurants, including a rooftop bar. Inspired by midcentury furnishings, the Fairlane Hotel is in the heart of downtown with views of the Public Square. SoBro Guest House is owned by the same team and is a self serviced boutique hotel without a front desk. The team behind Urban Cowboy B&B – Nashville also has a location in Brooklyn, but is a stylish stay popular with musicians. Staying with Airbnb can cut down on your travel costs because you can find them for under $100 per night in Nashville’s trendy neighborhoods. The closest campgrounds are only 12 miles from downtown and you can stay in your tent, RV, or in a vintage trailer from The Flying Ham.
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Nashville is a large city and has traffic to match it. Driving is not encouraged because of this and the high price of parking, especially downtown. Expect to pay $16 for three hours and up near Music Row, although some places have their own lots. Avoid the highways during rush hour unless you want to sit still and be surrounded by large trucks. If you do need a car to road trip to Jack Daniels or go on a nearby day trip, rent from Zipcar instead of having a rental for your entire stay. Tour operators also run trips to popular spots like the distillery.
There is public transportation, but it’s limited to buses. There is a free shuttle around Music Row that visits the tourist hotspots, but taking the bus doesn’t make sense for most visitors. Visit the Nashville MTA website for details. Rideshare apps are a better way to get around, especially Lyft. The city is starting to have more bike lanes, so in some parts of the city you can rent a B-Cycle bike to get around. Other areas are ideal for walking, especially Hillsboro Village.
The city is no longer serviced by Amtrak passenger rail, but you can get there via Megabus and Greyhound buses, which arrive at the downtown terminal Greyhound: Bus Station. The Nashville International Airport
This post contains affiliate links and was produced with assistance from Visit Music City.