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 in Nashville
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. Book your ticket before you go. 222 5th Avenue South
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
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
National Museum of African American Music– This incredible museum opened in 2021 and presents the story of the African Americans that influenced every genre of American music. There are also interactive exhibits where you can sing with a gospel choir or mix your own hip hop song. Book your ticket before you go. 510 Broadway
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
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
Tennessee State Museum– Learn about the capital city and the rest of the state at the large museum. Exhibits focus on the prehistoric, frontier, Civil War, antebellum, and Reconstruction periods of the state as well as notable Tennesseans. 505 Deaderick Street
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 (Get your Johnny Cash Museum Admission Ticket here). Upstairs, you can visit the Patsy Cline Museum, a pioneer for women in country music whose life was tragically cut short (Get your Patsy Cline Museum Admission Pass here). 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 (Get your Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage General Admission here). 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 in Nashville
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
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
Assembly Food Hall– Nashville’s newest food hall is conveniently located in the heart of Broadway. Among the dozens of stalls of all cuisines are Prince’s Hot Chicken, Velvet Taco, and The Pharmacy Burger. 5055 Broadway Place, (615) 800-5395
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
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
Sunflower Cafe– If you’re looking for something lighter, this vegetarian restaurant in a former Berry Hill home is popular with the music industry crowd. Enjoy veggie burgers and Southern-style sides, all without meat. 2834 Azalea Place, (615) 457-2568
Where to Stay in Nashville
21C Museum Hotel Nashville– The brand of art-focused hotels has a property in the Music City with a restaurant and over 10,000 square feet of exhibit space. There are over 120 rooms in the 1900 building. 221 2nd Avenue North
Fairlane Hotel– Located in the heart of downtown with views of the Public Square, this stylish stay is decorated in midcentury furnishings. They also have two onsite restaurants. 401 Union Street
Gaylord Opryland Resort– The iconic hotel designed like a greenhouse is further out but is a popular conference hotel. It includes two onsite properties, including the Inn at Opryland, and inclusion in the Marriott Rewards program. 2800 Opryland Drive
Kimpton Aertson Hotel– The sleek hotel is in Nashville’s Midtown neighborhood has a seasonal rooftop pool, a gourmet market, a spa, and 180 pet-friendly rooms and 12 suites decorated with Hatch Show Prints. 2021 Broadway
Noelle, Nashville, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel– Built in a 1930s department store, it features minimalist decor and four onsite restaurants, including a rooftop bar. 200 4th Avenue North
Union Station Hotel– This 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. 1001 Broadway
Urban Cowboy B&B – Nashville– The owners of this funky inn also have a location in Brooklyn and is a stylish stay popular with musicians. Rooms have exposed brick and clawfoot tubs. 1603 Woodland Street
Camping- 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.
Getting Around Nashville
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
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This post was produced with assistance from Visit Music City.